In 2021, the Georgia legislature, in a bill signed by Governor Brian Kemp, established a type of political action committee (PAC) that can accept and spend unlimited funds in support of a candidate. This new type of PAC was called a leadership committee and would be available only to a select few candidates, among them the incumbent Governor and his eventual general election opponent “selected in a primary.”
At the time the law creating leadership committees passed, Governor Kemp was the only candidate able to take advantage of the new type of PAC. Almost a full year later, Stacey Abrams, who became the Democratic nominee for governor in the primary election on May 24, 2022, is now authorized under Georgia law to chair her own leadership committee.
Because of the “lucrative” nature of leadership committees — having no limit on contributions or expenditures and being able to directly coordinate with the candidate (unlike independent committees, known outside Georgia as super PACs) — a candidate with a leadership committee arguably would have an advantage over an opponent who, by law, does not and cannot have one. This unequal footing first led to a lawsuit by Governor Kemp’s primary election opponent, Senator David Perdue, then another by Abrams. Ultimately a federal court ruled that Governor Kemp had to wait until his opponent could also have a leadership committee before he could use his.
After the Senate elections last year leading to two Democratic Senators narrowly edging victory over their Republican opponents, as well as the narrow victory by Governor Kemp over Abrams in the last gubernatorial election, money will likely pour into this year’s gubernatorial contest and, in particular, into the candidates’ respective leadership committees.
As her party’s nominee, Abrams may now fully utilize her leadership committee (she had previously registered the committee in March), One Georgia. Her first disclosure report for the leadership committee showing how much she has raised and spent is due no later than July 8, 2022. Governor Kemp’s leadership committee, Georgians First, will also report then. That will be the first real glimpse into which candidate’s leadership committee will have the fundraising advantage leading up to the general election.
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