Runoff likely in much-watched Georgia congressional race

Ossoff received 48.1% of the vote.

Republicans escaped a potentially brutal loss on Tuesday night - for now - by forcing a runoff in a closely watched Georgia special congressional election.

The seat opened when Trump picked former Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) as his Health and Human Services secretary.

As the midnight hour approached, Jon Ossoff, a young Democratic upstart, was sitting at just over 50 percent - with 71,970 Ossoff votes out of 143,890 ballots, the investigative film executive is at 50.32, just enough to avoid a June 20 runoff.

UPDATE: There will definitely be a runoff, which didn't prevent Ossoff from declaring today's election "a victory for the ages". "We have defied the odds, we have shattered expectations", Ossoff, who attended a Reform synagogue as a child, told a cheering crowd of supporters.

The fight over the 6th District is a precursor of what is expected to be a huge battle for the House in 2018, assuming that Trump remains unpopular and Republicans remain in disarray.

Democrat Jon Ossoff fought to capture a Republican-held House seat in Atlanta's wealthy, conservative suburbs Tuesday with a groundswell of grass-roots activism and millions in donations fueled largely by antipathy to President Donald Trump. "Glad to be of help!" wrote Trump on Twitter. In large part thanks to the liberal blog Daily Kos, Ossoff raised a staggering $8.3 million in the first quarter of 2017 - a figure made possible by his stature as the only Democrat with a clear path to flipping a Republican-held seat in one of the four special elections to replace Trump Cabinet selections this spring.

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. But the official said the pressure is on Ossoff, as the official sounded confident the Democrat would lose a run-off.

It has many well-educated voters who are reliably Republican but frustrated by Trump. "He's drawn volunteers from all over the country and big name celebrities and he's been attacked by name by President Trump, " she touted. A new poll for Atlanta's Fox 5 has him two points ahead of Handel, the former Georgia secretary of state.

For Democrats, the race also offers a preview of its 2018 roadmap. Trump bested Hillary Clinton in the district by just 1.5 points.

Thompson narrowly lost but polled more than 24 percentage points than the party's candidate in the 2016 election. That wasn't the case in Georgia, where both parties were intently focused and outside groups poured in millions. That's because there are many more Republican-held districts that are much less red than either of these seats, all of which will be up for re-election in the midterms.

Trump encouraged Republicans to vote in the district to force a runoff. "As soon as she finishes her medical training, I will be 10 minutes back up the road where I grew up".

Since Trump's inauguration, demonstrations, including large-scale rallies like the January 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 progressive energy out there is palpable", he added.

A shock upset in the national spotlight, the argument goes, would deeply embarrass the president and could jumpstart a political revolution aimed at retaking control of the House of Representatives in next year's mid-term elections. 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.

Republicans have long believed that all they must do is survive Tuesday without Ossoff hitting the 50% mark. "Say NO", Trump tweeted earlier on Tuesday. It drew 11 Republicans, five Democrats, and three independents.

As Trump carried out his Twitter barrage against Ossoff earlier Tuesday, a White House spokeswoman insisted the race wasn't a "referendum" on the president.

  • Leroy Wright