Georgia Democrat Leads the Pack in Closely-Watched Special Election
Even if Tuesday's vote goes to a June runoff, "[n]o one should conclude it's a done deal and the Republican will win"
Tuesday's special election in the race to fill Georgia's 6th District U.S. House seat, vacated by Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, will be another test of the political resistance to President Donald Trump, after a narrow loss in Kansas last week.
Democrats are rallying behind 30-year-old documentary filmmaker Jon Ossoff, whose success in the polls has Republicans on edge—even in the White House. Trump himself sent a tweet Monday referring to Ossoff as a "super liberal Democrat" who wants to "protect criminals, allow illegal immigration, and raise taxes."
But Ossoff's progressive bent has drawn support from around the country, bringing in more cash than the 6th District has ever seen, CNBC reported Monday. As of March 29, Ossoff had raised $8.3 million. Price, who first won the seat in 2004, never spent more than $2.5 million in an election.
"While I'm glad the president is interested in the race, he is misinformed," Ossoff said in a statement in response to Trump's tweet. "I'm focused on bringing fresh leadership, accountability, and bipartisan problem-solving to Washington to cut wasteful spending and grow metro Atlanta's economy into the Silicon Valley of the South."
If Ossoff captures 50 percent in the primary, which is crowded with 18 contenders, he will avoid a June runoff with a Republican candidate. Although he is expected to fall a few points short of that goal, "[n]o one should conclude it's a done deal and the Republican will win," Eric Tanenblatt, a 30-year veteran of Georgia politics who has worked on Republican campaigns, told USA Today.
The most likely outcome is that the race will narrow to a two-person face-off on June 20—but the fact that Democrats are even close enough to scare Republicans points to the shake-up Trump's presidency has caused in the political landscape nationwide. Ossoff is ahead in the polls in a district that Republicans have held for nearly 40 years—and as NPR noted last week, his fundraising success and massive lead in the polls is "a nearly unthinkable feat in an 18-candidate field."