Website for Georgia Recorder
This story also appeared in Georgia Recorder

WASHINGTON — When it comes to the early spending on the Georgia Senate runoff elections, it’s all about guns, abortion and Karl Rove.

Karl Rove (

Super PACs associated with the NRA, an anti-abortion group and the man President George W. Bush nicknamed Turd Blossom are spending big to help Georgia’s GOP Senators keep their jobs and maintain Republican control of the Senate.

Rove, the famed political consultant and former Bush administration official, is coordinating fundraising efforts for Republican U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler in her battle with Democrat Rev. Raphael Warnock and GOP U.S. Sen. David Perdue, who is fighting off a challenge from Democrat Jon Ossoff. The runoff election is Jan. 5.

So it stands to reason that American Crossroads, co-founded by Rove, is one of the earliest and biggest super PAC spenders on election advertising in the state. According to Federal Election Commission records, the group reported distributing almost $6 million just on Tuesday for television, radio and online ads in opposition to Warnock, the senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.

Rove, meanwhile, left attacks against Ossoff to the Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC associated with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The group spent about the same amount of money Tuesday running ads against Ossoff, a former House candidate who is now running to unseat Perdue.

An ad against Warnock by American Crossroads attacks him as anti-police while another from the Senate Leadership Fund paints Ossoff as being too close to Congressional liberals.

Overall, American Crossroads has already spent more than $16.7 million on advertising against Warnock and the Senate Leadership Fund has spent about $15.4 million against Ossoff. It’s all part of the $70 million ad buy the two groups have coordinated for the Georgia runoffs.

“We’re going to do everything humanly possible to keep radicals like Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock out of the Senate,” Senate Leadership Fund President Steven Law said in a news release.

PAC pack expands

While those groups appear to be the largest spenders, Rove’s is just one of several conservative groups boosting the GOP candidates in the senate races, which will decide whether Congress will be entirely controlled by Democrats or whether McConnell will continue his rule of the upper chamber.

Other groups spending heavily on the race include a Charles Koch-backed super PAC, the National Rifle Association and the Susan B. Anthony List, a group that advocates for ending legalized abortion.

Unlike the Republican super PACs, the NRA and the SBA List are spending their money on direct voter contact. Through its super PAC, the Women Speaking Out PAC, the anti-abortion group has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on mailers, text messages, emails, in-person canvassers and door hangers attacking Ossoff’s and Warnock’s positions on abortion, while boosting Loeffler and Perdue.

The group has promised to directly contact some 750,000 Georgia voters, and spend $4 million on its efforts in the runoff elections.

“We are going all in for pro-life champions Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue,” said Mallory Quigley, a spokeswoman for PAC, in a press release. “The outcomes of these races will determine the fate of the U.S. Senate and our nation.”

The NRA isn’t even the only gun rights group invested in the race. Gun Owners of America, which has bashed the NRA for what it says is compromising too much, has spent almost $40,000 in support of Loeffler and Perdue. Another group called God, Guns, & Life PAC, has spent more than $65,000 on ads supporting Loeffler and Perdue. The group has touted, among other things, that Loeffler supports legislation that mandates ultrasounds and a waiting period for women who are seeking an abortion.

Americans for Prosperity, meanwhile, has spent more than $440,000 sending direct mail to Georgians, according to its most recent spending disclosure with the Federal Election Commission, the federal body that regulates campaign finance.

The youth-focused conservative group, Turning Point Action, spent about $80,000 on door hangers and billboards supporting Loffler and Perdue. And the conservative, business-focused Club for Growth has spent almost $140,000 so far on its own door-knocking, internet communication and door hangers campaign.

A super PAC linked to controversial Congresswoman-elect Marjorie Taylor Greene, who supports baseless QAnon conspiracy theories, has also begun to spend in the race. The Stop Socialism Now PAC, which had only run ads in a few House races so far this year, ramped up its fundraising and has spent more than $40,000 so far.

Other smaller players are getting in on the action, too, including a PAC focused on attracting African Amercians to Republican candidates that was previously disavowed by the Trump campaign. Black Americans to Re-elect the President has paid for more than $80,000 in radio ads related to the runoff elections.

Georgia Recorder is part of States Newsroom, a network of news outlets supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Georgia Recorder maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor John McCosh for questions: Follow Georgia Recorder on Facebook and Twitter.

Daniel Newhauser is a freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. His work has appeared in the Atlantic, Roll Call, VICE, National Journal and several other publications.