June 01, 2017

Pro-Trump Outside Group Launches Over Ad Campaign in Georgia Congressional Race

Pro-Trump Outside Group Launches Over Ad Campaign in Georgia Congressional Race

The political nonprofit aligned with President Trump is set to become politically active for the first time with a $1.6 million television buy in the Georgia special election.

America First Policies confirmed in an interview with the Washington Examiner late Thursday that it has reserved air time in Atlanta through Election Day (June 20) beginning Tuesday, the day of the first debate between Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel.

Brian O. Walsh, president of America First, said the group's mission is to strengthen Trump's hand in Congress and preserve his political standing nationally. Keeping Georgia's suburban Atlanta Sixth Congressional District in GOP hands does both, adding another House vote for Trump's agenda, while tamping down on Democratic enthusiasm ahead of 2018.

"We have a very broad scope," Walsh said. "And, in Georgia, where the Left is pouring in money to help Ossoff, there's a need for us to get involved."

American First Policies is a 501(c)4. It can accept contributions in unlimited amounts but does not have to disclose its donors. Walsh said the group has raised $15 million and has commitments for more than $5 million more, but declined to reveal who has given.

Walsh, the political director for the National Republican Congressional Committee during the 2010 GOP wave cycle, said America First Policies' first ad buy would include a digital component. The spot was still in production, but Walsh said it would criticize Ossoff for fudging his national security credentials, mirroring the message being used in other Republican attack ads.

America First Policies considered jumping into the Montana special House election won by Republican Greg Gianforte on May 25, but determined that the race was in hand with investments from the NRCC and Congressional Leadership Fund, the super PAC affiliated with House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis. Both of those organizations are active in Georgia.

Walsh, who had a birdseye view of special elections during his tenure at the NRCC and since as a consultant, conceded that the Georgia 6 race is close. Ossoff led the RealClearPolitics average by 1.4 percentage points. Trump won the district in November, but only by 1.5 points, even as Tom Price, who is now Health and Human Services secretary, was re-elected with more than 60 percent of the vote.

That Trump traveled to the district in recent weeks to help Handel raise money was interpreted as a signal to America First that the White House views this race as a priority, which acted as another motivator for the group to wade in.


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