After the crushing electoral losses that swept Donald Trump into the White House and sealed Republican control of the U.S. Congress, the Democrats’ road to recovery winds through the leafy, well-heeled suburbs of north Atlanta.
Here, Democrats are threatening a stunning special election upset that could signal how well the party can turn Trump’s low approval ratings into political gains. And they appear to have an ally in the April 18 vote: Trump himself.
In the first congressional election of the Trump era, a wave of grassroots anti-Trump fervor has positioned Democrat Jon Ossoff, a 30-year-old political newcomer, to possibly capture a House of Representatives seat held by Republicans for decades, one of 24 seats Democrats need nationwide to reclaim the House.
“The grassroots intensity here is electric, and it’s because folks are concerned that what is happening in Washington doesn’t represent our values,” Ossoff said in an interview. “This is a chance for this community to stand up and make a statement about what we believe.”
With Democrats desperate for signs of hope after Hillary Clinton’s loss to Trump, Ossoff’s underdog “Make Trump Furious” campaign has endeared him to national anti-Trump activists and pushed him well ahead of 17 rivals in polls. The documentary filmmaker and former congressional aide raised a jaw-dropping $8.3 million in the first quarter, his campaign said.
Georgia would seem an unlikely venue for a Democratic revival. Trump won it by about 5 percentage points in November. And its voters backed Republican nominees in eight of the last nine presidential contests, including the last six in a row.