Democrat Jon Ossoff won the congressional special election in Georgia held to replace Tom Price, who resigned to become President Donald Trump’s health secretary.
Republicans had a majority since 1979 in the conservative congressional district where former House Speaker Newt Gingrich once represented Georgia and Price was re-elected in November by more than 20-percentage points but Trump squeaked by with just 1½ percent more votes than Hillary Clinton.
Ossoff, a 30-year-old investigative filmmaker and former congressional staffer, was leading 11 Republicans, two independent candidates and four other Democrats, but he broke out as the favorite among Democrats nationally, who were shocked into action by Trump’s victory in November.
The president took to Twitter on Tuesday morning, declaring Ossoff “would be a disaster in Congress” and the day before he wildly claimed that the “super liberal” Democrat “wants to protect criminals, allow illegal immigration and raise taxes!”
Ossoff replied that Trump is “misinformed,” but added that he’s “glad the president is interested in the race where he has tried to forge a union among liberals, Republicans who couldn’t support Trump in November, and independents who voted for him because he presented himself as a Washington outsider who could challenge the establishment.
Both parties see the contest as a referendum on Trump’s performance and an important barometer of Democrats’ chances to regain control of Congress 2018 midterm elections.
Ossoss, the candidate who has raised a shocking $8.3 million for the special election campaign, may have to face the top GOP vote-getter in a June 20 runoff if his vote total does not exceed 50 percent of the votes cast. As the tally tipped 23 percent of precincts reporting, he had 55 percent of the vote.
“This election is about deciding the things that unite us are stronger than the things that divide us,” said Ossoff, who fought to the last moment for every vote.
With less than an hour left before polls closed, the Democrat told his supporters: “Let’s finish strong. If you’re in line by the time polls close, you will be allowed to vote. We are sprinting through the finish line. We’re not done until every voter in every line has voted.”
As votes continued to be tallied in tonight’s primary, Anna Galland, executive director of MoveOn.org, had an excited response:
“Jon Ossoff’s first-place finish tonight is a huge triumph for the Resistance and for progressives, who boosted Ossoff to the top of a crowded race in a Republican-leaning district,” said Galland. “Less than six months ago, a Republican won this district by more than 20 points. Tonight, a progressive Democrat got the most votes in a seat Newt Gingrich once held, and, as votes continued to be tallied, was hovering near 50 percent.”
“The reason is clear: voters are rejecting Trump and his policies, especially the highly unpopular GOP-led health care repeal proposals like Trumpcare,” said Galland.
“From the Women’s March to the airport protests in response to the Muslim ban to the Tax Day marches this weekend, the Resistance has proven that not only is it not going anywhere but that it is growing,” said Galland. “Millions have taken to the streets, flooded congressional phone lines, and attended town hall meetings to hold the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress accountable. And now, we’re taking to the ballot box as well.”
Last week in deep red Kansas a progressive Democrat erased a 20-plus-point Republican advantage to nearly win a seat that Democrats haven’t held in a generation. And tonight, a progressive Democrat just got the most votes in a seat no one thought would be in play six months ago.”
“Tonight once again proves that momentum is clearly on the side of the Resistance and that Donald Trump has no mandate for his dangerous, reckless, and hateful policies,” said Galland. “MoveOn members are fired up—and if Ossoff doesn’t top 50 percent tonight, we’re ready to help him finish this race with a victory in June, and to elect the MoveOn-endorsed Rob Quist in Montana in May, continuing to show Donald Trump and Republicans that their unpopular push to take away health care from millions will cost them at the ballot box.”
“This is not a story about me,” said Ossoff, in a speech delivered near midnight. “This is a story about our community. This is a story about strong women in our community, who lifted us up.”
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