Politics

Georgia Democrat Jon Ossoff Raises $8.3M

95 percent of first quarter donations came from out of state

Democrat Jon Ossoff is one 18 candidates seeking the vacant seat in Georgia’s 18th District. (Photo courtesy Dustin Chambers/Jon Ossoff for Congress)

Georgia Democrat Jon Ossoff raised $8.3 million during the first quarter of the year, his campaign announced Wednesday night.

It’s a stunning haul, especially for a 30-year-old first-time candidate who’s running as a Democrat in a traditionally Republican House district. 

Ossoff’s candidacy for the special election to fill Georgia’s 6th District seat, the first competitive congressional election of Donald Trump’s presidency, has attracted national attention. That shows in his fundraising, which his opponents will surely use against him: 95 percent of his donations came from out of state, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which reviewed his first quarter filing. His report has not yet been filed with the Federal Election Commission. 

The former Hill staffer and documentary filmmaker ended the quarter with $2.1 million. The average donation was $42.52, according to the campaign. The liberal website Daily Kos says its supporters have given Ossoff $1.25 million

Eighteen candidates are running in the April 18 open primary to fill the seat vacated by former Republican Rep. Tom Price, who is now serving as Health and Human Services secretary. If none of the candidates receives more than 50 percent of the vote, the top-two finishers, regardless of party, will advance to a June 20 runoff. 

With Democratic enthusiasm and outside money coalescing around Ossoff, he’s been leading the field in recent polling. He’s now even speaking about winning the race outright in April.

But no poll has him close to 50 percent. And in a head-to-head matchup against a Republican in the runoff, Ossoff’s chances would be tougher. Even though Hillary Clinton lost the district by less than two points last fall — a sharp swing from former President Barack Obama’s performance here in 2008 and 2012 — Price won re-election by 23 points.

Still, Trump’s underperformance in this affluent suburban district has emboldened Democrats. As Ossoff gained national attention, the strength of his fundraising had been well-reported, provoking outside spending from GOP groups. But the most recent estimates from his campaign had put Ossoff’s fundraising at about $4 million — less than half of what his FEC report for the first quarter will show. 

His campaign haul dwarfs those of his GOP opponents who have already announced theirs. Former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel raised $463,000 and has $183,000 cash on hand. Her campaign noted that 90 percent of her individual donors were from Georgia. Former state Sen. Judson Hill’s campaign said he raised $473,000 and has $113,000 in the bank. Several GOP self-funders have yet to announce their figures.

Ossoff’s quarterly haul isn’t that far off from what some U.S. senators raised for their re-elections during the entire 2016 cycle. Georgia Sen. Johnny Isakson, for example, raised about $11 million.

Just three House candidates raised more than Ossoff during the entire 2016 election cycle, according to OpenSecrets. One was House Speaker Paul D. Ryan. The other two were major self-funding Democrats: David Trone in Maryland’s 8th District, who lost his primary, and Randy Perkins in Florida’s 18th District, who lost the general election.

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.