Georgia Senate runoff hopefuls lob accusations over campaign cash

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Republican candidates in the Senate runoffs in Georgia pummel the Democratic challengers with accusations that they are darlings of coastal left-wingers, running campaigns bankrolled by companies and campuses far removed from the state.

Democrats, in turn, slam Republican incumbent Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler for allegedly being pawns of big business, with campaigns financed with corporate profits.

They’re both right.

These maligned campaign contributions are but a fraction of the tens of millions being spent in the Georgia races, which will determine which party controls the Senate.

Still, while each side paints the other as a crude caricature, campaign finance reports show that the candidates are benefiting from the very sources used to draw the pictures.

For example, Democratic challengers Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock pocketed big contributions from Big Tech and ivory towers from California to Boston.

The two biggest contributors to Mr. Ossoff’s and Mr. Warnock’s campaigns are the employees of Alphabet, the parent company of Google, and the University of California system, according to the campaign finance data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.

Employees at those two California institutions have poured more than half a million dollars into the races, giving $383,689 into Mr. Ossoff’s campaign and $190,224 to Mr. Warnock.

Mr. Ossoff’s ten biggest contributors of campaign cash are composed almost exclusively of West Coast technology giants and top colleges, including Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon and Harvard University, records show.

Mr. Ossoff, 33, is fighting to unseat incumbent Republican Sen. David Perdue who is seeking a second term. From the beginning of the race, the Perdue campaign has depicted Mr. Ossoff as someone more at home in Malibu or Manhattan than Macon.

“With Jon Ossoff as their U.S. Senate nominee, Georgia Democrats have put forward an unaccomplished, privileged elite who has long been a favorite of radical liberals,” the Perdue campaign said.

Mr. Warnock’s campaign has been slightly less reliant on Big Tech cash, although employees of Disney Corporation are included among those at Microsoft and Apple among his 10 biggest contributors.

None of the campaigns responded to requests for comment about campaign finances.

The lists of the ten biggest contributors to Mr. Perdue and Ms. Loeffler read like a who’s who of Georgia big business. Both of their campaigns benefited from contributions from the employees of Atlanta giants like Delta Air Lines and Home Depot, as well as companies in other parts of the Peach State such as AFLAC, records show.

Delta and Home Depot employees have contributed at least $208,956 to Mr. Perdue’s reelection bid. Ms. Loeffler, who has already pledged more than $20 million of her fortune has received comparatively less than the other candidates, with AFLAC, Delta and Home Depot workers giving her at least $62,343.

These figures are dwarfed by the outside spending.

With seven weeks to go before the polls open, more than a quarter of a billion dollars has already been spent on the two Senate seats from Georgia, according to political analysts in Atlanta.

As of Nov. 18, the race pitting Ms. Loeffler against Mr. Warnock has already seen $76.5 million in media buys, while Mr. Perdue’s race against Mr. Ossoff has had $44.6 million, according to a veteran consultant who has been hired by an outside party to track media buys in Georgia.

That day, however, groups supporting Mr. Ossoff made another $19.1 million media buy while those backing Mr. Perdue made a $4.5 million buy, the consultant’s spreadsheet shows.

In other words, since Nov. 3 election, the Georgia senate races have added $144.7 million in outside spending.

All told, the general election race in November and the Jan. 5 runoff contests are expected to be the most expensive Senate races in U.S. history.

The amount of spending raises eyebrows but it’s harder to get voters worked up about who’s footing the bill, said Jeffrey Lazarus, a political science professor at Georgia State University.

“The amount of money spent on elections is a topic that sometimes breaks through and becomes a story, but the source of the money rarely does,” he said. “Perdue is going to paint Ossoff as beholden to liberal interested of his party no matter where Ossoff’s money comes from, and Ossoff is going to paint Perdue as beholden to large corporations no matter where Perdue’s money comes from.”

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