Brian Jack

ATLANTA – A former political aide to Donald Trump carrying the former president’s endorsement is the leading fundraiser in the campaign for the only open seat in Georgia’s congressional delegation.

But a former state senator from Newnan is touting his lead in donations from “grassroots” contributors.

Brian Jack of Fayette County, who served the Trump administration as political director, raised $623,134 during the first quarter of this year, according to a report filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC).

Jack and five others will vie for the Republican nomination in Georgia’s 3rd Congressional District in the May 21 GOP primary. Incumbent U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson, R-West Point, announced in December he wouldn’t seek a fifth term.

Trump encouraged Jack to run for the vacant seat in the heavily Republican district in a posting on Trump’s social media site in March.

“Brian Jack is a great conservative America First candidate,” David Bossie, who served as deputy campaign manager for Trump in 2016, told NBC News. “Brian will fight the failed status quo in D.C. and be a leader for Georgia and America when President Trump is back in the White House.”

But the 3rd District contest, as is typical for any race for an open congressional seat, has drawn a lot of interest. Republican Mike Crane, who served in the Georgia Senate from 2011 through 2016, raised $504,650 in January, February, and March.

Of that amount, $458,650 came from individual donors, topping the $311,096 Jack’s campaign brought in from individual contributors.

“I’m honored to have earned the trust and financial backing of so many Georgians,” Crane said. “One dollar from Georgia speaks louder to me than $100 from DC insiders.”

Another former state senator, Republican Mike Dugan of Carrollton, raised $267,573 during the first quarter, all but about $10,000 from individual donors. Dugan, a former Senate majority leader, left the General Assembly earlier this year to launch his campaign for Congress.

“Just as he did in the legislature, Mike will deliver conservative victories, safeguard West Georgia values and be a leader of whom we are proud,” said Ben Jarrard, Dugan’s campaign manager. “Our fundraising numbers demonstrate the confidence in and local community support of Mike Dugan for Congress.”

Of the other three Republican candidates in the 3rd District, only former state Rep. Phillip Singleton of Fayetteville raised six-digit contribution numbers. His campaign brought in $143,362 in January, February and March.

Jim Bennett of Carroll County raised $35,373, and Ray Blair of Columbus brought in $32,501, according to their FEC reports.

Two heavily underdog Democratic candidates raised less than any of the Republican hopefuls. Maura Keller of Fayetteville brought in $25,520 during the first quarter, while Val Almonord of Columbus raised $19,926.