Jon Ossoff to challenge David Perdue after winning Georgia Democratic primary

Jon Ossoff to challenge David Perdue after winning Georgia Democratic primary
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Investigative journalist Jon Ossoff won the Democratic Senate primary in Georgia on Wednesday, setting him up for a head-to-head match-up against Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) in November.

Ossoff received about 50.5 percent of the votes tallied as of Wednesday night, The Associated Press reported. His closest primary opponent, former Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson finished well behind him with about 15 percent of the vote. 

The win came after a grueling 24-hour count muddled by serious problems in the voting process. On Tuesday, voters were met by malfunctioning voting machines, confused poll workers and long lines that forced some precincts to extend voting hours. 

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Heading into Tuesday, Ossoff was by and large the favorite to win the Democratic nomination. A WSB-TV poll released last week showed him leading his two top opponents, Tomlinson and former candidate for lieutenant governor Sarah Riggs Amico, by double digits. 

But winning the nomination outright was still a challenge, given that he faced half a dozen primary challengers, including well-funded opponents in Tomlinson and Amico. Georgia election rules require a candidate to win at least 50 percent of the vote plus one in order to avoid a primary runoff. 

Ossoff consistently led his opponents in fundraising, raking in more than $739,000 in the month and a half before the primary. Tomlinson, by comparison, raised about $400,000 in that period, while Amico, who in total dropped more than $1.1 million of her own money on her campaign, brought in about $237,000. 

Ossoff also injected $450,000 of his own money into his campaign in the final weeks leading up to the primary. 

But the last-minute cash injection wasn’t enough to reassure his campaign. For much of Wednesday, Ossoff remained just below the 50 percent threshold needed to clinch the nomination, and Tomlinson, who came in a distant second place, was declaring that she and Ossoff would both advance to a runoff. 

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Indeed, even before Tuesday, Ossoff’s aides and allies were downplaying expectations of an outright win in the primary, noting that while they felt good about his position in the race, it would be incredibly difficult to win the nomination on the first go-around.

As he ticked toward 50 percent in the vote count on Wednesday, Ossoff declined to offer his thoughts on the state of the race. Speaking to reporters on a video call Wednesday afternoon, he repeatedly noted that hundreds of thousands of votes still had to be counted and refused to say whether Tomlinson should cede the nomination to him.

“It’s far too early to talk about outcomes,” he said. “We don’t know what the outcome is because there are hundreds of thousands of votes that remain uncounted.”

Ossoff rose to national prominence in 2017 when he made a bid to represent Georgia’s 6th District. That contest — the most expensive House race in U.S. history — ended in victory for his Republican opponent, former Rep. Karen HandelKaren Christine HandelQAnon backer Marjorie Taylor Greene wins Georgia GOP runoff The Hill's Campaign Report: Even the Post Office is political now | Primary action tonight | Super PACS at war NRCC poll finds McBath ahead of Handel in Georgia MORE (Ga.) but only after a highly competitive runoff election.

Ossoff will now face off against Perdue, a former business executive who was first elected to his seat in 2014.

Perdue is not among the most vulnerable GOP incumbents targeted by Democrats. But the party is watching the race particularly closely, believing that it could come further into play in the fall, especially as former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenNAACP seeks to boost Black voter turnout in six states Biden touts Trump saying Harris would be 'fine choice' for VP pick Kamala Harris: The conventional (and predictable) pick all along MORE’s campaign targets Georgia in the race for the White House. 

The Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan election handicapper, currently rates the race as "Lean Republican."

Georgia will also hold a jungle primary in November — when candidates across all parties appear on the same ballot — to fill the seat currently held by Sen. Kelly LoefflerKelly LoefflerAndrew Clyde wins Georgia GOP runoff to replace Doug Collins Black VP politics and the case for Michigan's Gretchen Whitmer New poll shows tight presidential race in Georgia MORE (R).

Loeffler, who was appointed to the seat vacated by former Sen. Johnny IsaksonJohnny IsaksonNew poll shows tight presidential race in Georgia Matt Lieberman faces calls to drop out of Georgia Senate race over 'racist and discriminatory' tropes in 2018 book Sabato's Crystal Ball shifts Iowa Senate race to 'toss-up,' Georgia toward GOP MORE (R-Ga.), faces a tough challenge from Republican congressman Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsAndrew Clyde wins Georgia GOP runoff to replace Doug Collins New poll shows tight presidential race in Georgia Matt Lieberman faces calls to drop out of Georgia Senate race over 'racist and discriminatory' tropes in 2018 book MORE (Ga.).