The Georgia Congressional 6th District special election battle between liberal Democrat Jon Ossoff and conservative Republican Karen Handel has now become the most expensive House battle in history in which over $18 million has poured in by outside groups.
Ninety-five percent of the donors for Ossoff came from outside of Georgia, which means only a small amount of his contributors live in the district. More than $500,000 came from California and another $400,000 came from New York, and Massachusetts donors chipped in at least $160,000, all three states are predominately Democratic.
The outside money — for expenses such as television ads and canvassing — is on top of the millions of dollars that the candidates themselves are raising and spending before the special election on June 20.
Georgia’s 6th congressional district, which is located in the northern part of the state and contains some of the suburbs of Atlanta, generally splits 60 percent to 40 percent in favor of Republicans.
But this year could be different, with Trump winning the district over Democrat Hillary Clinton in November by just 1.5 percentage points.
“It’s not surprising that there’s a ton of money pouring in this race,” said Brandon Hanick of Better Georgia, a large progressive group in the state working to help elect Ossoff.
“More than anything it’s the fact that we’re living for the first few months of essentially a nightmare of a presidency,” Hanick said.
“This is the second major [special] election [this year], and it’s a way to take temperature of the current political climate,” he said. “What we’ve seen from Handel is that she’s unable to criticize Trump about anything.”
Next month’s runoff is a rematch of April’s “jungle primary,” which pit a crowded field of candidates against each other. Since no candidate won a majority of the vote, Ossoff and Handel advanced as the top two candidates for the runoff.
Handel is a former Georgia secretary of State and Ossoff is a 30-year-old CEO of a company that produces investigative coverage for news outlets. He’s a first-time political candidate with some Capitol Hill experience.
The runoff set up a two-month sprint to the finish line, which ends on June 20. And both sides are emptying their pocketbooks into the district.
In related news, an ethics watchdog notified congressional investigators of its finding that Rep. Hank Johnson (D., Ga.) used his office’s taxpayer-funded resources to assist the campaign of Jon Ossoff, a former Johnson aide, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
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