Monday, June 19, 2017

Democrat Hopes Sky High in Georgia's 6th Congressional District

From Patricia Murphy, at the Daily Beast, "MONSTER CAMPAIGN: Democratic Hopes Are Sky High in Trump-Testing Georgia Special Election Runoff":

The $50 million fight to fill Tom Price’s congressional set is now the most expensive House race in American history—and Republicans can blame Trump if Jon Ossoff wins on Tuesday.

SANDY SPRINGS, Georgia—Take the New Hampshire presidential primary, move it next to a Waffle House, douse it in cash and the sweltering June heat of Georgia, and you’ll get the special election runoff in the state’s 6th Congressional District.
In a race that was never expected to be close, the once sleepy collection of solidly Republican suburbs has suddenly become ground zero for the resistance to the presidency of Donald Trump.

“What’s happening? The president is happening,” said Barbara Carr, a 6th District voter who had volunteered to hold a Jon Ossoff sign, along with a dripping Popsicle, on a busy Atlanta street corner Saturday as the temperature climbed past 90 degrees. Trump “doesn’t represent my values.”

The hopes of local Democrats like Carr and others across the country are piled onto Ossoff, a 30-year-old former congressional staffer who was practically unknown—even to fellow Georgia Democrats—before 2017. But when civil rights icon (and a former boss of Ossoff’s) Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) endorsed him in January, a fire-hose of small-dollar donations from Democratic activists began to pour into Ossoff’s campaign coffers and never stopped.

The nonstop money bomb allowed Ossoff to raise a truly obscene amount of money, $23 million so far, and build a monster campaign big enough to challenge both the Republican machine in Georgia and the Republican on the ballot against him on Tuesday, former secretary of state Karen Handel. Keenly aware that a loss in Georgia would be spun as a loss for the president and his agenda, National Republican leaders, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, sent super-sized resources of their own to Georgia. The $50 million-plus contest has now become the most expensive House race in American history.

“They’re getting statewide saturation,” said Jeff DiSantis, a longtime Democratic operative in the state who ran Michelle Nunn’s 2014 Senate race. “Everybody knows everything there is to know. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it, even in a presidential [election].”

It is hard to describe the sheer scope of the campaign Ossoff has been able to build, first to win 48 percent of the vote in the April primary and now to be running even with Handel in a district that is widely considered “R +10,” meaning a GOP candidate starts out with a safe 10-point advantage over any Democrat they’ll face.

While most political candidates, including Handel, have to spend hours a day, and sometimes their entire day, calling wealthy donors for campaign contributions, the small-dollar activist machine fueled by Daily Kos and End Citizens United has largely freed Ossoff from the onus of call time. Instead of dialing for dollars, Ossoff can show up at nearly every meet-and-greet, neighborhood meeting, or canvass party he gets invited to.

He and his campaign can also knock on voters' doors. Lots of them. With two days left before Election Day, the Ossoff campaign has knocked on more than 500,000 voter doors, including 80,000 on Saturday alone. The campaign has six field offices, more than 100 full-time paid staffers, and more than 12,000 active volunteers. The Georgia Democratic Party has focused another 12 full-time staffers solely on minority voter engagement in the district.

An Atlanta-Journal Constitution poll showed that 51 percent of likely voters had been reached directly by the Ossoff campaign, while 32 percent of voters said they’d heard from Handel or her team.

But that same poll also revealed the greatest hurdle Handel faces on Tuesday, and it isn’t Jon Ossoff or his operation. Instead, it is the broad anti-Trump sentiment in the district, including that 35 percent approval rating...
Still more.