Jon Ossoff , Democratic candidate for one of Georgia's U.S. Senate seats, signs autographs during a voter registration rally at the MLK Recreation Center in Atlanta on Saturday, September 28, 2019. (Photo: STEVE SCHAEFER / SPECIAL TO THE AJC)
Photo: Steve Schaefer
Photo: Steve Schaefer

Georgia Senate: Ossoff raises $800K in three-week span 

Democratic Senate candidate Jon Ossoff will report raising $800,000 in the three weeks since he entered the race to unseat Republican Sen. David Perdue, ending the latest fundraising quarter with $1.3 million in cash on hand. 

Ossoff, who runs an investigative journalism firm, raised the cash in part by leaning on the network of supporters who helped him amass roughly $30 million in a special election for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District that he narrowly lost

The three-week period was the first test of Ossoff’s fundraising strength since that 2017 run, and the 32-year-old has framed his campaign for Senate around a promise to “mount a ruthless assault on corruption” in Republican-led Washington.

It’s not clear yet if Ossoff’s extensive donor list will make him the Democratic fundraising leader. 

Former Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson, who has been in the contest for about six months, has yet to report her latest figures. 

Tomlinson took in roughly $520,000 during the first three months of her campaign, when she was the only candidate in the race, and that haul might have encouraged other rivals to jump in. Since then, business executive Sarah Riggs Amico and Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry have both entered the contest.

Ossoff’s total includes about $500,000 he transferred from his 2017 congressional campaign, a race that shattered U.S. House fundraising records at the time. He lost the contest, viewed as an early referendum on President Donald Trump in suburbia, by about four points to Republican Karen Handel.

He and other Georgia Democrats in high-profile races have pledged not take money from corporate PACs, limiting their fundraising potential. Ossoff also recently held his first campaign event, a voter registration rally headlined by U.S. Rep. John Lewis.

The financial figures will be closely scrutinized by outside groups, high-dollar donors and national Democrats trying to hash out which candidate stands the best chance of defeating Perdue, a former Fortune 500 chief executive with deep ties to Trump and the Georgia GOP establishment. 

The Republican incumbent also has not yet disclosed his latest fundraising total, but he previously reported nearly $5 million in his account.  

Georgia is destined to attract even more attention next year with the retirement of U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, who plans to step down because of medical issues. Gov. Brian Kemp is sorting through hundreds of GOP applicants for the post, including several high-profile politicians

Not only will Kemp’s pick share the ballot with President Donald Trump and Perdue in 2020, he or she would also be on the same ticket with the governor in 2022 if Republicans hold the seat. Meanwhile, about a dozen well-known Democrats are considering a run for the seat. 

The outcome has vast implications. Even before Isakson’s retirement, Democrats considered Georgia a must-win to flip control of the Senate, where Republicans have a 53-47 edge. A second Senate race means even more attention and money trained on Georgia. 

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.

About the Author

Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.