A Democrat with a pile of cash commitments announces for Tom Price’s seat

Credit: Jim Galloway

Credit: Jim Galloway

A fourth Democrat announced Thursday he'll run for Rep. Tom Price's seat, but this one claims two advantages the three others vying for the conservative district don't have.

Jon Ossoff, who runs a firm specializing in anti-corruption investigations, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution he’s lined up more than $250,000 in financial commitments from supporters.

He also has the backing of two other Georgia Democratic power-brokers: Reps. John Lewis and Hank Johnson.

Ossoff is a former Lewis intern and aide to Johnson who ran several of his election campaigns. He said he would run as an ardent opponent of Donald Trump in the contest, which could be among the first congressional special elections in the nation after the Republican’s victory.

“Donald Trump is an embarrassment and a threat to prosperity and health, justice, and security in the Sixth District,” said Ossoff. “I’m running to stop him and to fight for our community in Congress.”

Democrats face an uphill battle in the heavily conservative district, which stretches from east Cobb to north DeKalb. Price, who was tapped as Trump's health secretary, won it by more than 60 percent of the vote. But Democrats hope they can turn the contest - one of the first since Trump's election - into an upset victory if they unify behind a candidate and squeak into a runoff.

That seems a dim prospect now. Ossoff joins three other Democrats: Former state Sen. Ron Slotin, former state Rep. Sally Harrell and attorney Josh McLaurin. A relative unknown in the state party, McLaurin said this week he's raised more than $39,000 and will chip in another $6,000 to his campaign. Harrell enjoys the support of local Democrats, including state Rep. Scott Holcomb and state Sen. Elena Parent.

The GOP side of the contest, which is likely to be set by Gov. Nathan Deal in the summer, has been slower to form.

Although only one well-known Republican has formally entered the race - state Sen. Judson Hill - a range of other GOP contenders are likely to jump in. They include former Secretary of State Karen Handel and ex-state Sen. Dan Moody.

Ossoff said he’ll wage a campaign highlighting his private sector experience – he helped expose corruption in Ghana and atrocities in Iraq – and his roots in the district. He grew up in north DeKalb, though he lives just south of the district now. (There are no residency requirements to serve in Congress.) His mother, Heather Fenton, is co-founder of the NewPower PAC, which works to elect women to local office.

In a statement, Johnson called Ossoff a “tireless and effective” advocate and Lewis urged Democrats to back him.

"We should unite behind him," said Lewis, "and send a clear message that Donald Trump doesn't represent our values."