Jon Ossoff smashed fundraising records and became a national Democratic star in his bid to flip Georgia’s 6th District. He also suffered a gut-wrenching loss by a wider-than-expected margin despite more than $30 million spent on his behalf to win the suburban territory.
Ossoff, 30, now faces a vexing dilemma: Does he challenge Karen Handel in 2018, this time facing an entrenched incumbent in a race that won’t get nearly as much national attention? Does he run for state office? Or does he take a breather from politics?
The Democrat has said that he would have to talk with his fiancée about whether he’d launch another grueling campaign for the U.S. House seat next year. And he’s scoffed at talk he’d join the crowded governor’s race.
But in his concession speech late Tuesday he hinted his political career is far from over. He called his race the “beginning of something much bigger than us” and urged his supporters to stay involved in politics.
“The fight goes on,” he said. “Hope is still alive.”
He would bring formidable advantages to another race: Massive fundraising list and a national profile. High name recognition from months of ads inundating metro Atlanta’s TV and radio markets. And a dedicated core of volunteers urging him on.
And he faces daunting liabilities, chief among them questions about whether he can compete in GOP territory after he failed to improve on Hillary Clinton’s performance here despite the massive spending and a legion of volunteers.
If he seeks other office, he also could have to jostle with the growing cadre of well-known Democrats seeking the formula to win in Georgia.
State legislators Stacey Abrams and Stacey Evans are already in the race for governor. Former state Sen. Jason Carter, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and one-time acting U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates are among the other Democrats who could mount bids for higher office.
Ossoff, for now, is mum on his future plans. In a statement, he said it was “extraordinary” what his supporters achieved.
“We showed the world that in places no one even thought it was possible to fight, we can fight,” he said, “and we will fight.”