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Morning headlines: Abrams banks nearly $22 million

Photo: GPB News
Democratic candidate for Georgia governor Stacey Abrams reported raising nearly $22 million dollars in recent months.

Stacey Abrams reports her campaign for Governor raised $21.8 million during the two months ending June 30th, far outpacing Republican incumbent Governor Brian Kemp.

That amount includes both direct contributions to Abrams' campaign and its associated One Georgia committee. By comparison, Governor Brian Kemp’s campaign raised $6.8 million.

Both Kemp and Abrams are spending heavily with Abrams in excess of $30 million as the general election campaign gets underway in earnest. Kemp has already spent more than $17 million in defeating primary challenger David Perdue. The 2022 races in closely divided Georgia are likely to blow past old records, with a torrent of political spending expected from candidates, political parties and outside groups in the gubernatorial contest and the U.S. Senate race between Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker.

Abrams isn't the only Democratic challenger outperforming a Republican incumbent in the money chase. Jen Jordan, Democratic candidate for Attorney General, reported raising $601,000 during May and June, slightly more than incumbent Chris Carr, who pulled in $577,000. After surviving a runoff for the Democratic nomination for Secretary of State, Democrat Bee Nguyen reported raising $874,000, compared to $305,000 for incumbent Brad Raffensperger. In total, Nguyen has raised $2.17 million, compared to $2 million for Raffensperger.

North Georgia DA: Guidestones explosion is "domestic terrorism"

The District Attorney for the Northern Circuit of Georgia is calling last week’s bombing of the Georgia Guidestones an act of domestic terrorism.

Parks White says he intends to prosecute whoever used an explosive to destroy the structures. According to White, the Guidestones are officially owned by the governing authority of Elbert County and that any structure open to the public and owned by a subdivision of the state is considered a public building. A conviction carries a minimum of 20 years in prison.

The bombing occurred about 4am Wednesday, destroying one leg of the structure leaving it unstable and leading authorities to demolish what remained. Anyone with information on the crime is asked to contact the GBI's Region 11 office at (706) 552-2309.

State's surplus could hit $5 billion

Georgia may have run a surplus of more than $5 billion in the just-finished budget year.

The surplus comes after the state collected more than $33 billion in taxes in the year ending June 30. Collections rose 23% from about $27 billion the year before. Georgia planned to spend more than $54 billion in the just-ended budget year, including federal money, lottery proceeds, and other fees and taxes that state agencies collect. Final numbers won’t be clear until the state closes its books on the budget year around Labor Day. The extra funds could make it possible to further cut taxes or expand services.

COVID cases continue to rise in area

Oconee County Observations reports the latest COVID numbers released from area hospitals indicate the highest number of Covid-19 cases since March.

Those hospitals had 35 COVID-19 patients, up from 24 on Friday of last week. The number of ICU beds in use was 71, up from 67 a week earlier, and the number of adult ventilators in use was 30, up from 29 a week ago.

The number of COVID-19 patients at area hospitals has not been this high on a Friday since March 11, when it was 36. The Department of Public Health Report last week did not add any new confirmed deaths from COVID-19, and the total number of confirmed deaths from the disease in the 10-county District that includes Oconee and Clarke counties, which goes back to February of 2020, stood close to 1,600.

Alexia Ridley joined WUGA as Television and Radio News Anchor and Reporter in 2013. When WUGA TV concluded operations, she became the primary Reporter for WUGA Radio. Alexia came to Athens from Macon where she served as the News Director and show host for WGXA TV. She's a career journalist and Savannah native hailing from the University of Michigan. However, Alexia considers herself an honorary UGA DAWG!