Jon Ossoff, Democrats’ newly-minted nominee in Georgia’s Senate contest, doubled down on his avoidance of the movement to “defund the police,” in response to racial bias from law enforcement and the death of George Floyd. The movement originated as a fringe idea on the far-left, but has gained steam within the Democratic Party, and leaders and candidates alike are rightfully pressed to take a stance.
Ossoff was unresponsive to requests for comment on his stance on the movement to “defund the police” ahead of Georgia’s primary on Tuesday, and continues to avoid directly endorsing or condemning the movement. Ossoff told the Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC) that he supports “reforming and demilitarizing policing in America,” and cited “pervasive racism and classism” within the justice system, but would not take a direct stance on the movement to “defund the police.”
Undoubtedly, Ossoff faces a challenge to appease his far-left base, from which the movement to "defund the police" originated, while also attempting to court traditional Democratic voters. As Democrats seek to make Georgia a battleground state in November, the movement to "defund the police" will not resonate with the latter group of voters. Indeed, polling shows that the majority of Americans do not favor cutting funding to law enforcement:
Ossoff will take on GOP incumbent Sen. David Perdue in November, and the Georgia Republican’s stance on law enforcement could not be more diametrically opposed to Ossoff’s. Sen. Perdue blasted the idea of “defunding the police” as “outrageous,” while also joining calls for the fair prosecution of the law enforcement officers responsible for Floyd’s death.
We are a nation of laws. Those laws, however, must be enforced fairly and objectively.— David Perdue (@sendavidperdue) June 8, 2020
Police officers who commit crimes like the murder of George Floyd should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
Defunding the police is an outrageous idea. Retweet if you agree.— David Perdue (@sendavidperdue) June 8, 2020
Ossoff previously ran in a congressional special election in 2017, at the beginning of President Trump’s time in office, but lost his nearly $30 million bid to GOP Rep. Karen Handel (R-GA). The president weighed in on Ossoff's nomination, noting his support of “lawless” policies:
We need our Great David Perdue (@PerdueSenate) in the Senate to Drain the Swamp & Make America Great Again! His Radical Liberal opponent, Jon Ossoff (who we beat in 2017), supports LAWLESS Sanctuary Cities, wants to raise your taxes, & weaken our Great Military. He is a puppet...— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 11, 2020
In light of the far-left’s effort to make the movement to “defund the police,” part of the mainstream, Democratic candidates, including Ossoff, should be forced to either disclose their support of the effort or to condemn it outright. Joe Biden’s campaign affirmed the Democratic nominee’s opposition to the defunding of law enforcement. With so much at stake in November, voters deserve transparency, and Ossoff should make his stance on “defunding the police” clear.