Mitt RomneyRepublican presidential candidate Mitt Romney will return to Georgia later this month for a pricey luncheon and photo reception, a visit slated less than a week after his wife will blitz Peach State moneymen.

Local fundraising aides to the former Massachusetts governor sent invitations this week to a September 19 luncheon and photo opportunity at the Atlanta Marriot Marquis.

The per-plate cost of the luncheon was set at $1,000, according to an invite provided to Tipsheet, though donors must contribute at least $10,000 for the grip-and-grin.

Even as the Romney ground operation has largely avoided Georgia, instead directing voter contact resources to less red jurisdictions, the Bay Stater has built a money network here that dwarfs the bundling efforts of previous GOP White House hopefuls.

When he was last in Georgia in July, Romney raised more than $3 million. That single night’s worth of glad-handing nearly matched the total general election haul by the previous Republican nominee, Senator John McCain, whose Georgia receipts totaled just north of $4.5 million.

As in any campaign, the candidate’s time is the most precious resource. In Romney’s absence, his campaign has dispatched a host of prominent surrogates, including former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, and members of his family to keep that Georgia money drip constant.

One of his sons, Josh, headlined an Atlanta funder last month and the would-be first lady, Ann, is scheduled for a reception and private dinner on September 13.

– James Richardson