Club for Growth Action is poised to air a television ad against early Republican front-runner Karen Handel beginning Wednesday in Georgia’s 6th District special election, according to a release first obtained by Roll Call and Inside Elections.
It’s a $250,000 ad buy on Atlanta cable, according to a Club source, and is scheduled to run through the initial April 18 election. If none of the 18 candidates receives a majority of the vote in the jungle primary, the top two finishers, regardless of party, will move on to a June 20 runoff. The conservative outside group endorsed one of Handel’s 10 GOP opponents, businessman Bob Gray, on March 14.
The 30-second ad, entitled “Trees,” highlights Handel’s spending record as Georgia secretary of state and Fulton county commissioner (since she doesn’t have a legislative voting record).
“Money doesn’t grow on trees,” says the narrator, “But don’t tell that to career politician Karen Handel.”
“Handel voted to spend nearly $2 million planting trees to beautify government properties,” the ad continues. “Jacked up spending 43 percent on her office budget, and paid her top crony 50 percent more. And Handel spent 200-grand on red-light cameras. Stop Karen Handel – a big-spending, career politician we can’t trust with our money.”
It’s the first negative ad against Handel that mentions her by name. Previous ads made references to career politicians and one featured an elephant wearing a pearl necklace.
The seat was left vacant after GOP Rep. Tom Price joined President Donald Trump’s Cabinet as secretary of Health and Human Services. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race Lean Republican.
Democrat Jon Ossoff, a documentary filmmaker and former Capitol Hill staffer, has consolidated most of the Democratic vote and is likely to finish first on April 18. That leaves the 11 Republicans to battle for the second slot, assuming Ossoff doesn’t win an outright majority.
As a former statewide officeholder and with two other unsuccessful bids for statewide office, Handel started the special election with the highest name identification. While Gray has improved his standing with his own ads, someone (or some group) likely needed to dethrone Handel first for a Republican other than Handel to make the runoff.