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Failed Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams boasted a massive fundraising haul of more than $100 million in the 2022 cycle, but now her campaign says it owes money and staffers were reportedly cut from pay shortly after the November election.
The Democrat’s two-time campaign manager, Lauren Groh-Wargo, told Axios the team owes more than $1 million in debt to vendors after Abrams lost to Gov. Brian Kemp (R-GA) by nearly 300,000 votes.
“We did not just lose, we got blown out,” Groh-Wargo told the news outlet. “It was the most sub-optimal situation to be in. And we will be dealing with that situation for some time.”
Although Groh-Wargo said a “cavalcade of negative press and negative polling” was a burden on fundraising in the final stretch, Abrams had outraised Kemp via her campaign and leadership committee, One Georgia, with a total of $105.3 million through October 25, according to finance reports cited by GPB. Kemp, through his campaign and leadership committee, Georgians First, raised $81.5 million up to that point in time.
The GBP report said the total amount raised between the two sides broke the previous record. Together they raised four times the amount Abrams and Kemp did when they first faced off in 2018. Financial disclosures for the final quarter of this year are due next month.
Despite her first loss four years ago, Abrams was seen as a rising star within the Democratic Party, and even touted how she would be “an excellent running mate” to Joe Biden during his 2020 presidential campaign. Abrams, who previously served in the Georgia House of Representatives, has long been criticized by Republicans and conservative media for her refusal to concede to Kemp in their first matchup.
A former Abrams campaign staffer told 11Alive, an NBC affiliate in Atlanta, most of the candidate’s 2022 team of roughly 180 received their final checks on November 15, just one week after Kemp won reelection, though this person noted that health benefits stretched through the month and the campaign’s human resources department helped members find new jobs. By comparison, Axios reported that staff in Kemp’s campaign were paid through November and received bonuses.
“If we had ended the campaign with enough money to pay staff through January, and we lost — I think there would be pieces coming out about why does [the campaign] have like $2 million in bank,” the former staffer told 11Alive. “I think the campaign was as transparent about things as it possibly could be.”
A former Abrams staffer who spoke with Axios was less generous. “I figured, $100 million? They should be able to pay me until December,” this person said.