All week long we have read in the media that the Democrats were going to win the seat in the Atlanta suburbs that was vacated by Tom Price accepting the job as Secretary of Health and Human Services. The Republicans had held this seat since 1979 and the Democrats tried to turn it into a referendum on President Trump.
To that end the liberal elites around the nation were urged to support the Democrat candidate, Jon Ossoff, financially and they responded to the tune of between $8-10M. That is an exorbitant amount for a Congressional House seat race. Mr. Ossoff is a 30 year-old documentary filmmaker who also served a short stint as a Congressional staffer. He is good looking and seems to be a natural on the political stump and so there was optimism among Democrats that he would win the race outright on the night of the primary. There were 13 other candidates and the Republican vote was split by 11 of them. It would be impossible for a Republican to gain the necessary 50%+1 to win on Tuesday night but it seemed possible for Mr. Ossoff.
So last night the political junkies of the world sat glued to the media trying to follow this obscure House race with Democrats ready to break out the champagne and declare victory not in just this race but over President Trump. But as the return came in it became apparent that Mr. Ossoff was not going to get to the magic number and the hopes by the Democrats that they would steal this Red Congressional district began to fade into the night. Instead he will have to face the top Republican, former Georgia Secretary of State, Karen Handel in a June 20 runoff.
Now reading the Washington Post you would almost think that Mr. Ossoff had either won the race last night or would certainly win the race in June. The writer assigned to the story had sub-headlines like “He shouldn’t have come as close as he did” and “Republicans had to pour in millions just to keep Ossoff under 50 percent.” Can you imagine the glee Mr. Hohmann would have written with if the Democrat had actually pulled it off? And the Washington Post was not the only media outlet that was bemoaning the loss. The New York Times was close behind with their coverage.
But now we have to deal with the hard facts. The Republicans now know they have to get behind Ms. Handel and they will. There will not be the infighting that allowed Mr. Ossoff to get as close as he did. And more importantly, the money will not be pouring into this race again. You simply cannot afford to spend $15M on a single House race. Mr. Ossoff had some negatives to be sure. First, he did not even live in the district. He explained that he lived just outside the district where he has lived for 12 years with his girlfriend who is pursuing a medical degree at Emery University. Once she graduated he would move into the district. Sounds plausible but I would have gotten and apartment in the district before announcing my candidacy. A rookie mistake that someone who has worked in Congress should not be making.
Looking at the campaign I believe Jon Ossoff was not being very honest with the voters. He campaigned as a fiscal conservative and a pragmatist who is tough on national security. Does not sound like a Democrat and sounds more like someone trying to poach Republican voters. If he were elected to the Congress would he be voting to balance the budget? Would he be voting to hold Iran and North Korea accountable for their belligerent actions around the globe? I doubt that and I suspect he would be voting the way his caucus told him to vote.
The part of the campaign that I thought the most funny was his comments last night after acknowledging that he would not achieve the needed 50% to win. He said the next campaign would be about the people of the district and not about “dark money” from outside of the district and Georgia. Really! Can someone that just pulled in over $8M dollars from outside say that with a straight face? Talk about hubris. That is when I knew he was truly a politician.
I am going out on a limb today and predicting that on June 21 we will be calling Karen Handel Madam Congresswoman. Mr. Ossoff can go back to his apartment with his girlfriend and make a documentary about his losing foray into Georgia politics.