Ossoff declared victor in Georgia, handing Democrats control of the Senate

This is Ossoff’s first election to public office, and he will be the youngest member of the Senate. 

By AP and World Israel News Staff

Jon Ossoff, 33, won against Republican incumbent David Perdue, 71, giving the Democratic party control of the legislative branch in a runoff election that was held Tuesday after neither he nor Perdue received 50% of the vote in November.

This is Ossoff’s first election to public office, and he will be the youngest member of the Senate.

In 2017, at the age of 29, he ran for Congress in Georgia in a race closely watched as an early referendum on President Donald Trump. Though he lost, he shattered fundraising records and made the contest in a once reliably Republican district competitive.

For his Senate campaign, he took a sharper approach. His platform was unabashedly liberal, calling for a $15 minimum wage, a “public option” government health plan, and a new voting rights act to restore federal oversight of state election laws.

He didn’t endorse the “Green New Deal,” given skeptical attitudes toward manmade global warming in the southern state, but he has announced his support for rejoining the Paris Climate Accord, which President Donald Trump exited in 2017, calling it a “massive redistribution of United States wealth to other countries.”

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Given the centrality climate change is gearing up to be in the Biden administration, Ossoff’s vote will be important in pushing through the next president’s agenda, which says “the Green New Deal is a crucial framework for meeting the climate challenges we face.”

Ossoff beat back attacks by his opponent that he was pursuing a “radical socialist agenda.” At a debate in October, he called Perdue, a former corporate executive, “a crook” who used the Covid-19 pandemic to protect his stock portfolio while downplaying the seriousness of the virus. Perdue insisted the allegations were false.

Raised in a wealthy family in Atlanta, Ossoff was 16 when he read late Congressman John Lewis’ memoir about the civil rights movement, Walking With the Wind. He wrote a letter to Lewis, and Lewis offered him a summer job.

Lewis referred him to Hank Johnson, an Atlanta-area attorney running for Congress in 2006. Ossoff, a Georgetown University graduate, became the fourth member of Johnson’s campaign staff. Lewis would continue to be a mentor.

Ossoff worked for five years on Johnson’s Washington staff. In 2013, after Ossoff inherited money from his late grandfather, he invested in a small London-based film production company. Insight TWI finances investigative documentaries and sells them to broadcasters including the BBC. Ossoff is the company’s CEO.

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In a victory speech early Wednesday, Ossoff said he would follow the example set by Lewis. The Georgia Democrat died last year after serving in Congress for more than three decades.

“This campaign has been about health and jobs and justice for the people of the state, for all the people of the state,” he said. “And they will be my guiding principles as I serve this state in the U.S. Senate.”