Out-of-State Interests Spent $26.2 Million on Georgia Special Election – NBCNews.com

Tom MarkLast Update : Tuesday 20 June 2017 - 10:31 AM
Out-of-State Interests Spent $26.2 Million on Georgia Special Election – NBCNews.com
Image: Karen Handel campaigns in Marietta, Georgia, USA.

Karen Handel (C) participates in a ‘Get Out The Vote’ rally at a restaurant in Marietta, Georgia on June 10. ERIK S. LESSER / EPA

The special election is necessary because former Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., was

confirmed in February as the secretary of health and human services for Trump’s Cabinet.

Republicans have controlled the seat since the

1970s. But Democrats, sensing a backlash against the president, see an opportunity for a win that could supercharge morale after a disastrous November. And outside groups allied with both parties have made the district an expensive battleground.

Handel, whose own campaign has been wildly outspent by Ossoff’s, had out-of-state super PAC and party committee cash to even things out: Roughly 70 percent of the money spent by outside groups supported her, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of independent expenditure data provided by the FEC.

Half the outside money came from just two groups, the National Republican Congressional Committee and the Congressional Leadership Fund, which together spent roughly $13.3 million propping up Handel’s bid.

“When our candidates need back up, we provide and do what we need in order to win,” Maddie Anderson, an NRCC spokeswoman, said in an email.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the top-spending outside group backing Ossoff, spent about $5 million. They did not respond to requests for comment.

Meredith McGehee, head of policy, programming and strategy for campaign finance reform advocacy group

Issue One, said Democrats are pouring money into the race and hoping a victory in Georgia will show they have the strength to take back the Senate and pick up House seats in the 2018 midterm elections.

“Post Citizens United, you see huge amounts of money flooding into these special elections, which become kind of characterized as proxies for political winds,” she said, referring to the Supreme Court’s landmark campaign finance decision in 2010. “The outside money comes in because they’re trying to control the narrative.”

Neither Handel’s campaign nor Ossoff’s campaign responded to multiple requests for comment.

The campaigns aren’t letting the non-candidate groups do all the work.

Councilwoman Michelle Cooper Kelly, who represents Ward 6 of Marietta City, located in the Cobb County portion of the district, said her area is inundated with campaign efforts going far beyond traditional TV commercials.

“There’s not one day that’s passed that I have not received something in the mail from the Ossoff campaign, or a phone call,” she said, adding that she’s now getting Handel calls as well.

Matt Blizek, election field director at MoveOn.org, a liberal group, said the Georgia special election has turned into a symbol of resistance against Trump.

“This race is a chance to improve the growing wave and growing backlash that we’re already seeing and building and it’ll only continue to build,” he said.

Jon Ossoff

Democratic candidate for Georgia’s Sixth Congressional Seat Jon Ossoff speaks to supporters at a primary election-night watch party in Dunwoody, Georgia. John Bazemore / AP

MoveOn.org spent about $257,000 on ad production, online ads, text messages and TV ads, which have mainly focused on healthcare.

Roughly $350,000 contributions to Ossoff’s campaign came from MoveOn.org members, and about 16,000 of those members live in the congressional district, Blizek said. MoveOn.org has been emailing and direct messaging them, encouraging them to get involved in the Ossoff campaign.

Jere Wood, the Republican mayor of Roswell, a small city within Georgia’s 6th district, welcomes the amount of business activity that’s increased as a result of the national attention the election has garnered.

“For all the folks, regardless of what party you’re a part of, thank you,” he said.

While Wood is grateful for the extra commerce, he’s nevertheless concerned both candidates have lost sight of local issues as the national spotlight beams

“Are they going to fix potholes or improve public safety?” he asked.

The Center for Public Integrity is a nonprofit, nonpartisan investigative news organization in Washington, D.C. Source: world

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