Super PACS Run by Former McConnell Aides Are Pouring Money Into Georgia Runoffs

Super PACs linked to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) are outspending Democratic groups in the Georgia Senate runoffs as Republicans attempt to hold the upper chamber.

The Senate Leadership Fund and American Crossroads, closely affiliated GOP super PACs run by former McConnell aides, have together spent $20.6 million on ads attacking Democratic candidates Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock. As of Monday, their combined spending accounted for 45 percent of all outside spending in the Georgia runoffs.

Those deep-pocketed super PACs have helped conservative groups outspend their liberal counterparts 2-to-1 thus far in the Georgia runoffs, which will decide control of the Senate when votes are tallied in early January.

The Senate Leadership Fund is running ads tying Ossoff to Democratic leaders and telling viewers, “If Ossoff wins, they control everything.” The super PAC has spent $252 million to influence 2020 races, the most any outside group has ever spent in a single election cycle. It received more in “dark money” donations than any other group, even though Democratic groups got greater backing overall from undisclosed funds. American Crossroads, which received most of its funding from the Senate Leadership Fund, is labeling Warnock as an “anti-police extremist” in its ads.

Democrats have so far spent less on super PAC ads. Georgia Honor and The Georgia Way, newly formed groups linked to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), spent a combined $10.8 million through Monday to attack Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler. Their ads attack Perdue and Loeffler over their response to the COVID-19 pandemic that has killed a quarter-million Americans.

Georgia’s Republican incumbents received the highest vote share during the general election, but Democrats hope high turnout will help them flip Georgia as President-elect Joe Biden narrowly did earlier this month. The party is targeting thousands of young Georgians who were not eligible to vote in the general election but can vote in the runoffs. Those efforts are bolstered by former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, whose group Fair Fight Action is credited with registering hundreds of thousands of Democratic voters.

Republicans are concerned that President Donald Trump’s baseless accusations of voter fraud in Georgia — and his attacks on the state’s GOP officials — could cause reliably Republican voters to stay home. In an attempt to quell those concerns, Donald Trump Jr. will appear in an ad from a new super PAC urging Republicans to turn out, Politico reported. President Trump has said he will travel to Georgia to support Perdue and Loeffler.

Republicans so far have spending on their side. In addition to McConnell-linked super PACs, other conservative groups including Americans for Prosperity Action, National Victory Action Fund and the National Rifle Association have each spent seven figures to influence the runoffs. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce also announced a $2 million ad buy in support of the Republican senators.

The Georgia Senate runoffs are extending an election cycle that was already on track to smash spending records with roughly $14 billion spent. In most races, Democrats raised and spent far more money than Republicans.

Ad spending and ad reservations in the Georgia runoffs by candidates and outside groups total $296 million, with Republicans accounting for $175 million of that total, according to figures from CNN. The race between Perdue and Ossoff is on pace to shatter spending records. It’s already the sixth-most expensive race of the 2020 cycle that hosted the three most expensive congressional races ever.