What Georgia’s Special Election Could Mean For U.S. Politics

Geo Beats - Tuesday, 20 June 2017  (1 week ago)
Political observers are turning their attention to a special runoff election in Georgia which Politico calls the “biggest political test of Donald Trump’s presidency so far.” Political observers are turning their attention to a special runoff election in Georgia which Politico calls the “biggest political test of Donald Trump’s presidency so far.”  It pits 55-year-old Republican Karen Handel against 30-year-old Democrat Jon Ossoff in a race for the Sixth Congressional District seat which was vacated by Tom Price after he joined the Trump administration.  As a USA Today report explains, “The first round of the special election was held April 18. Ossoff won 48% of the vote, far more than Handel's 19%, which earned her second place. [But] Because no one got more than 50% of the vote, a June 20 runoff between Ossoff and Handel was triggered.”  The race is being so closely watched, in part, because it is considered a referendum on the effect Trump’s ongoing problems like the Russia investigation have had on the Republican party.  There is also uncertainty about the outcome which could affect the fate of pending legislation like the GOP health care bill, notes CNN. And even though a Republican most recently held the seat, the district has not been consistent in its conservative votes for president over the past several years.  In fact, the statistics site FiveThirtyEight reports, “If one uses the 2016 presidential election as a benchmark, this is a race that Democrats should be winning.”  Nevertheless, Trump has decided to weigh in on the race, tweeting in a pair of messages, “Karen Handel's opponent in #GA06 can't even vote in the district he wants to represent...because he doesn't even live there! He wants to raise taxes and kill healthcare. On Tuesday, #VoteKarenHandel.”  Turnout is expected to be key factor but money has not been; passionate advocates on both sides have likely helped it become the most expensive House race in U.S. politics. According to the Washington Post, security has also been a concern, especially since the recent shooting at a GOP baseball practice. However, Brad Carver, a local GOP chairman in Georgia, appeared to refer to the tragedy as an advantage to Handel by saying at a rally, “I’ll tell you what: I think the shooting is going to win this election for us.”  He explained, “...moderates and independents in this district are tired of left-wing extremism.”  The Post notes that both candidates have reported threats and are said to be protected by bodyguards as a result. 

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