Democratic Candidate Jon Ossoff is leading in the polls to take Georgia’s sixth congressional district in a special election this week. If so, the voters of the Atlanta suburb can expect to be represented by a Russian Jew with liberal values he attributes to his ethnic identity and upbring.
The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports:
One candidate has the endorsement of a civil rights giant. Another boasts that he changes his oil in his pickup truck. A third coached soccer at the local community center.
It’s politics as usual in Georgia, except that these three candidates – among the 18 running in the special election on April 18 in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District — are Jewish.
…The election is atypical, however, in two ways: Democrats see it as their first opportunity to wound President Donald Trump, and the presence of the Jewish candidates, notably Jon Ossoff, a Democrat attracting national media attention as the likeliest to pull off an upset.
That one-sixth of the candidates are Jewish in the 6th is something of an anomaly, said Steve Oppenheimer, a businessman who backs Ossoff.
“What are we, 2 percent nationwide?” asked Oppenheimer, who has served on the national boards of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and Hillel. “If we were twice that here – and that may be a stretch – we [Jewish voters] are not going to be the swing vote.”
Not that Ossoff, a scholarly and serious 30-year-old, is reluctant to chat about his Jewish upbringing if he is asked.
“I was bar mitzvahed at The Temple, which is a Reform synagogue,” he told JTA, somewhat didactically. “My Jewish upbringing imbued me with certain values, a commitment to justice and peace.”
The article continues in this manner, touting Ossoff’s Jewish heritage and identity and his work to welcome Muslim immigrants into Georgia. It also highlights the ethnic loyalty of fellow Jews in the area and their activism on his behalf.
Sheri Labovitz, a longtime Democratic activist, has not formally endorsed Ossoff among the five Democrats running, but she believes he has momentum.
“He’s got a machinery working with him that has some very good research, he’s got bodies knocking on doors every day and every weekend,” she said. “If you can turn your voters out, you’ve got a great shot.”
And Labovitz said Jewish interest is unexpectedly strong. She expected perhaps 30 people to show up last month at a salon she organized for Jewish Democratic women that featured Ossoff and two other candidates: Ron Slotin, a former state senator who also is Jewish, and Sally Harrell, a former state representative who has since withdrawn. Instead, 200 people packed the room.
Ossoff said he was wowed by the turnout.
“Jewish women are leading a lot of the political engagement in the community,” he told JTA.
…He turned up at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport on the Saturday night that Trump’s first executive order banning refugees and other travelers from Muslim-majority countries went into effect, and identifies with them as a matter of heritage.
“American Jews all share that immigrant story,” he said, “and that perspective hardens my resolve to fight for an open and optimistic vision of our country where if you work hard you can get ahead, where we welcome those who come here to build the country.”
Ossoff also signals familiarity with the Middle East. His campaign biography notes that when he was at Georgetown, he studied under Michael Oren, the historian and former Israeli ambassador to Washington. Oppenheimer, Ossoff’s backer, says as a congressional aide the candidate helped draft Iran sanctions, but also is quick to note that Ossoff had left the job by the time Democrats were backing the Iran nuclear deal that so riled AIPAC.
A win by someone like Ossoff would have been impossible a few years ago but anti-White demographic trends have seen the district fill full of foreign immigrants. Thankfully, Salon reports that he will likely not win 50% of the vote Tuesday, sending the top two candidates to a run-off which would favor the Republicans. It seems sure to be close though.
NOTE: Clearly, Ossoff is not of the Southern Sephardic Jewish stock that supported slavery, the Confederacy and segregation. They seem to be an almost an extinct breed in the New (Anti-) South.