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By Phillip Stucky
Democrat candidate Jon Ossoff won the most votes in the Georgia special election to replace former Republican Rep. Tom Price in the deep red 6th congressional district, setting off a June runoff election.
Ossoff won the race with 48.1 percent, much higher than the second place winner he will face in the runoff election, former state Secretary of State Karen Handel, who won about 20 percent of the vote. The two will continue running until the runoff election June 20.
“This is already a remarkable victory,” Ossoff told The New York Times. “We defied the odds, shattered expectations, and now are ready to fight on and win in June.”
Democrats put a huge amount of time and money into the race, and are claiming the Tuesday result as a big victory that signals deep opposition to President Donald Trump, even in a deep red state. Ossoff earned $8.3 million in the first quarter of 2017, but Republicans quickly responded with several million dollars in ad buys against the Democrat.
Businessman Bob Gray came in third place, earning 10.8 percent, and state Sen. Dan Moody took up fourth place, earning 8.8 percent.
Ossoff made opposition to Trump a central part of his campaign. His first fundraiser was called “Make Trump Furious.” And the Democratic party doubled down on the Trump opposition by holding high-dollar fundraisers for Ossoff in Washington, DC.
“Georgia voters made it clear they want to keep conservative values in the 6th District, and I congratulate Karen Handel for emerging from a large and qualified Republican field,” said Republican National Committee Chairwoman McDaniel in a Tuesday press release.
“Tonight, voters listened to President Trump’s call to reject the tax-and-spend, soft on crime policies of Jon Ossoff, and I’m confident they will do the same when they return to the polls to elect Karen Handel as the next congresswoman from Georgia’s 6th District. These liberal Democrats failed to inspire voters with a candidate who couldn’t even vote for himself, received 97 percent of his donations from outside the district, and consistently lied about his own weak resume.”
“For the second week in a row, Democrats have misread the electorate, falling short to Republicans and wasting millions of dollars in the process,” McDaniel concluded.
Although Ossoff took the lead in the results, all of the Republicans in the race earned a combined 51 percent, indicating that Handel is still likely to do well in June.