Farewell to Jon Ossoff: Perhaps the last 'cooperative' Democrat

Karen Handel makes a heart symbol while making an early appearance to thank her supporters after the first returns came in during her election night party. Curtis Compton,ccompton@ajc.com
Karen Handel makes a heart symbol while making an early appearance to thank her supporters after the first returns came in during her election night party. Curtis Compton,ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: Jim Galloway

Credit: Jim Galloway

Fresh off Karen Handel's 6th District victory, President Donald Trump offered a bit of unsolicited advice to ailing Democrats:

But Trump actually misses the point. Democrat Jon Ossoff didn't run as an obstructionist. He ran in a GOP-dominated district as a candidate willing to work with anyone -- though he vowed he would "stand up" to Trump when necessary. And that's likely to be the point that Democrats will be debating over the next few weeks. Or the next year -- given that Handel's defeat pretty much closes the door on any more House pick-ups this year.

Within minutes of Jon Ossoff's defeat on Tuesday, progressives took aim at him for not more aggressively embracing liberal policies or more frequently targeting Donald Trump.

Here's U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton, a liberal Massachusetts lawmaker:

And Matt Stoller, a liberal activist:


We would be remiss if we didn't note that one of the most pleased and relieved fellows in Georgia on Tuesday night was John Watson, the newly elected chairman of the Georgia GOP.

Watson won his election by in a contentious Republican convention vote in August earlier this week, in large party by emphasizing that a dysfunctional state party apparatus was lessening Handel’s chances.

It was Watson who put together that Saturday airport rally for Handel, featuring HHS Secretary Tom Price, whom Handel now replaces in Congress, and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.

So it was no accident that Watson was on the stage to introduce Handel at her Dunwoody party last night.


A short history lesson here: Back in 2004, the Sixth District was a Republican strong-hold, but Cobb County-centric. Johnny Isakson, who had just given up the seat, lived there. Newt Gingrich had a home in east Cobb.

So it was a major upset when Tom Price, then a state senator from Roswell, delved into the deepest reaches of Cobb to pull out a win.

But Price remained vulnerable. So the boundaries of the Sixth District were redrawn, de-emphasizing its Cobb population in favor of Price’s north Fulton County base.

So it’s rather ironic that, Cobb County provided Karen Handel with the Republican juice she needed to fend off Democrat Jon Ossoff, 51.87 percent to 48.13 percent. That’s 134,595 votes to 124,893, or a margin of 9,702 ballots.

The total in the Cobb County portion of the Sixth: Handel, 58.15 percent to Ossoff’s 41.85 percent. Her vote margin: 12,792.

Handel ran a 9,777-vote deficit in DeKalb. And had only a 6,687-vote cushion in Fulton, her home turf. Remove Cobb County from the equation, and we’d be talking about U.S. Rep. Jon Ossoff this morning.

Early in the campaign, we mentioned the significance of the May runoff for state Senate District 32, which covers roughly the same territory as the Cobb portion of the Sixth District.

That race was won by Republican Kay Kirkpatrick, a physician with close ties to Tom Price. Democrat Christine Triebsch took 41.79 percent of the vote. Her vote total was far smaller, but proportionately, it was almost exactly the same as that earned by Ossoff.

On Tuesday night, Bob Ott was on hand to accept credit for Handel’s performance in Cobb. He’s the Republican commissioner for Cobb County whose district includes most – though not all -- of the Sixth District area. (His district also includes the new Braves stadium.)

It was no accident that Ott was the first Republican ally Handel mentioned in her victory speech. Cobb County Commissioner JoAnn Birrell, whose district covers north Cobb, was next.

An IOU has been issued here. So keep an eye on the Ott-Handel relationship.

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