Jon Ossoff

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Jon Ossoff
Jon Ossoff.png
Ossoff in 2017
Personal details
Thomas Jonathan Ossoff

(1987-02-16) February 16, 1987 (age 33)
Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Alisha Kramer
EducationGeorgetown University (BS)
London School of Economics
WebsiteCampaign website

Thomas Jonathan Ossoff (born February 16, 1987)[1] is an American politician, media executive, and investigative journalist.[2]

Since 2013, Ossoff has served as managing director and CEO of Insight TWI, an investigative television production company.[3]

Ossoff was the Democratic Party nominee for Congress in the historically expensive 2017 special election in Georgia's 6th congressional district; he lost with 48.2% of the vote to Republican Karen Handel's 51.8%.[4][5][6][7]

He is the Democratic nominee for the 2020 Georgia Senate election against Republican incumbent Senator David Perdue.[8]

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Atlanta, Georgia, Ossoff was raised in Northlake, an unincorporated community in Georgia's 6th congressional district.[9] He attended the Paideia School, a small private school in Atlanta.[10] While in high school, he interned for Georgia congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis.[10]

In 2009, Ossoff graduated from Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service with a Bachelor of Science degree. He attended classes taught by former secretary of state Madeleine Albright and former Israeli ambassador to the United States Michael Oren.[11][12] Ossoff earned a Master of Science degree from London School of Economics in 2013.[11][12]

Investigative journalism career[edit]

In 2013, Ossoff became managing partner and CEO of Insight TWI, a London-based company that works with reporters to create documentaries about corruption in foreign countries.[13] The firm produced BBC investigations about ISIS war crimes and death squads in East Africa. Ossoff was also involved in the production of a documentary about the staging of a play in Sierra Leone.[3]

Political career[edit]

Congressional staffer[edit]

Ossoff worked as a national security staffer and aide to Rep. Hank Johnson for five years.[14] He had top-secret clearance for five months.[15] He left Johnson's office in 2012 to earn a master's degree at the London School of Economics.[16]

2017 special election[edit]

After learning that Tom Price of Georgia's 6th congressional district had been appointed secretary of Health and Human Services, Ossoff announced his candidacy for this special election on January 5, 2017.[12][17] Ossoff quickly emerged as the most viable Democratic candidate out of a large field of candidates.[18] He was endorsed by prominent figures such as Congressmen Hank Johnson and John Lewis,[7][19] and state House Democratic Leader Stacey Abrams.[20][21] He also received public support from Vermont Senator and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.[22][23][24] Ossoff raised over $8.3 million by early April of that year.[25]

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Ossoff "transformed what was expected to be a quiet battle for a long-safe Republican seat into a proxy fight over Trump, the health care overhaul and the partisan struggle for suburbia."[26] When Ossoff entered the race, the Cook Partisan Voting Index rated Georgia's 6th congressional district at R+14;[27] the district was not considered competitive, and had been represented in Congress by Republicans since 1978.[28] Less than two months before Ossoff’s announcement, Republican Congressman Tom Price had been re-elected in a landslide with 62% of the vote.[29]

Ossoff grew up in the 6th district, where his family still resides, although as of the election he lived about 1.5 miles (2.4 km) outside the district's boundaries. He said that he temporarily lived in the neighboring 4th district so that his fiance, who was at the time an Emory University medical student, could walk to work.[30][12][31]

Ossoff with his wife, Alisha Kramer, during his congressional campaign

On April 18, 2017, no candidate received 50% of the vote in the blanket primary ("jungle primary").[32] Ossoff led with about 48.1% of the vote, Republican candidate Karen Handel received 19.8%, while the remainder of votes were scattered for 16 other candidates.[33][34] Because no candidate secured an absolute majority, the top two vote-getters, Ossoff and Handel, competed in a runoff election on June 20, 2017.[35][34] Ossoff won all but 1% of the Democratic vote, while the Republican vote was more heavily split. Republicans collectively won 51.2% of the overall vote.[36]

Ossoff broke national fundraising records for a U.S. House candidate.[37] In total, Ossoff's campaign raised more than $23 million, two-thirds of which was contributed by small-dollar donors nationwide.[38] Ossoff's opponent, Handel, and national Republican groups attacked Ossoff for raising significant small-dollar contributions from outside of Georgia, although Handel's campaign received the bulk of its support from super PACs and other outside groups, including those funded anonymously by so-called "dark money".[39][40] Combined spending by the campaigns and outside groups on their behalf added up to over $55 million, which was the most expensive House Congressional election in U.S. history.[41] During the campaign, Republican strategy focused on connecting Ossoff to House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, a polarizing and unpopular figure amongst Republicans; Ossoff declined to say whether he would, if elected, support Pelosi for Speaker of the House.[42]

