Some state Republican leaders have lined up behind state Rep. Barry Fleming of Harlem, Ga., who began organizing in the district’s 21 counties and has set up a fund-raising machine that is out-raising the incumbent Broun 5 to 1.
Broun, who once claimed he was too busy doing the people’s business to raise campaign cash, had $125,000 on hand at the end of January, the most recent reporting period; Fleming had $488,000.
The race expanded this week when state Sen. Nancy Schaefer (R-Turnerville) announced that she, too, would challenge Broun in the July primary.
The lack of a competitive war chest, however, doesn’t mean Broun is about to lose his seat in November. He faced similar obstacles in 2007 in the race against Whitehead. At least half of Broun’s money for that race, more than $200,000, came out of his own pocket. He still owes himself more than $185,000 of that.
What helped Broun win, however, wasn’t the money but his tireless campaigning between election day and the runoff election with Whitehead, according to former Whitehead campaign aides.
Whitehead did too little while Broun was racking up hundreds of voters who didn’t support him in the primary but did in the runoff, his former aides said. And while the race was pitched as a geographic power struggle between Augusta and Broun’s hometown of Athens, Broun managed to build a coalition of Republicans, Democrats and independents from both areas.
John Stone, a former Norwood aide who worked for Whitehead, said there was no doubt that Broun would be challenged this year.
“That was a truly eccentric election and people weren’t satisfied with it,” Stone said.
Broun’s showdown is July 15, the date of Georgia’s state primaries, and he knows how rough it is going to get.
“What do people want? Do they want somebody that comes out of the Republican establishment that continues the status quo? Or do they want somebody who’s going to represent their interests, the district’s interests?”