Our AJC colleague Rodney Ho has come up with a fascinating tidbit about the impact of millions of dollars in TV ads being spent in the metro Atlanta market on behalf of Karen Handel and Jon Ossoff in the run-up to a June 20 congressional runoff:
WXIA-TV, known as 11Alive, on Monday added a 7 p.m. newscast on its sister station WATL-TV with no fanfare, replacing a repeat of “The Andy Griffith Show.”
…Two sources at 11Alive said the newscast is temporary and tied directly to accommodate a flood of political ads promoting (or taking down) either Jon Ossoff and Karen Handel vying for the hotly contest House seat left behind by Tom Price, now the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services. They said the newscast will end after the runoff is over June 20.
The current newscast commercial inventory is otherwise too tight at the NBC affiliate, the sources said. In other words, the bonus newscast is more a place to air these ads for a few weeks rather than an actual consumer service.
Just one example: Democrat Jon Ossoff unveiled his first attack ad of the campaign on Wednesday, casting Republican Karen Handel as a politician who has "run six times for five different offices" who "spends your money on herself."
The ads invoke her use of a Lexus SUV while she was secretary of state. Handel has said she chose to take a $587-per-month allowance rather than a state car.
Watch the ad here. You’ll note that it looks suspiciously like an attack that GOP rival Dan Moody leveled against Handel just prior to the first round of voting on April 18.
In addition, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has launched a 30-second TV ad, and three digital versions of the same, painting Handel as a "career politician" with a record of questionable spending. The six-figure broadcast buy is in addition to the nearly $1 million the group has spent assailing Handel since the April 18 vote.
The digital ads take aim at Handel’s office budget while she served as secretary of state, her use of an SUV while in office and her travel to China as a state official.
Handel's campaign disputes the claims, saying Handel cut her office's overall budget and that her supply expenses fell from $1.4 million in fiscal 2006, the year before she took over, to $331,000 in 2008.
Ossoff had previously said his campaign had not decided whether to attack Handel. On Wednesday he offered this explanation:
“As a candidate for Congress I will draw contrast with my opponent to make clear my argument that I’m more qualified to bring fresh leadership to Congress that can move metro Atlanta’s economy forward and serve the taxpayer here," he said. "I will refrain from personal attacks and cheap shots in drawing those contrasts.”
Money is also going into robo-calls. State Rep. Trey Kelley, R-Cedartown, has recorded one for the Karen Handel camp. Listen here:
“Jon Ossoff is a political Kardashian, all celebrity and no substance, who has accepted thousands of dollars from Al Jazeera and thinks family should avoid paying Georgia taxes on their private plane.”
We've discussed the Al Jazeera thing before. It's bogus.
Metro Atlanta’s changing ‘burbs are at the heart of Democrat Jon Ossoff’s viability in the Sixth District. Two key paragraphs from a piece on the topic in today’s New York Times:
[S]omething has been happening in Johns Creek — and, indeed, across much of the vast archipelago of cul-de-sac communities north of Atlanta that served as the launchpad for Mr. Gingrich’s 1994 Republican revolution. The promise of a suburban idyll has been increasingly attracting all kinds of people — many of whom are not white, and not Republican.
Today, 24 percent of people in Johns Creek are of Asian heritage. Indian-Americans shop for saris at the Medlock Crossing strip mall and flock to the latest Bollywood hits at the multiplex. Chinese-Americans and food lovers of all stripes head to the Sichuan House, near the Target and Home Depot stores, for sliced pork ears in chili sauce and “tearfully spicy” mung bean noodles.
We told you earlier that a May 16 runoff for the state Senate District 32 seat vacated by Judson Hill of Marietta, a Republican, could become a test vote for the larger Sixth District contest on June 20:
Two women, both political neophytes, survived a first round of voting on April 18. Republican Kay Kirkpatrick, a recently retired orthopedic surgeon, raised more than $300,000. Democrat Christine Triebsch (pronounced TRIB-ish), a Marietta attorney, raised $5,000 and borrowed $5,000 more for her shoe-string effort.
The Democrat finished first in the balloting with 24 percent. Kirkpatrick scored 21 percent.
But other seats may make for easier Democratic pickings in Atlanta’s suburbs. Using last November’s presidential returns, a DailyKos elections analysis notes that the bluest GOP-held state Senate seat is represented by Hunter Hill of Atlanta -- who is now running for governor.
Two other Republicans represent Senate districts won by Hillary Clinton: Fran Millar of Dunwoody and Lawrenceville's David Shafer, a likely candidate for lieutenant governor.
In the House, the landscape is even friendlier to Democrats. Only two Democrats represent districts taken by Donald Trump -- Bill McGowan of Americus and Bob Trammell of Luthersville. But 14 Republicans hold Clinton turf.
State Rep. Rich Golick of Smyrna represents the "bluest seat of the bunch" -- Clinton carried his district 55 to 41 percent. Three other GOPers are in territories that Clinton carried by double-digit margins.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, credited with helping to persuade President Donald Trump not to abandon the North American Free Trade Agreement, says portions of the 23-year-old agreement with Mexico and Canada do need reworking. From the Associated Press:
Still, he's supportive of renegotiating the pact and says that while it has been good for Midwestern grain and dairy farmers, it hasn't been as beneficial for some other growers, including fruit and vegetable producers in South Florida.
"These things will be done individually, whether it's milk, whether it's with the Canadians and the Mexicans, whether it's fruit and vegetables, whether it's feed grains, whether it's oilseeds, cotton and the many products that we grow," Perdue said. "All those will be on the table as we come back and say, 'What's working and what's not?'"
A $1.1 trillion government spending package divided Georgia Republicans in the U.S. House on Wednesday afternoon, and it's possible the same could occur when the Senate takes it up today.
Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., supports the bill, but will miss Thursday’s vote on doctor’s orders as he recovers from a pair of back surgeries, a spokeswoman said.
Meanwhile, Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., was undecided as of Wednesday, but he bristled at the ultra-secretive way in which such spending deals are negotiated and its would-be impact on the deficit:
"I'm troubled about it on several different levels. That's all I can say about it. The process is broken. I've never done a protest vote, but this is one that I'm really troubled by because it's the 178th (stop-gap) and now we move to an omnibus (spending deal that includes 11 spending bills in one) where six guys get in a room and decide how we spend $1 trillion. That's just not right."
A former Fortune 500 CEO, Perdue has positioned himself as a vocal critic of the way Congress takes care of the country's fiscal house, and he's pitched a sweeping proposal to reimagine the budget process on Capitol Hill.
Over in the House, conservative Republicans Jody Hice of Monroe, Barry Loudermilk of Cassville and Drew Ferguson of West Point voted against the plan yesterday. Six other Georgia Republicans crossed over to vote with the state's four Democrats.
Read more here about what the spending bill could mean for Georgia.
Debate alert: The Committee for a Better Atlanta will host a forum Monday for City Council, City Council president and mayor. The event will be held from 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at the Metro Atlanta Chamber.