Politics & Government

Republican PAC pumps cash into Georgia to defend Tom Price seat

CAMPAIGN AD: 'Jon Ossoff: The Truth Strikes Back'

The Congressional Leadership Fund released an ad criticizing the experience of Jon Ossoff,the Democrat running in Georgia's 6th District special election race.
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The Congressional Leadership Fund released an ad criticizing the experience of Jon Ossoff,the Democrat running in Georgia's 6th District special election race.

A Republican super PAC will spend $1.1 million on television ads against the Democrat trying to turn a special election in Georgia into America’s first referendum on President Donald Trump.

The ads lampoon Jon Ossoff, using clips from videos that show the 30 year old dressed as “Star Wars” character Han Solo in college that were made as part of a protest against strict drinking rules at his school.

The criticism is meant to undercut Ossoff’s assertion on the campaign trail that he worked as a national security staffer in Congress when the videos were shot.

“It is sad that the hope of the Democratic Party rests on a 30-year-old frat boy who has spent his adult life living outside of Georgia’s 6th district playing dress-up with his drinking buddies,” said Corry Bliss, executive director of the GOP-aligned Congressional Leadership Fund. “The truth is Jon Ossoff simply isn’t being honest with Georgia voters – and if you like Jon Ossoff playing Han Solo, just wait until you see what we release next…”

The ad buy is a substantial investment and represents an escalation in the special election for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, a seat vacated when Tom Price became secretary of the Health and Human Services Department. It’s the first federal election since Trump took office.

Ossoff’s campaign responded with a statement from Rep. Hank Johnson, whom Ossoff worked under while serving as a Congressional aide.

“This is absurd,” Johnson said. “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. Washington political operatives are coming into Georgia to spread false personal attacks – it’s what the American people are sick and tired of.”

The district in the affluent northern Atlanta suburbs hasn’t elected a Democrat in more than three decades, and until recently, was seen as a Republican stronghold. But Trump, who is unpopular among many traditionally wealthy Republican voters in the suburbs, barely managed to win it during last year’s election.

Some – though not all – Democrats saw the race as an opportunity and Ossoff has become the darling of liberals nationwide, earning endorsements from Rep. John Lewis, D-GA., and raising – according to his campaign – almost $2 million.

The money has come predominantly from small-dollar donations: Daily Kos, a liberal Web site, says it alone has helped him raise more than $1 million.

Some Democratic strategists have cautioned that the 6th District remains too Republican for a Democratic candidate to win, and see it as a poor use of the party’s limited time and money.

Eighteen candidates are running for the April 18th election. If no candidate wins a majority of the total vote, the top two will compete in a run-off to be held June 20th.

Alex Roarty: 202-383-6078, @Alex_Roarty