6th District Defends the Wall, Jon Ossoff Invasion Fails

Dems choke in Georgia after record spending on failed Ossoff campaign

Jon Ossoff
Jon Ossoff / Getty Images
June 20, 2017

ATLANTA, Ga.—Democrat Jon Ossoff's expensive bid to flip Georgia's Sixth Congressional District fell short on Tuesday as he lost to Republican Karen Handel, who he had defeated by 28 percentage points in the election's first round of voting two months ago.

The election was called by CNN shortly after 10:00 p.m., with Handel collecting 52.6 percent of the vote with just over 65 percent of precincts reporting, according to the network's vote count. NBC projected the race soon after.

Georgia's sixth district was flooded with record levels of spending for the special election to fill Republican Tom Price's congressional seat.

The spending was not enough to overcome Republican criticism of Ossoff, who was branded by Handel as the Democratic establishment's hand-picked candidate and criticized frequently for not living in the district they were competing to represent. Ossoff was also criticized for collecting nearly 97 percent of his fundraising haul from out-of-state donors.

Ossoff managed to defeat Handel handedly back on April 18, but failed to collect a majority of the votes, thus forcing the election to Tuesday's runoff. Handel led a splintered Republican field with about 20 percent of the vote.

Handel was boosted in the final weeks of the election by support from both President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, who visited the district to campaign with Handel.

Trump tweeted his congratulations to Handel on Tuesday, writing "Fantastic job, we are all very proud of you!"

Handel thanked them both personally in her victory speech and also saluted Price, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, and Sen. Johnny Isakson (R., Ga.), all of whom once held the congressional seat she won on Tuesday.

"My promise is to work every single day relentlessly to make our state and this country a better place," she said.

Handel will be the first Republican U.S. congresswoman in Georgia history.

Ossoff announced his concession to Handel in remarks to his supporters in Atlanta.

"This was not the outcome any of us were hoping for, but this is the beginning of something much bigger than us, so thank you," Ossoff said. "Thank you for the most extraordinary experience I've ever had the honor of being a part of."

Jonathan Weisman of the New York Times was unavailable for comment.

UPDATE: 10:50 P.M.: This article was updated to include Ossoff's concession remarks and Handel's victory speech.

UPDATE: 10:53 P.M.: This article was updated to include Trump's tweet about Handel's win.

Published under: Jon Ossoff