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President Donald Trump weighed in on the Georgia 6th Congressional District special election on Monday and Tuesday mornings, calling leading Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff a “super Liberal Democrat.”
“The super Liberal Democrat in the Georgia Congressioal [sic] race tomorrow wants to protect criminals, allow illegal immigration and raise taxes!” Trump tweeted on Monday.
On Tuesday, the president tweeted, “Democrat Jon Ossoff would be a disaster in Congress. VERY weak on crime and illegal immigration, bad for jobs and wants higher taxes. Say NO.”
These messages followed a tweet from Trump on Sunday night, when he mentioned media coverage of both the Georgia election and the recent special election in Kansas’ 4th Congressional District. In the Kansas contest, Republican Ron Estes beat Democrat James Thompson by 7 points last week in a district where then-Rep. Mike Pompeo – now Trump’s CIA director – won by more than 30 points just last fall.
“The recent Kansas election (Congress) was a really big media event, until the Republicans won,” Trump wrote. “Now they play the same game with Georgia-BAD!”
Ossoff responded to Trump’s tweet Monday, calling the president “misinformed.”
“While I’m glad the president is interested in the race, he is misinformed,” he said in a statement. “I’m focused on bringing fresh leadership, accountability, and bipartisan problem-solving to Washington to cut wasteful spending and grow metro Atlanta’s economy into the Silicon Valley of the South.”
Of the special elections to fill seats vacated by Trump appointees, Georgia has become Democrats’ best chance of swinging a seat, though it remains an uphill battle. Ossoff is competing for Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price’s seat with a handful of Democrats and 11 Republicans in what’s known as a jungle primary. All candidates run on one ballot for the election, which is set for Tuesday. If no candidate clears 50%, the top two will participate in a runoff election on June 20.
Trump has also sent two tweets stating that a runoff in Georgia should be seen as a GOP win.
“With eleven Republican candidates running in Georgia (on Tuesday) for Congress, a runoff will be a win,” Trump tweeted late Monday. “Vote ‘R’ for lower taxes & safety!”
“Republicans must get out today and VOTE in Georgia 6. Force runoff and easy win! Dem Ossoff will raise your taxes-very bad on crime & 2nd A,” Trump wrote Tuesday.
With Republicans failing to coalesce around one candidate, Ossoff is running away with the primary in polls, garnering support in the mid-40s. But a recent Emerson College poll found that when polled against just one candidate in the runoff election, he trailed slightly against the four Republicans who are considered most likely to emerge from the primary as his opponent, should nobody reach 50% support.
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In just three months, Ossoff, a 30-year-old documentary filmmaker and former congressional aide, has raised a whopping $8.3 million, vastly more than most candidates running in major statewide races. Ossoff’s fundraising haul was more than any member of Congress had raised over a two-year period since 2012, other than House Speaker Paul Ryan and former House Speaker John Boehner.
Democrats haven’t won this House seat – which was occupied for 20 years by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich – since 1976.
“You see $8.3 million, that’s a significant chunk that somebody can run in their district,” one GOP operative familiar with the race recently told Business Insider. “Essentially, that’s what somebody usually raises for a statewide campaign, not an off-year, early special election.”
The operative added that he hadn’t seen anything resembling that level of fundraising in past special elections.
“It is a large amount of money from out-of-state donors who are clearly very fired up about opposing Donald Trump,” he said. “That’s very clear. The liberal base dislikes Donald Trump.”
Like Trump, Republicans are trying to paint Ossoff as a “far left” candidate. The GOP has also claimed that Ossoff would be more loyal to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi – an unpopular name in the district – than to local voters.
With the huge swing in Kansas – where Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas all provided assistance to Estes – as a potential sign of things to come in the other special elections, there is major concern that the GOP base will be complacent after Trump’s victory, not turning out in needed numbers to win the seat.
“The energy we’ve seen, there’s been a slight downtick, which I think is natural coming off a very contentious election that we won,” the operative said, adding that the GOP had to get its voters “reengaged.”