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Oxendine fourth in fundraising

ATLANTA - Local gubernatorial candidate John Oxendine took fourth place in fundraising among Republican candidates for governor for the last six months.

But the Duluth man, who now serves as insurance commissioner, has $1 million on hand for the 2010 campaign, according to disclosures filed Tuesday.

"Everywhere I go in Georgia, people have been enthusiastic about my campaign for governor," Oxendine said in a campaign e-mail. "Our Contract with Georgia, with its focus on abolishing the state income tax, implementation of a national fair tax, and attention to important social issues, has connected with conservative Ronald Reagan voters."

Oxendine returned about $120,000 to two political action committees, according to the disclosure, after the origin of the funds came into question.

Congressman Nathan Deal, whose north Georgia district dips into Braselton, lead the Republican field, bringing in $980,000 in the two months since he entered the race.

Another late-comer to the race, state Sen. Eric Johnson, came in with a close second, garnering $960,000 since he decided in April to forego a race for lieutenant governor after the incumbent announced he would seek re-election.

'Even in these challenging economic times, Georgians are investing confidently in our campaign and in our state's future,' Johnson said.

The two who have been campaigning the longest - Secretary of State Karen Handel and Oxendine - came in half a million dollars lower, with Handel bringing in $430,000 and Oxendine raising $415,000.

'This means that we are well on our way to having the resources we need to get our message out,' Handel said in an e-mail to supporters. 'It also means that we are building a grassroots team of dedicated Georgians who have invested personally in our campaign and will work hard toward our victory.'

Rounding out the GOP field, state Rep. Austin Scott has raised about $180,000 and long-shot GOP candidate Ray McBerry has raised about $18,000.

For Democrats, Attorney General Thurbert Baker is the leading the fundraising effort, raking in about $700,000 since he announced he would run.

But former Gov. Roy Barnes, who is considered the front runner, hasn't listed funds raised because he didn't formally enter the race until July.

Two other Democratic candidates said they were pleased with their fundraising hauls.

House Minority Leader DuBose Porter raised about $230,000 and former Georgia National Guard commander David Poythress raised about $150,000. Poythress pointed out that about $75,000 came in the month of June - after Barnes announced he was entering the race.

'We are pleased by the outpouring of grassroots support for our campaign,' Poythress said.