Incumbency has its advantages, and that continues to prove true for U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter’s campaign fundraising. He closed out March with more than $1 million on hand and raised more than $162,000 this past quarter ahead of the most spirited Democratic challenge for the Republican’s seat in quite some time.

Of Carter’s contributions, $97,000 — nearly 60 percent — came from corporation and industry political action committees. That is a lower percentage than the fourth quarter of 2017, but still represents the lion’s share of incoming cash.

Carter’s place on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, along with the prospect of opening up Georgia’s coast for offshore oil and gas drilling, resulted in some notable contributions, as well. He received $2,500 from Valero Energy, along with $1,000 each from PACs representing the American Petroleum Institute, Exxon Mobil, the National Ocean Industries Association and the Petroleum Marketers Association.

Carter also received $5,000 each from the leadership PACs of House Speaker Paul Ryan and House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden, along with $2,000 from U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina.

Other PAC contributions of note include Rayonier, with $2,500, and $1,000 from both Facebook and the National Rifle Association.

Carter also made campaign-financed trips to Arizona, New York City and West Hollywood, Calif. The California trip ran up the highest bill — more than $3,300, with catering from Boa Steakhouse and lodging at The London West Hollywood hotel.

Neither Democrat has been able to match Carter’s fundraising thus far. Lisa Ring, Bryan County Democratic Committee chairwoman, received more than $33,000 during the quarter and spent more than $30,000, leaving the campaign with nearly $15,200 in the bank. She drew in money from 32 people, including DeKalb County Commissioner Jeff Rader, who gave $250.

Meanwhile, Barbara Seidman of Waycross, who is also seeking the Democratic nomination, received more than $700 in contributions and spent more than $27,300, leaving the campaign with a little more than $1,644 cash on hand.

Meanwhile, in races for the General Assembly, state law forbids fundraising while the legislature is in session, so state Sen. William Ligon, R-White Oak, and state Reps. Don Hogan and Jeff Jones — both St. Simons Island Republicans — did not have any money put away in the first quarter of the year. Jerrold Dagen, Ligon’s Democratic opponent, did not report any financial activity at all, while Cedric Z. King, Jones’ opponent, reported the basics of getting his campaign set up.

St. Simons Island Democrat Julie Jordan reported raising more than $8,000 however, a prodigious amount considering the voting behavior of the district and the limited amount of time. While Hogan, her opponent, has more than double that number on hand — more than $17,200 — Jordan’s fundraising shows she may be able to go toe-to-toe with the incumbent on dollars as the campaign picks up pace.

Jordan’s report also shows more than 90 percent of her contributions came from women.

The party primaries are set for May 22 and the general election is scheduled for Nov. 6.

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