The special election race in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District to replace Tom Price, appointed President Trump’s HHS director, has been bathed in national attention. Democrats from all over the country have rallied to the support of young Jon Ossoff, a Democrat running against a field of 18 candidates vying for the seat, mostly well-known Republicans. In the election held yesterday, the Atlanta Journal-Courier reports that, although Mr. Ossoff failed to score the knockout punch that many had hoped for, his candidacy survives to face Republican Karen Handel in the run-off:
Roughly five hours after polling locations closed, major networks began projecting that Georgia’s 6th District special election would be heading toward a runoff on June 20.
That means Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel, the race’s top two vote-getters, will have nine more weeks of expensive and heating campaigning before voters will decide who will replace Tom Price, now Trump’s health secretary, as the representative for Atlanta’s affluent, leafy northern suburbs in the House.
Ossoff, a 30-year-old documentary film maker and political novice, told his supporters late Tuesday that a runoff “shattered expectations.” “We will be ready to fight on and win in June if it is necessary,” he said.
Earlier Tuesday evening, former Secretary of State Karen Handel vowed “start the campaign anew” on Wednesday, as her onetime Republican opponents began to coalesce around her. “Beating Ossoff and holding this seat is something that rises above any one person,” she told supporters.
The New York Times feature on the run-off is full of eye-catching graphics.
I don’t expect the national attention to abate. The race is widely seen as a referendum on Trump. If the run-off vote were to break down solely along party lines, Ossoff would be defeated but the mood of the Georgia Sixth echoes the mood of the country. Mr. Ossoff’s impressive result, garnering 48% of the votes, illustrates deep-seated support of the Democrat Party in the district less than it does a general rejection of the status quo and in the George Sixth District Republicans are the status quo.
That is the lesson of the 2016 general election and the lesson of the Georgia Sixth District primary. The electorate wants change and until they get it there will be turmoil, upsets, and surprise victories. That there is less general agreement on the exact nature of the change required than on the need for change is a complication.