Democrat Jon Ossoff Launches Senate Run In Georgia

The 32-year-old candidate made national news when he ran in a House special election in 2017, and now he's back to challenge GOP Sen. David Perdue.

Democrat Jon Ossoff announced Monday that he is running for U.S. Senate in Georgia, giving Democrats a candidate with a national profile and significant fundraising abilities. 

Ossoff, 32, will be challenging Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.). He told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he plans to “mount a ruthless assault on corruption in our political system” and will officially kick off his campaign on Tuesday.

“We have squandered trillions on endless war. We have squandered trillions on bailouts for failed banks. We have squandered trillions on tax cuts for wealthy donors. Then we’re told there’s nothing left over for the people,” he added, calling Perdue “a caricature of Washington corruption.”

Ossoff already has the endorsement of civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), giving him the backing of one of the highest-profile figures in the state. 

He told the Journal-Constitution that his first act in the Senate would be to co-sponsor legislation undoing the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United v. FEC decision that opened the door to massive amounts of corporate donations in politics. 

Ossoff attracted national attention when he ran in the 2017 special election for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, which became the most expensive House race in history (although it’s since been eclipsed). He shattered fundraising records at the time and will no doubt tap into that network for his fundraising bid. 

He lost to Republican Karen Handel, although he helped make the solidly red seat competitive and “produced probably the strongest Democratic turnout in an off-year election in at least a decade,” according to The New York Times.

The race also gave Democrats one of their first signs that President Donald Trump was hurting the GOP in suburban districts ― which then played out in the 2018 midterm election as well.

“My candidacy was such a threat that Republicans at the highest level made my destruction their highest priority,” Ossoff said in his interview with the Journal-Constitution. “And I narrowly lost that race, but we built something special and enduring. And I’m still standing and ready to fight.”

But Ossoff’s race was also widely watched for what went wrong. Democrats nationwide threw their support to Ossoff, which made it easier for the GOP to portray him as a puppet for party leaders in Washington. Although he grew up in the 6th District, he was living just outside it at the time. And many progressives believed his traditional, centrist campaign and message did him in, reflecting a longtime reluctance of the party to endorse outspoken progressives as general election candidates.

John Burke, executive director of the Georgia Action Fund, a pro-Perdue super PAC, put out a statement Tuesday morning paining Ossoff as too far left for the state. 

“Jon Ossoff is a radical liberal whose entrance will only continue to push his party’s Senate primary further to the left” said Burke. “Ossoff proved he was nothing more than a straw man for Nancy Pelosi and far-left donors from California and New York who already spent nearly 30 million dollars to watch him fail at running for Congress. Georgia voters will reject him in 2020.”

There are already three Democrats in the race to unseat Perdue: former Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson, Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry and 2018 lieutenant governor candidate Sarah Riggs Amico.

Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) also recently announced that he is retiring, creating a second Senate seat that will be on the ballot in November 2020. The governor has the power to name a replacement to fill the seat in the meantime. 

UPDATE: Sept. 10 ― Ossoff released a video officially announcing his run.