Georgia's OTHER Senate Race Might Not Be A Cakewalk For GOP, Either
It took a couple days, but Georgia's absolute clusterfuck of a primary last week finally produced a result in the race for US Senator. After it looked for quite some time like there would have to be a runoff in the seven-candidate Democratic primary, the full absentee vote count tipped the race in favor of Jon Ossoff, the 33-year-old media executive/investigative reporter who came close to winning a seat in Congress in 2017, in one of several special elections to replace members of Congress appointed to positions in the Trump administration. This time around, Ossoff ended up getting 51.8 percent of Tuesday's vote, so he'll go on to face first-term incumbent Republican David Perdue, a close ally of Donald Trump and the former CEO of the Dollar General chain of discount stores. (Trivia: He is also the cousin of Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue, and neither of them is related to the chicken people).
As soon as Ossoff clinched the primary, Perdue started warning that Ossoff sought to impose a "socialist agenda" on Georgia, so we should expect a civil campaign with a very thoughtful exchange of policy ideas.
The Perdue/Ossoff contest has been somewhat overshadowed by this year's far loonier special election to complete the remaining term of that one guy who retired in December, we should look it up, oh yeah, Johnny Isakson. That's the "jungle vote" election in November, featuring Gov. Brian Kemp's appointee, rich lady Kelly Loeffler, Donald Trump's idiot buddy Rep. Doug Collins, and Democrats Rev. Raphael Warnock and Matt Lieberman. There's every likelihood that it will go to a run-off, and Georgia Republicans are quite vexed indeed that it's such a heated race, because the party really wanted to focus media and money on reelecting Perdue. That's why Kemp appointed the billionaire Loeffler to the seat in the first place, so she could self-finance, yeesh. But then she hadda go and get wrapped up in allegations of insider trading during the coronavirus pandemic, what a shame.
Jon Ossoff came to national attention when he ran for the seat previously held by Tom Price, who left Congress to become Trump's first secretary of Health and Human Services, a job he sometimes did when he wasn't trying to get his wife a cushy job, find discount lodging, hunt up used Trump hotel jizz mattresses, or seek out the very best moisturizer in DC. (Haha, all that stuff happened in the last three years and it's like ancient history!) Ossoff came in first in an 18-candidate special election, but since he was just short of an outright majority with 48.1 percent of the vote, had to go against second-place finisher Karen Handel in a run-off, which Handel won. It was the most expensive House race ever (for now, at least), with $50 million spent altogether by both sides.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that while Ossoff aimed at the center-left in 2017, he's running an unapologetically progressive campaign for Senate.
He pledges to support new civil rights legislation that, among other elements, would ban private prisons, and "eradicate" racism and classism in the court system. And he promises to legalize marijuana, guarantee health insurance for all Americans and expand tuition-free higher education programs.
On policing, Ossoff has called for a "new Civil Rights Act" that would establish national norms for use of force, although he's stopped short of explicitly embracing or rejecting the "defund the police" movement, because he's running in Georgia after all. He definitely does say he supports "reforming and demilitarizing policing in America."
"We have pervasive racism and classism in the criminal justice system that victimizes African Americans and people without wealth and connections," he said. "And we have a huge problem with police brutality, and our police forces are heavily militarized."
And unlike in 2017, when he tended to avoid overtly making the congressional race about Donald Trump, Ossoff has no trouble ripping Trump and Republicans this year, calling them "a wannabe tyrant and his cowardly enablers," which sounds perhaps a bit mild to us, but he can always get tougher.
"What Trump is doing to America is wrong. And we all recognize it's wrong," Ossoff said in an interview. "Our responsibility is to build a republic that lives up to our national ideals, to solve our public health crisis, to invest in infrastructure and clean energy, and to defend and strengthen civil rights and voting rights."
Ossoff has the endorsement of civil rights legend John Lewis, and at the moment at least, the top photo on Ossoff's Facebook page features Lewis more prominently than the candidate himself. That strikes us as smart branding.
Ossoff also has the support of Stacey Abrams, who had stayed neutral during the primary but said Thursday she's "incredibly excited" about his run, and tweeted that with two seats in play in Georgia, control of the US Senate "runs through us."
The Journal-Constitution says internal GOP polling shows "a tight race" between Ossoff and Perdue, and that's "unnerving Republicans wary of losing a statewide seat for the first time in more than a decade." GOOD.
Perdue, for his part, is sitting on a mountain of GOP money — about $9 million — and he has the advantages of incumbency and solid support from the party. Plus, Perdue insists that even though he's the incumbent, he's actually an "outsider," because people are apparently willing to believe an incredible line of horseshit.
I'm still the outsider in the belly of the beast after six years. There are a lot of career politicians here, and my role has been trying to be a stabilizing influence [...] My role up here is to be the adult in the room, and I'm fulfilling that.
David Perdue is very good at being the adult in the room in precisely one example: last year, he objected to some grandstanding by other Republicans who kept blocking a disaster aid bill for Puerto Rico and a bunch of US states that had been hit by hurricanes and flooding. Good for him, once.
We're not entirely sure that outweighs Perdue's other very adult behavior as a US Senator, like the time he said it's wasn't the FBI's job to "determine who's telling the truth" in its investigation of allegations against Brett Kavanaugh; and since the FBI investigation was so cursory, we guess it succeeded! Then there was the time Perdue casually joked that he was praying for Barack Obama to die, because that's what good Christians do. Or that time that Perdue insisted that heavens no, Donald Trump never said anything about "shithole" countries full of brown people. And let's not forget the time when Perdue grabbed a cell phone away from a Georgia Tech student who rudely asked him if he supported Brian Kemp's voter suppression efforts, because how dare you, young man.
Perdue is campaigning on GOP fears that those damn Democrats might very well have a chance of defeating him; back in April, he said "Here's the reality: The state of Georgia is in play [...] The Democrats have made it that way." And of course, because words mean nothing anymore, his campaign manager recently painted Jon Ossoff, who is not an officeholder, as a "Democratic insider." As the Journal Constitution points out, Perdue knows that one really good way to run against any particular Democrat is to run against completely different Democrats who are not that candidate:
During his first run for office, the jean-jacketed newcomer framed Democrat Michelle Nunn as a "rubber stamp" for President Barack Obama.
After Ossoff cemented the nomination Wednesday, Perdue's campaign declared him a "rubber stamp" for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, connecting him with national Democrats who are deeply unpopular with the GOP base.
Two can play that game, of course, and given that Perdue really does support pretty much everything Trump says or does, Ossoff expects he can say something similar about Perdue, rubbers, and stamps. Plus, Ossoff plans to make a big issue of Perdue's supposed strength, his status as a "successful businessman":
His campaign aides said they've dug deeper into Perdue's background than Democratic operatives did during the Republican's 2014 campaign, and they plan to highlight his business dealings in Asia, outsourcing practices when he was a corporate CEO and his personal finances.
"David Perdue has nothing to run on but failure and corruption. And we will relentlessly expose him," Ossoff said, invoking the coronavirus and the economic fallout that's followed. "What's he going to run on? Plague and recession?"
Buckle in, folks, this is gonna be a crazy fall, especially considering the likely clusterfuck on steroids Georgia Republicans will concoct. And if you'd like to send some money Jon Ossoff's way, he'd be quite grateful, in a very socialist sort of way no doubt.
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