Why Kasim Reed is happy to see Jon Ossoff on Donald Trump's mind

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed was on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” today, talking about the Sixth District and setting up some Democratic talking points for this evening.

Reed on President Donald Trump’s morning Twitter barrage aimed at the leading Democrat:

“Clearly, Jon Ossoff is on the president’s mind. And we think that’s a good thing….”

On the chances of Ossoff clearing the 50 percent bar and avoiding a June 20 runoff:

“The last trackers we’ve seen in the last 48 hours have him at about 45, 46 (percent) – so with a very strong GOTV turnout, we think it’s within reach. But no matter what, he’s going to win tonight…”

Asked what he meant by that, Reed framed the evening’s argument. Said Reed:

“A typical Republican should be winning this seat by 20, 24 points. And as we stand here now, Jon Ossoff is winning it with 45 to 46 percent of the vote….


“This district isn’t in the 70 most competitive districts in the United States. And right now, Jon Ossoff is winning it. So we’re not going to let the president or Republicans, who spent $4 million attacking Jon Ossoff, turn a win into a loss by raising the standards so high.”

Here's the video:


If Karen Handel makes it into a runoff with Democrat Jon Ossoff this evening, the narrative of the campaign is certain to shift slightly. Republicans in Georgia have never elected a woman to Congress.

But there would also be another story: How did Handel, an indifferent fundraiser, beat former state senator Dan Moody, a man with great personal resources and the backing of U.S. Sen. David Perdue? Ditto Bob Gray, the former Johns Creek city council man.

The answer may be found in super PACs and some very good Washington connections.

We told you Monday about a group called the 45 Committee that launched a late TV attack on Gray. Todd Ricketts, part-owner of the Chicago Cubs and a major Trump backer, is on its board. Ending Spending, another super PAC, is supporting Handel. It’s controlled by the Ricketts family.

Then we have Congressional Leadership Fund, which turned its fire hose on Ossoff in the final leg of this campaign. Until recently, the CLF was run by Mike Shields. He’s now a partner at Convergence Media, a prominent D.C. firm, with a fellow named Rob Simms.

Who’s Rob Simms? He’s the former executive director of the National Republican Campaign Committee. And, when she was Georgia’s secretary of state, Handel’s chief of staff.


Democratic state Sen. Elena Parent took the surprising step of urging Gov. Nathan Deal to call a special session to pass a "meaningful transit bill" in the wake of one too many highway debacles.

There was no immediate public comment from the governor's office, but suffice to say that he's unlikely to take such a step.

Still, expect a new round of legislative debate next year over dedicated transit funding. House Speaker David Ralston and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle have both emerged as transit champions, and a lame-duck Deal might be more willing to stake his political capital on statewide funding for the projects.

Transit advocates came close in 2015, when $75 million in bonds for transit was used as a bargaining chip to earn Democratic support for a sweeping transportation bill. The new law, House Bill 170, provides about $900 million a year for road and bridge improvements, but it was criticized as an unnecessary tax hike by some conservative activists.

Still, the funding is a one-time commitment, and Georgia remains one of the few states that doesn’t provide regular funding for the vast majority of its transit operations. (The lone exception is the Xpress bus service by the Georgia Regional Transit Authority, which receives state subsidies.)

By the way, Atlanta's spate of interstate disasters has prompted this photo to zip around the halls of a certain Atlanta-based transit agency:


Democrat Jon Ossoff let it be known that only 1 in 20 of his donors were from Georgia. But The Center for Public Integrity took a longer lens and found there was only 1 penny in every $10 of national cash spent on the race from the Peach State.

The most pertinent graphs:

Federal campaign finance disclosures bolster that notion: Through Sunday, super PACs, nonprofits and other groups independent of any candidate’s campaign have spent $9 million on the Georgia 6th race.


Just one of these outside groups spending money to influence the Georgia 6th election — Athens, Georgia-based Better Georgia Inc. — is headquartered within state lines. Better Georgia Inc.’s $1,070 in spending, all to support Democratic front-runner Jon Ossoff, accounts for less than one one-thousandth of overall non-candidate spending.


Said another way: When the candidates’ own campaign money is excluded, the Georgia 6th special election has attracted about one Georgia penny for every $10 in national cash, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of federal campaign finance disclosures.


In case you’re looking to escape from the vortex of Sixth District news, word has it that Congressman Barry Loudermilk will be throwing out the first pitch at tonight’s Braves-Nationals game. The Republican’s 11th congressional district encompasses the new SunTrust Park.

We’re told Loudermilk has a .500 batting average and went two for three during the last two congressional baseball games as the Republican team’s designated hitter. We’ll be keeping an eye on the former little league star as we wait for the Sixth District returns to come in.


U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Atlanta, will also be focused on other things this evening.

He’ll be at the Newseum in Washington accepting the Lifetime Achievement Award at its Free Expression Awards ceremony. Fellow honorees including Apple CEO Tim Cook and Playbook Editor-in-Chief Hugh Hefner.


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About the Author

Tamar Hallerman
Tamar Hallerman
Tamar Hallerman is The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Washington correspondent, covering Congress, federal agencies and other government activities that...