By: Alex Seitz-Wald
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.
Here’s how the Ossoff-Handel race set a record.
Ossoff was the fourth Democrat to enter the contest. But when he declared in early January, he had $250,000 in commitments from donors and the support of both Atlanta-area Democratic congressmen, including civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis.
Lewis called on Democrats to unite behind Ossoff and they did, despite the fact that the candidate had never held public office and was only 30 years old.
“When John Lewis talks, you listen,” said Adam Bozzi of the liberal group End Citizens United, which has helped raise $1.5 million in small online contributions for Ossoff’s campaign.