April 19th, 2017

It will be a runoff for House seat in special election in Georgia

It’s been interesting seeing the spin on yesterday’s special election in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District.

What was at stake was a seat in the US House of Representatives, so whatever the outcome, it wasn’t going to change the composition of Congress. But the contest was felt to be symbolic of things to come, and therefore Democrats were intent on taking the seat away from Republicans.

That might have happened last night if the Democrat Jon Ossoff, 30 years old, had managed to get at least 50% of the vote against a Republican field that featured 11 Republican opponents to split the vote on the GOP side (there were some other obscure Democrats running, too, but the Democratic push was to unite and vote for Rosoff, and they did). Instead, he got 48.1%, with Republican Karen Handel getting the largest number of votes of the GOP candidates and winning the right to face Ossoff in the runoff.

Ossoff’s total is similar to the results in the district in the presidential contest in 2016 which saw Trump win there by only 1.5%. So yesterday’s vote seems like a pretty unsurprising outcome to me under the highly-charged circumstances, but it’s being regarded as evidence of something far more important—exactly what, though, depends on who’s doing the analyzing.

Donald Trump considers it a victory, considering how much money the Democrats pumped into this race:

“Despite major outside money, FAKE media support and eleven Republican candidates, BIG “R” win with runoff in Georgia. Glad to be of help!” the president tweeted late Tuesday.

Ossoff himself thought he might be able to win it all:

“The campaign’s goal is not to get into a runoff, though we’ll be ready to fight a runoff if necessary,” Ossoff said in early April. “The campaign’s goal is to win this election outright on April 18.”

On Tuesday morning, Osoff [sic] said the campaign was within “striking distance” of that goal, thanks to a surge in early voter turnout. Democrats vowed to press on should a runoff be required.

“Today was a great day. We saw what looks like pretty high expected turnout. And just could not be happier and more impressed with the community leaders who came out not just today but for the past months and built this special movement,” Ossoff campaign manager Keenan Pontini told Yahoo News, in the waning hours of voting.

The money Ossoff raised was unprecedented for a primary race for the House, and he made the goal of his campaign very clear: voting for him was a way to vote against Trump:

Ossoff electrified national Democrats with a message of anti-Trump resistance, running on a platform of “Make Trump Furious,” and pulled in a record $8.3 million by the end of the first quarter of the year, mostly in small donations and with more than 90 percent of the money coming from out of state. Candidates in contests like the GA-06 primary normally raise only $10,000 or so…

In addition to his unprecedented war chest, Ossoff had a deep well of skilled presidential campaign organizers to draw from as staff and volunteers, thanks to the race being the first competitive contest since the recently concluded presidential campaigns. And he had the support of more than 10,000 volunteers — both from around the country and from an array of vibrant local Trump-era resistance groups

So this essentially becamse a national campaign on the part of the Democrats.

None of this means that Ossoff won’t beat Handel in the runoff. He could, and that would be a victory. I have little doubt that the Democrats will pour vast resources into the endeavor, in order to rally their angry voters and improve morale by getting an unaccustomed victory in a district where Republicans used to win as a matter of course.

11 Responses to “It will be a runoff for House seat in special election in Georgia”

  1. Vanderleun Says:

    “11 Republican opponents to split the vote on the GOP side”

    Far too soon to retire my tried and true: “REPUBLICANS — They thirst for death.”

  2. Yancey Ward Says:

    In the runoff, I think turnout on the Republican side will rise quite a bit more than on the Democrat side. Republicans had no chance to win the seat yesterday while the Democrats did, and, combined, all the Democrats in the race still ended up under 50% of the total vote.

    I predict Handel will win the runoff with at least 55% of the vote.

  3. Cornhead Says:

    Watch the mayoral election for Omaha. May 9th.

  4. Julia Says:

    8.3 million? Let me be like a Dem and whine about money in the elections, and the waste and how it could be put to better use.

