Jon Ossoff, the Democratic challenger to Georgia Sen. David Perdue, is courting the state's more conservative voters with an ad arguing that he has a more moderate stance toward gun regulation than the Republican incumbent claims.
Ossoff, who has been endorsed by gun safety groups but was given an “F” by the National Rifle Association, is running a pro-Second Amendment spot in larger Georgia cities such as Albany, Augusta, Savannah and Macon, though not in liberal-leaning metro Atlanta.
The Second Amendment grants citizens the right to bear arms, though the extent of its guarantee has been hotly disputed after mass shootings at an Orlando, Fla., nightclub; a high school near Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and a music festival in Las Vegas. It has long been a hot-button issue in U.S. elections.
Ossoff “thinks he can get away with telling metro Atlanta one thing while telling the rest of the state the exact opposite,” Sen. David Perdue told Fox News exclusively. “This just proves he'll do or say anything to hide his radical socialist agenda from the people of Georgia."
An Ossoff spokesperson said the ad is "airing in the places where Senator Perdue's inflammatory, fear-mongering ad is running to correct the record."
Perdue's ad said Ossoff would confiscate guns, defund the police and close Georgia's military bases.
Ossoff, who in his own ad says he will “defend" the Second Amendment, told MSNBC last September that he was unsure if he supported mandatory gun buybacks. He did, however, back strict licenses for all semi-automatic weapons, universal background checks and argued that the general public shouldn’t have access to assault weapons.
Democrats have frequently joined anti-violence advocates in backing tighter gun-control laws, while conservative voters have often favored Republicans aligned with the National Rifle Association. Georgia has been a stronghold for the GOP in recent presidential elections, though Democrats have gained strength with the growth of Atlanta.
Ossoff previously ran for a Congressional seat vacated by Tom Price, who served for seven months as President Trump's Secretary of Health and Human Services, forcing Republican candidate Karen Handel into a runoff election, which he lost.
Handel lost the seat the next year to Democratic challenger Lucy McBath.
The Democratic challenger has shifted his stance toward the "Defund the Police" movement, which has gained momentum among the left wing of the party following the death of George Floyd, a Black man who perished on May 25 after a White Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes during an arrest.
Ossoff in June said he favored cutting funding for police departments that violate his proposed rules on use of force. In the ad that ran on Tuesday, he said he didn’t support defunding the police.
“The people of Georgia want a senator who stands by their convictions, whether they're speaking to folks in Fulton County or Tift County, but Jon Ossoff seems to have a problem when it comes to telling them the truth,” Perdue said.
Perdue, a businessman who is seeking his second term in the Senate, leads Ossoff by 2.8 points, within the margin of error, according to an average of polls compiled by RealClear Politics.
Perdue, Ossoff and Libertarian candidate Shane Hazel will square off in the Georgia Senatorial debate, which is scheduled for Oct. 12.