Amico, Ossoff stroke big checks in final stretch of Senate primary

Democrat Jon Ossoff stroked his Senate campaign a $450,000 check, finance records show, fueling speculation about his strategy in an unpredictable June 9 primary to challenge Republican David Perdue.

One of his top rivals, Sarah Riggs Amico, also dipped deep into her bank account in the final stretch before the vote. She loaned campaign another $180,000, and she’s now spent roughly $1.1 million of her own cash to finance her bid.

Ossoff, an investigative journalist, tops the field in fundraising and leads the few public polls of the race thanks in part to high name recognition from his nationally-watched 2017 campaign for the 6th District.

Some veteran operatives saw his cash infusion as proof that he's maneuvering to win the race outright and avoid an August runoff. One of his top opponents, meanwhile, said it was a mark of weakness heading toward next week's vote.

Ossoff’s advisers hold out the possibility that he could capture a majority of the vote and avoid an August face-off against Amico or former Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson, though they say the possibility is remote in a 7-candidate race.

Still, few understand the importance of avoiding a runoff better than Ossoff. He fell just short of the majority-vote he needed in a crowded 2017 special election, then narrowly lost a head-to-head matchup to Republican Karen Handel weeks later.

“This is a sign of how strongly Jon believes in this race and the people of Georgia,” said spokesman Jake Best. “With this investment, we will expand every aspect of our campaign to defeat Senator David Perdue.”

With little recent public polling, the state of the race remains murky. The pandemic has injected even more unpredictability by distracting attention away from the contest and effectively ending in-person campaigning.

Amico also enjoys high name recognition from her 2018 bid for lieutenant governor, and recently launched an ad focused on her ties to Stacey Abrams and her business background.

And Tomlinson, who was deadlocked with Amico for second-place in a March AJC poll, has amassed a long list of endorsements and raised roughly $2.5 million since entering the race, including about $100,000 from her personal account.

At forums and town halls, she stresses that she's the only candidate with elected experience and questions whether Ossoff can defeat Perdue, a former Fortune 500 chief executive who didn’t draw a primary opponent.

In a social media post responding to Ossoff’s cash infusion, Tomlinson nodded to his 2017 defeat to Handel and suggested he was forced to open his checkbook because the race had tightened.

“Really, Jon?? That’s a cool million you’ve had to put into your campaign between the carry over from your prior failed race and this loan,” she wrote. “I thought this race was a cake walk for you.”