The marquee race in the June 9 primary is the Democrats’ contest to select a challenger to face Republican U.S. Sen. David Perdue in the Nov. 3 general election.
This has become known as Senate race No. 1, in contrast with No. 2, the open primary Nov. 3 to fill the final two years in the term of retired Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson.
The Democratic headliners in No. 1 are Jon Ossoff, a documentary production company executive who electrified the party in 2017 in his unsuccessful run in the 6th Congressional District; Teresa Tomlinson, the former two-term mayor of Columbus; and Sarah Riggs Amico, executive of her family-owned trucking business, who was defeated in 2018 by Republican Geoff Duncan in a bid to become lieutenant governor.
If no candidate wins a majority of the votes cast, the top two finishers will move on to an Aug. 11 runoff.
Whichever Democrat advances will face an incumbent with a formidable war chest.
As of March 31, the most recent deadline for filing campaign finance reports, Perdue reported having more than $9 million cash on hand, compared with $1.825 million for Ossoff, $435,700 for Tomlinson, and $279,148 for Amico.
Though election forecasters currently rate the race as likely or leaning Republican, Perdue warned in April, “Here’s the reality: The state of Georgia is in play,” according to audio from a call with “Women for Trump,” obtained by CNN. “The Democrats have made it that way,” Perdue said.
“We have had our wake-up call in Georgia,” he said, citing the state’s recent history of increasingly tight elections. Perdue said he needs to win “twice the number of votes” than the more than 1.35 million he received in 2014 when he defeated Nunn with 52.9 percent of the vote. “The demographic moves against us. But we can still win this if we get out and make sure that all of our voters vote. That’s what this comes down to.”
The leading Democratic trio have tied Perdue to President Donald Trump at every turn, highlighting, among other issues, what they view as a poor response by the White House to the COVID-19 pandemic.
During an April 20 online forum hosted by the Jewish Democratic Council of America and Atlanta’s Jewish Democratic Women’s Salon, the 55-year-old Tomlinson took a not-too-veiled shot at her chief challengers. “It’s not a starter job. It’s not a business. It’s going to require someone who . . . will be ready on day one. I’m that candidate.”
For his part, the 33-year-old Ossoff, who was a bar mitzvah at The Temple, said, “The margin of victory in November requires massive youth turnout. . . . David Perdue and his allies will try to turn my youth against me, but I believe my youth is my greatest strength and will carry us to victory in November.”
The 40-year-old Amico said, “They’re going to need a champion, not somebody who’s new to how to survive and help working people thrive in a down economy, but somebody who’s been battle tested and doing exactly that for the last 17 years as a business owner and business executive.”
Ossoff’s endorsements include Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry, who dropped out of the race to seek a seat on the DeKalb County Commission; Rep. John Lewis, from Georgia’s 5th District, whom Ossoff regards as a mentor; and Rep. Hank Johnson, from the 4th District, in whose Washington office Ossoff worked.
Tomlinson is backed by former U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson; former Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes; former Sen. Max Cleland; former Rep. Buddy Darden; former Atlanta mayor and United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young; and former Georgia Supreme Court Justice Leah Sears.
Amico’s endorsements include the Communications Workers of America; the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 613; Bricklayers Local 8; the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers union; and the Southeastern Carpenters Regional Council.