Karen Handel holds on to seat for Republicans in key Georgia election

Democrat Jon Ossoff falls despite high-profile support from his party

Republican Karen Handel defeated Democrat Jon Ossoff by 3.8 percentage points in the final round of a special election for a seat in the House of Representatives from Georgia. Handel said in a rally at 10:30 PM on the night of June 20 that Ossoff called her to give his concession. While it was a much closer race than the 20 point victory achieved by Republican Representative Tom Price in the same district, Democrats were unable to get the win. The seat opened up after Price was nominated to the Cabinet of President Donald Trump as Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Democrats made this the most expensive congressional election in recent history, spending $23 million in the Ossoff campaign, hoping to find a successful test case for its new strategy of targeting Republican seats in educated, wealthy and diverse districts. Even so, the party was unable to energize the anti-Trump base enough to topple a Republican. This marks their fourth such failure, after their efforts to take special elections in Kansas, Montana and South Carolina. It seems that Trump’s influence is still strong enough to help keep Republican districts, as Handel thanked the U.S. President for his public support of her campaign. Handel also thanked Vice President Mike Pence, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise. Scalise was the representative shot by a gunman at an Alexandria baseball field, and Handel said that Scalise, prior to that incident, was sending inspirational messages to her via text.

Handel also talked about the current state of American politics in her acceptance speech, saying that “we can find a more civil way to deal with our disagreements. Because in these United States of America, no one, no one, should ever feel their life threatened over their political beliefs,” perhaps thinking about her friend Scalise.

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