Leading Democrat in Georgia special election pulling national support

Last Updated Apr 17, 2017 10:56 PM EDT

ROSWELL, Ga. -- A special election to be held on Tuesday in Georgia to fill a House seat should be a “gimme” since Republicans have held the seat since the 1980s. But Democrats are trying to make the race a referendum on President Trump. 

“This is not your typical sleepy special election in an off year,” said 30-year-old Jon Ossoff, who, in the space of two months, has gone from unknown documentarian to Democratic cause célèbre.

“Do you feel more pressure knowing that Democrats across this country have invested their hopes in you?” CBS News asked Ossoff.

“I feel so well supported by thousands of volunteers here in this community,” he said.

The former Congressional aide is against 11 Republicans and four other Democrats to fill a House seat vacated by Tom Price, President Trump’s Secretary of Health and Human Services.

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Jon Ossoff, right, spoke with supporter Sharon Adams, who drove from Tennessee to volunteer

CBS News

Progressive websites urged Democrats nationwide to give to Ossoff, and they did. He’s raised $8.3 million -- 18 times more than his top Republican rival, Karen Handel.

“He is being bankrolled by Nancy Pelosi and the liberal left,” Handel said at a recent debate.

President Trump, who won the district by just one point, tweeted Monday that Ossoff is a “super Liberal Democrat” who “wants to protect criminals.”

The race has become a outlet for Democrats frustrated by Mr. Trump’s November win.

“I hate the lying. I hate the lying,” said Sharon Adams, who, along with McKellar Newsom, drove from Tennessee to canvas alongside local volunteers.

“What did your family say when you told them, ‘I’m going to go Georgia and volunteer in a congressional race there’?” CBS News asked.

“My husband said, ‘Good’” Adams replied.

“My kids thought it was great,” Newsom said.

The election on Tuesday is known as a jungle primary, where all the Democrats and Republicans face off against each other. If no one gets above 50 percent, it goes to a runoff. If that’s the case, Ossoff will likely go up against a GOP that’s unified around one candidate instead of 11.

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    Nancy Cordes is CBS News' congressional correspondent.