Six years ago, when Republican David Perdue won a seat in the U.S. Senate, the former CEO of Reebok and Dollar General was billed as a “political outsider.” Now, as he seeks a second term, Perdue is the “original political outsider.”
His opponent, Democrat Jon Ossoff, received national attention in 2017 in an unsuccessful bid to represent Georgia’s 6th Congressional District. Ossoff fell just short of winning a majority of the vote in an 18-candidate, all-comers primary, then lost in a special election runoff to Republican Karen Handel. The $55 million spent by candidates and outside groups made it the most expensive House race ever.
Ossoff is managing director and CEO of Insight TWI: The World Investigates, a London-based company that produces news documentaries. He is seeking to become only the second Jewish candidate — after Republican former Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens — to win a statewide partisan race.
A survey of 1,106 likely Georgia voters conducted Sept. 27-Oct. 6 by the University of Georgia’s School of Public & International Affairs, for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution — put Perdue at 48.9 percent, Ossoff 41.4 percent, and Libertarian Shane Hazel 2.5 percent, with 7.1 percent undecided. The poll’s sampling error was 2.9 percentage points.
A Quinnipiac University Poll of 1,125 likely Georgia voters — conducted Sept. 23-27, with a margin of error of 2.9 percentage points – gave Ossoff a 49 percent to 48 percent advantage but did not ask about Hazel.
A Jan. 5 runoff is possible if Hazel wins enough votes to prevent either Perdue or Ossoff from receiving a majority in the Nov. 3 general election.
For most of the past four decades, Senate incumbents have been re-elected at a rate of about 80 percent.
Slightly more than one-third (35) of the Senate’s 100 seats are up for election, including both of Georgia’s. Republicans currently hold 53 seats; Democrats 45; and two independents caucus with the Democrats.
“Here’s the reality: The state of Georgia is in play,” Perdue said in April, according to audio CNN obtained from a call with Women for Trump. Perdue said then that he would need twice the 1.36 million votes he received in 2014, when he defeated Democrat Michelle Nunn.
While the race has featured back-and-forth accusatory ads, it was a Facebook ad in late July that made headlines in the Jewish press. Perdue’s campaign apologized (Ossoff sought a personal apology) and said it fired an outside vendor for using a picture that enlarged and elongated Ossoff’s nose, harkening to a historic anti-Jewish stereotype.
Perdue touts his support for President Donald Trump, and Ossoff ties Perdue to Trump at every opportunity. Perdue, in turn, ties Ossoff to the furthest left reaches of the political spectrum.
Answering a question about anti-Semitism from the Jewish Insider news site, Ossoff said, “Sectarianism and racism often increase at moments of great social, economic, and political stress — especially when dangerous political demagogues like Donald Trump deliberately inflame mistrust, resentment, and hatred to gain power. Racism, anti-Semitism, and xenophobia have increased in America as President Trump has deliberately pitted Americans against Americans, stirring up conflict within our society rather than uniting us to move forward together as one people.”
In August, after Trump accepted renomination by the Republican national convention, Perdue said, “We will get our economy going again after this unprecedented crisis, but to do that, we have to stand up to the radical Democrats who are trying to perpetrate a socialist agenda that’s failed everywhere it’s been tried around the world. Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, and Jon Ossoff want to disinvest in our military, defund the police, abolish ICE, enable sanctuary cities, move to socialized medicine, and enact the Green New Deal. They want to take away our freedom and they will destroy the free-enterprise system.”
Perdue has a sizable advantage in available cash. As of their June 30 campaign finance statements, the most recent available, Perdue reported having nearly $10.7 million on hand, compared with $2.5 million for Ossoff.
Perdue and Ossoff both have used family when the subject is health care, which surveys find most Jews rank as one of their highest priority issues when voting.
Perdue’s sister, Debbie, a cancer survivor, appeared in an ad that declared “Health insurance should always cover pre-existing conditions for anyone. Period.” Perdue has joined efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, often referred to as “Obamacare,” which includes such coverage, and warns that “if Biden is elected, our private insurance will go away” in favor of a Medicare-style program.
Ossoff’s wife, Dr. Alisha Kramer, an ob-gyn at Emory University Hospital, appeared in an ad praising frontline “heroes” in the fight against COVID-19. Ossoff has called the pandemic “a wake up for anyone who doubts the necessity of ensuring that every single American has health insurance.”
Perdue praises Trump for removing the U.S. from the Iran nuclear weapons deal, relocating the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, and backing Israeli sovereignty in the Golan Heights. “Our adversaries become very emboldened because they don’t think we’re going to stand by our ally, the state of Israel,” he told the Atlanta chapter of the Republican Jewish Coalition in August.
Ossoff, who became bar mitzvah at The Temple, has family in Israel and often has said that he is “committed to protecting Israel as a secure homeland for the Jewish people.”
He told the Jewish Insider, “Israel’s national security requires the capacity to prevail in simultaneous, multi-front, protracted military conflict with multiple hostile states and heavily armed non-state adversaries . . . I recognize that Israel’s security requires the Israel Defense Forces to maintain a Qualitative Military Edge (QME) in the region,” he said.
“A two-state solution, whereby Israel and a sovereign Palestinian state co-exist peacefully, remains the most viable basis for peace — but the will and capacity of Israeli and Palestinian politicians to deliver this solution is in serious doubt.”
- David Perdue
- Jon Ossoff
- Karen Handel
- Insight TWI
- sam olens
- Shane Hazel
- Women for Trump
- Michelle Nunn
- Joe Biden
- Kamala Harris
- Green New Deal
- Affordable Care Act
- Alisha Kramer
- Emory University Hospital
- Donald Trump
- DeKalb County
- Local News
- Dollar General
- local election