ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia congressman John Lewis’ endorsement of Democratic Senate hopeful Jon Ossoff is the focus of a new television ad from Ossoff’s campaign that began airing statewide on Tuesday.
Ossoff, a former congressional aide who broke fundraising records during an unsuccessful 2017 run for a metro Atlanta U.S. House seat, faces a handful of other Democrats in a June 9 primary election. The winner will earn a spot taking on Republican Sen. David Perdue, a former business executive and ally of President Donald Trump, as he seeks a second term in November.
“I’ve known Jon for many, many years,” Lewis, a civil rights pioneer, says in the ad. “He will fight for our values. Friends, I’m calling on you to support Jon Ossoff and send Donald Trump a message he will never forget.”
Lewis, who is seeking an 18th term of his own despite a pancreatic cancer diagnosis announced late last year, is the last survivor of the Big Six civil rights activists once led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Ossoff opened his bid for the seat with Lewis’ endorsement in September.
Ossoff’s opponents in the Democratic primary include former Columbus mayor Teresa Tomlinson, former candidate for lieutenant governor Sarah Riggs Amico, former ACLU of Georgia head Maya Dillard Smith, Air Force veteran James Knox and another hopeful, Marckeith DeJesus.
A primary runoff, required if no candidate receives more than 50% of votes in June, is scheduled for Aug. 11.
The continued support for Ossoff from the civil rights heavyweight has drawn arrows from opposing campaigns.
Tomlinson, one of the top candidates in the race, called Lewis’ backing a “wonderful endorsement” for Ossoff in an interview Tuesday, but also questioned whether he was trying to leverage it to make up for a lack of experience.
“In my mind, your endorsers enhance your credibility and accomplishments. They vouch for you,” Tomlinson said. “You don’t travel on them.”
Ellen Foster, Ossoff’s campaign manager, said Lewis' endorsement "is a testament to his unique and personal confidence in Jon’s leadership and experience.”
A previous version of this story misstated the name of candidate Maya Dillard Smith.