At the state Capitol, former Gov. Roy Barnes threw open the books on 25 years of tax returns and other financial documents showing the self-described "country lawyer" has a net worth of $16.6 million.
Attorney General Thurbert Baker, meanwhile, unveiled an economic development plan he said would create 25,000 new biotech jobs in Georgia by selling income tax credits and tapping venture capital.
Baker and Barnes are the leading contenders among five Democrats running for governor in the state's July 20 primary.
Barnes on Wednesday dumped a stack of tax returns on reporters and called on his opponents to do the same. Candidates in Georgia must file detailed financial disclosures after qualifying to run for office, but there is no requirement that they make their tax returns public.
"Georgians deserve a governor who has nothing to hide," Barnes said.
He assailed ethics at the state Capitol as "lifestyles of the rich and the shameless."
The documents released Wednesday show Barnes has raked in millions of dollars since he was ousted from the governor's mansion in 2002. He and his wife Marie listed a net worth of $16.6 million. That's up from $12.6 million in 2002 just before he left office. His total income in 2009 was $5.1 million, tax records show. Of that, $1.7 million came from capital gains, $1.8 million in IRA distributions and $1.6 million in wages and other income from his Marietta law firm.
Barnes paid just over $1.5 million in state and federal taxes in 2009 and donated almost $400,000 to charity.
"Listen, I don't apologize for being succesful," he said, adding that he could bring the same prosperity to the state.
His campaign posted the records online and said other candidates should do the same. Republican gubernatorial candidate Eric Johnson has also opened up his last two years of tax returns for inspection by reporters but has not posted them online.
Baker, meanwhile, focused on job creation at an event conducted at Altea Therapeutics in Atlanta.
The state's chief lawyer said that over the last decade or so Georgia has been "out-hustled when it comes to attracting high-tech companies and keeping good, high-paying high-tech jobs."
He noted that the state lost out on a new $450 million federal laboratory to study biological threats such as anthrax that went instead to Kansas.
Baker's plan would tap $150 million in venture capital for new companies, offering to sell future income tax credits to build up the needed venture capital.
Baker said that under the plan Georgia would reap the benefits of the jobs and investment before the tax credits are cashed out five years down the road.
The fund would eventually become self-sustaining and the investment could come with boosting taxes.
"We've got the skills here in Georgia to pull this off what we don't have is the will to do it," Baker said.
Responding to Barnes' challenge, Baker said he planned to release his own tax returns soon.
But Barnes was already looking forward to the general election, blasting one GOP front-runner - state insurance commissioner John Oxendine - for traveling to Hollywood for the Oscars on a campaign contributors' dime.
"While the bright lights of Hollywood and red carpets at the Oscars appeal to some candidates, the people of Georgia don't need to find out about that hob-knobbing from a lawsuit," Barnes said. Word of Oxendine's trip was revealed in a federal lawsuit.