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Democrats Hope DeVos Will Spur Donations to Ossoff in Heated House Race

By Alyson Klein — June 19, 2017 2 min read
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Voters in Georgia will settle the closest watched congressional race in the country Tuesday, a special election to replace former Rep. Tom Price, a Republican now serving as secretary of health and human services. And U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has played a surprising supporting role.

Last week, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee sent out a fundraising email with the subject line, “DeVos STEALS Georgia.”

The email noted that “DeVos’ family is spending TENS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS” to make sure that the Democratic candidate, Jon Ossoff, loses his bid to take over the open seat in this GOP-leaning congressional district.

The email asks for a $19 donation to help elect Democrats like Ossoff, a former congressional staffer.

The DCCC cited more than $10,000 in donations to Karen Handel, Ossoff’s GOP opponent, from DeVos’ family members, including her father-in-law, Richard DeVos Sr., a founder of Amway. Of course, plenty of other people are donating to Ossoff and Handel. The Georgia race is, after all, the most expensive in House race history.

Betsy DeVos herself has donated millions to GOP candidates and causes. But she promised to take a break from political contributions while serving in the cabinet.

This isn’t the first time that Democrats have tried to fundraise off of DeVos, whose disapproval rating was above 52 percent, the highest of any Trump administration official, according to a poll released in March.

Even before the education secretary won Senate confirmation, a campaign to re-elect Wisconsin’s Sen. Tammy Baldwin, one of 10 Democratic senators facing re-election in 2018 in a state Trump won, sent out a fundraising email, asking for $5 or $10 donations to help “strengthen our opposition” to DeVos’ nomination.

And the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee sent around an email asking voters to sign a petition and “take a stand against” DeVos. The email promised the petition would be delivered to Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the majority leader.

The DCCC is the House campaign arm, which means it—and House members—couldn’t have done much to stop DeVos from getting confirmed. But the petition could help the DCCC identify potential grassroots activists and even donors.

Democratic candidate for Georgia’s 6th congressional district Jon Ossoff poses for a portrait in Atlanta.--John Bazemore/AP

Republican candidate for 6th congressional district Karen Handel campaigns in Tucker, Ga., on June 17.--David Goldman/AP

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