Back in December, a runoff campaign for the Louisiana Senate caught the attention of desperate progressives, who hurled money at Democratic candidate Foster Campbell despite the long odds against him in a deep-red state. In Georgia’s sixth congressional district, a wealthy suburban district that has been held by a Republican since the ’70s, both parties are accepting the possibility of an unexpected outcome—that the special election race to fill Tom Price’s seat could actually flip to a Democrat.
Circumstances here are, of course, pretty different than they were in Louisiana; one seat wouldn’t do much to alter Republican dominance over the House, and winning a single congressional district during a special election is a different ball game than capturing an entire state. 30-year-old first-time candidate Jon Ossoff also has the massive advantage of running as a youthful, clean-cut Democrat while a sitting Republican president with tanking approval ratings and questionable mental capacity gets investigated by the FBI. Trump only carried this district by a 1.5 point margin—plus, it’s tough to get people motivated to vote when their party already controls all levers of the government, particularly when the seat in question wouldn’t change that fact.
The GOP, Politico reports, is acknowledging Ossoff’s chances:
That acknowledgement is a reflection of the unique forces driving the April 18 special election. Ossoff is one of 18 candidates thrown together in a primary in which all the candidates — regardless of party — will appear on the same ballot. A candidate who receives more than 50 percent of the vote will win the race outright. If no candidate reaches 50 percent, there will be a runoff on June 20 between the top two vote-getters.
The threat for Republicans is that the crowded field of nearly a dozen Republican candidates will dilute the GOP vote, enabling Ossoff to hit 50 percent and win the seat — and thus avoid a runoff in which he would be hard-pressed to defeat a GOP candidate in a one-on-one matchup.
“This race could be a perfect storm of higher than average Democratic turnout and below average Republican turnout. The early vote totals are chilling,” Republican consultant Todd Rehm told Politico. Ossoff, a documentary filmmaker and former congressional staffer, has raised an obscene $4 million and is getting considerable attention from the national party, according to Politico; the DCCC sent staffers down to help out last month.
In turn, the Republican party is pouring money into the race, with the Congressional Leadership Fund super pac making an initial investment of $2.2 million to keep the district red with television ads and a field program to counter Ossoff’s prodigious canvassing effort.
One attack ad painted Ossoff as too inexperienced—an interesting tack, considering who’s in the White House right now—while a CLF ad that dropped today tried on a different strategy, showing menacing footage of black bloc protestors destroying property on inauguration day. “Liberal extremists will stop at nothing to push their radical agenda,” an outraged male voice intones. “Now, they’re turning their attention to Georgia.”
“Jon Ossoff is one of them,” the ad claims.
“I’m absolutely the underdog. But this is a winnable race,” Ossoff told Atlanta’s WXIA. “If you have any doubts about it being a winnable race just look at the attack ads on television. That’s an indication of how competitive the race is.”
Meanwhile, Breitbart looks to be blaming the Georgia Republican establishment for any potential future loss; the site interviewed candidate and Tea Party activist Amy Kremer, who claimed that the party is purposely excluding Trump-supporting candidates from the debate stage. Since voters in this district are not too keen on Trump, that argument doesn’t make a ton of sense! Staffers on Kramer’s campaign have quit after she was unable to pay them, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported; one ex-staffer who had been staying at her home had to call the cops to get his valuables after she changed the locks on him.
These next few weeks are sure bound to get interesting.