Georgia race finally heads to voters; DC watching closely
Jun 21 2017
Despite Trump's low approval ratings the president expressed support for Handel, 55, in multiple social media posts Monday. Not that every vote in Congress doesn't matter, but the political upheavals of the next few years are unlikely to be changed in profound ways depending on whether Democrat Jon Ossoff or Republican Karen Handel prevails in what is sure to be a close election.
That's all true, but I'd also argue that the election in Georgia 6 is a bit more interesting than your average House race because it'll give us a good reading on how a crucial bloc of voters are feeling about things five months into the Trump era.
But a loss for Handel would be a warning sign to House Republicans in other suburban districts, many of them among the 23 GOP-held seats where Trump trailed Clinton in 2016.
Democrats need to flip 24 GOP-held seats to regain a House majority.
They'll examine Democrat Jon Ossoff's strategy to avoid mentioning Trump for fear of alienating conservative voters in a suburb that's been in GOP control since 1979, and Republican Karen Handel's efforts to keep the unpopular president at arm's length.
Months of attacks and tens of millions of dollars have led up to Tuesday's special election in Georgia, where Democrats are looking for their first major election victory of the Trump era.
"It's a race that we have to win", said state Sen.
The 6th District looked to be shaky ground for Republicans in November.
If Handel were to win, Republicans on Capitol Hill could feel they are on the right track - helping the GOP's push for health care and tax reform legislation.
Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp said in the Facebook video Tuesday morning that Georgians' right to vote for their public officials should never be taken for granted.
In ordinary years, this is no swing district.
Naturally, both candidates are campaigning hard to the end.
Last fall, Hillary Clinton lost to Donald Trump in the district by just one percentage point. Democratic political operative have been talking about an anti-Trump wave sweeping the country, but until they bring home the goods, their credibility remains somewhere around November 9, 2016, levels.
Such a vicious cycle, retrenchment ensuring inaction, could only further demoralize grass-roots Republicans, deteriorating the party's standing even more. But outside spending by political action committees has benefitted Handel, with $18.2 million in her favor to Ossoff's $8 million.
The ad urges Republicans to "stop" Ossoff and claims that the "unhinged left is endorsing and applauding shooting Republicans".
As the most expensive House race in in USA history goes into voters' hands, President Donald Trump has taken to Twitter to weigh in on the closely-watched election.
"First and foremost, this is a referendum on the Trump presidency", said Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla. The stakes, however, are just that high. The notion that Price's once-safe seat could be in play, strategists said, has helped encourage Democrats in other conservative-leaning seats.
In Arizona, Randy Friese, a trauma surgeon turned state representative, said he has watched the Georgia race as he weighs a challenge to Sen. Greg Williams, a local GOP county chair and Handel volunteer told ABC he thought some "alt-left supporters" were doing "damage to the democratic brand".
The 36,000 voters who did not participate in the primary are perhaps the most baffling to both parties. Mr. Trump's opponents around the country - Democrats and anti-Trump independents - will have some proof that Mr. Trump can be a political liability and they'll get a huge lift in terms of energy and enthusiasm for recruiting candidates and for fundraising. Elissa Slotkin, a former Defense Department official, is moving toward a campaign against Rep. Mike Bishop of MI.
If he wants to pull off a victory in a traditionally red seat, he'll need to drive up those numbers. Win or lose, some Democrats will try to spin Ossoff's race as model for what may or may not work across the county.
It's the best shot the party has of the four House special elections this spring to win a seat that now belongs to Republicans. But they poured millions into this race, even as Ossoff largely ran from the party's agenda and leadership. - Yes, we're happy it's over too.