With Georgia’s contentious Republican primary just eight months away, former Secretary of State Karen Handel beat her fellow Republican candidates to the airwaves on Thursday, launching the first ad of the 2014 campaign.
Handel’s early ad, a radio spot designed to separate her from the crowd, builds on her attempts to portray herself as the outsider in a race dominated by current members of Congress. It hits Reps. Phil Gingrey, Jack Kingston and Paul Broun, though not by name, for campaigning against the 2010 health care law, even as they receive insurance subsidies under it. Implicit in the spot’s focus on President Obama’s signature legislative achievement is that Handel, who hasn’t benefited from the law, will be better positioned than her Republican opponents to make the case against “Obamacare” in a general election campaign against likely Democratic nominee Michelle Nunn.
The ad is running primarily on Republican-friendly talk radio and country music stations in the Savannah, Atlanta and Athens markets, three of the four largest in the state — which also just happen to be Kingston’s, Gingrey’s and Broun’s home markets, respectively.
Left unmentioned in the ad is businessman David Perdue, another potentially viable Republican candidate. Perdue, who has never held elective office, could be a strong competitor for the “outsider” label. Perdue has promised to draw heavily from his personal wealth to fund his campaign, but Handel’s team and the other Republican candidates have largely ignored him. Said Handel spokesman Dan McLagan: “I’ll take him seriously when he puts $5 million of his own money in.”
The early start to Handel’s ad campaign is in part a response to a federal judge’s recent order moving Georgia’s primaries from its typical mid-July date up to May 20, giving the Senate candidates even less time to introduce themselves to voters. Handel’s ad will help her build on her already superior name recognition, having run for governor in 2010 and served as Secretary of State before that. None of her opponents have run for statewide office before, and while Broun, Kingston and Gingrey are well known in their districts, they have a lot of ground to make up with voters in other parts of the state.
The spot is also a sign that Handel, who entered the race just six weeks before the end of the last financial disclosure period, has money coming in the door. McLagan said that Handel is having a “really good” third quarter and that he expects her to post strong numbers at the end of the quarter, which concludes this month. But, he cautioned, Handel will be outspent by her opponents. Gingrey has $2.6 million on hand and Kingston has $2.3 million in the bank.
Handel has been in that position before, McLagan argued, noting that Handel was outspent by all four of her opponents in the 2010 gubernatorial primary, which she won, before losing a close runoff to now-Gov. Nathan Deal.
With open races for the congressmen’s three seats, another likely barn burner in Democratic Rep. John Barrow’s 12th District and a still sleepy — but potentially competitive — gubernatorial primary, Georgia’s airwaves will be crowded next year, and ad buys could be pricey. Handel’s team is clearly betting that getting on air early, and cheaply, will pay off in May.
What We're Following See More »
According to a new CNN/ORC poll, Donald Trump emerged from the GOP convention "ahead of Hillary Clinton in the race for the White House, topping her 44% to 39% in a four-way matchup including Gary Johnson (9%) and Jill Stein (3%) and by three points in a two-way head-to-head, 48% to 45%. That latter finding represents a 6-point convention bounce for Trump, which are traditionally measured in two-way matchups."
As the Democratic National Convention gets underway today in Philadelphia, some prominent Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate are nowhere to be found. "At least four candidates in major races are opting out, including Russ Feingold, who is challengingSen. Ron Johnson in Wisconsin; Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, who is taking on Sen. John McCain in Arizona; Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander, who is running against Sen. Roy Blunt; and Catherine Cortez Masto, who is battling Rep. Joe Heck in Nevada for the seat vacated by retiring Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid." The candidates have stated their decisions aren't motivated by a desire to avoid being tied to the Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
Michael Bloomberg will endorse Hillary Clinton this week in a prime-time speech. "The news is an unexpected move from Mr. Bloomberg, who has not been a member of the Democratic Party since 2000; was elected the mayor of New York City as a Republican; and later became an independent. But it reflects Mr. Bloomberg’s increasing dismay about the rise of Donald J. Trump and a determination to see that the Republican nominee is defeated."
"The Democratic Rules Committee voted overwhelmingly in favor of a major shift in the superdelegate system Saturday night after a deal was reached between" the Clinton and Sanders camps. "The committee approved nearly unanimously an amendment that preserves the existing superdelegate role for elected U.S. lawmakers and governors, but will bind the remaining superdelegates — roughly two-thirds — to primary and caucus results."