Ossoff narrowly avoids runoff in Georgia Dem’s Senate race

Jon Ossoff needed 50% of the vote in a seven-way race to avoid a runoff and win the right to face Republican Senator David Perdue in the fall – something even he said earlier would be “a historic, herculean and unprecedented achievement.” Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The battle for the Democratic nomination in one of Georgia’s U.S. Senate contests was called in favor of investigative journalist Jon Ossoff Wednesday after a chaotic election in parts of the state delayed results.

Ossoff, who campaigned on an anti-corruption message, needed 50% of the vote in a seven-way race to avoid a runoff and win the right to face Republican Senator David Perdue in the fall – something even he said earlier would be “a historic, herculean and unprecedented achievement.”

The Associated Press called the race in Ossoff’s favor late Wednesday after he inched past that 50% threshold.

By Thursday morning and with nearly 99% of precincts reporting, Ossoff had 50.8% of the vote, and his nearest competitor – former Columbus mayor Teresa Tomlinson – was a distant second with 15.3%. Business executive Sarah Riggs Amico had 12.5%.

“This is not a moment to let up. This is a moment to double down,” Ossoff told his supporters in a brief video message late Wednesday night. “Because the task before us is a mighty one. Because the president of the United States and his allies in Congress are leading this country down a dark path and we can go down this path no farther.

“We can no longer go down a path of authoritarianism, of racism, of corruption. We are better than this and Georgia is better than this, and Georgia’s Sen. David Perdue has failed us,” he said.

Perdue, a first-term senator who is a close ally of President Donald Trump, said on Twitter that Democrats had “nominated a part-time filmmaker and privileged liberal with no real world accomplishments as their standard bearer.”

“@Ossoff, a favorite of liberal elites and Hollywood celebrities, will be a rubber stamp for Pelosi and Schumer’s liberal agenda,” Perdue said.

Democrats have grown increasingly encouraged about their chances of ousting the well-funded incumbent and the outright primary win allows Ossoff to fully shift his focus to his opponent in November. He made an appeal to a broader audience in his video message.

“Whether you identify as a Democrat and have your whole life, whether you’re an independent, a Republican or apathetic, now is the time to stand up and make a change in this country. Now is the time to stand up and make a change in this state,” Ossoff said.

Earlier in the day, though, the race appeared on a different track. Tomlinson claimed early in the day Wednesday that the race was headed to a runoff between her and “a failed repeat candidate who can’t break 50%” – a reference to when Ossoff came up short in 2017 during a closely watched special election to replace Congressman Tom Price.

Ossoff nearly won that race outright too but then narrowly lost a runoff to former U.S. Congresswoman Karen Handel, who is trying to reclaim the seat from Democrat Congresswoman Lucy McBath.

Tomlinson’s campaign then sent out a call for donations to supporters with the subject line “Teresa is on the ballot in the August runoff.”

But by late evening, Tomlinson had conceded.

“I call on my supporters, and all Georgians, to do all they can to support Jon in his campaign to defeat David Perdue and Donald Trump in November,” Tomlinson said.