Jon Ossoff’s Lead in Georgia Race Gives Boost to Democrats’ 2018 Hopes

Race Will Head to a Runoff in June

Jon Ossoff, a relatively unknown progressive documentary filmmaker, handily led all other contenders on Tuesday in a special election in a GOP-leaning Georgia congressional district viewed as a bellwether for voter sentiment on President Trump’s first months in office.

When all of the votes are counted, it was expected that he would fall short of the 50% threshold to win the seat outright — as many Democrats had hoped — and will face a runoff against a Republican, Karen Handel. That race will be even more difficult for Ossoff, as Republicans are expected to coalesce behind her candidacy after spreading their votes in Tuesday’s vote among more than a dozen contenders.

Still, Ossoff’s showing was a surprise for a Democrat in a district that has been held for decades by Republicans, including Newt Gingrich and most recently by Tom Price until he was confirmed as Trump’s Secretary of Health and Human Services.

“We have defied the odds, we have shattered expectations,” Ossoff told supporters on Tuesday, predicting that he would win no matter if he reached the 50% or faced a runoff in June.

Ossoff, 30, campaigned heavily on the idea that he would be a check on Trump after an erratic first few months in office. Ossoff got a boost from a number of progressive groups, especially the website Daily Kos, and, in a recent ad spot, made light of Trump’s use of Twitter.

A number of Hollywood figures, dismayed by Trump’s election and first weeks in office, shelled out contributions in support of his campaign. Connie Britton, John Leguizamo, Rosie O’Donnell, Sam Waterston and Jane Fonda were among those who gave, as Ossoff raised more than $8.3 million for the race.

As polls showed Ossoff within striking distance of winning the seat, Republicans began to boost spending in the district with ad spots attacking him. Trump himself recorded a radio commercial, and on Tuesday sent a series of tweets urging Republicans to get out and vote.

“Force runoff and easy win! Dem Ossoff will raise your taxes — very bad on crime and 2nd A.”

Democrats hope that the better-than-expected showing by Ossoff will be a prelude to a shift in voter sentiment come 2018.

They already have been reaching out to Hollywood donors to raise money for races next year.

Last week, Shonda Rhimes hosted Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) at her Hancock Park home for a $10,000-per-couple event for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is headlining an event on Friday for Senate Democratic candidates.

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), who is up for reelection in 2018, is scheduled for an event on Wednesday at the Santa Monica home of architect Frank Gehry and his wife Berta. Tickets start at $1,000 per person, and ch-chairs include Will Ferrell, Bruce Corwin and Joe Calabrese.

The next night, Sen. Kamala Harris (D.Calif.) is holding a $1,000-per-person event for her leadership PAC, Fearless for the People, at the home of Scooter Braun and his wife Yael. Co-hosts are Kevin Huvane and Glen Dake.

On Saturday, Cory Booker is scheduled to attend a $1,000-per-person event for his re-election campaign at the home of Jon Vein and Ellen Goldsmith-Vein. Co-hosts include John Gile, Wendy Gruel and Steve Westly.

More Biz

  • Terry Wakefield Exits Sony/ATV to Head

    Terry Wakefield Exits Sony/ATV to Head Up A&R at UMPG Nashville

    After a decades-long tenure at Sony/ATV Nashville, Terry Wakefield has followed another alumnus, Troy Tomlinson, across town to take a top position at Universal Music Publishing Group Nashville. Wakefield is senior VP of A&R at UMPG after having been senior VP of creative in his previous post. Personal loyalty to Tomlinson, UMPG Nashville’s recently named chairman/CEO, [...]

  • Sally Williams at PBS Country Music

    Sally Williams to Leave Longtime Opry Home for Top Post at Live Nation in Nashville

    Nashville executive Sally Williams is leaving Opry Entertainment, where she rose to the top over a two-decade tenure there, to join Live Nation’s regional office as the president of Nashville music and business strategy, the company announced Monday. Live Nation said Williams will not only lead programming and marketing for their concerts in the area, [...]

  • Fourward

    Management Company Fourward Taps Christopher Burbidge as Head of Talent Division

    Will Ward’s management company Fourward has promoted long-time colleague Christopher Burbidge to head the company’s rapidly growing talent division, while also promoting Brooke Blann to manager in the company’s music division. Both Blann and Burbidge are based in the company’s Los Angeles office and will continue to report directly to Ward. Burbidge works closely on [...]

  • Writers vs Agents Packaging War WGA

    Kaplan Stahler Agency Signs Modified Code of Conduct in Win for WGA

    Kaplan Stahler has become the latest agency to sign the Writers Guild of America’s (WGA) modified code of conduct in a win for the Guild. In a message sent out to WGA members today, the negotiating committee wrote that the agreement with Kaplan Stahler “bans packaging fees and agency-affiliated production companies and, through information-sharing, makes [...]

  • London's CODA Agency Formally Becomes a

    Paradigm Agency Formally Absorbs London's CODA Into the Fold

    After five years of working together, London’s CODA Agency has formally become a part of Paradigm and will continue under its U.S. partner’s banner. The London office of what is now a fully integrated Paradigm will continue to be led by Alex Hardee, Tom Schroeder, James Whitting and Dave Hallybone. In a statement otherwise laden [...]

  • WGA Agents Dispute Placeholder

    Agencies Seek to Hold Key Court Hearing Before WGA Elections

    The four major agencies asked a court on Monday to expedite a key hearing in the Writers Guild of America lawsuit, as the agencies seek to have portions of the case thrown out before the WGA’s internal elections in September. The WGA and the unions are still waging a legal and public relations battle over [...]

  • Sonja Plack Cocaine Possession

    'The Chi' Actress Sonja Sohn Arrested on Cocaine Possession Charge

    Sonja Sohn, the actress who appears on “The Chi,” was arrested over the weekend in North Carolina on a charge of cocaine possession. Sohn, best known for portraying Det. Kima Greggs on “The Wire,” was booked and released from the Dare County Detention Center in Manteo, N.C., according to a statement from the Dare County [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content