Republican Donald Trump won the White House in November, and both Congress and state government are dominated by the GOP. But in Georgia, the official party apparatus continues to be awash in debt.
In January, the state party spent more than twice as much as it took in and finished the month with $38,000 in the bank and $317,000 in debt, according to new campaign finance reports.
By contrast, the state Democratic Party, which has won few if any big races in recent years, reported having $267,000 banked.
Election victors are usually in the pole position to refill their campaign coffers after the votes. And Georgia Republicans have had a string of successes, sweeping every statewide office in 2010 and 2014, cementing U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson’s victory and delivering Trump a 5-point win in November.
And yet the party’s financial fortunes have fallen since 2010, when it had about $2 million in the bank. And while the bank account has recovered slightly from a nadir of just $11,403 in December 2015, some Republican officials are raising sharp questions.
The race to succeed party chair John Padgett is already shaping up, in part, to be a referendum on his fundraising flaws. DeKalb attorney Alex Johnson, party vice-chair Michael McNeely and former Perdue aide John Watson have all criticized the party’s moribund finances.
Meanwhile, the state party announced its March 13 annual fundraiser – perhaps the last chance for the Georgia GOP to revive its finances on Padgett’s watch – will feature a visit from the new chair of the Republican National Committee.
Ronna Romney McDaniel will keynote the March 13 gala at the Georgia Aquarium. Fox News commentator and former judge Jeanine Pirro will also speak. And Gov. Nathan Deal, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and other state leaders are set to be on hand.