Spending in Georgia Sixth race pushes past $50 million

The race for Georgia’s 6th District was already the most expensive election of its kind. Now the contest to represent a suburban Atlanta district has shattered another barrier, topping $50 million in overall spending.

An election-eve analysis by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution shows that roughly $42 million has been spent or reserved for TV and radio ads in the race – including about $27 million since the first-round of voting in April winnowed the field in Tuesday’s vote to Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel.

That doesn’t include the other cash spent by the campaigns and the super PACs and outside groups supporting them for other trappings of the campaigns, including direct-mail, staff payroll, consulting fees and digital ads.

The analysis shows Ossoff laid out $14.2 million on ad time and spent at least another $8 million on other costs. Handel spent $2.5 million on TV, radio and cable spots and had at least $1 million in other expenses.

Both campaigns were buoyed by a tide of outside spending in the runoff phase, though Ossoff’s record-breaking fundraising haul – he took in more than $23 million since January – meant he needed less backup.

Still, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spent nearly $5 million on TV ads boosting his campaign or slamming Handel, while other left-leaning groups chipped in about $1 million more.

In all, left-leaning groups and Ossoff combined for about $2 million more in ad spending than Handel and conservative allies during the runoff phase.

On the GOP side, two groups accounted for the lion’s share of spending.

The National Republican Congressional Committee shelled out more than $6.7 million on ads in the race. And the Congressional Leadership Fund – a super PAC with ties to Speaker Paul Ryan – spent about $5 million on airtime. The group said it spent another $2 million on other costs, including a field operation aiming to target 300,000 voters by Tuesday.

Two other conservative groups – America First Policies and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce – each chipped in at least $1 million more.

The tally is still emerging – and one estimate by a nonpartisan advocacy group Issue One has the total cost at roughly $60 million. Atlanta residents can be sure of one thing, though: After Tuesday, the relentless ads in the proxy fight between the two parties will stop. For a while.

More recent AJC 6th District coverage:

National Democrats, Republicans both see 6th District as a must-win

Jon Ossoff: The making of a Georgia Democratic dynamo

Karen Handel: A ‘fighter’ returns to the political arena

When your own rhetoric gives you license to commit mayhem. And worse

First-timers get involved in 6th District get-out-the-vote effort

Exhausted 6th District voters prepare for vote

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About the Author

Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.