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Hullabaloo


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

 

Ossoff advances to GA-06 runoff

by Tom Sullivan


Image: New York Times.

It was a long night. As expected, Democrat Jon Ossoff won last night's "jungle primary," defeating 17 other candidates by a wide margin. But he fell just short of 50 percent needed for an outright win in his bid for Georgia's 6th District seat in Congress. The 30 year-old documentary filmmaker and former congressional staffer faces a June runoff against second-place finisher, Republican Karen Handel, Georgia's former secretary of state. Also as expected, Donald Trump declared victory and took credit for eleven Republicans losing to a Democrat in the district from which he plucked Tom Price, his health and human services secretary. The New York Times' live coverage began by describing this as "a quirky election: You have one major Democrat, Jon Ossoff, a 30-year-old filmmaker who has never held public office, competing in an open primary against four significant Republican candidates." The Times' coverage continues:
Mr. Ossoff’s strong showing will ensure that national Democrats continue to compete here and will increase pressure on the party to contest a special House election next month in Montana that it has so far ignored. Combined with Democrats’ better-than-expected performance in a special House election in Kansas last week, the Georgia result will be an immediate boon to Democratic groups, lifting their fund-raising and bolstering candidate recruitment efforts, while sobering Republicans who are assessing whether to run in Mr. Trump’s first midterm election. Already, Republican candidates and outside groups have had to spend over $7 million against Democrats in a series of deeply conservative districts.
It was a tough night for Trump loyalists, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports:
Bob Gray made allegiance to Donald Trump the cornerstone of his campaign, and he may have suffered for it. He got about 10 percent of the vote and came under a barrage of criticism over his pro-Trump bona fides.

And Bruce LeVell, head of Trump’s diversity coalition, got less than 1 percent of the vote. He also put Trump at the center of his campaign, and even made a last-minute trek to the White House to visit with the president, who didn’t endorse any candidate in the race.
Nor was it a good night for Republican endorsements. Judson Hill garnered endorsements from Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Hill captured 9 percent of the vote. Dan Moody, after spending $2 million of his own cash on his bid and having the support of U.S. Sen. David Perdue, did no better. Sean Hannity's pick, Amy Kremer, drew 0.2 percent, 349 votes.

While Handel managed to break out of the Republican field, she now faces scrutiny for her own record. That includes her disastrous tenure as head of the Susan G. Komen Foundation from which she was forced to resign after attempting to cut off funding to Planned Parenthood. David Nir at Daily Kos Elections writes, "That will help keep Ossoff’s massive national network of supporters fired up, and it also gives him a ready-made line of attack against Handel that may play very well against her." Republicans now threatened with losing the 6th District seat will rally around Handel if they can after their fractious primary. Ossoff's challenge just got tougher unless after last night's results district voters sense he's a winner.

At then end of the night, Ossoff rallied his supporters for the two-month battle ahead:
Casting his high-40s performance in the vote as a “victory for the ages,” he said he and his supporters “shattered expectations” in the Republican-leaning district.

“So bring it on. Because we are courageous,” he said. “We are humble. And we know how to fight.”
After two close races in Kansas and Georgia in the last weeks, Democrats scrapping for a fight with Trump's Republican Party have found one. And with Trump incapable of not making every contest about him, Ossoff may have an unwitting ally in his fight with Handel. Now a Democratic Party that promised a new 50 state strategy in the wake of November 8 will have to prove it can help its candidates more than Trump.