Politics

Neither Democrat Contender Nor Donors Live in Georgia District

Hollywood-backed Jon Ossoff starts day of special election defending residency

Liberals from around the nation have spent extravagantly on a race being held Tuesday for the 6th Congressional District in Georgia so Democrats can claim momentum against the agenda of President Donald Trump.

The intense, left-aligned interest from outside Georgia is highlighted by the fact neither the Democratic candidate, Jon Ossoff, nor the majority of his donors, come from the district.

“I am a mile-and-a-half down the street to support [my girlfriend] Alicia while she finishes medical school.”

Ossoff doesn’t live in the district but is still allowed by law to run for the seat. Meanwhile, about 95 percent of the more than $8 million he has raised has come from outside of the district.

The trend is so wide and large, the San Jose Mercury News did an April 12 story on all the California Democrats giving to a Georgia Democrat on the other side of the North American continent.

Yet despite his residency issues, Ossoff is positioned to come in first in the so-called “jungle primary,” advancing to a likely runoff with a Republican in the GOP-leaning district. If Ossoff cannot breach the 50 percent needed to win outright Tuesday, he is expected to face an uphill climb once splintered Republicans are unified in a runoff.

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Today should be the zenith of Ossoff’s campaign to stop Trump, but he kicked off the special election on Tuesday with an embarrassing revelation about his residency. On CNN’s “New Day,” Ossoff admitted he doesn’t live in the district. The Constitution only requires a candidate for the House of Representative to live in the state.

Ossoff instead tried to focus on supporting his girlfriend, who apparently studies medicine just south of the district.

“Well, I grew up in this district,” said Ossoff. “My family is still there. I am a mile-and-a-half down the street to support [my girlfriend] Alicia while she finishes medical school. It’s something I have been very transparent about. I am proud to be supporting her career. As soon as she finishes her medical training, I will be 10 minutes back up the road where I grew up.”

Ossoff is running in the special election to replace former Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), who left office to become President Donald Trump’s secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Georgia law has made the race interesting, too. The Georgia special election is a “jungle primary,” which means candidates run in the same pool, regardless of party. If any candidate, Republican or Democrat, breaks 50 percent, he or she wins the race outright.

If a candidate fails to get 50 percent, a runoff between the top two finishers is scheduled.

Ossoff gained advantage when he cleared the field within his party and drew no major Democratic challengers. He is likely to break 40 percent of the vote and come in first. But polls do not show him breaking 50 percent.

The Democrats and their allies in the mainstream media have been raising hopes that a defeat for the Republican candidates in the district would mean the Trump agenda is failing.

Losing the district would also be a sign that the Republicans — who control the White House and Congress — are in for a bruising midterm election in 2018. Control of the House and the Senate could be lost if a tide develops against Trump, and that tide could be bigger and harsher if Republicans start losing special elections in 2017.

Democrats hope to repeat a reverse version of recent history. In early 2010, Republican Scott Brown won a special election for Ted Kennedy’s former Senate seat in Massachusetts, shocking Democrats and presaging the loss of more than 60 House seats, held by Democrats, later in the year.

At least one more special congressional election is scheduled for Montana, on May 25, to replace former Rep. Ryan Zinke, who became Trump’s secretary of the Department of the Interior.

The good news for the GOP is that the party won the Kansas special election, on April 11, to replace former Rep. Mike Pompeo, who became CIA director. And polls do not indicate Ossoff will break 50 percent Tuesday.

If Ossoff doesn’t break 50 percent of the vote today, he is likely to face a strong and well-funded GOP challenger in the Republican-leaning district. The GOP is currently divided among eight candidates, all vying to make the runoff against Ossoff.

meet the author

Political reporter, LifeZette. Indiana University journalism grad. Boston U. business grad. Former Indiana, Alabama statehouse reporter, Daytona Beach editorial writer.

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