Jon Ossoff, the failed Democratic hopeful for Georgia's 6th Congressional District seat who outspent his Republican opponent by $19 million, declared this week that America is in need of campaign finance reform. GOP candidate Karen Handel beat Ossoff by 4 percentage points Tuesday night in what became the most expensive House race in history.
In an interview Tuesday, NPR's Rachel Martin asked Ossoff whether or not the amount of money spent during the campaigns — more than $56 million between both candidates' campaigns and their supporters — disturbed him.
"The role of money in politics is a major problem and particularly the role of unchecked anonymous money," Ossoff replied. "There have been super PACs in Washington who have been putting up tens of millions of dollars of attack ads on air for months now. When you have that kind of an environment, it's necessary to raise the resources to fight back."
Ossoff's campaign raised at least $24 million, with 65 percent of the funds coming from small donations of $200 or less, according to OpenSecrets.org. He also received support from many Hollywood celebrities, including Samuel L. Jackson, Chelsea Handler, and George Takei, who led their fans and followers in supporting and donating Ossoff's.
According to the New York Times, most of Ossoff's itemized contributions came from large Democratic states, with just 14 percent coming from within Georgia. Handel's in-state itemized fundraising was at 56 percent.
"I'm proud of the fact that my campaign has raised that money in small-dollar contributions, on average less than $50," Ossoff said.
The Democratic National Committee spent about $5 million to support Ossoff, and Planned Parenthood spent close to $1 million.
Handel's campaign raised $4.8 million from small donors but eclipsed Ossoff in spending by outside group. According to OpenSecrets.org, the two major outside spenders were the Congressional Leadership Fund, which spent over $6.5 million backing Handel, and the National Republican Congressional Committee, which spent $6.7 million.
During the NPR interview, Martin pointed out to Ossoff that his campaign outspent Handel's campaign by $2 million more in ad spending during the runoff. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, this does not include the additional $5 million spent by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee on ads supporting Ossoff.
Ossoff said that his donors were primarily small, while Handel's were big donors, and added: "But there's no question that money in politics is a major problem, which is one of the reasons that we need campaign finance reform so that candidates and campaigns will spend more time talking to voters and discussing the issues and less time raising money."
Despite outspending his Republican opponent, Ossoff still lost the election by 10,000 votes.