    Pfft. Hypocrites, the lot of them.

  5. Bilwick Says:

    I live in that contested GA district, and like others in the metro Atlanta area was subjected to a saturation-bombing ad campaign, with Ossoff’s tv ads CONSTANTLY, often back-to-back. (The first ad would usually be his vague, goo-goo, “let’s all work together” snake oil; the second his lame response to “all those negative ads against me.” In the second he would come out swinging with “Yes, I’m a Georgia Democrat, and proud of it”–as if that were being contested. Although it could have been, given the charge that he doesn’t even live in that district. My first visceral reaction to his ads, without knowing much about him, was: “Phonus Balonus.”

    What’s also interesting about his ads was that a time when the more intelligent Democrats are thinking, “Hey, maybe we should dial back the smugness and arrogance a bit,” his ads convey a smugness and arrogance I haven’t seen since Hillary Clinton. His inflation of his resume (which he never denies in these ads) seems very Clintonian, too. And very Yuppie. He seems to be very popular among his own ilk: Liberal Yuppies. “Liberal Yuppies” . . . yuck. There’s a hybrid more nauseating than anything Doctor Moreau ever dreamed up.

  6. carl in atlanta Says:

    This district is right next to the one I live in. This is a mostly upper middle class area with lots of northern transplants/ corporate types and mainstream libs, but still with a [dwindling] conservative majority. GOP Karen Handel is a career GOP politician (former GA. Secretary of State). Very stable, steady, plain vanilla politico type. The GOPe here likes her. I think she’ll win handily in June.

    Ossoff appears to be right out of “Donk central casting”. Born with a silver spoon in his mouth (private schools all the way then to Georgetown), he exudes a kind of smugness that reminds me of Elizabeth Warren. Rush calls him the “Pajama Boy”. He’s not quite that bad but of the same androgynous genre. Hard to believe they spent almost $9 Million; I guess they’ll spend at least that much on the runoff as well. His ads in Metro Atlanta have been constant and on all media (e.g., almost every web page I visit, not to mention TV and radio). Very slick. Cynically slick.

  7. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    Perhaps I’m missing something but I don’t see how you can represent a district in which you’ve never lived. Doesn’t that violate the very rationale that forms the basis for the House of Representatives?

  8. M J R Says:

    Geoffrey Britain, 5:11 pm —

    Sir Geoffrey, I think you’re missing something. My understanding is that Ossoff lived in that district all his life, but he’s temporarily living outside the district because his significant whatever is completing medical school and he’s waiting for that sacrifice to end . . . after which, he swears he’ll be back living in the district again. In addition, he says his apartment is only a mile and a half (or something like that) from the district.

    A caller to Rush Limbaugh yesterday who lives in the district reports that Ossoff’s ads consist of how Ossoff supports the military, is against excessive government spending, and a third talking point that I don’t recall now. The point the caller was making was that Ossoff was trying as hard as he could to sound like a Republican. I’m reminded of El Rushbo in the Bill-‘n’-Hill days, when he would characterize Democrats as essentially saying among themselves, “how can we fool ’em today?”

  9. carl in atlanta Says:


    I was puzzled about that as well. See this:

    Interestingly, there is no residency requirement for members of the House of Representatives, other than they are citizens of the state from which they are elected.

    Article 1, section 2, clause 2 of the Constitution provides:

    “No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the age of twenty five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen.”

    I think the law in most states law goes further to require that the candidate be a resident of the district in question, but apparently not GA.

  10. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    Thanks guys, that’s very informative.

  11. AesopFan Says:

    “11 Republican opponents to split the vote on the GOP side”

    This is why parties have primaries: so only ONE candidate faces the opposition.

    These “non partisan” elections are also why CA always ends up with 2 Democrats at the run-off stage.

    Did I remember to note that Republicans are the Party of Stupid, to ever have agreed to any of this?

    Maybe they were out-voted somehow — I don’t know the history.

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