Georgia 6th: How Ossoff and Handel are spending their campaign cash

Jon Ossoff and Karen Handel. AP image.
Jon Ossoff and Karen Handel. AP image.

Credit: Greg Bluestein

Credit: Greg Bluestein

What does the most flush campaign in the history of the U.S. House spend its money on? Lots and lots of ads, it appears.

Democrat Jon Ossoff reported raising a record-setting $15 million in roughly two months ahead of the nationally-watched runoff for Georgia's 6th District congressional seat. That's in addition to the $8.3 million the political newcomer raised ahead of the first round of voting.

So how did he spend those gobs of cash -- in only a few weeks, no less? We now have the answer, thanks to recent paperwork filed with the feds:

  • Nearly $11.2 million on producing, printing and reserving air time for political ads on TV, in local newspapers such as the AJC and in mailers sent to voters' mailboxes
  • More than $492,000 on salaries for 170 different people -- a massive operation for a House contest
  • More than $1.7 million on polling, focus groups and fundraising consultants
  • Almost $439,000 on get-out-the-vote outreach

Compare that to his Republican competitor Karen Handel, who raised a respectable $4 million during the same two-month period but was greatly surpassed by Ossoff.

Handel kept her campaign operation significantly smaller, according to her filings.

She collectively spent about $53,000 on salaries for 14 people, a more typical size for a congressional campaign. Advertising was Handel's biggest expense, at roughly $1.3 million (including $28,000 for yard signs). Handel also spent roughly $374,000 on polling and consultants.

Overall, Ossoff's campaign burned through its money a lot quicker than Handel's did. The Democrat spent all of the dough he raised during the runoff and more, and kicked off the final three weeks of the race with $1.1 million in the bank. Handel began June with $1.4 million on hand.

The spending by both campaigns, of course, represents of fraction of the more than $40 million that's been spent so far on this behemoth of a race. Both campaigns have been buoyed by a raft of money from super PACs and their respective political parties. We expect to see even more in the days ahead.

For more on the Sixth District race, go to myAJC.com/politics — your most complete and credible source for news and views about what is really going on in Georgia politics.

Read more 6th District coverage: 

ExploreTide of out of state donors buoy Ossoff, Handel campaigns
ExplorePutting Jon Ossoff’s record fundraising haul into perspective
ExploreOssoff raises another $15M in Georgia 6th, setting new fundraising record
ExploreSurge of 10K early votes on Saturday portends a heavy 6th District turnout

About the Author