Jon Ossoff, the Democrat running a surprisingly strong campaign for the Atlanta-area seat left vacant by Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price, “would be a disaster in Congress,” President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter Tuesday morning.
Polls for the special election to fill Price’s seat in Georgia’s sixth congressional district opened Tuesday morning with Ossoff running well ahead of the pack of Republicans also vying for the spot, according to polls. A win for him in the deep-red district would be seen by many as an early referendum on Trump’s presidency.
“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,” Trump wrote on Twitter Tuesday morning, adding in a subsequent post that “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.”
Ossoff, however, has also criticized Trump. In an interview Monday night on MSNBC, Ossoff said he doesn’t have "great personal admiration for the man himself."
He took a somewhat softer stance towards Trump Tuesday morning in an interview on CNN’s "New Day," responding to a question about the president’s posts to Twitter by telling anchor Alisyn Camerota that "I appreciate the president’s interest. It sounds like he’s misinformed about my priorities. If he wants to learn a little bit more about my priorities, he is visit the website online."
While Ossoff has polled ahead of the rest of the field in Tuesday’s race, he has benefitted from the large number of Republican candidates – there are 11 – that have split the district’s GOP voter base. His campaign has attracted millions in donations as well as support from high-level Democrats around the country.
In order to win the seat outright on Tuesday, Ossoff would need to win more than 50 percent of the vote, a threshold that polls show the 30-year-old Democrat falling short of. If no candidate reaches that threshold, the top two candidates, regardless of party, are placed in a runoff, where Republican support would unify around a single candidate, a situation that would likely put Ossoff at a disadvantage.
“With eleven Republican candidates running in Georgia (on Tuesday) for Congress, a runoff will be a win. Vote "R" for lower taxes & safety!” Trump wrote on Twitter Monday night.
Tuesday’s race in Georgia is the second special election in as many weeks to fill a Congressional seat left vacant by a Trump appointee. Republican Ron Estes won a special election last week in Kansas’s fourth district, previously occupied by CIA Director Mike Pompeo, by just single digits, a razor-thin margin compared to the 27-point win Trump secured over Democrat Hillary Clinton there last November.