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Republican Groups Contribute Big in Karen Handel’s Victory

The NRCC, Speaker Ryan, and CLF were on the ground early in Georgia, and were able to paint Jon Ossoff as a puppet of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

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The Republican Party sent a message to the nation and Democrats on Tuesday night with a major victory in Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District special election. Some of the major forces behind this victory were House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), and other Republican groups.

Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District special election was the most expensive in American history, and a race that Democrats targeted early on as their best chance to steal a seat from Republicans. Democrats spent nearly $30 million to get Democrat Jon Ossoff elected.

Despite all this money, it was Republican Karen Handel that was the victor on Tuesday night.

One major reason for Handel’s victory was the involvement early on by these Republican groups, who were able to paint Ossoff as a carpetbagger who would be more loyal to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) than his constituents if elected.

The Ryan-aligned Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF) spent $7 million alone on Georgia’s special election.

According to CLF Executive Director Corry Bliss, the group spent about $5 million on airtime, another $2 million on field operations, and knocked on 300,000 doors during the runoff.

“From the beginning, polling showed that Ossoff would not be victorious if voters were aware his national security ‘experience’ was fiction, while his liberal ideology and loyalty to Nancy Pelosi was genuine,” Bliss wrote in a memo about the victory.

“Jon Ossoff is officially the biggest loser in the history of Congress,” Bliss’ memo concludes. “It is remarkable that Ossoff had no primary, benefited from a massive cash advantage, outraised Karen Handel by $20 million, but still couldn’t win a district that Hillary Clinton lost by 1.5 percent.”

The NRCC added CLF’s efforts by shelling out an additional $6.7 million on ads for the race.

The U.S. Chamber spent $1.15 million on the election, and poured in an additional $150,000 a week before Election Day to run more ads that would paint Ossoff as a liberal.

“We’ve identified 42,000 voters we think are particularly receptive to our message, and we are just going to hone in on that universe,” Rob Engstrom, the chamber’s national political director, said at the time of the buy. “We are trying to fill in the holes that we think can make a difference in such a close race.”

The Republican victory in Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District belongs not only to Karen Handel’s campaign but to all the outside groups that got involved early to defeat Ossoff.

More importantly for Republicans, this victory challenges the idea that Democrats will easily be able to take back the House of Representatives in 2018, as this district is exactly the kind they will be targeting.

This was a sentiment echoed by NRCC Chairman Steve Stivers who told Politico following the results “I’d love to see where their momentum is at 0 and 4.”