Published: Tue, June 20, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Karen Handel: Georgia's 6th District Voters Not Focused on Hollywood Money


Pamphlets sit outside the campaign office of Jon Ossoff, Democratic candidate for Georgia's 6th congressional district in Chamblee, Ga., Monday, June 19, 2017.

But if Handel loses, it will be a clear warning sign to House Republicans facing tough races in other suburban districts across the country, many of them among the 23 GOP-held seats where Trump trailed Clinton in 2016.

Georgia Republican Karen Handel, who faces off against Democrat Jon Ossoff in Tuesday's special election, has decried the lack of civility in American political discourse. In the weeks leading up to election day, Ossoff maintained a slim lead over his Republican opponent Karen Handel, but polls Tuesday morning showed Handel's numbers surging.

The affluent and well-educated district has elected Newt Gingrich, the former speaker; Johnny Isakson, now Georgia's senior USA senator; and most recently Tom Price, who resigned in February to join the administration.

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CNN spent time with voters on opposite sides of the Congressional race, many with strong feelings about Trump.

"It's a neck and neck race, and it's all about turnout now", Ossoff told WSB television Monday.

Trump weighed in on Twitter late Monday and early Tuesday, attacking Ossoff for living just outside the district, claiming Ossoff will raise taxes and calling Handel a hard worker "who will never give up!" "What voters here in Georgia want is representation that focuses on improving daily life".

Republicans have since consolidated support behind Handel, and several national party figures - including Vice President Mike Pence - have made stops in Atlanta to campaign for her.

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But with Democrats falling short in those races, and the Republican expected to win in SC, all eyes have turned to Georgia. Handel notes that many of those people live in Democratic-leaning states. Among the questions they'll seek to answer, according to Democratic strategist Penny Lee: "Is the anger more national than it is local?"

Tom Greathouse, an auto fix business owner who voted for Handel early Tuesday morning at a high school in Johns Creek, said he still was encouraged to see so many neighbors talking about the race. The party needs to flip at least 24 GOP-held seats by next November to reclaim a House majority.

Special congressional elections in Kansas and Montana - also to replace Republicans who joined Trump's team - were seen as a chance for Democrats to score first strikes against the administration. They fell short in other special congressional elections earlier this year in Kansas and Montana, and are expected to lose another race on Tuesday in SC.

Striking a tone vastly more bipartisan than the "Make Trump Furious" message his campaign spread in the lead up to the April primary, Ossoff, 30, spoke of his willingness to work with President Donald Trump - but also to hold him accountable. Ossoff called Rep. Steve Scalise's shooting a "national tragedy" that should not be politicized.

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