A Republican super PAC has unleashed a $1.1 million ad barrage against Jon Ossoff, a Democratic newcomer who is attracting national attention and a torrent of fundraising in his campaign to flip a conservative suburban Atlanta district.
The Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC backed by House GOP leaders, bought ad time running from Thursday to the April 18 special election to air a spot replete with clips of Ossoff, in a Star Wars costume, while a member of a Georgetown University singing group.
It is the clearest signal yet that Republicans are unnerved by the swirl of attention surrounding Ossoff, a 30-year-old documentary filmmaker who has the support of Reps. John Lewis and Hank Johnson. He is one of five Democrats, and 18 candidates overall, in the wide-open race to replace Rep. Tom Price.
“It is sad that the hope of the Democratic Party rests on someone who has spent his adult life living outside of Georgia’s 6th district, inflating his experience, and playing dress-up with his buddies,” said Ruth Guerra, the group’s spokeswoman.
The ad takes aim at Ossoff's assertion that he worked for five years as a national security staffer who held top security clearances.
Ossoff and his campaign said he was granted those privileges working for Johnson after his 2006 election, while the super PAC depicts him as a college student "dressing up with his drinking buddies" for part of that time.
In a statement, Johnson called the ad "absurd."
“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," said the DeKalb Democrat. "Washington political operatives are coming into Georgia to spread false personal attacks – it’s what the American people are sick and tired of.”
Ossoff has quickly captured the imagination of Democrats hoping to notch an early victory against Donald Trump in one of the first Congressional elections in the nation since the Republican became president.
His campaign claims nearly $2 million in donations in less than two months, an almost unfathomable amount for a political newcomer. He has racked up celebrity support and a string of big-name endorsements. And national Democrats are pouring staff and resources into his race.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is poised to pay for nine field staffers to organize on-the-ground efforts in the district, which stretches from east Cobb to north DeKalb.
And Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez told reporters in Atlanta the party would invest in the race, which he said Democrats have a “real shot” to win.
Still, the odds are stacked deeply against Democrats in the 6th, a district that favored Trump by only one point but also routinely elected Price by huge margins. Several big-name Republicans are in the race, and they to deflate Ossoff’s numbers to guarantee an all-GOP runoff.
Guerra, the PAC official, hinted there was more to come.
“If you like Jon Ossoff playing Han Solo,” she said, “just wait until you see what we release next.”
Here's the transcript of the ad:
ANNCR: Jon Ossoff really wants you to think he’s ready to be in Congress.
OSSOFF: I’ve got 5 years experience as a national security staffer.
ANNCR: There’s just one problem. Ossoff wasn’t exactly fighting against terrorism…
…he was fighting against restrictions on keg parties.
You see, Ossoff was just a college kid…
…doing things like dressing up with his drinking buddies and pretending to be Han Solo.
OSSOFF: “I’m Han Solo. Captain of the Millennium Falcon. She’s the baby who ran four kegs by DOPS in under 3 parsecs.”
ANNCR: And here’s Ossoff and his college buddies making fun of Georgetown’s female students.
OSSOFF: “Georgetown girl
You know she’s living in her M Street world
She never tires of her high-class toys.”
ANNCR: Jon Ossoff: Not honest. Not serious. Not ready.
But the Truth Strikes Back.
Congressional Leadership Fund is responsible for the content of this advertising.