Trump congratulates Handel for winning in Georgia

As I'm sure you know by now, Republican Karen Handel beat Democrat Jon Ossoff in a special election in Georgia's 6th Congressional District last night.

In her speech, Handel discussed what she felt she owed the voters, including "the obligation of being the first Republican woman elected to Congress from the great state of Georgia".

It was enough to help Handel raise more than $5 million, not a paltry sum in a congressional race, but only about a fifth of Ossoff's fundraising haul.

"Defeating Republicans in districts that they have traditionally held requires doing something drastically different than establishment Democrats have done before - specifically, running on a bold progressive vision and investing heavily in direct voter contact", said Jim Dean, chair of Democracy for America.

Relevant to your professional network? There are many districts that will be a lot tougher for Republicans to hold than Georgia's Sixth next November. Ossoff lives in Atlanta, south of the suburban district. Handel and Trump want to overhaul it.

"Over the past month, Democrats not only declared this as a must-win, they all but guaranteed victory".

"It shows us that people are wanting some of the things we've been talking about, President Trump's been talking about - less government, more power to the folks".

However, it was Trump's collapse - besting Hillary Clinton by just 1.5 points in the district in 2016 - that led Democrats to believe it could be in play.

Handel did receive more support from outside groups ($18.2 million supporting her or attacking Ossoff) than Ossoff did (just under $8 million supporting him or attacking Handel).

Handel's tough race, combined with closer-than-usual GOP House victories in Kansas, Montana and SC, suggests Trump will dominate the coming election cycle, forcing Republicans to make peace with him, for better or worse. Similarly, there was a 20 point swing in a Kansas special election and 15 point shift in Montana last month. Democrats need to net 24 seats to win back the House.

As expected, Republicans also won a special election in the fifth congressional district of SC held to fill the seat vacated by budget director Mick Mulvaney.

While special elections aren't a flawless predictor of future success in regular elections, Handel's win is still a disappointment for Democrats. She rarely mentioned the administration, despite holding a closed-door fundraiser with the president earlier this spring.

John Ossoff may have raised more money for his campaign than any House candidate in history, but he is still a 30-year-old who had never run for office before and doesn't actually live in the district. But other surrogates like Speaker Paul Ryan and Vice President Pence were the ones who came to provide on-the-ground support.

She is the latest in a line of Republicans who have represented the district since 1979, beginning with Newt Gingrich, who went on to become House speaker.

"Some Republicans may even be turned off by our president", Perdue acknowledged at a rally Saturday.

Ultimately, the win could be a good harbinger for the GOP going forward, and may provide a boost for them on their efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, with Senate Republicans expected to unveil their health care bill on Thursday.

Among the central issues that Handel has planned to focus on in her role in the House are: health care, immigration, Israel, jobs and the economy, and taxes.

  • Leroy Wright