Why the Georgia special election went national

Violet Powell
June 21, 2017

Turnout could exceed 250,000 votes, an impressive total for a special election, and its already the most expensive House race in USA history.

The special election for the 6th Congressional District of Georgia is to fill the seat vacated by Tom Price, who now serves at the secretary of Health and Human Services in the Trump Administration.

President Trump won the 2016 election because he was able to win a sizable share of voters who didn't like him. "KAREN HANDEL FOR CONGRESS", Trump tweeted in all caps early Tuesday morning. The president vowed that she, if elected, "will fight for lower taxes, great healthcare strong security".

Ossoff gained national prominence by vowing to "make Trump furious", but lately he has avoided mentioning the president, promising instead to cut spending and "bring accountability to Washington", as he said at a Monday campaign event.

That would contrast with last April, when Fulton County could not report vote totals for several hours after polls closed in the special election in Georgia's 6th congressional district. "I'm excited to be working at the grassroots level and talking to folks about the most important right we have-the right to vote", said Mary Liuzzi, a volunteer who hosted a phone bank for Ossoff in her San Antonio home last week. He reported taking in more than $23 million while Handel raised more than $4 million, according to the Federal Election Commission.

Giving the campaign additional hope in a district that hasn't elected a Democrat in almost three decades is that Trump squeaked by Clinton in the district by about 1 percentage point, although Price was easily re-elected.

But an Ossoff victory would help Democrats raise money and recruit candidates as they try to win back control of the House of Representatives in 2018. Ossoff, a 30-year-old investigative filmmaker, has said the current law can be improved and that he's opposed to a repeal.

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Their matchup in Georgia's 6th Congressional District has become a proxy for the national political atmosphere and a test of GOP strength early in Donald Trump's presidency.

Handel received loud cheers this past weekend when she told the crowd, "We are gonna rock Nancy Pelosi's world".

Handel has aligned herself gingerly with Trump. He has said the address is close to Emory University, where his fiancee attends medical school.

That's exceptionally more than what an average House race costs, about $1.4 million for a winning campaign as of 2014. "They want someone with whom they can be connected, someone who knows the community, who has relationships in the community, who's been a part of this community for nearly 25 years", Handel said. The most recent polling data gives Ossoff a slight edge in a district that sent Newt Gingrich to Washington and that re-elected Price in November.

Outside GOP groups have spent $12 million to support Handel.

In another Monday tweet, Trump criticized Ossoff for not being able to vote in the 6th District he wants to represent. Republicans are favored to hold a fourth seat on Tuesday in SC, while Democrats already held their lone open seat in a California special election.

His campaign has attracted more supporters than some expected.

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