Georgia special election: Republican Karen Handel beats Jon Ossoff in runoff

Sporadic downpours and flash flood warns helped to put a damper on Democratic turnout in base precincts

In Georgia the resistance was stopped by the rain on Tuesday when Jon Ossoff, long the best hope of Democrats to win a special election in the Trump administration, suffered a narrow loss to Republican Karen Handelin the Sixth Congressional District.

With 99% of precincts reporting, Handel had 52.4% and Ossoff had 47.6%

Sporadic downpours and flash flood warns helped to put a damper on Democratic turnout in base precincts and on the hopes of progressives to frustrate Republican efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Blended with an energized Republican base that kept Ossoff from accumulating a significant lead among early voters, it doomed the hopes of the anti-Trump activists who constructed the first time Democratic candidate a minor political celebrity.

The runoff came after a first round of voting in April where Ossoff won merely over 48% of the vote and Handel finished second in a splintered Republican field with only under 20% of the vote. However, Ossoff struggled to match that total as Handel consolidated the Republican vote in a traditionally conservative district in the northern suburbs of Atlanta andended up falling a percentage point short of his much hyped performance in the first round of voting.

Trump took to Twitterto hail the result as a personal victory Thank you @FoxNews Huge win for President Trump and GOP in Georgia Congressional Special Election.

The seat had been vacated by Tom Price when the former congressman joined Trumps cabinet to become secretary of health and human service and previously held by Republican stalwarts like Senator Johnny Isakson and other speakers Newt Gingrich. Although Price won by 23% in 2016, Donald Trump merely narrowly won this wealthy, well-educated district by merely over 1 %.

Trumps narrow win triggered optimism among Democrats that different districts, where virtually 60% of residents have a college degree, could flip as part of the political realignment around the presidents upset victory in 2016. Roughly $ 50 m aimed up being are spending both parties and allied groups in the race as it became the most expensive congressional campaign in the history of the United States.

However, while Democrat had motivated their base and won over skeptical Republicans, the conservative slant of district proved too much even for the nearly unprecedented resources that Democrats invested in the race, even flying in volunteers for last minute doorknocking as local television stations had been saturated by 30 -second advertisements.

Although the race had been cast a referendum on Trump an opinion the President seemed to endorse after the result had been reported both candidates awkwardly danced around his looming presence on the campaign trail. At Handels campaign events, Trumps name ran unmentioned by the candidate and introductory speakers. Instead, there was constant refrain of attack on Ossoff for his ties to House minority leader Nancy Pelosi and praise for previous holders of the seat like Price and Gingrich. Ossoff was regularly bashed for the amount of money he created out of state and for having San Francisco values.

Handel, who suggested in the first televised debate of the campaign that Trump should use Twitter less often, told the Guardian in an interview on Monday that she didnt pay attention to the presidents employ of social media. She said I am focused on my campaign, I have precious little time to be on Twitter. Several hours later, her campaign sent out a fundraising email signed by the former secretary of state with the subject line did you insure what Trump only tweeted? after the President employed his ubiquitous social media account to tout her campaign.

Ossoff has also been measured in his attacks on Trump in a traditionally Republican district albeit one that the president barely won in 2016. Instead, the lanky and measured political neophyte focused on banal and politically non-controversial issues like government waste and turning Atlanta into the Silicon Valley of the South and let the progressive anti-Trump exuberance of the Democratic base carry him.

Instead, he has focused on Handels stint as Georgia secretary of state as well as her brief stint with the Susan Komen Race For The Cure, a charity which combats breast cancer, where she resulted an effort to cut off the organizations funding for Schemed Parenthood. The decision triggered a major dispute and funding was eventually restored and Handel had to resign from the non-profit.

In an interview with the Guardian, Ossoff slammed his opponent. Secretary Handels record as secretary of state is extremely weak perhaps because she was too busy preparing her next run for higher office to do her chore. She quit her job early to run for higher office, as so many career politicians do. Her last significant private sector experience, her performance also lacked.

The issue of civility and the growing toxic nature of American political culture became an issue late in the race in the aftermath of the shooting of House Minority Whip Steve Scalise. Handel pointed to social media and journalism as reasons for the decline of civility in American society in an interview with the Guardian. Journalism is not journalism any more, said Handel. Ossoff stuck to broader topics, telling the Guardian, this is a deep rooted problem in American politics right now “whos going to” take work and bipartisan commitment to trying to mend meanders and focus on substance instead of dread mongering and slander.

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