Ad spending on Georgia’s two US Senate races to top $150M

Perdue-Ossoff shatter Georgia spending record
In his bid for re-election, Republican U.S. Sen. David Perdue, left, faces Democrat Jon Ossoff.

In his bid for re-election, Republican U.S. Sen. David Perdue, left, faces Democrat Jon Ossoff.

The last competitive U.S. Senate race in Georgia shattered state records with more than $74 million spent on the contest. The twin Senate seats up for grabs this year are set to far exceed that benchmark.

U.S. Sen. David Perdue’s re-election bid against Democrat Jon Ossoff has already triggered about $111 million in spending on ads from candidates and outside groups, including TV and radio spots reserved for the final month of the campaign, according to media analytics.

And the wild special election for U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler’s seat has cost $40 million and counting, mostly from Republicans backing the incumbent’s campaign. That total will surely soar far higher, particularly when the race moves toward an expected January runoff between the two top finalists.

According to figures compiled by media strategist Rick Dent, that’s more than $151 million spent so far on TV and radio ads in both races. The numbers, which include future ad buys that could change, exclude other spending on the contests, such as personnel costs and digital efforts.

In the Perdue race, Republicans have outspent Democrats by a solid margin: About $61.6 million has been spent on pro-Perdue ads, while roughly $50.2 million boost Ossoff’s bid. Much of the spending comes from outside groups, though both candidates have also amassed sizeable warchests.

That race usurped the 2018 matchup for governor between Republican Brian Kemp and Democrat Stacey Abrams as the most expensive in Georgia history. That contest topped $100 million in spending.

Perdue and Ossoff are no strangers to setting records. Perdue’s 2014 election set the last U.S. Senate spending record in Georgia, when he bested Democrat Michelle Nunn for an open seat. Meanwhile, Ossoff’s 2017 special election bid for Congress attracted $60 million, making it the most expensive U.S. House election of its kind.

Loeffler’s campaign has shelled out about $17 million so far in her bid to fill the remaining two years of retired U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson’s term. That includes roughly $2 million in reserved airtime through November boosting the Republican, a wealthy former financial executive self-financing her bid.

Among her chief supporters is Georgia United Victory, which has shelled out nearly $7 million to promote her bid, and the Club for Growth, which has spent about $2.4 million.

Her main Republican adversary in the free-for-all race, U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, has a fraction of that bankroll at his disposal. He’s spent or reserved at least $1.3 million on airtime.

Raphael Warnock, the Democratic frontrunner in the contest, has spent or reserved at least $9 million on TV ads. That far outpaces two other Democrats lagging in the polls. Matt Lieberman spent about $140,000 so far, while Ed Tarver devoted about $20,000 for ads. Neither have reserved significant future airtime.