SANDY SPRINGS, Georgia — When he ran for president in 1976, Jimmy Carter raised about $33 million and made it to all the way to the White House. In the special congressional election Tuesday near Carter’s Atlanta home, the candidates and outside groups have already spent $40 million and counting.
The race, which pits Democrat Jon Ossoff against Republican Karen Handel, is easily the most expensive House race in American history, captivating both officials in Washington and grassroots activists across the country in the first pitched electoral battle of the Donald Trump presidency.
“Is $40 million a lot for a congressional election? Yes. Is $40 million a lot for a national election? No,” said Randy Evans, a Republican National Committeeman from Georgia.
The 6th congressional district has been held by Newt Gingrich, Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA), and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, who left the seat open when he joined Trump’s Cabinet. So when the contest heated up, people paid attention — partly because it is seen as a referendum on Trump and possibly an early indicator of how the midterm elections could go next year.
“Democrats saw an opportunity, so they went all in,” Evans said. “Republicans have responded by saying, ‘That’s our seat, it’s a historic seat, we’re going to go all in.’ And when we you have both teams go all in, it becomes one of these unique historic moments.”