What Ossoff means for U.S. Senate race in Georgia

A big-name Democrat throws his hat into the ring in one of two U.S. Senate races in Georgia next year.

Former congressional candidate Jon Ossoff announced Tuesday he will challenge Republican U.S. Senator David Perdue in 2020.

Ossoff became well known in metro Atlanta after nearly winning what was the most expensive U.S. House race in history in 2017.

Ossoff narrowly lost a special election runoff in Georgia's 6th district to Republican Karen Handel, but Ossoff says he gained valuable experience in the process. "What I learned is that I will not be intimidated," Ossoff told MSNBC while announcing his candidacy.

Ossoff joins three other Democrats who are challenging Perdue: Business executive Sarah Riggs Amico, who was last year’s runner-up for lieutenant governor; Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry and former Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson.

The 32-year old Ossoff may stand the best chance in a head-to-head race against Perdue, according to WSB political analyst Bill Crane. "He would be one of those names that should cause some concern among the Republicans," Crane said. Ossoff already has the endorsement of Georgia congressman John Lewis.

Even if Ossoff wins the Democratic nomination, he would still face many challenges.

While Ossoff is well-known in metro Atlanta, "That won't be the case when you're in the Macon, Columbus, Augusta, Savannah, Athens, etc. media markets," Crane said.

Crane believes Ossoff may also struggle to find votes in rural Georgia. "His political leanings are well to the left of what most of the state outside of the metro markets will be," Crane said.

Georgia will be in the unique position next year of having two U.S. Senate races. In addition to Perdue's seat, there will also be a special election to fill the remainder of the term of outgoing Republican Senator Johnny Isakson, who is stepping down due to health reasons.

Asked why he wants to challenge Perdue rather than run for Isakson's seat, Ossoff told the Atlanta Journal Constitution because Perdue "is one of the least effective and most out-of-touch members of the U.S. Senate."

Democrats are targeting Georgia with two Senate seats up for grabs next year. "The Democratic senatorial commission, and the DNC, really wants to pick off one if not both of those seats," Crane said.

Republicans currently hold a 53-47 advantage in the U.S. Senate. Democrats hope to regain the majority in 2020, and Georgia will play a key role in determining which party will be in power.

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