Ossoff received 48.1% of the vote. Though Ossoff needed to clear 50% to prevent a June runoff, his near miss should send up flares to congressional Republicans. In November, Republican Tom Price, who held the seat before becoming Trump’s Health and Human Service secretary, comfortably won re-election by a 24-point margin. Ossoff will face Republican Karen Handel, who placed second, in a June 20 runoff. Democrat Jon Ossoff fell shy of a major blowout Tuesday night in a special election in a solidly Republican Georgia congressional district, a race the entire country was watching to gauge the strength of a gathering resistance to President Trump.
“Just the fact that Ossoff is getting this close and has a chance (in June) tells you there’s been a significant swing,” said Alan Abramowitz, an Emory University political science professor. “That tells us Trump’s unpopularity is hurting other Republican candidates and has the potential to hurt other Republicans in the midterms,” he said.
Ossoff released a statement: “This is already a remarkable victory. We defied the odds, shattered expectations, and now are ready to fight on and win in June.”
The race for Georgia’s sixth congressional district was the first real electoral battle between the Democratic and Republican parties since Trump’s election. The suburban Atlanta district has been solidly Republican for almost four decades, with occupants including former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, until Trump’s 1-point victory there signaled potential trouble for the GOP. Trump’s under-performance gave the Democratic Party hopes of sending a rebuke to the new president in the form of an outright victory Tuesday. National progressive groups helped direct volunteers and $8.3 million in donations from small donors around the nation to support the 30-year-old Ossoff.
Early Wednesday, Trump seemed pleased with the voting results, tweeting: “Despite major outside money, FAKE media support and eleven Republican candidates, BIG “R” win with runoff in Georgia. Glad to be of help!
Despite major outside money, FAKE media support and eleven Republican candidates, BIG “R” win with runoff in Georgia. Glad to be of help!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 19, 2017
Democrats would need to pick up 24 seats to win control of the House, and there are 23 districts where Democrat Hillary Clinton won that are represented by Republicans.
A contest between the top two vote-getters means Democrats could throw even more resources into the race and give Republicans time to coalesce around a single challenger. Yet Ossoff still stands a chance of winning, Abramowitz said. He needs to pull over a small number of Republicans, which may not be hard in a district heavily populated by more educated GOP voters who are already skeptical of Trump. Recent polling suggests Ossoff is capable of winning a two-person race. A new poll for Atlanta’s Fox 5 has him two points ahead of Handel, the former Georgia secretary of state.
“It could go either way. It’s going to be a pretty intense campaign,” said Abramowitz.
Democrats say the race should never have been this tight. It comes on the heels of another unusually close race in a red district in Kansas that Trump won by 27 points. Last week, Democrat James Thompson lost to Republican Ron Estes by just 7 points even though the national Democratic Party hardly lifted a finger to help him. That wasn’t the case in Georgia, where both parties were intently focused and outside groups poured in millions. If Ossoff loses in June, it will be a setback to Democrats’ hopes of arguing the race portends a wave election in 2018 putting Democrats back in control of the U.S. House.
Republicans used all of the national attention against Ossoff, painting him as a tool of far-left activists seeking to hijack the race. In a taped robo call, Trump said “Liberal Democrats from outside of Georgia are spending millions and millions of dollars trying to take your Republican congressional seat away from you.” Republicans also pounced on a Tuesday CNN appearance in which Ossoff explains why it appears he is ineligible to cast a vote for himself in the district, despite having been raised there. He said that’s because he is living 10 minutes away with his girlfriend, who is attending Emory Medical School.
Since Trump’s inauguration, demonstrations, including large-scale rallies like the Jan. 21 Women’s March and last weekend’s Tax March, plus fiery town halls as well as protests every Tuesday outside the offices of a number of congressional Republicans, have become a regular occurrence. The big question is whether that progressive energy will mean translate into electoral gains for Democrats next year.
The Georgia race demonstrates that progressives and the national party — despite tensions during the 2016 presidential race — are capable of uniting behind a single candidate. Ossoff, who supported Clinton in the primary, has been bolstered by a number of progressive groups, including Our Revolution, which grew out of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign. It also signals the potential pitfalls for Republicans in continuing to push Trump’s replacement of the Affordable Care Act, with a recent Quinnipiac survey finding just 17% of Americans support the move. It also means Democrats next year are more likely to contest many more House seats across the traditional map and target a couple dozen traditional swing districts.
Illustrating the stakes, outside Republican groups donated $4.7 million against Ossoff, according to Issue One, a non-profit that tracks spending. Trump also got involved at the last minute, taping a robocall and issuing missives from his Twitter account early Tuesday morning.
Source By usatoday…