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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 OssoffJon Ossoff28 Senate Democrats sign statement urging Israel-Hamas cease-fire DC statehood bill picks up Senate holdout Senate panel deadlocks in vote on sweeping elections bill MORE won the Democratic Senate primary in Georgia on Wednesday, setting him up for a head-to-head match-up against Sen. David PerdueDavid PerdueGeorgia Republican secretary of state hits Loeffler as 'weak,' 'fake Trumper' Warnock raises nearly M since January victory Georgia's top election official looks to shake political drama MORE (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 HandelOssoff defeats Perdue in Georgia Senate runoff McBath wins rematch against Handel in Georgia House race House Democrats' campaign arm reserves .6M in ads in competitive districts 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 BidenBiden's quiet diplomacy under pressure as Israel-Hamas fighting intensifies Overnight Defense: Administration approves 5M arms sale to Israel | Biden backs ceasefire in call with Netanyahu | Military sexual assault reform push reaches turning point CDC mask update sparks confusion, opposition 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 LoefflerGeorgia Republican secretary of state hits Loeffler as 'weak,' 'fake Trumper' Loeffler asks Georgia attorney general to investigate Raffensperger over 2020 election Former Rep. Doug Collins won't enter Georgia Senate race MORE (R).

Loeffler, who was appointed to the seat vacated by former Sen. Johnny IsaksonJohnny IsaksonLoeffler group targets Democrats with billboards around baseball stadium Warnock raises nearly M since January victory Five big takeaways on Georgia's new election law MORE (R-Ga.), faces a tough challenge from Republican congressman Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsPoll shows tight GOP primary for Georgia governor The Hill's Morning Report - Census winners and losers; House GOP huddles Former Rep. Doug Collins won't enter Georgia Senate race MORE (Ga.).