On the June 20 runoff, Ossoff was defeated by Handel, 51.78% to 48.22%.[43] According to Atlanta Magazine, "while his percentage of the total vote remained steady from April to now, Ossoff garnered 32,220 more votes in those three months, a 34 percent increase ... Ossoff and his allies might have scooped up nearly every Democrat vote there was to get—and it still wasn't enough to overcome the GOP's numerical advantage."[44] The New York Times reported that Ossoff "produced probably the strongest Democratic turnout in an off-year election in at least a decade", "brought a surprising number of irregular young and nonwhite voters to the polls,"[45] and nearly doubled youth turnout in the 6th district from the 2014 midterm election.[45] However, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "surging Democratic turnout wasn't enough to overcome heavy GOP voting in a district where Republicans far outnumber Democrats."[46] Following reports of the election results, Frank Bruni in an op-ed for The New York Times characterized the race as "demoralizing for Democrats".[47] This was as close as a Democrat had come to winning this district since it assumed its current configuration as a northern suburban district in 1992; Democratic challengers had won more than 40 percent of the vote only twice before.[48]

On February 23, 2018, Ossoff announced he would not seek the seat in the regular election in 2018; the seat was won by Democrat Lucy McBath in November 2018.[49]

2020 Senate race[edit]

Ossoff ran in the Democratic primary election to try to unseat Republican Senator David Perdue in the 2020 United States Senate election in Georgia.[50] On June 10, Ossoff won 50.5% of the vote, just over the threshold to prevent a run-off election. He will face off against incumbent Republican Senator Perdue in the November general election.[8]

In July 2020, Perdue's campaign ran a Facebook ad in which Ossoff's nose was digitally altered to be larger, which Ossoff criticized as "one of the most classic anti-Semitic tropes." Perdue's campaign said that Perdue had not seen the image and that the widening and elongation of Ossoff's nose was done by a vendor.[51] The Perdue campaign pulled the ad.[52]

Political positions[edit]

According to The New Yorker in 2017, Ossoff has "progressive positions on women's issues and health care" and "moderate stances on jobs and security."[53] According to Matthew Yglesias of Vox, in 2017 Ossoff ran an "Obama-style campaign", and placed himself in the middle between grassroots progressive activists in the Democratic Party and the more conservative and moderate Blue Dog Southern Democrats.[54] According to the New York Times, Ossoff's 2017 campaign distanced itself from the national Democratic Party.[55] According to the Washington Post, the 2017 Ossoff campaign opted not to turn the special election into a referendum on Trump's alleged scandals, but to focus on "policy decisions by the president and congressional Republicans."[56] The Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote that Ossoff "often tried to avoid nationalizing that campaign over fears of losing moderate voters."[57]

Ossoff has been sharply critical of President Donald Trump, criticizing what he calls his "divisive approach to government"[58] and saying: "I have great respect for the office. I don't have great personal admiration for the man himself."[59] After Trump sent out a tweet the day before the April 19 primary, calling Ossoff a "super Liberal Democrat" who wanted to "protect criminals, allow illegal immigration and raise taxes," Ossoff dismissed Trump's claims and called him "misinformed."[60] found that Trump's claim was a distortion, and that there was no evidence that Ossoff had ever advocated for any broad-based tax hikes.[61] Nevertheless, Ossoff said that he would be willing to work with Trump on issues of mutual interest, such as infrastructure spending.[59] After Trump's disclosure of classified information to Russia, Ossoff said of impeachment that "I don't think we're there."[62] Ossoff called for "a full and transparent and independent assessment of what level of interference there was by Russian intelligence services in the U.S. election. And overseers in Congress and any independent counsel or commission to do so should follow those facts wherever they lead."[62]

Ossoff supports abortion rights[63] and access to contraception.[35][failed verification]

Ossoff opposes prison sentencing for nonviolent drug offenses.[35][failed verification] His website says, "Violent crime, murder, rape, human trafficking, and corruption are rampant, while we spend billions locking up nonviolent drug offenders."[64][better source needed]

Ossoff told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he supported tax credits for small businesses related to health care.[61] He has called for the repeal of "wasteful, anti-competitive special interest subsidies that make it hard for entrepreneurs to raise capital, enter the market, create jobs, and compete with larger firms who have lobbyists in Washington."[64][better source needed] He has cast himself as an opponent of unnecessary government spending, saying, for instance, that "there's $16 billion in duplicate programs. That can be cut," an assertion that PolitiFact rated "Mostly True".[65]

He accepts the scientific consensus on climate, and has said that "climate change is a threat to our security and prosperity".[66] He supports American participation in the Paris Agreement.[67]

He supports the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).[35] His health care policy aims to serve three basic principles: "One, no American should suffer or die from preventable or treatable illness. Two, no one should go broke because they get sick. And three, no business should go under or lay off employees because it can't keep up with health insurance premiums."[68][dead link] He does not support pushing for a single-payer health care system.[67]

Ossoff opposed both the March 2017 and May 2017 versions of the American Health Care Act, the House Republican bill that repeals and replaces the Affordable Care Act.[69] Ossoff said that the May 2017 version was worse than the earlier one "because it does even less to protect those with preexisting conditions."[70]

Ossoff supports comprehensive immigration reform that would both strengthen enforcement along the Mexican border and provide a path to citizenship for some undocumented immigrants.[61]

Personal life[edit]

