Democrat Jon Ossoff will need to win a significant slice of Republicans to pull off an upset victory in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District race. On Wednesday, he and his supporters opened a new front aimed squarely at wooing conservatives to side with him.
Ossoff held a press conference at the state Capitol outlining his plan to cut $16 billion in federal spending. He campaigned with Jason Kander, a moderate Missouri Democrat who won statewide office in a red state. And House Democrats launched an ad campaign aimed at turning conservative voters in the district against Republican Karen Handel.
“I’ve been reaching out to voters across the political spectrum from the beginning of this campaign,” Ossoff said. “Voters in the 6th District are interested in leadership and representation that’s focused less on political party and more on getting things done. And cutting waste is simply not a partisan issue.”
Handel’s campaign dismisses the efforts to win over Republicans, who have long dominated the suburban Atlanta district. She has worked to consolidate the GOP base and was feted Tuesday at a fundraiser with U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan — days after she appeared with President Donald Trump at a stop in Atlanta.
“This is a Republican congressional district. That’s why you don’t see pictures of him at his fundraiser with (U.S. House Democratic leader) Nancy Pelosi,” Handel spokesman Charlie Harper said. “He’s being funded by liberal groups to flood Georgia with highly scripted, poll-tested talking points designed to make Republican voters forget who he’ll be working for if he gets to D.C.”
It’s a battle that could determine the June 20 race. Ossoff has tried to expand the electorate by targeting left-leaning voters who rarely cast ballots in the special election. But his campaign has also aimed for Republicans who are uneasy with Trump.
There is room for him to maneuver. Republicans have held the seat for decades and Tom Price breezed to victory in November, but Trump barely edged out Hillary Clinton in the district.
And although Ossoff has proclaimed himself a “make Trump furious” candidate, his more recent stump speeches and campaign ads have walked a finer line. He is more likely to talk about cutting wasteful spending and bringing jobs to the north Atlanta suburbs than to attack Trump.