The national spotlight on Georgia politics has come with financial reward, as Georgia congressional candidates reported raising almost $82 million during 2021 — with half of the money funneled into a U.S. Senate race that will likely help determine control of the chamber.

This story also appeared in Georgia Public Broadcasting

According to campaign finance reports filed with the Federal Elections Commission, incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock reported $9.8 million in contributions from across the country during the last three months of 2021 alone, with nearly $23 million amassed in the bank. His top GOP rival, Trump-endorsed Herschel Walker, brought in $5.3 million in the final quarter, more than $9 million since joining the race late August and has $5.4 million cash on hand.

The two Senate candidates were some of the top fundraisers in the entire country.

With the Trump endorsement and millions pouring into his campaign, Walker is widely considered the favorite to win the Republican primary in May, though a trio of challengers have raised millions of their own. Latham Saddler, a military veteran and banking executive, hauled in more than $3.1 million in 2021, Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black raised $1.7 million and construction company owner Kelvin King reported $1.25 million in receipts.

Saddler, Black and King have all seen their quarterly contributions decline after Walker’s entry into the race, and King’s campaign has spent more money than it raised for multiple quarters in a row.

The once-a-decade redistricting process has shaken up many congressional races, with Democrat Lucy McBath switching from the 6th District to the 7th in a member-on-member primary against Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux. According to an analysis of donations received in the fourth quarter of 2021, McBath outraised Bourdeaux overall, but the Gwinnett-based congresswoman reported slightly more itemized donations than McBath in the days after McBath switched races.

In the now-open 6th District and the open 10th District vacated by Rep. Jody Hice’s primary challenge to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, Republican candidates have raised (and loaned themselves) hundreds of thousands of dollars to gain an edge on their opponents. Candidates have fronted more than $2.7 million of their own money in the primaries.

In the 6th District, former 7th District nominee Rich McCormick plowed $400,000 cash into his coffers while raising $371,000 last quarter, attorney Jake Evans previously loaned his campaign $500,000 and self-proclaimed “MAGA mom” Mallory Staples infused $250,000 into her bid to represent the 6th.

The 10th District fundraising pack is led by trucking executive Mike Collins, who has more than $750,000 cash on hand, and Patrick Witt, who has nearly $400,000. Six different candidates reported six-figure loans to their campaigns for the 10th.

Georgia’s role on the national stage is not limited to competitive seats. Despite Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s seat in Northwest Georgia representing one of the most conservative constituencies in the country, donors from all over have sent millions to Democrats seeking to somehow unseat her.

From October to December, Greene was outraised by Democrat Marcus Flowers, who brought in $1.3 million and spent most of it on advertising, consulting and fundraising expenses. Greene reported $1.1 million in contributions, down from the $3.2 million raised in the first three months of 2021 after she filed articles to impeach president Joe Biden and was removed from her committee assignments.

In all, Democratic candidates have raised more than $6.4 million in a race that has never seen Democrats win more than 27% of the vote in the decade it has existed, though new lines will make the district slightly less Republican.

With fundraising numbers for statewide and legislative campaigns due in the coming days, you can expect the 2022 midterm elections to be an expensive affair.

This story comes to The Current GA through a reporting partnership with GPB News, a non-profit newsroom covering the state of Georgia.

Stephen Fowler/GPB News

Stephen Fowler is political reporter for Georgia Public Broadcasting.