Georgia Democratic Senate candidate Jon Ossoff is eager for his rematch against incumbent GOP Senator David Perdue on January 5. Though Perdue won more votes than he did in the November election, falling under half a point short of an outright win over Ossoff, the Georgia Democrat thinks the outcome may be different in the runoff.
The general election was split: Democrat Joe Biden ended up winning the state, but Republicans across Georgia and in the two Senate races attracted the most votes. The Republican running in the other race, Senator Kelly Loeffler, attracted fewer votes than the leading Democrat, Reverend Raphael Warnock, but she was competing in a field of 20, and the third-highest vote getter was GOP Representative Doug Collins, who won 20% of the vote.
In an interview with CBS News Wednesday, Ossoff, acknowledging that he won fewer votes than Joe Biden while Perdue won more votes than President Trump, predicted that a more focused head-to-head race would be different.
Ossoff noted, “I got more votes than any Georgia Democrat running statewide in the history of this state,” and he pointed out that “Georgia has become younger and more diverse every year for the last decade.”
Among the voters Democrats plan to target are the “tens of thousands of people who became eligible to vote because they turned 18 between November and January,” Ossoff said. “We are continuing to build momentum to get record turnout. We generated record turnout in November; we will do it again in January.”
Although turnout in a Senate runoff is usually dramatically lower because there’s no presidential race on the ballot, Georgia’s pair of runoffs is primed to be different because the two seats will decide who controls the Senate when Mr. Biden takes office. Voters and politicians, including Ossoff, see this race as a joint ticket with Warnock.
“What’s happening in Georgia right now is special, and folks wouldn’t have believed it ten years ago — that you’ve got the young, Jewish son of an immigrant, mentored by Congressman John Lewis, running alongside a black preacher who holds Dr. King’s pulpit at Ebenezer Church as the standard bearers in these two Senate races to control the Senate running in the most competitive state in the country,” Ossoff said.
Ossoff always mentions Warnock in his stump speech and highlights the fact that Warnock is the pastor of church where Martin Luther King Jr. preached. He calls Warnock “the moral voice for our state and our country.”
“We’re running very well together and traveling the state together,” he said. “We rallied yesterday with President-elect Biden. We’re rallying in Savannah on Saturday, and it will send an extraordinary statement when we elect as one of Georgia’s two state senators the senior pastor at Ebenezer Church.”
CBS News has asked all of the candidates for interviews. Loeffler and Perdue have not responded to our requests.
Kathryn Wienner and Kelly Johnstone contributed to this report.