An 18-candidate “jungle primary” was held this Tuesday to determine who will represent Georgia’s 6th Congressional District following Tom Price’s appointment to the position of HHS Secretary.
Democrat Jon Ossoff (pictured above) came out on top with 48.1% of the vote, narrowly missing the 50% required to avoid a runoff challenge. He must now go head to head with Republican Karen Handel, who finished second-place with 19.8%.
“No matter what the outcome is tonight, whether we take it al or we fight on, we have defied the odds, we have shattered expectations,” said 30-year-old Ossoff Tuesday night as results were still in flux.
The vote marks a serious gain for Democrats in a district that has been red since New Gingrich was elected in 1978, but the runoff vote (which will take place in June) gives Republicans a chance to rally behind Handel.
President Trump sees the vote as a 'big win' for the GOP. “Despite major outside money, FAKE media support, and eleven Republican candidates, BIG ‘R’ win with runoff in Georgia,” he tweeted on Wednesday.
South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham (R) is confident that Handel will pull through, but views Ossoff’s victory as a sign that things are changing. “This should be a wake-up call for the Republican Party in the South,” she said. “The South is changing. Atlanta is changing.” Graham says the upcoming race will pit the “liberal left versus mainstream Georgia.”
“Ossoff has already defied the odds in this long-held Republican seat, and it’s clear that he has the enthusiasm and support he needs to be a very strong contender against Karen Handel in the runoff,” says Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
“Not only are these results an indication of Ossoff’s impressive grassroots campaign and powerful economic message, it’s clear that voters strongly oppose Republican-controlled Washington and its priorities, and are ready to send more independent voices to Congress."
Ossoff is ready for the challenge. “There is no amount of dark money, super PAC, negative advertising that can overcome real grass-roots energy like this. So bring it on,” he said.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich says that Democrats are “deeply mobilized and very frightened.”
“[Democrats are] very mobilized because they are terrified that Donald Trump means the end of their world. You’ll see great intensity riots on college campuses, or marches, or protests, or special elections.”
The Dems poured an unprecedented $12+ million into Ossoff’s campaign. He even received paid staffers from the House Democrats’ campaign arm.
Democrats view the special election as a sort of referendum on President Trump and believe the results will serve as an indicator for the 2018 midterm elections – where they will need to flip at least 24 seats to take the majority.
Author’s Note: This isn’t a huge deal in the House. The GOP majority is secure, but a Republican win would signal support for the party and for President Trump.