Democrat Jon Ossoff, one of two Democrats who appears to be headed for a January runoff that could determine which political party controls the US Senate, is planning to make the response to the coronavirus pandemic a key part of his message and he welcomes an assist from President-elect Joe Biden.
“Now, we have two Senate runoffs in a single state. This is the moment to demonstrate that the people of this state and this country want a government that will respond properly in a focused, and coherent way to this pandemic,” he told CNN’s John Berman on “New Day” Monday.
CNN has not projected that the Senate race between Ossoff and Republican Sen. David Perdue will advance to a runoff, but both candidates are already campaigning to face each other on January 5. Perdue is leading Ossoff by at least 90,000 votes, but has not received more than 50% of vote needed to prevent a runoff.
The eyes of the political world are now turning to Georgia, where both US Senate races are primed for runoffs. If Democrats win both Georgia seats, there would be a 50-50 tie in the Senate, and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris could serve as a tiebreaker.
Ossoff told Berman “it’s all about getting people out to the polls for this January 5th runoff,” adding that again, the stakes against Perdue “are high.”
“This isn’t about partisan politics. This is about human lives and human livelihoods which are in the balance,” he said. “If we cannot mount an effective response to this pandemic, more people will needlessly, more people will needlessly lose their homes, their jobs, and their businesses.”
Biden, who defeated President Donald Trump for the presidency after a win in the battleground state of Pennsylvania, is leading in the Georgia presidential race, though CNN has not projected a winner in the state. As the US nears 10 million confirmed cases of coronavirus and cases continue to surge across the country, the Biden transition team is moving forward with plans on how to combat the pandemic. On Monday, the team announced a group of advisers that will lead a coronavirus task force.
Ossoff said he has not had “any specific conversations yet” with the Biden transition team about their involvement in the runoff race and said he has not gotten far on his hopes of the President-elect campaigning with him, but he said that Biden “is welcome in Georgia any time.”
“I know that they are likely rapidly gearing up to begin the transition work necessary to take power in early January and again, respond to this pandemic,” he said. “We can’t lose sight, as the dust settles on this presidential race of the fact that we are living at a moment of crisis. That so many are hurting. That so many lives remain at risk.”
CNN projected last week a special election race between Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler and Democrat Raphael Warnock will advance to a runoff in January.