Georgia’s CD-6 special election is a mess for the GOP. I live in a different district, but spent the last few days up near Atlanta and saw some of the political ads running on television. From what I saw, Jon Ossoff looks like a cost-cutting Republican on TV. His ads never mention that he’s a Democrat.
The Congressional Leadership Fund’s attack ads against him are so extreme and shrill (rioters, really?) as to do more damage to Republicans than Ossoff. Then there’s the division within the GOP. Karen Handel is currently the leader, with maxed out name recognition, but she appears to be coasting on that–not a good idea.
Her competition is not coasting. “Outsider” businessman Dan Moody won Sen. David Perdue’s endorsement this week, and has hyped it in ads.
Perdue, who won his U.S. Senate seat in 2014 running as an outsider, stares directly into the camera to say he was elected to “fix a broken system with a new president who isn’t afraid to shake things up.”
“We finally have a real chance. Trust me, we don’t need another career politician up here,” said Perdue. “Dan Moody cares more about getting results than getting credit. That’s so uncommon and exactly what we need. Dan’s one of us.”
It’s telling that Perdue, who defeated Handel in the senate primary in 2014, doesn’t see her as “one of us.” Republicans Bob Gray and state Sen. Judson Hill continue to promote themselves in their bids. This creates somewhat of a schism in the race, making it more dangerous for the GOP in a runoff.
Cook Political Report has actually downgraded the GA-6 special election from “Likely-R” to “Lean-R.” The infighting among GOP candidates may depress turnout for the all-important runoff, while Democrats continue to pour outside money into Ossoff’s coffers.
The House GOP leadership’s Congressional Leadership Fund has upped its ad buy to keep Ossoff’s numbers down while Republicans fight amongst themselves. The CLF is desperately trying to motivate traditional Republicans by calling him a liberal resume inflator who will “rubber stamp Nancy Pelosi’s agenda.” But there’s little question at this point that Ossoff will secure the top runoff spot, and the GOP field is badly fractured and plagued by infighting.
There are probably only three Republicans who have a legitimate shot at joining Ossoff in the runoff: former Secretary of State Karen Handel, tech investor Bob Gray and state Sen. Judson Hill. Handel began with the lead, but the Club for Growth recently endorsed Gray and is up on air attacking Handel as a “career politician.” The Club’s involvement irks GOP strategists at a time the party badly needs to keep its attacks pointed at Ossoff.
The runoff will be held June 20 (in all likelihood unless something explosive occurs to put one candidate over 50 percent). Summer runoffs are typically low-energy, low-turnout affairs. Just a few more voters per precinct can make all the difference. If Democrats are motivated and Republicans are apathetic, Tom Price’s seat could go blue.
That would be a tragedy, and a poor way for Republicans to start the election cycle in President Trump’s term. A warning for the GOP here: This is not time to go on vacation. Get it together, or Ossoff is going to win.