President Donald Trump "spiked the football quite early" when celebrating the results of Georgia's special election, as the energy remains to push Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff toward a runoff win in June, Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez said Wednesday.
"[I'd] rather be Jon Ossoff than [Republican candidate] Karen Handel right now," he told CNN's "New Day" anchor Chris Cuomo.
"We have a lot of wind at our back. The progressive energy out there is palpable and the volunteers are out there."
In Tuesday's election to fill Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price's former House seat representing Georgia's 6th Congressional District, Ossoff received 48.1 percent of the vote, just shy of the 50 percent plus one he needed to win the race outright. He will face Republican Karen Handel, a former Georgia secretary of state, who netted 19.8 percent of the vote. Ossoff and Handel were the top two out of the 18 candidates seeking the vacant seat.
The Georgia seat is traditionally a GOP stronghold, with a Republican holding it every year since 1978, when Newt Gingrich was elected. The race has been widely considered a referendum on Trump, who has become involved in tweeting and making robocalls in favor of voting against Ossoff.
Trump claimed victory Tuesday night, tweeting that the race resulted in a "BIG 'R' win with runoff in Georgia and saying he was glad he helped.
Perez, also appearing on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program, said he believes engagement from millennials will also contribute to a victory for Ossoff, a 30-year-old former congressional aide.
"He's already at 49 percent of the vote," Perez said. "There's a heck of a lot of energy out there."
Perez said he hopes the Georgia win will be one of many as the 2018 midterm elections approach.
Perez and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders have been traveling nationwide to rally Democratic support, and he told the "Morning Joe" program that the goal is to "get back to basics."
"Our mission is not simply to elect the president of the United States, but to elect people from the school board up the Senate," said Perez. "One of the best ways is to build strong parties and to have an organizing presence 12 months a year."
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