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Despite National Attention, Jon Ossoff Says Georgia 6th District Race Still About Local Issues

Democratic candidate for Georgia's 6th District Congressional seat Jon Ossoff speaks to supporters during an election-night watch party Tuesday, April 18, 2017, in Dunwoody, Ga. (John Bazemore/AP)
Democratic candidate for Georgia's 6th District Congressional seat Jon Ossoff speaks to supporters during an election-night watch party Tuesday, April 18, 2017, in Dunwoody, Ga. (John Bazemore/AP)

The political battle over Georgia’s 6th District could become the most expensive House race in history.

Last week, Democrat Jon Ossoff just missed an outright win in a special election to replace now-Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price. He faces Republican Karen Handel in a June 20 runoff that’s drawn the money and attention of both national parties, and has been called an electoral test for President Trump.

Ossoff (@ossoff) speaks with Here & Now‘s Meghna Chakrabarti.

Interview Highlights

On expectations for Georgia’s 6th District, which has been represented by Republicans since 1978

“I think my campaign’s strong showing demonstrated the breadth of the coalition that we’re building by focusing on local economic development, unleashing metro Atlanta’s economic potential to improve standards of living and create greater economic opportunities for folks here in the area. And by focusing on shared values that unite people in the community here, rather than on divisive national politics.”

“I grew up in this district, and it’s never been a particularly partisan place. There are folks who want economic opportunity to increase, who want common sense leadership that’s focused less on the kind of gridlock and palace intrigue that people are tired of in Washington and more on getting things done. So I’m going to stay focused on local economic development as the highest priority for the campaign.”

On reaching out to voters who haven’t voted Democrat in a generation

“I’ve been reaching out to voters across the political spectrum from the very beginning. And I think that that’s why I was able to get 48 percent of the vote in a very crowded field in the first round, was by building that coalition that’s sick and tired of the constant ‘R vs. D’ drama, and interested in some effective leadership that will deliver results.”

On not currently living in the district, and instead living close by his longtime girlfriend who is in medical school at Emory University

“Well, what I’ve committed to [Alisha Kramer] is that while she’s concluding her medical training, I’ll stand by her side so that she can get to the hospital in the morning and do what she needs to do, and frankly, when I am across the district talking to voters — Democrats, Republicans and independents — what they’re concerned about is what a representative can deliver for this district. Not whether I live a mile and a half south of the district boundary. That is a much more important than geography.”

On what voters in the district care about

“What voters here care about is what will the representative deliver for the district. Metro Atlanta has virtually unlimited economic potential. We’ve got the busiest airport in the world, we’re near a deep water port in Savannah becoming a hub in the global economy. Dynamic entrepreneurs, growing businesses — that means that Georgia families can see higher standards of living, more affordable college, greater economic opportunity for the next generation. We can all feel the tremendous economic opportunity that this region has in the coming decades. But it’s gonna take some imagination, it’s gonna take some energy and fresh leadership to realize that vision. I think that that, and the opportunity that it presents to Georgia families, is much more interesting to people here at home than what’s going on in Washington. Attack ads, partisanship, negativity and the same old nonsense.”

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