Jon Ossoff wins Georgia Senate primary; will face Perdue

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People vote at voting booths in the Georgia's primary election at Park Tavern on Tuesday, June 9, 2020, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

ATLANTA – Jon Ossoff, a young Georgia media executive known for breaking fundraising records during a 2017 special election loss for a U.S. House seat, beat back a field of Democratic primary opponents to win a spot taking on Republican Sen. David Perdue in November.

Ossoff received about 50.7% of the votes, according to votes tallied as of Wednesday night. He had maintained a steady lead in public polling and fundraising despite some significant competition from former Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson and 2018 candidate for lieutenant governor Sarah Riggs Amico.

Ossoff’s victory allows him to avoid a potentially bruising primary runoff that had been seen as likely and sets up a showdown with Perdue, 70, as Republicans look to hold the White House and Senate majority.

In his livestreamed victory speech Wednesday night, Ossoff took immediate aim at his opponent's response to the coronavirus pandemic, saying Perdue was “too busy adjusting his stock portfolio to warn us of the gravest public health emergency in a century.” A Perdue spokeswoman has previously said the senator “goes above and beyond to fully comply with the law.”

“This is not a moment to let up — this is a moment to double down,” Ossoff said. “The president of the United States and his allies in Congress are leading this country down a dark path and we can go down this path no longer. We can no longer go down a path of authoritarianism, of racism, of corruption. We are better than this and Georgia is better than this.”

The election on Tuesday was plagued by problems that, combined with a massive influx of mail-in paper ballots because of the coronavirus, delayed final results.

A lack of poll workers, trouble with new voting equipment, coronavirus restrictions and high turnout contributed to long lines, with 20 of Georgia’s 159 counties having to extend voting hours for at least one precinct.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger sent absentee ballot applications to 6.9 million active registered voters in Georgia, and more than 1 million ballots had been received as of Monday, Raffensperger spokesman Walter Jones said Wednesday. That’s a huge increase in the number of paper ballots that counties have traditionally had to process in past elections.