Senator Bernie Sanders senses the importance for Democrats to win the vacant house seat in Georgia’s 6th congressional district.
With a June 20 runoff election looming, Sanders gave his full support to Democrat Jon Ossoff, who won the first round of the special election April 18.
However, Ossoff needed 50 percent of the vote in order to win the seat outright. He finished with 48.10 percent support to Republican Karen Handel‘s 19.78, meaning the two will now campaign against each other in a runoff with just under two months of campaigning left to go.
Sanders said in a statement issued April 21 that it’s “imperative” Ossoff prevails in the runoff.
Let me be very clear. It is imperative that Jon Ossoff be elected congressman from Georgia’s 6th District and that Democrats take back the U.S. House. I applaud the energy and grassroots activism in Jon’s campaign. His victory would be an important step forward in fighting back against Trump’s reactionary agenda.
Sanders’ endorsement is quite the turn of events. He said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal one day after Ossoff’s win that he wasn’t sure if the 30-year-old Democratic candidate was actually a progressive.
“I don’t know,” Sanders said in the interview when asked. “If you run as a Democrat, you’re a Democrat. Some Democrats are progressive, and some Democrats are not.”
His comments puzzled some political analysts on social media, who wondered if Sanders’ words did more harm than help for Ossoff’s campaign.
There were a total of 18 candidates in the first round of the special election. Ossoff, a rookie progressive Democrat, led all candidates in every poll leading up to election day and won by a sizable margin.
Ossoff was born in the 6th district, which covers much of Atlanta’s northern suburbs, but he doesn’t currently reside there. He has vowed to move back into the district if he wins the runoff election.
Ossoff is the CEO of an investigative film making company, Insight TWI: The World Investigates and has also been endorsed by the man he used to intern for in Washington, Georgia Congressman John Lewis, who represents Georgia’s 5th district.