The Gloves Come Off in GA-6

By Jim Ellis

April 7, 2017 — National fundraising has exploded in the GA-6 special election, especially for the Democrats. Candidate Jon Ossoff (D), who has won unanimous support from national liberal groups, reports now raising more than $8 million for his special election campaign. Republicans have already spent over $4 million, meaning that this campaign will likely set a national record for special election expenditures.

Democrats believe their chances of electing investigative filmmaker Ossoff are strong, while Republicans are countering with a barrage of heavy media attack ads designed to tarnish the highly touted candidate’s image. (See example below)

Georgia’s 6th District is a traditionally Republican north Atlanta suburban seat that Health & Human Services Secretary Tom Price represented since his original election in 2004. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R) and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R) were the previous incumbents.

The Dems find themselves in a position of having a candidate around whom they can coalesce while the Republicans see five serious candidates within a field of 11. As we have reported several times, all polling shows Ossoff leading the race in the 40 percent range, but it is highly unlikely that he can touch the 50 percent threshold in order to win the seat outright on April 18. If not, then he and the top vote-getting Republican will advance to a June 20 run-off election. Polls show dead-heat ballot test pairings between Ossoff and the strongest Republican candidates.

The Congressional Leadership Fund, the non-aligned Super PAC loosely affiliated with Speaker Paul Ryan, has just launched a new attack upon Ossoff designed to drive his approval and support numbers downward.

The first GOP media attacks featured a series of ads showing Ossoff, while in college, dressing up as “Star Wars” character Han Solo and “waging war” on the fictional storm troopers. The ad failed to achieve its objective of helping to create a negative image of the aspiring Democratic candidate as a juvenile gadfly.

Their new ad, however, does have the potential of branding a negative image. The visuals present Ossoff as receiving previous undisclosed payments from the Al Jazeera media network for unknown reasons. (See ad above) The ad embellishes, of course, labeling $5,000 worth of payments over a 15-month period as “thousands of dollars”, but it does appear clear that Ossoff has, or had, some association with the controversial media outlet.

Such a relationship will obviously not help Ossoff in north Georgia, so this theme could score the GOP some needed political points against their eventual run-off opponent.

Predictably, Ossoff is labeling the ad as a “smear”, saying the Republicans are tying him to Osama bin Laden. While the ad draws the relationship between Osama bin Laden and Al Jazeera, the script does not make any direct link between the late terrorist leader and Ossoff.

Democrats will be disappointed that Ossoff will fail to win the seat outright on April 18. While they may be correct that going for broke in the special primary may represent their man’s best chance to win, the sheer mathematics cut heavily against such an outcome.

With 18 candidates on the ballot, and at least five Republicans engaged in attempting to actively turnout the GOP vote, and combined spending topping $13 plus million, it appears inconceivable that Republican turnout could be depleted to such a degree that allows a consensus minority party candidate to obtain a majority vote.

President Trump carried the 6th District by only a 48.3-46.8 percent margin. It is this result that has spurred the Democrats into action. Four years earlier, Mitt Romney won this same CD by a 61-37 percent clip. Former incumbent Price was re-elected in November with 62 percent of the vote, and averaged 76 percent over his seven congressional elections. The Democrats have not won this congressional seat in 38 years. While Ossoff has made a strong effort to win this seat, the traditional voting patterns mean he must still be considered an underdog.

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