Georgia race finally heads to voters; DC watching closely

  • Georgia race finally heads to voters; DC watching closely

Georgia race finally heads to voters; DC watching closely

The matchup between Handel and Ossoff 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, prompting record-breaking spending.

Spending in the race could top $50 million, making it the most expensive House contest in USA history.

A Republican victory would embolden Trump and suggest that Republicans may have good prospects for holding their House lead, despite Trump's national approval of 38 percent and disapproval of 56 percent, according to a Gallup poll taken June 16-18.

Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel strongly condemned an attack ad that surfaced Sunday accusing the "unhinged left" of endorsing violence against Republicans days before the nationally watched race to represent Georgia's 6th District is decided.

Mr Ossoff narrowly failed to win the 50% needed to secure outright victory in the election for the Atlanta seat in April, forcing this run-off vote against Ms Handel.

The polls open at 7 a.m. ET and close at 7 p.m. ET.

Will Republicans show up?

Nevertheless, the Georgia special election contains an important lesson.

In ordinary years, this is no swing district.

The Georgia 6th is an affluent and well-educated district that has elected Newt Gingrich, the former speaker; Johnny Isakson, now Georgia's senior USA senator; and most recently Tom Price, who resigned in February to join the administration. In contrast, Mitt Romney won it by 23 points. In one advertisement, produced by the conservative super PAC Congressional Leadership Fund, Ossoff's national security bona fides are called inconsequential - some of his work experience took place when he was still an undergraduate at Georgetown - and he is shown singing with his college a capella group and dressed as "Star Wars" character Han Solo while discussing beer kegs.

"Voters need people who have the political courage to stand up for their values and not just bend to the will of the party", said Friese, who entered politics after treating Rep. Gabrielle Giffords for a near-fatal gunshot wound in 2011.

The Republican president argued in a Monday tweet that the Democrats have "no ideas".

Democrat Jon Ossoff would be a disaster in Congress. If, on the other hand, Ossoff is at 54 percent or so, Handel could well surpass him on Tuesday. But he is also just 30 years old and does not have long-lasting political connections through the district.

"If the Democrats win the Georgia Sixth it should be a wake-up call to the Republican Party", GOP strategist Rick Tyler, ex-spokesman for Senator Ted Cruz's 2016 presidential campaign, told MSNBC. Earlier Monday, he downplayed Trump's role in the race while rallying supporters in Chamblee, but he acknowledged that it's a motivating force for many supporters.

Ossoff lives in Atlanta, south of the suburban district. If Ossoff wins with 59 percent, that's bad.

Republican Party leaders thought having total control of Washington would end the gridlock of the Obama years.

Democrats need to flip 24 GOP-held seats to regain a House majority. The election will fill a congressional seat that has been held by a Republican since the 1970s. He also reminded them that the Democratic candidate "doesn't even live in district". She barely mentioned him ahead of finishing second to Mr Ossoff in an April primary.

Handel maintained some distance from Trump in the primary but has fully embraced his support and agenda since, including a joint fundraiser. Even a razor's-edge win in a district where GOP congressional candidates typically top 60% would be a stark reminder of the wave potential of the 2018 midterms. Even if the next round of redistricting does not favor the GOP as heavily as the current district maps in most states, there are simply not enough suburban districts to offset the GOP edge in rural areas.

Ossoff is running as a moderate concerned about climate change.

Though the district has not had a Democratic representative since 1979, supporters of Ossoff are hoping the 30-year-old first-time candidate can build on the momentum of Hillary Clinton's near miss in the district in November. Ossoff in particular has benefitted from amped-up small donors, raising more than $23 million himself, while Handel has only raised $4.5 million.