WASHINGTON ― Jon Ossoff, the Georgia Democrat on his way to potentially winning a congressional seat long held by Republicans, including Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, just got a big boost from the Democratic National Committee.
The DNC announced Thursday that it’s sending in 10 field organizers to target Democratic voters who didn’t show up for the April 18 primary election, where Ossoff nearly won the House seat outright. He fell just shy of hitting 50 percent of the vote, which put him in a June 20 runoff with the top Republican, perennial candidate Karen Handel.
His new staff members will target roughly 78,000 African-American, Asian and Latino voters who are registered to vote but didn’t cast ballots in April. They’ll spend the next five weeks helping with phone banks, canvassing and organizing drivers to take voters to the polls during early voting and on Election Day.
“We’re working to talk to every single voter in this district by every possible means and leaving no stone untouched,” said DNC Chair Tom Perez.
Beyond the DNC’s investment, the leading super PAC for House Democrats, House Majority PAC, announced Thursday that it is spending $500,000 on a broadcast television buy for Ossoff. It will also spend $200,000 for a get-out-the-vote field effort in his district, beginning this weekend and running through June 20.
The moves show how eager the Democratic Party is to win this race, in part because it’s one of the first congressional elections since Trump became president and partly because it’s a stunning turn of events that Ossoff, a 30-year-old former documentary filmmaker and congressional aide to Rep. Hank Johnson (Ga.), is popular in this otherwise Republican district.
It’s been held by Republicans since at least the 1970s, and its most recent inhabitant, Price, won the seat by 24 points in 2016. Ossoff’s success here has drawn national attention and brought in Hollywood celebrities eager to see him win, including actress Alyssa Milano, who personally drove people to the polls for the April primary.
Ossoff’s opponent, Handel, is perhaps best known for being fired from Susan G. Komen for the Cure after she sparked a PR crisis by pushing her anti-abortion agenda onto the cancer research organization. She has since lost bids to be governor and to be a U.S. senator.
A May 4 poll conducted by Georgia’s WSB-TV and Landmark Communication showed Ossoff and Handel in a dead heat.