Democrat Jon Ossoff, 33, is the youngest to be elected U.S. senator in decades. He, who will be the first member of the millennial generation to reach the Senate, was born in 1987, grew up as the Internet spread and took advantage of the digital world to come to power.
Ossoff was elected Tuesday by Georgia in a second round of voting (5), a dispute that took on a lot of importance because it guaranteed the Democrats control of the Senate.
In the campaign, he spoke out for the new progressive generations by defending the maintenance of the right to abortion, expanding access to health care, reducing taxes for the middle class and increasing the minimum wage.
The new senator also promises to work for judicial reform that reduces arrests for petty offenses – such as drug possession – in addition to defending the demilitarization of the police and the adoption of clean energy.
The millennial profile, expressed in a forceful campaign on TikTok, a social network in which several of the senator-elect’s videos exceed one million views, contrasts with that of his rival in the dispute, David Perdue, 71.
Described as a radical left by the Republican, Ossoff has also heard, throughout his career, that his conquests were only possible because he came from a wealthy family.
Her father, Richard Ossoff, a Russian Jew, owns Strafford, a company that sells online courses to lawyers. And her mother, Australian Heather Fenton, created an entity to help elect women in Georgia.
Lewis recalled a similar experience he had with Martin Luther King (1929-1968) and accepted the request. Georgia is one of the southern states of the United States, a region where racial segregation existed until the 1960s.
“We don’t have to accept that poverty, racism or violence is inevitable or necessary. We can dream bigger. We can dream – and build – the beloved community for which [Martin Luther] King and [John] Lewis urged us to fight, ”Ossoff wrote on social media after being elected senator.
At the same time, he approached Lewis, he met obstetrician Alisha Kramer, a high school colleague whom he married.
In 2006, at the age of 19, Ossoff sought campaign work for Hank Johnson, a Democrat who was running for Georgia as an MP. Although very young, he was accepted for bringing ideas on how to use blogging and social media in the campaign.
Johnson was elected, and Ossoff went to work in the MP’s office, where he remained for five years. At the same time, the young advisor was studying at Georgetown University, also in Washington. After graduating in Foreign Service, he went to the UK and did a Masters degree at the prestigious London School of Economics.
At the age of 26, in 2014, Ossoff was hired to lead Insight TWI, a small UK producer of documentaries and investigative reports. He had no journalistic experience beyond an internship, but he knew the owner of the company.
According to the New York Times, he has invested around US $ 250,000 (R $ 1.36 million at the current exchange rate) in the production company, currently valued between US $ 1 million (R $ 5.42 million) and 5 US $ million (R $ 27.1 million) —Ossoff owns 75% of the shares.
In 2017, at age 29, Ossoff returned to politics, now to campaign on his own. He decided to run for a Georgia MP seat in an off-season election. In the United States, each member of Congress represents a district, and the contested region, a suburb of Atlanta, was considered a Republican stronghold.
The campaign took place in the first months of Donald Trump’s tenure and was the first party-to-party poll after the Democratic defeat in the 2016 election.
Ossoff had the backing of Lewis, Stacey Abrams and Bernie Sanders and achieved a significant fundraiser: around 25 million US dollars (135.5 million reais) in donations, a record amount for parliamentary campaigns. However, he lost in the second round to Republican Karen Handel, who had 51.2% of the vote.
Despite the loss, Ossoff drew attention to the drive and for successfully increasing turnout, especially for young people and non-white voters.
In 2018, he preferred not to stand for the regular elections. In 2020, he therefore tried the Senate. In the first round on November 3, Ossoff had 47.95% of the vote, behind Perdue, who had 49.73% and was seeking re-election. So, without anyone reaching 50%, they went to the second round.
Once again, the dispute in Georgia became of national significance, but now even stronger: the party that would win would take control of the Senate. There were two seats up for grabs, and in addition to Ossoff, Democrat Raphael Warnock also won, which allowed Democrats to control the House until at least 2023.
Once again, Ossoff set a donation record: he raised $ 106.7 million in mid-December, making his campaign the costliest in Senate history.
With the victory, he will have a six-year term. His feat is not unlike that of Joe Biden, elected senator for the first time in 1972, at the age of 29. Biden stayed in the House for decades, then went on to become Obama’s MP and won the presidency at the age of 77. If he keeps up the pace he’s followed so far, Ossoff should try bolder moves in a lot less time.