Jon Ossoff - AT.JPG

Democrat Jon Ossoff stopped by the MDJ office on Monday to discuss the 6th District congressional race.

Democrat Jon Ossoff, the frontrunner in the 18-person race to fill the 6th Congressional seat, says district voters “are just too darn smart” to fall for the negative attack ads against him.

Take the preposterous ad insinuating Ossoff had a sinister relationship with Osama bin Laden.

The ad accuses him of receiving money from Qatar’s Al Jazeera network, an Arabic news channel. Describing the network as “a mouthpiece for terrorists” while displaying images of bin Laden, the ad suggests there is something untoward going on that Ossoff is trying to hide, accusations he dismisses as shameful.

Because the network has an Arabic name, the ad makers are counting on district voters to think that has something to do with bin Laden, but they mistake the intelligence of 6th District voters, Ossoff says.

“My company has done work exposing crime and corruption around the world. For over the life of the company, dozens of national news organizations like the BBC, like CNN and yes, Al Jazeera’s English language channel for whom, for example, we produced a documentary exposing foreign officials who were stealing U.S. taxpayer-funded aid. That is it. It’s an Arabic language name of a TV channel, and they are therefore putting up attack ads linking me to Osama bin Laden. … But what they don’t recognize is that voters in the 6th District are too smart for it.”

Born in Atlanta’s Piedmont Hospital, Ossoff grew up in the North Lake area in DeKalb County where his family lives. He is a member of the Paideia School’s Class of 2005 and worked for U.S. Rep. John Lewis at age 17. He calls Lewis a mentor, and said he began to consider running for Congress when President Donald Trump nominated former U.S. Rep. Tom Price, R-Roswell, for secretary of health and human services. His mind was made up after speaking with Lewis, who encouraged him to run and said he would endorse him if he did.

Ossoff’s mother emigrated from Australia and is now a citizen, running a nonpartisan organization that helps women — Democrats and Republicans — become elected to offices across the state while his father runs a publishing company.

He earned degrees from Georgetown University and the London School of Economics and worked for U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, handling his foreign affairs portfolio before going to work for the above-mentioned film company that specializes in international conflict and crisis investigations.

The 30-year-old Ossoff, who is the 5th candidate in the 6th District race to schedule an interview with the MDJ, lives near Emory University, where his girlfriend is a fourth-year medical student. If he wins, he pledges to move into the 6th District once she finishes her medical training.

While the Republicans are at present divided with 11 of them in the race, Democrats have clearly united behind Ossoff as their choice for April 18. This will ensure he is one of the two to make it into the runoff, where things will be tougher for him since Republicans will, at that time, unite behind whichever Republican makes it into the runoff with him. But if he can garner 50 percent plus 1, he wins the special election outright and no runoff is needed. And this has Republicans worried. His success at fundraising has caused jaws to drop, hauling in more than $8.2 million, well above any other candidate in the race.

ON MARTA, DOBBINS, CONGRESS & COWARDS: Ossoff said he’s a fan of bringing MARTA to Cobb County.

“Yes,” he said. “Because if we’re going to grow metro Atlanta into the economic powerhouse that it has the potential to become, we need rapid transit across the area.

However, he also said he’s open to whichever mode of transit is most effective and fiscally responsible.

“MARTA is not the only potential solution, but since it is the existing light rail network, and it could plug into the broader metro transit infrastructure, it’s certainly worth — I think it’s in first position as a contender … And if there’s an infrastructure bill moving through Congress, then I’ll hope to work on a bipartisan basis to deliver fiscally responsible, effective and timely solutions to this area beyond just highway and road improvements.”

The candidate pledges to fight any attempt at closing Dobbins Air Reserve Base.

“There’s a long tradition of members of Congress from Georgia serving on the Armed Services Committees and getting things done for Georgia, and I’ve staffed a member of Congress on the House Armed Services Committee for years,” he said. “I know how the House Armed Services Committee operates, and I’ll seek a seat on the House Armed Services Committee if I’m elected. That was the bulk of my work, and I earned a top secret security clearance in the Department of Defense to do that work.”

Ossoff said he’s toured Marietta’s Lockheed plant on multiple occasions and is quite familiar with the F-35 program.

“I strongly support the F-35 program, and I’ll work as hard as I can to protect Georgia from any further base closures and indeed to deliver additional defense resources to Georgia and try to move more production in the defense industrial base to Georgia,” he said.

On the recent U.S. strikes on Syria, Ossoff believes the decision was a responsible one to make if intelligence confirms it was indeed Assad’s forces that attacked civilians with chemical weapons, but that any further action should require congressional approval.

He called the U.S.’s approach to North Korea the most challenging foreign policy issue on the table, arguing for priority to ensure defensive systems are in place in the Asian Pacific to defeat North Korea’s medium range and intercontinental ballistic missle threat while continuing to pressure China to force North Korea’s hand.

Turning to immigration, he favors comprehensive immigration reform that secures the border while also providing a pathway that legalizes the more than 11 million immigrants who are not here legally — as long as they are not felons.

The next step in health care, he said, is to fix what’s broken about Obamacare, but not to repeal the law altogether, “because there are essential consumer protections that are now law, and it would be wrong to throw 24 million people off of their health insurance and back into the emergency room at tax payer expense when their illness is already acute.”

On the national debt, he said there are hundreds of billions in federal spending identified by Congress and the Government Accountability Office known to be duplicative and wasteful, and such expenses should be cut.

As for the Congress members’ practice of avoiding town hall meetings since the presidential election, “I will hold more than quarterly public town halls if I’m elected, and I will be available to editorial boards and the press at all times and run the most transparent and accountable office in Georgia history.”

And why aren’t our congressmen holding town hall meetings since the election?

“Because Congress is full of cowards,” he said.

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