Georgia’s 6th District race could set an epic new spending record

Karen Handel and Jon Ossoff.

The ad blitz in the race for Georgia’s 6th District started up anew on Thursday as outside groups began to pour millions more into winning what could become the most expensive U.S. House election in the nation’s history.

After a one-day respite, the bombardment of advertisement that already has cost well over $14 million resumed with biting attack pieces on Republican Karen Handel and Democrat Jon Ossoff. It’s a taste of what’s to come in an all-out battle between national Republicans and Democrats over the suburban Atlanta district.

Ossoff’s strong showing Tuesday — he came within two points of an outright win — invigorated Democratic groups that still see the race as a chance to deal Donald Trump a devastating blow in a district long held by Republicans. His campaign took in more than $500,000 in the hours after he captured about 48 percent of the vote in the district — about the same level of support Trump notched.

With her No. 2 finish, Handel’s campaign is fast expanding from the shoe-string operation she built as one of 11 Republicans in the race. Republican leaders didn’t get involved the first time around or endorsed her opponents are pledging their support, and national GOP groups launched ads backing her bid. Trump, who has already tweeted his support for Handel, lent his name to a fundraising letter sent by her campaign on Thursday.

Both campaigns are bracing for a bruising nine-week runoff that will further test the already-frazzled patience of voters in the district, which spans from east Cobb to north DeKalb.

“I don’t even pay attention to them any more,” said Toconnicer Parker, who works in finance in Alpharetta. “It’s way too much.”

Rob Simms, a Handel adviser and former National Republican Congressional Committee executive director, predicted this contest will outpace the costliest House election in the nation’s history: a 2012 Florida contest that cost nearly $30 million.

“Look at the amount of money that’s going to be spent through June 20,” he said. “There isn’t another seat in the country that will compare.”

We also point you to the following, which first appeared in Thursday’s Jolt:

You might remember Arthur Gardner, one of the lesser-known Republican candidates in the 2014 race for U.S. Senate. A good guy with a talent for numbers.

Not that he won very many, but Gardner calculated that votes in that primary went for $15 per, once all spending was added up. ‘I got about 6,000 votes and I recall that my fundraising/spending was about $90,000.  The $15/vote number was rather consistent top to bottom,” he wrote yesterday.

Gardner has tallied up spending in Tuesday’s Sixth District special election, campaigns and super PACs combined. The ballot/spending ratio he arrived at: $73 per vote.

More: Why Georgia’s Ossoff-Handel runoff could be costliest House race ever

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