Politics

GOP Super PAC Pours Millions More Into Georgia Runoff

Congressional Leadership Fund invests additional $3.5 million to boost Handel

The Congressional Leadership Fund is more than doubling its spending in the special election runoff for Georgia’s 6th District to boost Republican nominee Karen Handel. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Now that the Republican field has been winnowed from 11 to one in Georgia’s 6th District, a major GOP super PAC is increasing its spending to boost GOP nominee Karen Handel in the June runoff. 

The Congressional Leadership Fund, the super PAC endorsed by House GOP leadership, is investing an additional $3.5 million in the race, bringing their total investment in the district to $6.5 million. 

Democrat Jon Ossoff fell short of winning the April 18 primary outright, taking 48 percent of vote and advancing to a runoff against Handel, the former Georgia secretary of State, who finished with 20 percent.

“CLF’s work to define Jon Ossoff has only just begun,” the fund’s executive director Corry Bliss said. “The idea that the Democrats’ chosen candidate is someone who doesn’t even live in the 6th District, has no record of accomplishment, and is relying on Nancy Pelosi to fund his campaign shows how desperate they are.” 

The bulk of the group’s new spending is a $2.5 million TV campaign beginning May 10. The new spending also includes a targeted mail campaign and digital outreach. The fund was the first major outside group on the ground in the district and is now boosting its field efforts with plans to knock on 200,000 doors. 

After an internal survey in March showed a closer-than-expected race in the primary, the super PAC dispatched top staffers to the district to build a field effort. They hired three companies to knock on doors, overseen by fund staff, to ensure that committed GOP voters turned out. The team knocked on over 92,000 doors in the last month before the primary. 

Now, the Congressional Leadership Fund is shifting to turning out low-propensity GOP voters, and urging them to get out early. Ninety full-time door knockers will hit homes seven days a week for eight hours a day, exceeding any field efforts undertaken by the Handel campaign or the National Republican Congressional Committee. The fund’s field office in the district will remain open through the 2018 elections. 

Democrats are also boosting their field efforts, with Ossoff’s campaign committing more resources toward on-the-ground targeting of independent and GOP voters who may be unenthused by a GOP nominee who’s lost two prior statewide bids for office. Ossoff’s campaign spent $2 million on field operations in the run-up to the primary, with 100 full-time field staff and 10,000 volunteers. 

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