Ossoff challenges Perdue to 3 debates in Senate runoff

Democrat Jon Ossoff challenged U.S. Sen. David Perdue to three live televised debates ahead of the Jan. 5 runoff, urging the Republican to “agree to give Georgians the debates they deserve" after he canceled one of their showdowns earlier this month.

The Democrat issued the challenge Monday in a letter to Perdue, part of an aggressive approach to the opening days of the nine-week runoff period. Ossoff has also launched a TV ad and detailed a tour across the state that kicks off Tuesday.

The showdown is one of two runoffs in 2021 that could determine control of the U.S. Senate. Democrat Raphael Warnock faces U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler in a separate race.

Perdue and Ossoff squared off in two televised debates during the general election cycle, but the Republican pulled out of a third pre-election matchup that would have aired on Channel 2 Action News so he could attend a rally with President Donald Trump.

U.S. Sen. David Perdue and Democrat Jon Ossoff square off in an Oct. 28, 2020 debate in Savannah.

Credit: Greg Bluestein

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Credit: Greg Bluestein

Democrats accused him of cowardice after his performance in the second debate, which featured a moment that went viral when Ossoff chastised the Republican as a “crook” in an extended monologue.

The candidates are scheduled to appear in at least one debate together, an Atlanta Press Club showdown to be held in December. It’s not clear what other debates are on the calendar.

In the letter, Ossoff said the nation faces “deep political divisions” and acute public health and economic crises that demand transparent discourse.

“We also face great opportunities, especially if we unite to rebuild a republic that lives up to our shared national ideals,” he wrote. “Georgians deserve to hear their candidates for U.S. Senate debate these issues publicly.”