ATLANTA (WSAV) – Jon Ossoff has a sizable lead over the other Democratic contenders vying to challenge Republican Sen. David Perdue of Georgia in November but a runoff isn’t out of the question.
The young media executive told reporters Wednesday that “it’s not the time to talk about outcomes” but rather the time to make sure every vote is counted.
In contrast, former Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson released a statement saying Ossoff has failed to avoid a runoff and now it’s “a two-person race.”
If a candidate does not secure the 50 percent plus one vote majority, the top two candidates would face a runoff election on Aug. 11.
When asked about that possibility, Ossoff said Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger must “fully own and account for yesterday’s failures” and come up with a comprehensive plan to make sure the runoff wouldn’t be a repeat of the same problems.
The candidate said there is blame to go around but Raffensperger “clearly failed the people of Georgia yesterday.”
Former candidate for lieutenant governor Sarah Riggs Amico, who has also been a top rival in the race, agreed that it’s on the secretary of state to “fix this system immediately.”
“It is a slap in the face to every Georgia voter for a candidate to unilaterally declare an outcome in this race when hundreds of thousands of ballots remain uncounted,” she added.
Meet the top candidates
The top three hopefuls recently spoke with WSAV’s Atlanta Bureau on why they’re running, what sets them apart and what changes they would bring to Georgia.
“I think people are really concerned about COVID-19 and how the federal system partner with the health care system and the economy,” said Tomlinson. “We have a long climb ahead of that.”
Fixing the health care system and revitalizing the economy are top of mind for the candidates.
“No one should be sick because they were poor or poor because they got sick,” Amico said.
“We have to talk about raising minimum wage in this country,” she added.
Ossoff said: “Ensuring every American has great healthcare, investing in public health, investing in a major clean energy and jobs program are vital and reforming our criminal justice system.”
He entered the Senate race in September with the endorsement of civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis, as well as some built-in name recognition from his highly publicized 2017 special election loss to Republican Karen Handel for an Atlanta-area U.S. House seat.
Ossoff has led in fundraising and has made fighting inequality and corruption a core part of his message.
Tomlinson, who was the first woman elected mayor of Columbus in 2010, has racked up a slate of endorsements of her own, including civil rights leader and former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young.
She touts her experience in office, saying she’s “the only one in this race who has ever won an election and governed,” and says that experience can help her cut through dysfunction in Washington.
Amico previously served as an executive in her family’s car-hauling company.
Best known for her 2018 run for lieutenant governor, which she lost to Republican Geoff Duncan, she often discusses the experience of helping to steer the company through bankruptcy, noting that executives fought to preserve jobs.
Amico’s campaign has locked down the endorsement of several labor unions with a strongly pro-union pitch.
Georgia postponed primary elections twice because of the pandemic. The state’s March 24 presidential primaries were first moved to May 19, when voters were set to choose party nominees for other 2020 races. As coronavirus infections and deaths mounted, election day was pushed back again to Tuesday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report