WASHINGTON -- Top Georgia Democrats have been "complicit" in the special election to replace Tom Price in the 6th District, letting their national party take over operations in the closely-watched, multi-million-dollar race. That's the take of U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, the three-term lawmaker who recently joined the House GOP leadership team.
"The liberal machine in D.C. is running this operation," Collins said in an interview Wednesday evening. "This is not a Georgia operation at all ... I think the Georgia Democrats are complicit in this. I think Stacey Abrams, John Lewis and Hank Johnson, they’re all complicit in this because they have agreed to it."
Collins cited the influx of staffers from the Washington-based Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, or DCCC, that have streamed into the suburban congressional district in recent weeks, as well as the record-setting fundraising reported by Democrat Jon Ossoff, much of which came from out of state.
He also said the party was being "authoritarian" by lining up its resources behind Ossoff, the race's front-runner, rather than letting the process play out with the four other Democrats in the race.
"They don’t care if they have long-term members of their party work hard and have been elected before, they just threw them to the side" and backed Ossoff, Collins said.
That last point isn't a new one. Some of the other Democrats in the race complained they weren't given a fair shot by the party during a recent debate.
“I was very surprised at how we were not given the same amount of support as another candidate,” said Democrat Ragin Edwards, an east Cobb sales manager, referring to Ossoff during the Atlanta Press Club's recent forum. “I definitely feel that I was slighted and I was played a little bit.”
The Georgia Democratic Party has insisted that it's staying neutral in the 6th District and that state rules prohibit it from declaring a side if there are multiple Democrats in a race. It's instead focused on get-out-the-vote efforts. The DCCC, meanwhile, operates under a different set of rules and has endorsed Ossoff.
The Democrats aren't the only ones who have been accused of picking and choosing in this race. The 6th District GOP decided to feature only five of the race's 11 Republican candidates in a series of three recent debates, a move that earned its share of internal protests.
As for Collins' comment that D.C. Democrats are running the show in the Peach State, Georgia Democrats' spokesman Michael Smith was dismissive in an email Wednesday.
“If the ‘liberal machine’ Doug is referencing is our coalition of grassroots activists who are fed-up with the GOP’s Failure-in-Chief who happens to temporarily squat in the White House, then this guy needs internet access," he said. "The Democratic Party of Georgia has been building a (get-out-the-vote) machine for months. And while the GA GOP drowns in debt and skitters to cover up their discrimination lawsuits, the DPG is thriving."
The GOP has sharpened its attacks on Ossoff with less than a week until the election. It's pretty much a foregone conclusion that the Democrat will easily carry the field, but Republicans are hoping to stave off an embarrassing defeat in the typically deep red 6th by forcing him into a runoff with a GOP candidate.