A lucrative Atlanta trip headlined by a Tyler Perry-hosted fundraiser helped President Barack Obama out-raise Republican rival Mitt Romney in Georgia last month by a nearly six-to-one margin.
Obama raised more than $734,000 from Georgians in March, while Romney brought in $125,000, according to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution analysis of campaign finance disclosures. Nearly two-thirds of Obama's Georgia haul came from the Obama Victory Fund, a joint campaign account with the Democratic National Committee that put on three March 16 fundraisers in the Atlanta area.
In previous months, Obama has outraised Romney in Georgia, but not by so large a margin.
Obama's held numerous fundraising advantages in March that are now waning as the general election race gets under way. Romney, locked in a bitter primary that saw former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich win Georgia on March 6, was not raising money for the general election campaign. This month he has begun doing so, in conjunction with the Republican National Committee, as he has all but clinched the nomination -- though Gingrich and Texas Rep. Ron Paul remain in the race.
In all, Obama had $104 million on hand at the end of March, while Romney had $10.1 million.
Georgia voted for Republican John McCain for president in 2008 and the GOP has consolidated its statewide dominance since then. Though the state is highly unlikely to move to the Democratic column, it remains attractive to Democrats for its donor base -- particularly in Atlanta.
During his visit Obama spoke at a $250-a-ticket event at Tyler Perry Studios in Southwest Atlanta, then at two private homes, one of them Perry's mansion near Vinings. Admission was $10,000 and $35,800 -- the maximum legal contribution for the joint committee.
Among those who "maxed out" were Rev. Jasper Williams and his son Joseph Williams, both pastors at the Salem Bible Church.
Entertainer Chris "Ludacris" Bridges donated $10,000 to the joint fund, as did musician Cee Lo Green, whose profanity-laced performance at Perry's studio fundraiser later drew controversy. Also giving the $35,800 maximum to the joint fund were Herman J. Russell, chairman of contracting company H.J. Russell and Co., and his wife, Sylvia Russell, an executive with AT&T.
The Obama Victory Fund paid $12,000 for the use of Perry's studio.
In all, the Obama Victory Fund brought in about $950,000 from Georgia in March, of which $454,000 was transferred to the Obama campaign.
Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, had 22 Georgians donate the maximum $2,500 to his primary campaign in March including Stephen Beagle, of Roswell, the president of Southland Homes Corp.; and Jesse Thomas, of Norcross, the south division president of Wellcare Health Plans.
Restore Our Future, a Super PAC supporting Romney that can raise and spend unlimited amounts, last month brought in $100,000 each from Atlanta's Kelly Loeffler, of Intercontinental Exchange Inc., and Alpharetta's Rod Aycox, of Select Management Resources LLC. Restore Our Future raised $8.68 million in all and finished March with $6.45 million on hand.
The pro-Obama Priorities USA Super PAC raised $2.5 million in March, none coming from Georgia, and had $5.03 million in the bank.
Gingrich raised $121,000 from Georgia in March, a month that saw his campaign spiral into even more severe debt as his Georgia primary victory was overshadowed by a string of disappointing performances elsewhere in the South.
Gingrich raised $1.69 million and reported $1.22 million cash on hand but $4.3 million in debt to staff, a security firm, a private jet company and other vendors.
Winning Our Future, a Super PAC run by former Gingrich aides supporting his candidacy, was in better shape. A $5 million donation by the wife of Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, nearly the entire amount the group raised, brought the Adelson family's total contribution to the Gingrich shadow media campaign to more than $20 million. The debt-free Super PAC had $5.7 million on hand at the end of March and had not yet reported any April spending as of Monday.
March fundraising totals from Georgia
Obama -- $734,339.07
Mitt Romney -- $125,545.00
Newt Gingrich -- 121,110.00
Rick Santorum -- 55,732.00
Ron Paul -- 36,344.09
Note: Obama's total includes money raised for the general election. Republicans only raised for the primaries.
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