As votes start to roll in for Georgia’s special Congressional election on Tuesday, if 30-year-old Democrat Jon Ossoff manages to win the race against his Republican rival Karen Handel, Ossoff will largely have suburban moms to thank. According to USA Today, they’re driving his campaign largely “driven by guilt over not helping Hillary Clinton enough in 2016,” the report notes.
If Handel, Georgia’s former secretary of state, thought she could rely on the votes of women her age in her district, it looks like she has another thing coming, as the 6th district’s suburban moms lead an army of some 11,000 volunteers for Ossoff, knocking on half a million doors to see a Democrat elected. (Maybe as mothers, they took issue with Handel suggesting LGBT couples shouldn’t be allowed to adopt?)
USA Today talked to local Johns Creek moms in their forties, some of whom have each knocked on north of 1,500 doors in 89 degree weather and phone banked for hours a day.
It’s not just a few of them — according to one mom by the name of Cathy Karrell, volunteer meetings for Ossoff largely consisted of the familiar faces of fellow PTA moms.
“I looked around the room and there were a lot of familiar faces,” she said of the first meeting she attended. “I think we all politely didn’t talk about politics (in the past.) It’s the elephant in the room. Most of us in this area assume that everybody you meet is really a Republican or a conservative and so, you know, who wants to bring that up at a PTA meeting?”
That first meeting consisted of 11 people in a suburban Atlanta living room after the 2016 election. Since, USA Today reports the John’s Creek-Milton Progressive Network has 500 members in its Facebook group.
The situation arguably rings at least a little similar to last year’s Democratic primary race, one in which former Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton seemed to think she could count on the votes of young women feminists, but watched millennials show out in shocking numbers for her then-rival, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
And where Clinton graciously expressed her appreciation for a society in which young women could make their own political choices, even if that meant supporting Sanders, Handel and her surrogates also seem pretty determined to convince voters to support the more “experienced” candidate, whom Handel identifies as.
“The woman that you want to vote for in this race is the woman with more experience than her male counterpart and is more apt to represent her interests in Washington and that’s Karen Handel,” Darryl Wilson, the GOP chair for the sixth district said. “She’s more qualified and that’s what women want right? They just want the opportunity to be judged by their qualifications and their experience.”
In among the most expensive and high-profile congressional races in recent history, Ossoff and his camp have raised some $23 million. Both candidates say voter turnout will be key.
If Ossoff wins, he might just have President Donald Trump to thank. The influx of grassroots participation in support of him appears largely reactionary, a response to a nightmarish wake-up call for suburban women to get involved.
“I had a lot of guilt about the election and Trump winning,” Amanda Kelly, a stay-at-home mom who campaigned for Ossoff before the April 18 general election, told Politico. “This was a way to channel my energy to make something positive out of the negative situation we’re in.”
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