It’s unfortunate and dangerous for Democrats and liberals (there is some overlap) to be putting so much emphasis on the June 20 run-off election in Georgia’s 6th congressional district. The contest is for the seat vacated by Dr. Tom Price when he became President Trump’s Secretary of Health and Human Services and Hopelessly Liberal’s favorite cabinet pick. The regret stems from too many eggs in one not especially welcoming basket, the modest resume of Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff and his likely Achilles. The fact that he doesn’t live in the district that he’s seeking to represent in Congress, wasn’t able to vote for himself in the round 1 contest held among 18 candidates on April 18, and his promise to relocate after his girlfriend concludes her medical studies at nearby Emory.
This carpetbagger story, with many variations, is an old one and doesn’t usually end well for the opportunistic foreigner. Yes, there have been exceptions. Robert F. Kennedy’s and Hillary Clinton’s successful campaigns to represent New York in the United States Senate quickly come to, and are dismissed from mind, because of their enormous celebrity and at least one candidate’s qualification at the time of the senate run. But those precedents have limited value also because not being from a state as “big” as New York does not hurt the way not being from, or in this case living in, a community like Georgia’s 6th is likely to. More apposite is the recent fate of Zephyr Teachout, who ran for Congress in New York’s 19th district. Teachout, a native of New Hampshire, teaches at Fordham Law in Manhattan and moved to the 19th to run. She was never able to convincingly rebut the carpetbagger label and lost a crucial contest she should have won in an important district and election.
The truth of course is that Ossoff, born in Atlanta, was raised in Georgia’s 6th and currently lives nearby. But truth has not played a major role in recent U.S. electoral politics and won’t as the avalanche of money from both parties cascades into Georgia between now and June 20. Making the situation worse, much, is Ossoff’s obstinacy, as he insists that he wants to “be there” for his girlfriend and will move into the district after she graduates. He’s overestimating the feminist appeal of that posture. His potential constituents, female, male and gender non-conforming probably won’t buy it. Unless his opponent, Karen Handel, is inept in exploiting this weakness and/or the revulsion to Trump’s presidency overwhelms all of that.