jon ossoff georgia
GA House candidate responds to Trump's tweet
01:58 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

Jon Ossoff is running in a so-caled "jungle primary," competing with 17 other candidates

The Democrat hopes to replace Tom Price, the new HHS seretary

The district has been reliably Republican for years but it was a close race last November

CNN  — 

Democratic congressional candidate Jon Ossoff shrugged off questions Tuesday about his inability to vote for himself in a Georgia election, telling CNN’s Alisyn Camerota his current living situation, outside the district, is temporary

“I grew up in this district,” Ossoff said, speaking on CNN’s “New Day.” “I grew up in this community. It is my home. My family is still there.”

“I am a mile and a half down the street to support Alicia while she finishes medical school,” he added, referring to his girlfriend. “It’s something I’ve been very transparent about. I am proud to be supporting her career. As soon as she finishes her medical training, I will be 10 minutes back up the road where I grew up.”

Ossoff is running in a so-caled “jungle primary,” competing with 17 other candidates to replace new Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District – long a reliable Republican stronghold and the seat Newt Gingrich held on his rise to becoming House speaker in the 1990s.

RELATED: Stakes high for Trump, Democrats in Georgia House race

Ossoff is aiming to win the seat outright, but if no candidate tops 50%, the top two finishers will advance to a June runoff.

The race is seen as one of the first electoral battles since President Donald Trump’s victory last November. Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton by a relatively close margin in the district.

Trump, for his part, seems to be watching the case closely. On Tuesday morning, he fired off two tweets attacking Ossoff and encouraging Republicans to get out and vote.

“Democrat Jon Ossoff would be a disaster in Congress. VERY weak on crime and illegal immigration, bad for jobs and wants higher taxes. Say NO,” Trump tweeted.

RELATED: How Donald Trump is making the Georgia special election all about him

But in the interview Tuesday, Ossoff repeatedly declined to take a shot at Trump, saying he was willing to work with anyone to help the people of Georgia.

“This race is about local economic issues here and values that unite people in the community in Georgia before it is about the national political circus,” he said, when asked by Camerota if the race should be seen as a referendum on the President. “Everyone is looking for national implications, but all politics is local.”

Eric Bradner contributed to this report.