In Georgia, the Trump resistance gets its first electoral test.
And it’s from a millennial documentary filmmaker with a huge fundraising machine.
In a normal year, Georgia Democrats would only raise $10,000 for the state’s 6th Congressional District. But this year, one candidate has already raised $3 million in contributions averaging less than $30.
Former Republican Rep. Tom Price had held the seat for 12-years when he vacated it to become President Trump’s Secretary of Health and Human Services.
Democrats have more reason to be giddy: A March 25 poll from FOX 5 Atlanta shows that, in an 18-candidate field, Democrat Jon Ossoff leads with 40% of the vote. In second place is Republican Karen Handel at 20%. All other candidates are at 10 percent or below.
The special election will be held as a ‘jungle primary’ on April 18th, in which all candidates will participate regardless of party. If no candidate hits the 50% threshold, a runoff will take place in June.
But Jon Ossoff, a 30-year-old documentary filmmaker, is hoping to win it “outright” on April 18th.
Georgia Democrats are hoping to help him out with that, encouraging the five other Democratic candidates to get out of the race, leaving Handel to run alongside 11 other Republicans.
Legendary Democratic Congressman John Lewis urged Democrats to support Ossoff as a rebuff to Trump.
“Jon is committed to progress and justice and he knows how to fight the good fight,” Ossoff quotes Lewis saying on his official campaign website. “We should unite behind Jon and send a clear message that Donald Trump doesn’t represent our values.”Republicans have already shown great alarm over Ossoff’s potential. Republican rivals call Ossoff a “light weight liberal,” “Darth Vader,” and “a puppet of the left.”
Republicans are so concerned about Ossoff, in fact, that a GOP Super PAC spent $1.1 million to run a Star Wars themed ad using videos of Ossoff in his college days drinking, singing, and play fighting buddies with lightsabers.
“I welcome the comparison to Han Solo,” Ossoff told Mic. In the interview, he went on to praise the grassroots energy behind his campaign:
“This grassroots energy is essential to winning elections and then to holding elected officials accountable once they’re in office. I’m honored to be working with so many inspiring and motivated people — most of it led by women in this area,by they way — to win this election, and I will then expect them to hold me accountable once I’m elected.”
When it comes to grassroots, GOP efforts to use Ossoff’s love of Star Wars as a line of attack could backfire. After all, the death of Star Wars icon Carrie Fischer became a major flashpoint in the resistance movement against Trump, with allusions to Fischer’s Princess Leia and the slogan “A Woman’s Place Is In The Resistance” cropping up in protests across the country.
While Ossoff is talking about pocketbook issues on the campaign trail – like healthcare on the campaign trail – he made it clear in his interview with Mic that the election is about taking a stand against the Trump administration, too.“There is tremendous excitement in the community here to make a shared statement about what we believe in,” Ossoff said. “Now is the wrong time in history not to stand up on principle out of political fear.”
While the Sixth District leans Republican, President Trump’s approval ratings in Georgia are already low for a newly-elected Republican president, with only 53% approving and 46% disapproving. Trump’s relatively poor approval ratings could give Democrats a boost.
A victory for Ossoff would put Democrats only marginally closer to control of the House – Republicans have 237 seats to Democrats’ 193. But if he were to win Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, it would be an unmistakable warning sign for Republicans in 2018.