Updated March 2:
The Congressional Leadership Fund, the super PAC with ties to House Republican leadership, is launching a million-dollar ad campaign targeting Georgia Democrat Jon Ossoff in the 6th District’s special election.
Ossoff is the leading Democrat in a crowded April jungle primary for a traditionally Republican seat that Democrats are making an effort to contest this year. His campaign says it has raised nearly $2 million in the two months he’s been in the race.
The fund’s ad mostly ignores politics and instead tries to paint Ossoff as too young and inexperienced for the job. The TV ad opens with footage of the Democrat describing his national security experience, then cuts to footage of Ossoff during his Georgetown University days, dressed up as the Star Wars character Han Solo.
“It is sad that the hope of the Democratic Party rests on a 30-year-old frat boy who has spent his adult life living outside of Georgia’s 6th district playing dress-up with his drinking buddies,” Corry Bliss, executive director of the Congressional Leadership Fund, said in statement.
Bliss suggested there’d be more to come. “The truth is Jon Ossoff simply isn’t being honest with Georgia voters — and if you like Jon Ossoff playing Han Solo, just wait until you see what we release next,” he said.
Ossoff, a former Hill aide, is one of five Democrats in the race. He has attracted national attention from liberal groups hoping to score a victory in what could be the first competitive congressional election of Donald Trump’s presidency.
Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price won re-election to this suburban Atlanta seat by 23 points last fall. But Trump carried it by less than two points over Hillary Clinton — a sign, Democrats think, that this may be the kind of affluent, well-educated district that’s ripe for the picking. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is sending field staff to the district, and Ossoff has the backing of Georgia Reps. John Lewis and Hank Johnson.
Johnson criticized the ad and defended Ossoff’s experience in statement to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Wednesday.
“Jon spent five years working on national security issues for me, and he worked on such sensitive programs that he received a top secret security clearance from the Department of Defense,” he said. “Washington political operatives are coming into Georgia to spread false personal attacks — it’s what the American people are sick and tired of.”
The Congressional Leadership Fund spot is the group’s first independent expenditure of the 2018 cycle. Debuting March 2, the ad will run on TV in the Atlanta media market and online through the April 18 election.
Republicans are hoping they won’t have to spend on this race after that. Since it’s unlikely that any of the 18 candidates will receive more than 50 percent of the vote in the jungle primary, the top two vote-getters will advance to a June 20 runoff.
On Thursday, a progressive non-profit called Better Georgia responded to the CLF ad with their own video. Using similar footage of Ossoff dressed as Han Solo, the narrator concludes the one-minute video by saying, "Sorry, Trump Republicans, but District 6 has a new hope."