In Georgia, Handel reaches out to Democrats and thanks Trump

Fantastic job, we are all very proud of you!' tweeted Trump, who had publicly implored Republicans to troop to the polls to back Handel.

Republicans have won four special House elections since Trump took office - Handel's victory and a SC race Tuesday; a Montana victory last month and one in Kansas in April.

Ossoff's loss makes the Democrats 0 for 5 in special congressional races since Trump's election a year ago.

Both parties spent money as fast - or faster - than they took it in, with the GOP spending about $58,000 more than it raised.

It has been a traditionally Republican seat for decades but Democrats became cheerful after the victory margin for Donald Trump declined to just 1 percent compared to 23 percent for Mitt Romney four years ago.

Handel's win comes as relief for the Republicans who were concerned about whether their party, buffeted by the scandals that have plagued the Trump presidency, could hold the seat after what became the most expensive House race in U.S. history.

I want to thank all of my steadfast supporters who worked so hard and also my opponent Jon Ossoff, who ran a spirited campaign and I want to thank him for his commitment to public service.

Ossoff initially campaigned on a promise to "make Trump furious" but more recently refrained from taking on the president as he tried to win over centrist voters.

Ossoff says that while it's not the outcome he and others were hoping for, "this is the beginning of something much bigger than us". She pledged to win the confidence of voters who backed Ossoff, who have become a huge symbol of opposition to Trump.

That said, there are plenty of people here at Handel's victory party and throughout the district sporting their MAGA hats (and bedazzled MAGA pins).

The race was a magnet for money - including from small donors, who poured $15.3 million into Ossoff's campaign.

She said: 'To the Jon Ossoff supporters, know that my commitments, they extend to every one of you as well.

He added later: "The fight goes on".

The victories gave Trump a chance to gloat. The seat was left vacant when Tom Price resigned to join President Donald Trump's administration.

Republican losses in any of these open House seats would have launched a narrative that the president was being repudiated.

CORRECTS THE SPELLING OF HANDEL'S FIRST NAME TO KAREN - Republican candidate for Georgia's 6th District Congressional seat Karen Handel declares victory during an election-night watch party Tuesday, June 20, 2017, in Atlanta.

  • Leroy Wright