“HE’S SO FINE LMAO.”
“I don’t think you understand. I’m obsessed.”
“Who is this man i’m in love.”
“Y’ALL CALM DOWN HE IS MARRIED.”
The man who inspired this lustfest in the TikTok comments section isn’t a celebrity. He’s never penned a hit love song or starred in a rom-com or flashed his abs in GQ.
In fact, he’s a matzah ball soup aficionado, a one-time investigative journalist and a doctor’s husband. He’s given to quoting John Lewis, his former boss, and striding down city streets with the top button of his crisp Oxford shirt left tantalizingly undone. He’s Democratic newcomer Jon Ossoff, whose fate in an upcoming Georgia runoff election may decide which party controls the U.S. Senate. The stakes of that race have guaranteed constant media attention. But nowhere is the pre-election energy more concentrated or chaotic than on Gen Z’s favorite video-sharing app, where Ossoff has developed a cult following on the strength of his liberal vision — and his literal sex appeal.
As one user put it: “daddy got my vote.”
Ossoff doesn’t seem like an obvious candidate for stardom on TikTok, an explosively popular app that first gained traction with teenagers and is now swallowing hours of time across generations. A Wild-West landscape of viral dances and increasingly baroque challenges, the app may be most notable for reminding millennials, long accustomed to dunking on their Twitter-illiterate parents, of their own mortality. (I, for one, have never felt more aware of my own age than while struggling to locate the search function on this app.)
But Ossoff doesn’t seem like an obvious politician, either. While the average senator is 61.8 years old, he’s a youthful 33. He rocks a pair of slim-fit jeans — and, more importantly, he wears his mask over his mouth and nose. Prone to elbow bumps and salutations like “much love,” he seems more like an adorably nerdy math teacher than someone who could one day influence the United States’ response to climate change. And, it turns out, people are into that — seriously into that.
While politicians have been notoriously slow to migrate to TikTok (U.S. Senator Ed Markey is a notable exception, but even the famously tech-savvy Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez doesn’t yet have an account), Ossoff has capitalized on his relatability factor, appealing to young voters on their home territory. While he doesn’t have his own account, he’s filmed multiple videos for the informal volunteer group Students for Ossoff and Warnock. Each has racked up hundreds of comments, many of which are the kind of abject declarations of love formerly reserved for videos of Colin Firth diving into lakes: “TELL HIM I AM IN LOVE WITH HIM,” one user implored. In one, Ossoff walks down a quiet street, urging supporters to “get everybody we know to come out to vote.” At one point, he interrupts his spiel to warn the cameraman that a curb is approaching, a menschy gesture that earns him several gushing comments.
Aside from Ossoff’s official appearances on the app, TikTokers have created their own unofficial videos in support of the candidate, many of which are simply photo montages accompanied by Ariana Grande ballads — the digital equivalent of a bedroom wall plastered with pictures of teen heartthrobs. “I am so attracted to this man it’s not even funny,” reads one caption, while another poses one of the most essential questions of this race: “Why is no one talking about how Jon Ossoff is such a baddie?”
One TikToker captioned a series of clips from a debate between Ossoff and incumbent Georgia Senator David Perdue with the caption “When you find out your new kink is Georgia Senate candidate Jon Ossoff destroying David Perdue.”
TikTokers may appreciate Ossoff’s ever-so-slightly-unbuttoned look, but it’s not the only reason they’re interested in his candidacy. “Ok so, we’re not only voting because he’s hot,” one user clarified in the comments section of a Students for Ossoff and Warnock video. “But because he is young, smart, has the same views as young people, he represents everything we want.”
And the volunteer group is quick to convert lust into political action. In response to one user who posted “he’s so fine ohmygod im free anytime of the week,” the account replied, “are you free to help us make calls so we can see more of him…as our new senator?”
Irene Katz Connelly is an editorial fellow at the Forward. You can contact her at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at @katz_conn.