Republican wins costly congressional race in Georgia

Frederick Owens
June 21, 2017

The president's approval rating was 37 percent in a Gallup poll taken June 17-19 as the Federal Bureau of Investigation and congressional committees investigate possible Trump campaign ties to Russian Federation and whether the president obstructed the FBI's probe.

The most expensive congressional race in US history headed to a tight finish on Tuesday as voters in suburban Atlanta cast ballots in an election that was seen by many as a referendum on President Donald Trump.

President Donald Trump is knocking Georgia Democratic congressional candidate Jon Ossoff for not living in the 6th District where he's running.

Pamphlets sit outside the campaign office of Jon Ossoff, Democratic candidate for Georgia's 6th congressional district in Chamblee, Ga., Monday, June 19, 2017. The race, which has seen candidates and outside groups spending roughly $55 million, has captured the national spotlight - and even Wall Street is paying attention.

Voters have already cast 140,308 early ballots, according to the Georiga Secretary of State Brian Kemp.

Handel, Trump said, "will fight for lower taxes, great healthcare strong security - a hard worker who will never give up!"

Most recently, Tom Price resigned the post in February to join Mr Trump's administration as health and human services secretary.

Spending on all candidates has been put at $56m (£44m), making it the costliest congressional election in USA history.

"Out-of-state money has poured in on both sides".

"This is not the outcome many of us were hoping for", he told supporters. But, with 66% of precincts reporting, Handel pulled ahead with a 9,306 voter lead over Ossoff.

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In Georgia, at stake was a seat Republicans have controlled for decades with little effort.

Still, it is the type of district Democrats need to do well in come 2018 to flip the 24 seats they need to win back the House.

"We dodged a bullet tonight", Georgia-based Republican strategist Chip Lake told AFP.

With such a tight race, there is hope that minority voters in the district will help put Ossoff over the top. Her two biggest outside funders where the Congressional Leadership Fund, a House GOP-linked super PAC, and the National Republican Congressional Committee.

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. The district went for Mitt Romney by 23 percentage points against Barack Obama in 2012. Four years later, Trump carried it by just 1.4 points.

Meanwhile, Democrats tried to paint Handel as a career politician with ties to Trump and the White House. Vice President Mike Pence attended a fundraiser for her.

The president himself struggled here, edging out Democrat Hillary Clinton but falling short of a majority among an affluent, well-educated electorate that typically has given Republican nominees better than 60% of the vote.

Georgia's special election was billed as a potential referendum on President Donald Trump, who has heavily endorsed Handel's candidacy. Republicans are favoured to hold a fourth seat up Tuesday in SC, while Democrats already held their lone open seat in a California special election.

Should Democrats fail to convert at least one of the seats, it could be a demoralizing blow for the anti-Trump resistance movement.

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