Candidates and outside groups have already spent more than $3.7 million for an advertising blitz in the campaign for former Rep. Tom Price’s suburban Atlanta seat, and that tally will grow significantly with one month left until the special election and three months until a likely final vote.
An analysis of advertising buys shows the two biggest spenders are former state Sen. Dan Moody, who has reserved more than $1.4 million in TV time through the April 18 vote, and Democrat Jon Ossoff, who has laid out more than $1.1 million for TV and radio airtime.
The other big fish is the Congressional Leadership Fund, the House leadership-backed super PAC that has reserved nearly $1.1 million on a wave of attack ads targeting Ossoff.
Two other candidates have made smaller ad buys. Former Johns Creek Councilman Bob Gray’s campaign has spent at least $50,000 on cable TV spots, while ex-state Sen. Judson Hill has reserved about $40,000 in airtime.
The race for Georgia’s Sixth District – which stretches from east Cobb to north DeKalb – is the most competitive in the nation since Donald Trump’s victory. And the president’s struggles in the Sixth– he barely edged Hillary Clinton – have given Democrats hopes they can flip the seat.
Many of the contenders are trying to distinguish themselves with eye-catching ads. The spots so far have featured necklace-wearing elephants, light-saber battlers, swamp drainers, campy catch-phrases, muck shovelers and get-to-know-me introductions.
Campaigns usually try to reserve time early to lock in lower rates, but the figures also could fluctuate.
What is certain is that the ad wars will get plenty more expensive through the April 18 special election and the likely June 20 runoff that will follow. Karen Handel still hasn’t launched her ad campaign yet and outside groups, such as the Club for Growth, are expected to weigh in.
But it will come nowhere near the record $74 million spent by candidates and super PACs in the nearly two-year contest to succeed retiring U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss that culminated with David Perdue’s 2014 victory.
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