ATLANTA -- Former congressional candidate Jon Ossoff said he will challenge Republican U.S. Sen. David Perdue and "mount a ruthless assault on corruption in our political system" that has prevented Congress from addressing urgent issues.
The Democrat told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution he would "raise a grassroots army unlike any this state has ever seen" by expanding the network of supporters who helped him raise roughly $30 million in a 2017 special election he narrowly lost.
"We have squandered trillions on endless war. We have squandered trillions on bailouts for failed banks. We have squandered trillions on tax cuts for wealthy donors. Then we're told there's nothing left over for the people," he said, adding: "The corruption must be rooted out. And Sen. David Perdue is a caricature of Washington corruption."
Ossoff's campaign, which he'll formally announce Tuesday, makes him the fourth Democrat in the race against Perdue, a first-term Republican and former Fortune 500 chief executive with strong ties to President Donald Trump. He also becomes arguably the best known contender thanks to his nationally watched campaign for Georgia's 6th District.
The 32-year-old announced his Senate run in tandem with the highest-profile endorsement yet in the contest: U.S. Rep. John Lewis, the Atlanta Democrat and civil rights icon who said Ossoff "sparked a flame that is burning brighter than ever."
"Like the many thousands Jon has already organized and inspired, I am ready to work tirelessly to elect him," said Lewis. "Georgia and America need Jon."
In an interview at his Grant Park home, Ossoff said his first act in the Senate would be to co-sponsor legislation that seeks to undo the Supreme Court's Citizen United decision and allow new restrictions on corporate political donations.
He said he chose to run against Perdue rather than compete for the soon-to-be-vacated seat held by U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, who is stepping down at year's end for health reasons, because Perdue "is one of the least effective and most out-of-touch members of the U.S. Senate."
"We're in a state where one in three rural children live in poverty, where we have the worst maternal mortality in the entire country, and in a half a decade, this guy hasn't come down from his private island to do a single town hall meeting," Ossoff said. "He hands out favors to his donors. He runs errands for the president."
Republicans have dominated statewide elections in Georgia for most of the last two decades, and carried the state in presidential races in every vote since 1996. But Democrats hope an embrace of more liberal policies and unease with Trump will fuel the party's comeback next year.