Jon Ossoff’s 2017 bid for the 6th congressional seat in Georgia was the most expensive House campaign in history. But what really made Ossoff stand out was that his campaign represented a glimpse of the progressive movement in Georgia.
Before Ossoff’s career as a politician, he served as a national security aid in Congress where he witnessed what he described as “corruption and disappointment.”
After Ossoff worked in Congress, he took over Insight TWI, a documentary film production company, in 2013 as CEO and managing director. According to his campaign video, they’ve taken on “contract killers, crooked policy and ISIS war criminals.”
Ossoff said that his career in investigative journalism and documentary filmmaking also showed him how corruption is disrupting progress in the U.S.
“It’s lies. The powerful and well connected have extraordinary access to elected officials. Then those elected officials do the bidding of major political donors while leaving ordinary people to fend for themselves,” he said.
Ossoff mentioned his competitor Sen. David Perdue.
“David Perdue, our senator, is the caricature of Washington corruption,” Ossoff said. “This is a man who sells access for cash, who tends to donors instead of doing his official duties and who trades stocks after Congress gets confidential details about an impending pandemic instead of warning his constituents.”
He was referring to the recent reports that Perdue, among other representatives, purchased stock in companies that sell personal protective gear. According to The Hill, Perdue insisted that he has “had outside professionals manage his personal affairs for the past five years and that he doesn’t deal with it on a day-to-day basis.”
Ossoff’s 2017 special election campaign is regularly touted as the largest campaign in the history of Congress, in which he raised over $23.5 million.
Ossoff has learned many things from the last campaign that has prepared him for the upcoming race against Perdue.
“I learned first of all that the power of ordinary people banding together to organize and make change is massive. Six weeks before I had gotten into that race for Georgia’s 6th district, [Tom Price] had been reelected by 24%,” he said.
Tom Price had to give up his seat because he was confirmed for a position as the Secretary of Health and Human Services for the Trump Administration.
Ossoff mentioned how the odds were stacked against him.
“No one thought I had a chance at competing, let alone winning. And [it] became the biggest congressional race in history, and I was narrowly defeated by 3%,” he said.
Ossoff said that this was all because of his supporters.
“Hundreds of thousands of ordinary people joined together to fight,” he said.
Because he experienced a historical amount of support in 2017, Ossoff plans on having an even more successful campaign.
“To win two U.S. Senate races in Georgia this year, we will be organizing the most ambitious, most massive, most powerful grassroots ‘get out to vote’ operation in state history,” Ossoff said.
Ossoff also plans on following the same formula from 2017 to raise money, by denying money from corporations and large special interest groups.
“We rely upon individuals and ordinary people giving $5, $10 and $15 to get our message out,” he said. “We will be attacked by shady super PACS. And we will respond with the resources raised from hundreds of thousands of ordinary people who want to build a stronger, more prosperous, more just America.”
Ossoff’s campaign is also taking place during the COVID-19 pandemic that has already taken more than 20,000 American lives and led to nearly 17 million workers to file for unemployment.
This also hits close to home for Ossoff whose wife, Alisha, is an OB-GYN in Atlanta.
“This is a public health crisis and an economic health crisis, and millions of people are losing their jobs,” he said. “Right now, the Senate is taking a month’s vacation. Congress should be back at work remotely if necessary to ensure that Americans have what they need to weather this storm.”
Ossoff also called out Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp for his admission on April 1 that he’d only learned about asymptomatic transmission a couple of hours prior to his press conference.
In a tweet the next day, Ossoff criticized Kemp’s “excuse for late action” and called it “B.S.”
“It’s inexcusable for Georgia’s governor who has been indecisive and weak and slow to plead ignorance about asymptomatic transmission of COVID-19 when both the CDC and [National Institutes of Health] leadership have confirmed 6 weeks to 2 months ago that folks who have not shown symptoms can still pass on the disease,” he said.
If Ossoff is elected, he will have to deal with the COVID-19 crisis as a legislator. His plan of attack is based on following medical experts.
“We need to follow the advice of medical experts, and politicians need to follow the advice of medical experts, and politicians need to stop deluding themselves that they are experts,” he said.
Ossoff also said that when politicians ignore medical advice, it affects more than peoples health.
“Epidemiologists have studied and are prepared to advise us to respond well to a pandemic,” he said. “It’s when politicians ignore their advice and their warning that we find ourselves in more economic distress and with a much more severe health crisis than what was necessary.”
But Ossoff also sees the importance of holding officials accountable that do not handle this crisis well.
“We have to hold other elected officials who have gone along with Trump’s denialism and delay accountability,” he said. “This is our health we’re talking about. This is our prosperity we’re talking about.”
Ossoff also feels that Georgia State and other colleges need to support their students, especially when it comes to mental health.
“Colleges and universities need to offer students flexibility [and] support, including mental health support,” he said. “Public health information to help keep students and families safe and have as much online education as possible for as long as needed.”
Ossoff’s push into politics is the same as his end goal for his campaign: to end corruption in America.
“Political corruption is not an abstract idea that doesn’t affect us, like how hard … and expensive it is to get healthcare and medicine [or] the continued disruption of our planet that we have a major political party that doesn’t accept science,” he said. “All of these are a function of political corruption.”