Ossoff's mother, Heather Fenton, an Australian immigrant,[10] co-founded NewPower PAC, an organization that works to elect women to local office across Georgia.[71][72] His father, who is of Russian Jewish and Lithuanian Jewish descent, owns a specialist publishing company.[10] Ossoff was raised Jewish.[73]

Ossof is married to Alisha Kramer, who is a gynecology resident.[74]


Year Title Role Notes
2017 New Day self Episode: "5.173"
2017 Deadline: White House self Episode: "1.26"
2016 Stacey Dooley Investigates executive producer episode: "On the Frontline: Girls, Guns and ISIS"
2015 Justice! executive producer TV documentary
2014–2015 Africa Investigates executive producer 9 episodes
2014–2015 People and Power executive producer 2 episodes
2014 Living with Ebola executive producer and writer TV documentary
2014 The Battle for Africa executive producer and writer TV miniseries/documentary


  1. ^ Mr. Thomas Jonathan Ossoff, Insight Twi Limited; (subscription required)
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  3. ^ a b Ravindran, Manori (March 5, 2020). "Doc Producer Jon Ossoff on His Run for a U.S. Senate Seat in Georgia". Variety. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 17, 2020.
  4. ^ "Insight TWI: The World Investigates".
  5. ^ Bluestein, Greg (January 5, 2017). "A Democrat with a pile of cash commitments announces for Tom Price's seat". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved February 20, 2017.
  6. ^ "About Jon". Jon Ossoff for Congress. 2017.
  7. ^ a b Bill Barrow (February 14, 2017). "Georgia special election shapes up as referendum on Trump". Associated Press.
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  22. ^ Sommer, Will (April 21, 2017). "Sanders endorses Ossoff, but won't call him a progressive". Retrieved October 24, 2018.
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  27. ^ "Wayback Machine" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on June 17, 2017. Retrieved April 17, 2020. Cite uses generic title (help)
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  33. ^ "Unofficial Results". Atlanta, Georgia: Georgia Secretary of State. April 19, 2017. Retrieved April 19, 2017.
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  35. ^ a b c d "The Voter's Self Defense System". Vote Smart. Retrieved April 20, 2017.
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  43. ^ "Election Night Reporting".
  44. ^ "Planned Parenthood's $800,000 fight to get Jon Ossoff elected wasn't enough". June 21, 2017.
  45. ^ a b Cohn, Nate (June 26, 2017). "Democrats' Turnout in Georgia Blew Past Typical Off-Year Levels". The New York Times.
  46. ^ Greg Bluestein, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "Handel preps another 6th District campaign as Ossoff hints at comeback". ajc.
  47. ^ Bruni, Frank. After Georgia Election, Democrats Are Demoralized, Again, The New York Times, June 20, 2017.
  48. ^ "Our Campaigns – Container Detail Page". Retrieved May 11, 2017.
  49. ^ [1]
  50. ^ Astor, Maggie (September 9, 2019). "Jon Ossoff Will Run for Senate in Georgia". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved September 10, 2019.
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  52. ^ Lewis, Sophie (July 28, 2020). "Georgia senator removes ad that made Jewish opponent's nose appear bigger". CBS News. Retrieved August 21, 2020.
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  60. ^ Alex Seitz-Wald (April 17, 2017). "Trump takes to Twitter to blast leading Dem as 'super Liberal'". NBC News.
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  62. ^ a b Greg Bluestein (May 30, 2017). "Ossoff on Trump impeachment: 'I don't think we're there'". Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
  63. ^ Bluestein, Greg (May 21, 2017). "Abortion debate divides candidates in Georgia's 6th District race". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved August 21, 2020.
  64. ^ a b Rubin, Jennifer (April 17, 2017). "The Georgia special election shows why Trump may sink the GOP". The Washington Post.
  65. ^ "Checking Jon Ossoff on $16 billion in government waste". @politifact. Retrieved June 17, 2017.
  66. ^ "Trump looms over Georgia special election, a proxy battle for 2018". The Washington Post. Retrieved June 12, 2017.
  67. ^ a b Burns, Alexander (June 8, 2017). "Takeaways From the Georgia Special Election Debate: A Sharper Clash". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved June 8, 2017.
  68. ^ Greg Bluestein (April 17, 2017). "How top Sixth District contenders stack up on healthcare, taxes and transportation". Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
  69. ^ Elise Viebeck & David Weigel (April 30, 2017). "GOP candidate now embracing Trump in Georgia's 6th District runoff". The Washington Post.
  70. ^ Greg Bluestein (May 4, 2016). "A 6th District rift over the House healthcare plan in Tom Price's old turf". Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
  71. ^ "Another Democrat Announces for Tom Price's Seat with some Hefty Advantages". Atlanta Journal Constitution. January 5, 2016. Retrieved February 21, 2017.
  72. ^ "About New Power PAC".
  73. ^ Kampeas, Ron (March 21, 2017). "A Jewish candidate gives Democrats hope in Atlanta's suburbs". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Retrieved March 28, 2017.
  74. ^ Moore, Elena (April 25, 2020). "Georgia Democrat Jon Ossoff Attempts Homebound Political Comeback". NPR. Retrieved June 11, 2020.

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Michelle Nunn
Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from Georgia
(Class 2)

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