Jon Ossoff blasts health insurers in first Senate TV ad in Georgia

ELECTION QUALIFYING || March 4, 2020, Atlanta: Jon Ossoff speaks media and supporters after he qualified to run in the Senate race against Sen. David Perdue. (Bob Andres / robert.andres@ajc.com)
ELECTION QUALIFYING || March 4, 2020, Atlanta: Jon Ossoff speaks media and supporters after he qualified to run in the Senate race against Sen. David Perdue. (Bob Andres / robert.andres@ajc.com)

Credit: Bob Andres

Credit: Bob Andres

Jon Ossoff became the first Democratic U.S. Senate candidate in Georgia to launch a TV ad with the debut of a 30-second spot that focuses on his wife’s role in the fight against the coronavirus before pivoting to an attack on insurance firms.

“We’ll get through this together, but it’s never been clearer we need to stand up to the health insurance companies that have bought off Congress,” Ossoff said in the spot, adding: “I’m not taking their money, and I won’t stop fighting until everyone has great health care.”

The ad, which debuted Tuesday, doesn’t mention Republican U.S. Sen. David Perdue, nor does it target either of his top Democratic rivals. Instead, Ossoff opens by praising his wife, Dr. Alisha Kramer, and other nurses and physicians who put themselves “at risk to save lives during this crisis.”

The critique of insurance companies may serve as a new theme for his campaign as a June 9 primary coincides with a coronavirus pandemic that has trained intense scrutiny on the shortcomings of the U.S. healthcare system.

In a statement, Ossoff called the cost of insurance and medicine “scandalous” and said he’ll vote to weaken the power that insurance companies and pharmaceutical lobbies have on Washington.

Ossoff leads business executive Sarah Riggs Amico and former Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson in the scant public polling of the race and has built the largest campaign account of any Democratic candidate, a $1.8 million fund that allowed him to air the first ad about seven weeks before the race.

The paid communications might play a larger factor in political races this year as the pandemic forces millions of Georgians to stay home – and delivers candidates a more captive audience.

It's not the first time Kramer, an OB-GYN physician, has been highlighted by Ossoff's campaign. The two filmed a digital ad together on the dangers of the coronavirus. And some national GOP groups have been fixated on their relationship.

Ossoff, who runs an investigative journalism firm, has tried to portray himself as the clear frontrunner since entering the race against Perdue. He enjoys high name recognition due partly to $30 million in spending in anepic U.S. House race in 2017.

Perdue, a former Fortune 500 chief executive with close ties to President Donald Trump, has already amassed $9 million in his campaign coffers – and benefits from a united GOP field since he didn’t draw a challenger.

The Georgia GOP accused Ossoff of trying to exploit the pandemic to score political points. Stewart Bragg the party’s executive director, said the ad was a “shameful way to make a first impression on voters."

In Georgia’s other U.S. Senate race, Republican Kelly Loeffler faces 20 opponents in a November special election to serve the two years remaining on retired Sen. Johnny Isakson’s term.

Watch the ad here:

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