Georgia Special Election Breaks Spending Records

“It’s official: Georgia’s special election will be the most expensive House race in U.S. history,” Politico reports.

“Candidates and outside groups have aired or reserved more than $29.7 million worth of TV ads in the race to replace HHS Secretary Tom Price in Congress, which will break a five-year-old record for House spending — highlighting the outsized importance a sliver of the Atlanta suburbs has taken on in national politics.”

TV Station Adds Newscast to Run More Political Ads

An Atlanta television station added a 7 p.m. newscast on its sister station for the sole purpose of running more political ads, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.

“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.”

Ossoff Readies $5.2 Million Ad Blitz

“Conservative groups are pouring money into Georgia’s 6th District runoff to reinforce Karen Handel’s bid for Congress. Jon Ossoff is readying a massive counterpunch,” the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.

“The Democrat’s campaign has reserved more than $5.2 million in airtime for cable, TV and radio spots through the June 20 runoff. And that’s likely just a taste of what’s to come.”

Super PAC Pumps More Money Into Georgia’s 6th

An influential super PAC with ties to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) is set to spend another $3.5 million to support Karen Handel’s (R) campaign against Jon Ossoff (D) in Georgia’s 6th congressional district, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.

“The super PAC was the first major outside group to weigh in on the race, which is seen as an early test of Donald Trump’s popularity and a dry run for the 2018 midterm elections. It spent more than $3 million ahead of the April 18 special election with a wave of ads that mocked footage of Ossoff dressed as Han Solo in college and cast him as a stooge of Nancy Pelosi.”

TV Ads Flood Atlanta Area

Atlanta-Journal Constitution: “More than $14 million worth of ads have already flooded Georgia’s 6th District. And with a June 20 runoff looming, outside groups are readying another volley. The Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC with ties to Paul Ryan, was quick out the gates with a digital spot that depicts Ossoff as a creation of Nancy Pelosi. It’s one of a string of advertisements linking Ossoff to the House Democratic leader, who polls abysmally in the conservative-leaning north Atlanta district.”

Republicans Still Divided In Georgia’s 6th

When Bob Gray (R) realized he did not make the run off in Georgia’s 6th congressional district special election, he implored his supporters to “rally behind” Karen Handel (R), who spent much of the campaign distancing herself from President Trump,  the Washington Post reports.

“No one cheered; there was no applause for party unity. And why should there be? For at least some of Gray’s most hardcore supporters, they had supported him specifically because of his love for Trump.”

The Georgia Runoff Will Be Very Competitive

First Read: “Looking ahead to the June 20 runoff in GA-6, it’s going to be very competitive. Just compare Ossoff’s percentage (48.1%) with the combined percentage of the Top 4 GOP candidates (48.2%). Or compare the total percentage for all Democrats (48.9%), versus the percentage for all 11 Republicans in the field (51%). Still, with Ossoff getting 48% last night, you might give him the very slight edge heading into the runoff.”

“And so Democrats need a win here; anything less will be a disappointment for them. Also, the race will be a good early test of what is worse — President Trump or House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi? Because Georgians are going to see a lot of TV ads in the next two months tying the nominees to both of these national politicians.”

Harry Enten: “Polls conducted before Tuesday suggested that Handel and Ossoff were running in a near tie in a potential runoff. In an average of five polls conducted since mid-March, Ossoff held a scant 0.4-point lead over Handel. A formula created by my colleague Nate Silver based off previous runoff elections also points to a tight runoff.”

Parties Buckle Down for Two-Month Runoff Battle

Politico: “Republicans and Democrats were already telegraphing strategy for a two-month runoff even before voters in Georgia’s 6th District had finished casting ballots on Tuesday, when Ossoff garnered 48 percent of the all-party primary vote. Last Friday, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee posted research materials on Handel and another top Republican contender online, highlighting preferred attack lines for outside groups that could dive into the fray.”

“And Republicans look set to reprise their TV ads casting Ossoff as a bad fit for the usually conservative-leaning district: National Republican Congressional Committee chairman Steve Stivers linked Ossoff to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and “Hollywood stars” in his late-night statement about the race, while the Congressional Leadership Fund mentioned ‘Hillary’ and ‘liberal.'”

A Republican tells Playbook: “Everyone is in ‘disbelief!’ that Trump has made GA-06, otherwise a safe R district, competitive. Well, it cuts both ways – he also won PA, MI, and WI in the presidential – first R since Reagan. It’s time to finally realize the old rules don’t apply. Trump is an unorthodox candidate and president and he’s going to make previously safe seats (both R and D) competitive in the mid-terms because he changes the old dynamic.”

Ossoff and Handel Headed for a Runoff in Georgia

Jon Ossoff (D) and Karen Handel (R) are headed to a runoff in Georgia’s 6th congressional district after the Democrats fell just short of winning a majority of votes.

Washington Post: “Ossoff could find it difficult to sustain the momentum he witnessed this past week in a traditionally Republican district that has been in GOP hands since 1979. Although Handel had earned 19.7 percent of the vote with 88 percent of precincts reporting, in a runoff she is widely expected to rally Republican voters who had divided their votes among 11 GOP candidates in Tuesday’s race.”

The New York Times has the final results.

Trump Rolls the Dice In Georgia

First Read: “Democrats always wanted to make tonight’s special congressional election in Georgia about President Trump. And he’s obliged in the last 24 hours — by tweeting about the contest… and then by recording a robocall in the contest.”

“And while Trump here is trying to gin up Republican turnout — to keep Ossoff below 50% to force a June 20 runoff — his involvement could also further motivate Democrats. It’s the same kind of damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t situation Barack Obama frequently faced: You’re going to get blamed if you don’t get involved and lose, so you might as well help your downballot candidates. But what’s remarkable here is that Trump isn’t touting a particular Republican (11 are in the field); he’s trying to stop one single Democrat — in a congressional district (urban, upscale) that’s not necessarily tailor-made for the president.”

FiveThirtyEight: Everything you need to know about the Georgia 6th congressional district special election.

Expect the Early Vote Count in Georgia to Be Misleading

Nate Cohn: “It’s hard to remember a House race that has earned more national attention than the one to replace Secretary Tom Price in Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District. Republicans have dominated the district for a generation, but the leading Democratic candidate, Jon Ossoff, has an outside shot to win outright on Tuesday by winning more than 50 percent of the vote.”

“It’s not clear what to expect Tuesday night, however. It’s hard to estimate how many people will vote, and the public polls are of fairly low quality. One prediction: It’s likely that the first votes counted will be misleadingly good for Mr. Ossoff.”

Warring Republicans Try to Unite Against Ossoff

“Fractious Georgia Republicans tried to unite behind a ‘stop Jon Ossoff’ movement ahead of Tuesday’s special election to represent a suburban Atlanta district, with party leaders urging voters to stream to the polls and prevent an upset victory by the Democrat,” the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.

“Republicans face a daunting enthusiasm gap in the 18-candidate race to represent the 6th District, and the leading GOP contenders have spent the final days feuding with each other. Ossoff, one of five Democrats in the race, is leading in the polls – and aiming for an outright victory in Tuesday’s vote.”