2020 Election

Jon Ossoff Fails Upward, Avoids Loss in Georgia Senate Primary

For once, Jon Ossoff didn't lose.

Ossoff, the doe-eyed, twig-bodied former national security aide to the U.S. congressman who once warned that Guam would capsize and compared Jewish settlers to "termites," got the most votes in Georgia's Democratic Senate primary on Tuesday.

It remained to be seen, however, if Ossoff would surpass the 50 percent threshold to avoid a runoff election against the second-place candidate, former Columbus mayor Teresa Tomlinson. As of early Wednesday, Ossoff had won 48.6 percent of the vote, with 93 percent of precincts reporting.

The Georgia election was marred by technical problems resulting in long lines that forced a number of polling sites to remain open late into the evening. "Complete Meltdown," read the front-page headline of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Democrats were quick to blame Gov. Brian Kemp (R.) for engaging in "voter suppression," even though the elections were conducted at the county level and most of the affected precincts were in Democrat-controlled areas.

Ossoff, 33, hopes to face off against incumbent Sen. David Purdue (R.) in the general election. Despite Democratic unwillingness to spend money on Georgia races, Ossoff raised more than $4 million for his primary campaign, almost double the amount his two closest opponents raised. He'll need to raise many times that for the general election. He probably won't have trouble finding donors, even if most of them are out of state.

The Georgia Democrat rose to national prominence in 2017, when he raised more than $30 million from celebrities and other rich libs during his unsuccessful special election campaign in Georgia's Sixth Congressional District, in which he did not reside. Ossoff was the original Beto O'Rourke—a young, scrawny, handsome (for a politician), privately educated, upwardly failing white dude beloved by the #Resistance whose inevitable defeat was hailed as a "moral victory."

"There's no doubt that having run and narrowly lost the biggest congressional race of all time has given me perspective that's valuable," Ossoff said in a recent interview with Politico. "A fight well fought can be worth what you build in the process, even if you lose that battle."

Ossoff didn't run again in the sixth district when the seat became open again in 2018, but the Republican who beat him didn't serve for long. Former representative Karen Handel was ousted by Lucy McBath during the midterm wave election in which Democrats regained control of the House.

National Democrats, who have become increasingly obsessed with the idea of "turning Georgia blue," are hungry for a victory in a statewide election after falling short in 2018. Millions of dollars in out-of-state funding couldn't buy a win for Stacey Abrams in the gubernatorial election, though Abrams still refuses to concede. Her loss to Gov. Kemp was also celebrated as a moral victory and propelled Abrams to national stardom.

Some Democrats had been hoping Abrams would run for Senate this year, given the party's alleged commitment to diversity. But she declined and has instead focused most of her energy on trying to bully Joe Biden into picking her as a running mate.

Ossoff has said his goal is to beat Republicans "so bad you can never run or show your face again in public."