Georgia 2018: Evans keeps pace with top rival in gov money race

State Rep. Stacey Evans. BOB ANDRES /BANDRES@AJC.COM

Democrat Stacey Evans doesn’t have the same national profile of her top rival in the governor’s race, but Monday’s financial report showed the Smyrna state legislator could keep up with her in the hunt for campaign cash.

Evans raised $410,000 over the span of about a month, collecting donations at a higher pace  than former House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, who tallied $540,000 through about two months.

And Evans ended the month of June with about $360,000 cash on hand – more than the $220,000 that Abrams had left in the bank.

Evans has made improving the HOPE scholarship the centerpiece of her bid for higher office, and has attracted support from some prominent Democrats for a campaign rollout that included a video about her tumultuous childhood.

She’s locked in what’s expected to be a bruising primary against Abrams, who has captured national attention – and even stray talk about a presidential run – in her bid to be the nation’s first black female governor.

The two are the highest-profile Democrats in the race to succeed Gov. Nathan Deal, who is term-limited. Evans is expected to dip into her own wallet to help finance the campaign, but did not loan her campaign any significant funding in this first fundraising report.

The vast majority of Evans’ donors – about 87 percent – were from the state of Georgia. About a dozen fellow state legislators donated to her campaign, as did former Gov. Roy Barnes, who combined with his law firm to donate $21,000.

Four Republicans are in the race: Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, Secretary of State Brian Kemp and state Sens. Hunter Hill and Michael Williams. Cagle reported raising more than $2.7 million, while Kemp netted about $1.7 million. Hill said he topped the $1 million mark.

The fundraising figures are an important early gauge of a candidate’s strength, and they’re watched closely by activists and donors who have yet to pick a side in the race.

Read more on MyAJC: How Trump is shaking up the governor’s race

And: Georgia governor race: Who is running in 2018

More fundraising coverage:

Hunter Hill sets a $1M bar in gov

Cagle sets pace with $2.7M take

Abrams nets $500K in gov run

Kemp raises $1.7M in hunt for gov

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