Democratic congressional candidate Jon Ossoff said Tuesday he’s “been very transparent” about the fact that he lives outside the Georgia district he is running to represent, telling CNN that he moved outside it to accommodate his girlfriend’s medical studies.
Polls for the special election to fill the congressional seat left vacant by Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price opened Tuesday morning in Georgia’s 6th District, where Ossoff leads a crowded field that features 11 Republicans and 18 candidates overall. The 30-year-old Ossoff has benefited from an influx of support and cash from Democrats nationwide eager for a chance to deal President Donald Trump and the GOP an embarrassing defeat in a deep-red district.
Republicans, who have not united behind one of the party’s 11 candidates for the seat, have attacked Ossoff by linking him to Democrats like House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and by running ads noting that he lives outside the district where he is seeking office.
Trump joined in that criticism Tuesday afternoon.
"Just learned that Jon @Ossoff, who is running for Congress in Georgia, doesn’t even live in the district," Trump tweeted. "Republicans, get out and vote!"
Ossoff defended his 6th District roots Tuesday in an interview with CNN’s “New Day.”
“Well, I grew up in this district. I grew up in this community. No one knew there was going to be an election coming,” Ossoff said when asked whether he would be able to vote for himself in Tuesday’s election; he will not. “I’ve been living with Alisha, my girlfriend of 12 years, down by Emory University, where she’s a full-time medical student. And as soon as she concludes her medical training, I’ll be 10 minutes back up the street into the district where I grew up, but I want to support her and her career and do right by her.”
Anchor Alisyn Camerota jokingly asked Ossoff when he planned to marry his longtime girlfriend, to which he replied, “I don’t want to give anything away,” with a laugh, telling the CNN host that he didn’t want to answer such a personal question. When Camerota pushed Ossoff again about his residence, Ossoff said he is “proud to be supporting [his girlfriend’s] career” and reiterated that he plans to move back to the 6th District as soon as his girlfriend finishes medical school.
“It’s my home. My family is still there,” he said. “I am a mile-and-a-half down the street to support Alisha while she finishes medical school. It’s something I’ve been very transparent about.”
To win the 6th District seat on Tuesday, Ossoff would need to secure better than 50 percent of the vote, a threshold that polling shows he likely will narrowly miss. If no candidate hits 50 percent, the top two, regardless of party, will be placed in a runoff election in June. Such a runoff would be a much tougher hurdle for Ossoff, likely against a single Republican opponent instead of the splintered field he is facing in Tuesday’s race.