In Tight Governor's Race, Atlanta CRE Execs Pour Money Into Kemp Campaign
The race to replace outgoing Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, a Republican, is a toss-up that could lead to the first-ever December runoff in what has been a contentious election season.
But for many of the city's commercial real estate leaders, there's little question of whom they support: Republican candidate and current Secretary of State Brian Kemp.
Bisnow reviewed recent campaign contribution reports from Kemp and Democratic challenger Stacey Abrams and found, by and large, executives and developers in commercial real estate have poured thousands into Kemp's campaign coffers in a clear demonstration of political preference this election season.
The names donating to Kemp include former Major League Baseball first baseman-turned-developer Mark Teixeira ($1,000), Carter CEO Scott Taylor ($2,000) and residential skyscraper king Novare Group CEO Jim Borders ($6,600), who told Bisnow in an email that he is a lifelong Republican and a longtime friend of Kemp.
“I know that Stacey Abrams is a very intelligent woman, and I know she would have the best intentions to how she would run our state, but I don't know if she has the same pro-business, small-business mindset I'd like to see for the state of Georgia,” McWhirter Realty Partners' Dan Buyers said.
Buyers is the past chairman of the Atlanta Commercial Board of Realtors governmental affairs committee as well as a current alternate board member on the Georgia Association of Realtors political action committee, which spent $6,600 on Kemp's race this year — the maximum individual donation allowed to a state candidate by state law.
Buyers' main concern this election is replacing the Deal administration with one he believes will keep Georgia's economic development success on a roll.
Deal — along with former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed — both focused heavily on generating new jobs into the state and region with some very noteworthy successes, including Mercedes-Benz's U.S. headquarters, a new Anthem Healthcare IT campus coming to Midtown and most recently Thyssenkrupp's plans for a U.S. headquarters for its elevator division at The Battery at SunTrust Park, complete with a large elevator testing tower.
The Metro Atlanta region also is in the running for Amazon's vaunted HQ2 project, which will bring thousands of high-paying jobs to the winning city.
“Our industry depends on growth for our success,” Buyers said. "And I think that under Secretary Kemp as governor, I think there's a good chance that Georgia would maintain that lofty position."
Kemp has managed to raise nearly $21M in cash and another $218M in in-kind donations, according to the most recent financial disclosure report for the campaign. Below is a list of some of his many commercial real estate political donors.
- The Associated Builders and Contractors of Georgia, a construction industry organization whose PAC spent $3,000.
- Associated General Contractors of Georgia's PAC, which gave $6,600.
- Regent Partners Chairman David Allman and principal John Bell, who donated a total of $4,300. Regent has developed more than 10M SF of commercial properties in the Southeast since 1988 and is pursuing a mixed-use tower in Buckhead.
- Pope & Land Real Estate Chairman A.J. Land, whose firm has developed extensively both in the city and in Atlanta's suburbs, including Comcast's new regional operations at One Ballpark Center in SunTrust Park, donated $1,000.
- North Carolina developer and landlord Highwoods Properties, which is one of Atlanta's largest office landlords, donated $6,600. Highwoods Director of Leasing Mike Wells, based in Atlanta, also donated $1,000.
- Integral Group — whose CEO Egbert Perry was embroiled in a legal dispute last year with Reed over a contract to develop on city property — commercial real estate division President Christopher Martorella and Chief Operating Officer Matt Samuelson, who donated $3,000 combined.
- Niles Bolton Associates founder Niles Bolton, a noted Atlanta architect, donated $4,000.
- Kim King Associates CEO Beau King donated $1,000.
- Lee & Associates Atlanta President Dick Bryant donated $2,500.
- Lavista Associates principal Bradley Rush donated $500.
- Lee & Associates Senior Director Charlie Fiveash, who is NAIOP Georgia's president this year, donated $1,000.
- NAI Brannen Goddard CEO Mitchell Brannen donated $2,000.
- CF Real Estate Services partner Brooks Castellaw donated $250.
- Majestic Realty Co. Executive Vice President Stan Conway, who has developed mammoth distribution centers in the metro area in recent years, including a $400M UPS ground parcel facility just south of Downtown Atlanta in 2016, donated $6,600.
- Legendary office broker and Richard Bowers & Co. founder Dick Bowers donated $2,000.
- The Brookdale Group CEO Chip Davidson and President Fred Henritze, each of whom contributed the maximum amount of $6,600.
- Dewberry Capital Corp. founder John K. Dewberry, who was recently dubbed by Bloomberg as “Atlanta's Emperor of Empty Lots"for his extensive land holdings in the hot Midtown market, donated $5,000.
- Preferred Apartment Communities Vice Chairman Dan DuPree donated $1,000.
- CBRE Atlanta Vice Chairman Sam Holmes, who is continually one of the cities top office tenant representatives, donated $6,600.
- The Home Depot's political action committee donated $6,600. Former Home Depot CEO Bob Nardelli also gave $6,600.
- Winter Cos. CEO Brent Reid donated $1,000.
- Songy Highroads CEO David Songy donated $2,000.
- NAIOP's PAC called Georgians for Smart Growth donated $2,500.
- Scotland Wright & Associates founder Scotland Wright ($500)
- Atlanta development giant Portman Holdings, which is currently underway with a cluster of office developments in Midtown, including Coda, donated $2,500.
- Raulet Property Partners, which owns local filming studios, donated $500.
- Industrial development firm Robinson Weeks Partners CEO Forrest Robinson donated $1,000.
- Greenstone Properties partner Chris Scott donated $6,600.
- Landmark Properties — the nation's largest student housing developer — CEO Wes Rogers donated $6,600.
Abrams — who has raised more than $16M in cash and more than $140M in in-kind donations, according to records — had only a smattering of professionals in commercial real estate as financial supporters. But she has lured the attention of some of Hollywood's elite, including Ben Affleck, Kevin Bacon and Oprah Winfrey, who visited Atlanta this week to campaign on her behalf.
According to documents, among Abrams commercial real estate supporters include:
- CBRE Executive Vice President Jeffrey Ackemann ($500)
- CoStar Group Senior Economist and Managing Director Galina Alexeenko ($250)
- Central Atlanta Progress Vice President of Planning and Economic Development Jennifer Ball ($250)
- An executive named James Bellew with Maryland-based Federal Realty Investment Trust ($200)
- Jamestown Senior Associate Andrew Berger ($750)
- Atlanta-based OA Development founder Steve Berman ($500)
- Savills Studley Managing Director in Virginia Ken Biberaj ($200)
- H.J. Russell & Co. Chief Financial Officer Eddie Bradford ($500)
- Berkeley, California-based architect Peter Brock ($200)
- Cooper Carry principal Pope Bullock ($500)
- Georgia Power Vice President of Economic Development Pedro Cherry ($6,600)
- Peebles Corp. CEO and Chairman Don Peebles ($6,600)
That is in large part thanks to the Libertarian candidate for governor, Ted Metz, who is taking nearly 2% of the vote, and the 5% of voters who remain undecided.
In Georgia, the winning candidate must command 50% plus one vote. At this point, neither Abrams nor Kemp appear to be achieving that, which would force the duo into Georgia's first-ever gubernatorial runoff, which would be held Dec. 4.
CORRECTION, NOV. 5, 10:30 A.M. ET: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated Charlie Fiveash's current employer. Fiveash is senior director and managing broker with Lee & Associates. The story has been updated.
UPDATE, NOV. 5, 1 P.M. ET: This article has been updated with Peebles Corp. CEO Don Peebles' campaign contribution to Stacey Abrams.