WASHINGTON — Jon Ossoff, who ran an unsuccessful special election campaign in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, is now seriously considering a run at one of the two open Senate seats in Georgia, three sources familiar with Ossoff’s plans told BuzzFeed News.
A Democratic source with direct knowledge of Ossoff’s conversations spoke on the condition of anonymity and said Ossoff is already considering a run in the Democratic primary to challenge incumbent Sen. David Perdue. On Wednesday, Georgia’s other Republican senator, Johnny Isakson, announced Wednesday he would resign at the end of the year, citing health issues. Two sources said the development made Ossoff more likely to run, with some kind of a formal announcement about his intentions coming soon.
Ossoff did not respond to an email from BuzzFeed News seeking comment. In a brief interview, an Ossoff aide declined to speak about Ossoff’s future plans on the record.
In 2017, Ossoff, who is 32, was a newcomer to politics and relatively unheard of. But his formidable fundraising — he raised nearly $30 million in his race against Republican Karen Handel — and profile as a young, telegenic up-and-comer put his name on the map. According to his last filing, Ossoff still had several hundred thousand dollars in the bank.
Democratic Rep. Lucy McBath now holds the seat Ossoff lost, defeating Handel in 2018. McBath is running for reelection and has established herself in Washington as an effective lawmaker and one of the House Democratic Caucus’s most important voices on gun control legislation, as her son died as a result of gun violence.
Stacey Abrams, who narrowly lost her race for Georgia governor in 2018, announced that she would not run for president in 2020, but told the New York Times that she remains open to joining a presidential ticket as a running mate. Abrams recently announced the launch of Fair Fight 2020, a voter protection organization dedicated to stepping up efforts to promote election fairness.
A spokesperson said Abrams was out of the race for Isakson’s seat.
“Our thoughts are with Senator Isakson and his family. Leader Abrams’ focus will not change: she will lead voter protection efforts in key states across the country, and make sure Democrats are successful in Georgia in 2020. While she will not be a candidate herself, she is committed to helping Democratic candidates win both Senate races next year.”
There are already three candidates in the Democratic primary to unseat Perdue: former candidate for lieutenant governor Sarah Riggs Amico, former Columbus, Georgia, mayor Teresa Tomlinson, and Clarkston, Georgia, Mayor Ted Terry.
Meanwhile, there is no primary for the Isakson seat. Voters will vote on his replacement on the presidential ballot.
In interviews, Georgia Democrats said Abrams was the preferable selection to run because her popularity and national fundraising prowess would intimidate lesser-known Democrats from entering the race.
Abrams has been consistent about not running for Senate despite an all-out offensive by Washington Democrats to woo her this past year. It was led by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. In an interview with BuzzFeed News in April, Abrams said the New York senator had been “relentless but thoughtful” in his approach to recruit her to Washington, but Abrams declined, saying in a video, “The fights to be waged require a deep commitment to the job, and I do not see the US Senate as the best role for me in this battle for our nation’s future.”
Whoever wins Isakson’s seat will serve until his term ends in 2022. Since he’s stepping down early, Republican Gov. Brian Kemp will be able to appoint a replacement until a special election is held in November 2020.
In a tweet, Ossoff wished Isakson well. “Alisha and I wish you and Dianne many years of peace and joy with your family in retirement,” he said.
Sarah Riggs Amico’s title was misstated in an earlier version of this post.