Republican Karen Handel defeats Democrat Jon Ossef to win Georgia special election

Frederick Owens
June 22, 2017

In Georgia, Tom Price resigned to become Secretary of Health and Human Services, while in South Carolina, Mick Mulvaney gave up his seat to become Director of the Office of Management and Budget.

But Democrats are now zero for 4 in converting special elections this year, following earlier losses in Republican-held districts in Kansas and Montana.

The last woman elected to the Senate or House of Representatives from Georgia was Democratic Rep. Cynthia McKinney, who served from 2005-2007.

Incomplete returns show Handel winning nearly 53% of the vote over Democrat Jon Ossoff, who won about just over 47% in Georgia's 6th Congressional District.

Instead, she said in a Wednesday interview, it was mounting frustration over one of her opponent's biggest liabilities: The fact that he didn't live in the suburban Atlanta district, but south of its borders to be closer to the medical school his fiancée attends.

Georgia Republican Party Chairman John Watson credited Handel for "crushing liberal dreams".

Democrats thought they were going to walk away from Tuesday's race victorious, but they have yet to produce a viable person-to-person message for their candidates to work with.

"To the Jon Ossoff supporters, know that my commitments, they extend to every one of you as well", Handel said. "And it never will be again".

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"You know you can sit here and we'll talk about Russian Federation all day long today on Capitol Hill and in Washington". Jon Ossoff raised $24 million not because he's a great campaigner or some modern-day version of Bill Clinton, but because Donald Trump arouses such passions on the left that they're willing to pull money out their wallets for any candidate who could deal the White House an embarrassment.

And then late Tuesday night, the results came in.

When CNN projected Republican Karen Handel's face onto the TV screen, the room fell silent.

If anything, this race proves Republicans have no reason to be defensive as a result of Obamacare's demise, it shows Republicans have nothing to hide from in the age of Trump and it signifies that nothing about the current faux-scandal-ridden environment has produced a downdraft for Republicans. But each side having a base of voters who believe in the strength of their respective parties is itself an ingredient required for competitive politics.

But Ossoff's centrism alienated some progressives.

As it became clear that Jon Ossoff would not flip the sixth, pave it blue, make Trump angry, or do any of what Democrats here have worked for in recent months, supporters at his election night party were still not ready to call it a loss. All of the state's congressional seats, including Handel's, will be on the ballot as well.

The Washington Post's Dave Weigel tweeted that some Democrats think that Ossoff lost his race because he did not run on single payer health care. "It will only get better in 2018".

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