Democratic Senate hopeful Jon Ossoff said he would consider supporting a temporary shutdown if doing so was backed by public health experts.
Ossoff, who will face incumbent Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) in a Jan. 5 run-off, made the comments during an interview Sunday with CNN’s “State of the Union” after being asked about his stance on increasing coronavirus mitigation efforts in his home state.
“I think we should follow the expertise of public health experts, like those of the CDC, which is based here in Georgia. And if that is the consensus of the public health community, we need to take that advice very seriously. And politicians need to recognize the limits of our own knowledge and wisdom,” the Georgia Democrat said.
“Epidemiologists who dedicate their careers and their training to studying the spread of infectious disease are qualified to advise us on the correct mitigation procedures. And the problem we have had all year is that politicians have been suppressing and ignoring public health advice. It’s time to trust the experts, listen to public health professionals in a public health crisis,” he continued.
The Senate candidate was then pushed further by anchor Dana Bash on how far he would be willing to go, to which Ossoff doubled down.
“If the CDC and its leadership gave a strong indication that those kinds of stronger mitigation measures are necessary to save lives and contain the spread of the virus, it would be malpractice for politicians to ignore that advice,” Ossoff replied.
“There are more than 2,000 Americans dying per day. The spread is out of control. And the problem is, we have ignored the public health experts. So, I will be listening to them and not to political consultants, pollsters, or folks who are looking out for their own financial interests, like my opponent.”
When Ossoff and Perdue went head to head during the Nov. 3 election, the GOP incumbent was unable to reach the 50 percent threshold required by the state in order to declare a winner. Perdue led Ossoff 49.7 percent to 48 percent.
As a result, the race was sent to a run-off.
All eyes have focused on two Senate battles in Georgia, both with GOP incumbents. The current balance of the Senate is 50 Republicans and 48 Democrats, meaning that whichever way these two seats go will decide which party controls the upper chamber of Congress.
The second race has incumbent Sen. Kelly Loeffler facing off against Rev. Raphael Warnock, the senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church.
Interest in the two Senate contests has continued to rise as both parties express confidence that they can emerge victorious.
President-elect Joe Biden narrowly carried Georgia over President Trump, marking the first time a Democrat carried the Southern state since Bill Clinton defeated former President George H.W. Bush in 1992.
Democratic strategists have said once-red Georgia is within reach for their party, but GOP analysts have argued it will be harder for the left to convince their voters to come out in an election without Trump on the ballot.
As Ossoff argued during his Sunday CNN appearance, the stakes of his and Warnock’s races came down to President-elect Biden’s ability “to govern in the midst of a crisis.”
“We all know what’s going to happen if [Senate Majority Leader Mitch] McConnell holds the Senate. He will try to do to Biden and [Vice President-elect Kamala] Harris just like he tried to do to President Obama. It will be paralysis, partisan trench warfare, obstructionism as far as the eye can see at a moment of crisis when we need strong action.”