The actress Alyssa Milano is doing get-out-the-vote work for the Democrat fighting to take the suburban Atlanta congressional seat vacated by Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, she and her colleague Christopher Gorham tweeted on Monday.
The election is set for April 18, and early voting began Monday.
Turnout in special elections is typically low, meaning that a big run-up of early votes can make all the difference on Election Day. The election in April will winnow the field to two candidates, who will compete in a runoff in June ― unless, that is, one of the candidates can win at least 50 percent outright in the first round. Democrat Jon Ossoff is polling strongly; with enough miles on Milano’s ride, 50 percent is not inconceivable, and would be a devastating rejection of President Donald Trump deep in Republican territory.
“I think people are shocked and happy to see us at their doorstep, but I also think they understand how passionate we are about gaining this seat once we show up and ring the bell,” Milano, who has had roles in “Charmed,” “Who’s the Boss?” and “Melrose Place,” told HuffPost in an email.
“The biggest surprises came on the phone when people realized we were ACTUALLY coming to their house. The initial skepticism was high. Understandably,” said Gorham, who appeared on “Ugly Betty.”
Republicans think they see an opening for a Hollywood-liberal charge to stick to Ossoff. “Alyssa Milano and her personal assistant have at least one thing in common with Jon Ossoff — none of them have done anything for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District,” quipped Jesse Hunt, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee.
“Carpetbagger charge!?” said Gorham. “I love it. Look, all politics may be local, but this race has national implications. My wife, Anel Lopez Gorham, and her political activist group in Los Angeles, held a bake sale in January and raised over $1,200 for Jon’s campaign. We’re not forcing anyone to support a candidate they don’t believe in. We’re just helping a man whose values we share get his message out.”
Besides, said Milano, she’s in Georgia working. “If our pilot is picked up and we shoot here permanently, the 6th is an area I’m considering moving my family to,” she said.
The poll work does not appear to be coordinated with the Ossoff campaign. A spokesman for Ossoff, Andy Phelan, was unfamiliar with Milano’s effort when reached on the phone by The Huffington Post, asking this reporter why he was randomly name-dropping celebrities.
Gorham left a phone number on Twitter for voters to call in order to get a ride. That number leads to a regional field office. Erin Bozek-Jarvis, a regional field director for the campaign, told HuffPost that this isn’t Milano’s first effort on behalf of the campaign, and that she had previously done door-to-door canvassing.
The offer of a free ride appeared to be having an effect. “A lot of folks are calling now to early vote,” Bozek-Jarvis said.
Congressional Republicans announced Monday they’re dumping an additional $1.1 million into a race that should be an easy win for the GOP. That’s on top of $1.1 million they already spent. Democrats and other progressives around the country, meanwhile, have kicked in some $3 million to Ossoff’s campaign in a district where they usually spend around $10,000.
Price won in 2016 by 23 points, though Hillary Clinton very nearly beat Donald Trump there.
“We also canvassed for the Ossoff campaign last week and I did a roundtable with Mr. Ossoff and his female leaders as well,” Milano said. “Today, we really wanted to focus on spreading the word that early voting has begun and that this special election is a unique opportunity to gain a seat.”
Milano said she and Gorham were able to take just five people to vote on Monday.
“I wish we could have driven more people today, but we ran up against the realities of time and distance,” Gorham said. “Early voting in the 6th, it turns out, is available, but not easy to take advantage of. There are only four polling places where residents can vote and they’re widely spread.”
UPDATE: 7:49 p.m. ― Ossoff spokesman Phelan sent HuffPost an email saying: “The Ossoff campaign is excited to have Alyssa and Chris on board today, giving some of their valuable time helping the campaign. They are part of an energized team of more 7,500 volunteers who have already helped us knock on doors, phone bank and engage with thousands of Sixth District voters.”