A Jon Ossoff ad features a high-tech entrepreneur of some type who claims that the 30-year-old Democrat will bring Atlanta's economy "to the next level."
Ossoff is running against 55-year-old Republican veteran Karen Handel for the Sixth Congressional District seat vacated by Tom Price, now the anti-Obamacare and anti-Medicaid U.S. health secretary.
According to the AJC, Ossoff in getting 48 percent of the votes in the district's open primary carried working class Tucker and some of Atlanta's hottest economic spots, such as Dunwoody, Alpharetta, St. John's, Brookhaven and Sandy Springs. Handel edged into the June 20 runoff by capturing established GOP neighborhoods in East Cobb and Milton.
Most of those cities were created in the last 20 years or so, in a wave of distrust against the Fulton County government, where blacks from south of Atlanta can exert political power. Handel got her political start on the Fulton County Commission. A few years ago, a movement gained steam calling for a new county being formed in the northern part of the district, to better carry out the wishes of the white suburbs. That seems to to have lost momentum recently, perhaps because of increasing Democratic appeal.
The GOP ads say Ossoff will be a puppet of Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic House Minority leader from San Francisco. Pelosi discounted those claims in a "Meet the Press" appearance over the weekend.
The predominantly white suburbs that make up the Sixth District - designed to be 99 percent safe for the GOP to win - is the center of metro Atlanta's explosive growth, especially the areas that Ossoff carried. A constellation of new apartments is rising along Roswell Road in Sandy Springs near the new Mercedes-Benz headquarters that will open in 2018. Dunwoody is bursting with company headquarters and new office buildings. Alpharetta is the center of health device companies and other entrepreneurial ventures. How much higher a level could those areas reach? They're already clogged with traffic, shopping malls, bars and restaurants.
Cities like Sandy Springs and Dunwoody are drawing a new generation of workers who would love for the suburban areas to be more and more like Pelosi's San Francisco, or nearby Silicon Valley. Ossoff in his commercials, citing a vague need for Atlanta companies to increase their European exports, is appealing to those newcomers, who so far have not been the most reliable of voters. In recent elections, Democratic support in the district has risen, with Barack Obama breaking the 30-percent barrier, and Hillary Clinton nearly matching Ossoff's 48 percent.
Can Ossoff break through in the runoff? Turnout will be key. Republican interest appears iffy, as a GOP pol said, many of the well-off Republicans in the district go on vacation in June. Guess he's worried Democrats will still be stuck on their jobs and available to vote, if they can get the time off.
The GOP ads feature well-off white suburbanites standing guard by their subdivision homes, calling Ossoff an outsider and "not one of us." But much of the district is made up of transplants who've moved to metro Atlanta in the last 10 years. They are probably big company managers, entrepreneurs and so-on, but their roots in the district are not deep. And, they seem increasingly to be drawn by Democratic ideas, especially if expressed by cool politicians like Ossoff.
Ossoff in making economic issues a main feature of his campaign is seeking those millennials who want a Silicon Valley life. His proposals are vague, and it's absurd that a new congressman in a Republican-controlled House will have much power over Atlanta's economy. Yet his message will resonate with those who want the district to keep attracting young newcomers. Handel is appealing to that increasingly small segment of voters who have ties in the district going back generations.