First-time candidate Ethan Underwood leads fundraising in crowded 9th Congressional District field

Collins’ impending departure convinced a large field of Republicans to jump into the contest for his seat in the heavily Republican district. State Sen. John Wilkinson of Toccoa, the third Georgia legislator on the June 9 Republican primary ballot, raised $114,273 through March 31, mostly from individual contributors.

by Dave Williams/Capitol Beat News Service

Apr 17, 2020


ATLANTA – The top fundraiser in a crowded Republican field looking to succeed U.S. Rep. Doug Collins in Georgia’s 9th Congressional District has never held elective office even though three state lawmakers are also in the race.

Ethan Underwood, an attorney and GOP activist, raised $231,800 during the first quarter of this year, most in the form of a $160,000 loan he made to his campaign, according to a report filed this week with the Federal Election Commission (FEC). That’s tops in the 9th District, a relatively low-cost place to run for Congress because it’s primarily outside of the Atlanta advertising market.


Also, candidates in the 9th District haven’t had as long to raise campaign contributions as those in other parts of the state. Collins, R-Gainesville, didn’t announce he was leaving the House to run for the U.S. Senate until late January.


Another factor dampening donations is the distraction to normal politicking wrought by the coronavirus pandemic.


Collins’ impending departure convinced a large field of Republicans to jump into the contest for his seat in the heavily Republican district.


State Rep. Kevin Tanner of Dawsonville raised $222,710 during the first quarter. He wasn’t as reliant on his own pockets as Underwood, floating himself a smaller $50,000 loan.


State Rep. Matt Gurtler of Tiger was third in fundraising, bringing in $177,599 as of March 31, with only a $7,000 personal loan supplementing his campaign donations.


Andrew Clyde, a Navy veteran and firearms distributor, raised $120,235 during the first quarter, mainly through a $100,000 personal loan.


State Sen. John Wilkinson of Toccoa, the third Georgia legislator on the June 9 Republican primary ballot, raised $114,273 through March 31, mostly from individual contributors.


Two other Republican hopefuls have struggled to raise donations. Retiree Maria Strickland brought in just $32,758 during the first quarter, all from a personal loan, while gun store owner Kellie Weeks received just $5,525 in contributions.


The candidate with arguably the most name recognition in the contest, former U.S. Rep. Paul Broun, had not filed a report with the FEC as of Friday. Broun, a physician, represented Georgia’s 10th Congressional District from 2007 to 2015.


Michael Boggus, a crane operator, also had not filed a report to the FEC as of Friday.

Democrat Dan Wilson, a retire, had raised $20,127 through March 31. Another Democratic retiree, Devin Pandy, had not filed a report as of Friday.


The 9th Congressional District covers northeastern Georgia stretching from south of Gainesville and the northern end of Athens to the state borders with South Carolina and North Carolina.

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