By Jim Ellis
June 5, 2017 — The backfired Kathy Griffin ploy about beheading President Trump has made its way into the hotly contested GA-6 special election.
The Republican Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF), loosely associated with House Speaker Paul Ryan, is airing a new ad (above) that ties Griffin to Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff, labeling her an “Ossoff supporter,” and then attacking “extreme liberals” for creating violence and national unrest. Griffin publicly endorsed Ossoff several weeks ago via Twitter.
The script proceeds to call attention to Ossoff’s fundraising that could attract over $12 million before the election culminates on June 20. The CLF contends that 95 percent of Ossoff’s funds come from outside of Georgia, and infers that most of his supporters are of the same ilk as Griffin. The script ends explaining that these activists support Ossoff because “he is one of them.”
The ad has struck a chord because Ossoff’s campaign is loudly calling for the CLF to cease airing the commercial, and demanding that his Republican opponent, former Secretary of State Karen Handel, disavow the contention that Ossoff even tangentially condones Griffin’s actions. It is certain that neither mandate will be honored. In fact, just the opposite will occur. CLF executive director Corry Bliss told the Washington Examiner news organization that, “[T]he more Jon Ossoff complains about the [Griffin] ad, the more money we’ll spend broadcasting it across Georgia 6.”
Just before the ad controversy broke, the news directors for WSB-TV in Atlanta commissioned another Landmark Communications poll (May 16-17; 500 likely GA-6 voters) and again found the race to be an effective tie. The ballot test results yielded a small Ossoff edge, 48-47 percent, but with a polling error factor of more than four percentage points, the race is simply too close to call.
Therefore, as has been the case here since the first post-primary polls were released in late April, the party that best facilitates getting its supporters to the voting booths on or before June 20 will win this race.
The political party apparatuses and the various campaigns performed well in this regard during the special primary. According to the official certified April 18 turnout statistics from the Georgia Secretary of State, 193,981 individuals cast their ballots in this electoral contest that featured 18 candidates. The figure represents 43.6 percent of the registered voter pool, and 92.1 percent of the number voting in the 2014 regular mid-term, an extraordinary participation rate for a special election.
The aggregate spending total when adding together the campaigns’ and outside organization expenditures could approach $40 million, an all-time record for a congressional campaign.
Because of this and the contest’s perceived closeness, another huge turnout is expected, a participation factor that could well exceed a regular mid-term cast ballot rate just as we saw from the Montana special election last week. In that electoral contest more than 377,000 people voted, exceeding 54 percent of the registered voter pool. So far, within the first three days of the early voting period in north Georgia, more than 24,000 individuals have already voted.