WASHINGTON -- Many of the outside groups that collectively poured nearly $8 million into the first round of Georgia’s 6th District special election said they plan to ramp up their operations now that the contest is stretching into nine weeks of overtime.
In other words, 6th District residents seeking a respite from the non-stop political ads are unlikely to find it over the next 60 days as groups outside of the two campaigns look to advance their messages and keep voter enthusiasm high.
The Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC aligned with House Speaker Paul Ryan, was the race’s biggest outside spender in the lead up to April 18. The group invested upwards of $3 million into ads attack ads and field operations, including 90 full-time staffers who knocked on roughly 90,000 doors.
With the race now heading into a runoff between Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel, Corry Bliss, the Leadership Fund’s executive director, said there are plans in the works to scale up their field work – they’d like to knock on 200,000 doors between now and election day on June 20 – and place plenty more media spots attacking Ossoff’s credentials. They unveiled their latest Wednesday.
“We’ll continue to be aggressive in exposing and defining the real Jon Ossoff to the people of Georgia,” Bliss said in an interview Wednesday. “We’ve just begun on that education, and there’s a lot more research that we’ve saved and will be using soon."
Not to be outdone, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, House Democrats' political arm, moved Wednesday to reserve $450,000 worth of ad time on Atlanta television stations. They're aiming to run those in conjunction with Ossoff's campaign, which made a similar $300,000 buy, the Washington Examiner reported.
Evan Lukaske, a spokesman for the DCCC, said having a single opponent to focus on rather than 17 gives Democrats much more space with which to work. He said the DCCC will particularly be looking to draw contrasts between Ossoff and Handel's records on issues such as women's health in future ads.
"We aren’t going to take our foot off the gas pedals for one second through June 20," he said.
The DCCC's GOP counterpart, the National Republican Campaign Committee, laid down nearly $2 million in the first round of the race. It's also gearing up for a new round of fights. Along with other GOP-aligned organizations such as the opposition group America Rising, they're planning to double down on arguments they think stuck in the media the final days of the campaign: that Ossoff is inexperienced and doesn't live in the 6th District.
Case and point, America Rising's newest ad, which they're unveiling today:
NRCC spokeswoman Maddie Anderson said that now that there is one Republican candidate in the race instead of 11, the group can work hand-in-hand with the Handel campaign to chip away at Ossoff's records and keeping voters engaged.
“It’ll be easier to home in on one candidate, on Karen’s strengths versus Ossoff’s weaknesses," Anderson said.
Other big-spending groups say they are still evaluating what they would like to do as the second phase of the race kicks off.
The political action arm of the progressive activism group MoveOn.org was the race's top pro-Ossoff outside spender,
“We’re still going through and evaluating what worked and didn’t from the first round," Blizek said Wednesday. "Our main focus on this race has really been to make this a referendum on the health care debate on Washington … We’re going to continue to sharpen our edges on that." He said the group will look to keep its 16,000 members in Georgia's 6th District organized in order to "make sure the Ossoff campaign has all the resources they need to really be competitive.”
Michael Beckel over at Issue One, a nonprofit that advocates for campaign finance reform, tallied up exactly how much money groups not tied to a particular candidate spent on the race ahead of April 18: