Ossoff, Handel Neck-And-Neck As Early Voting Results Roll In

A little over 27,000 absentee mail ballots were submitted, with David Wasserman of Cook Political Report noting that Ossoff needed to win at least 80 percent of those. Handel similarly sought to link Ossoff to Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California. It also could encourage Republican lawmakers to distance themselves from Trump, making it harder to deliver on promised health and tax overhauls.

A special election run-off for a suburban Atlanta seat in Congress looked set for a tight finish on Tuesday, with polls showing a very narrow lead for the Democratic candidate seeking to take a district held by Republicans since the 1970s.

At a Hyatt Regency in northern Atlanta, more than 100 Handel supporters packed into the hotel's ballroom.

Handel in 2012 nearly single handedly ruined the reputation of breast cancer nonprofit Komen for the Cure when she tried to defund its support of Planned Parenthood. "We are facing real and serious issues - from terrorism, protecting our borders to curtailing government spending", she said.

At 10 PM Handel is about five points over Ossoff.

At Ossoff's party, the mood was different.

Ossoff placed a heavy emphasis on turning out his voters early, while Handel is counting on an Election Day surge to help carry her to victory.

Rep. Joe Crowley of NY, the House Democratic Caucus chairman, said in a statement that Georgia represented "a tough loss".

The June 20 runoff quickly became the most expensive House race in history, with the campaigns, political action committees and other outside groups raising almost $60 million, according to government reform and ethics group Issue One.

As much of the district was drenched by rain and under flash flood warnings, state and local election officials reported few issues at the polls amid steady turnout by early afternoon.

In addition to the Georgia race, the party failed to pick up seats vacated by Republican House members who joined the Trump cabinet in Kansas, Montana and SC, although they ran far ahead of their usual numbers.

Handel's win has shown that, despite the USA president's historically low ratings, the Trump effect is not impinging on Republicans' chances at the ballot boxes. "The strong headwinds facing Republicans, incredible grassroots enthusiasm behind Democrats, and a damaged and exposed House Republican Caucus all clarify that we have the momentum heading into 2018".

But it could be a huge psychic boost for the winner's party - and a blow for the loser's.

The Democrat won the first round against several candidates in April, but fell just shy of outright victory. A loss, though, would be a major disappointment.

Dan Pfeiffer, a long-time senior aide to former President Barack Obama, tweeted that Democrats need a "progressive populist candidate" focused on the economy and the GOP's health care effort to win tough House races. It could also show House incumbents that they can separate themselves from Trump effectively on the campaign trail, and stave off a potential wave of retirements. She barely mentioned him ahead of finishing second to Ossoff in an April primary but welcomed him for a private fundraiser later that month.

The district has historically leaned heavily Republican.

Democrat Jon Ossoff faces off against Republican Karen Handel to replace Tom Price, who left his seat to become Trump's secretary of health and human services. The difference in 2016 is Trump won it by only one point.

It's the best shot the party has of the four House special elections this spring to win a seat that now belongs to Republicans. It's unclear how much a shooting at a Republican congressional baseball practice on June 14 might have impacted the race - though a neighboring district GOP chairman had said he believed the shooting could inspired GOP voters to come out to combat "left-wing extremism".

Handel, a former Georgia secretary of state, raised $4.3 million, according to Federal Election Commission filings.

  • Salvatore Jensen