The Democratic candidate to replace Republican Rep. Tom Price in Georgia’s special election has raised a stunning amount of campaign cash, according to a Monday report in New York Magazine.
Jon Ossoff has led the 18-person race in the polls, but he now leads all the candidates, including Republicans, in fundraising totals as well, after he revealed more than $4.4 million in campaign donations at the end of March, according to the report.
The average donation size was $34, he said, indicating that the bulk of the funds came from smaller donors. The large haul is due to a national fundraising effort, with Democrat Sen. Cory Booker and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi hosting a fundraiser in Ossoff’s name.
The race was crafted as the first test of a strong anti-Trump rhetoric. Ossoff thinks he’s able to take the seat that’s been held by Republicans for decades, and he’s doubling down on the bet that white moderate Republicans are willing to vote for him based on their opposition to Trump.
“A lot of traditional Republican voters, suburban voters, were clearly turned off by Trump,” former Georgia Rep. David Worley told New York Magazine.
Ossoff began the race firmly in the anti-Trump camp. His first fundraiser was titled, “Make Trump Furious,” which prompted donors to shell out cash to prove they were able to win by drawing a line in the sand against the administration.
“Scarcely a week after we’d endorsed him, Ossoff broke our all-time fund-raising record for a single campaign, which was held by none other than Elizabeth Warren, for whom we’d raised over $400,000 back in 2012,” David Nir, the political director of Daily Kos, told New York Magazine. “And a couple of weeks ago, he became our first-ever million-dollar candidate.”
“As a result, something else interesting has happened,” he continued. “Our initial fund-raising was so berserk that it prompted a flurry of media attention, which in turn helped Ossoff raise more money, generating even more media attention. It’s been a very fruitful, positive feedback loop.”
Although the national party has held high hopes for the strategy, strategists warned against hard rhetoric, claiming that a likely loss will cost them in fundraising and support in future elections.
“You can make two mistakes with special elections,” former Clinton strategist Jesse Ferguson told Politico in March. “One is to over-read and assume that because you won or lost, that is a predictor of the midterms. The flip side is that you can under-read.”
“Special elections are indicators, not prognosticators,” he said. “They are testing grounds, but not conclusive proof-points, [so] it can be a mistake to read into a special election as giving the party a perfect road map for where to invest in the future. But at the same time, ignoring the consequences of these testing grounds comes at your peril.”
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