Trump Enters the Fray of Georgia Special Election, Attacks 'Super Liberal Democrat' Ossoff

Jon Ossoff speaks to volunteers and supporters / Getty
April 17, 2017

President Donald Trump on Monday morning entered the fray of the upcoming special election in Georgia's sixth congressional district, where Democrat Jon Ossoff is vying to score an upset and fill a vacated House seat.

Not mentioning Ossoff by name, Trump tweeted, "The super liberal Democrat in the Georgia congressional race tomorrow wants to protect criminals, allow illegal immigration, and raise taxes!"

Ossoff responded to Trump with a statement that he is "glad the president is interested in the race," the Associated Press reported. The Democrat added that Trump is "misinformed," reiterating his campaign focus on "fresh leadership and bipartisan problem solving."

Ossoff, 30, is running for the seat vacated by Tom Price, who was confirmed as Trump's secretary of health and human services in February.

The Georgia election is set for Tuesday and will come a week after Republican Ron Estes beat out Democrat James Thompson in a race for another vacated seat, one in Kansas' fourth district previously held by CIA Director Mike Pompeo.

Ossoff is a former congressional staffer for Rep. Hank Johnson (D, Ga.), who once compared Jewish settlers in the West Bank to "termites." Ossoff has touted his national security credentials on the campaign trail, initially claiming he spent five years as a national security staffer with Johnson with access to classified information. The candidate later admitted he had misrepresented his record, only working as a full-time aide for about half that time while holding a security clearance for his final five months of the job.

Still, Ossoff's candidacy has attracted the attention of Democrats nationwide, who see the election as a chance to flip a historically conservative district and as a referendum on the Trump administration.

The president beat out Hillary Clinton in Georgia's sixth district by only 2 percent in November's presidential election–a slimmer margin than in typical years. Ossoff has benefited from the spotlight on his race, raking in $8.3 million, with 95 percent of it coming from out of state, according to his recent FEC filing. The attention has also brought him celebrity backing, with Alyssa Milano and Chris Gorham traveling to the district to stump for him, while attracting sometimes mistimed tweets from the likes of Chelsea Handler.

As of Monday morning, Ossoff remained in the lead of several recent polls, beating out a field of a number of Republicans. But polls have Ossoff under the critical 50 percent threshold required to forestall a run-off. If no single candidate in Tuesday's election receives over 50 percent of the vote, then the top two candidates will compete in a run-off on June 20.

The same recent polls show the likely second-place winner  to be Republican Karen Handel, former Georgia secretary of state from 2007 to 2010. At least one poll also has Handel neck-in-neck for second place with fellow Republican and businessman Bob Gray.

Published under: Donald Trump , Jon Ossoff