In Georgia, a cacophony of arguments could tilt House race

Final pitches made in nationally watched Georgia House race
GOP official suggests shooting will 'win this election for us' in Georgia as ad links Democratic candidate to violence

20 June, 2017

Democrat Jon Ossoff is blasting as "disgraceful" a last-minute ad that attempts to link the Georgia 6th Congressional District candidate to last week's shooting of a Republican House leader at a GOP baseball practice.

With a potential price tag exceeding $50 million, the most expensive House race in USA history has become a proxy for the nation's political divides, offering another early test for Trump and the GOP's monopoly in Washington.

Progressives poured $23 million into Jon Ossoff's campaign. Republicans and Democrats both see the special election as an indicator of where Trump's administration stands and where it may be heading in the future. The GOP already has won House special elections in Montana and Kansas, and the Republican is favored in a SC race Tuesday.

Ossoff and Handel were the top two finishers in an April 19 primary, advancing to the one-on-one runoff election.

Polls close in Cobb, Fulton and DeKalb counties - the three that include part of the district - at 7 p.m. ET.

Ossoff needs Republican votes to win, so in the closing days of the campaign there were no signs of the leading liberal antagonists such as Senators Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, nor were there any party elder statesmen to vouch for Ossoff.

In ordinary years, this is no swing district. Former Rep. Tom Price, whose departure to become Trump's health and human services secretary led to the special election, won each time he was on the ballot since 2004 with more than 60% of the vote.

The district has historically leaned heavily Republican. But Handel is well-known among Georgia Republicans, and national GOP groups have spent big on her behalf.

On the eve of the vote to fill a House seat in Georgia's 6th Congressional District, Trump acknowledged that a Republican defeat in a district the party has held for almost four decades could have wide implications.

What it all means: No one is quite sure what to expect, aside from a close race.

While the affluent district has always been solidly red territory - Price breezed to a 23-point victory last November - it has not been quite as friendly to Trump's brand of populist Republicanism.

Democrat Jon Ossoff at a Sandy Springs event. Ossoff and his supporters hope to "flip the 6th", which they would see as a changing tide in the Democrats' favor. "In red or purple districts, (that stance) seems a lot more promising".

"The man is fighting for his life", Ossoff said, according to the Journal.

An Ossoff win would be a proof point suggesting that Democrats are on the right track. But in November 2018, Democrats are expected to have many better pick-up opportunities.

The outcome of Georgia's contest is likely to become a prism through which congressional Republicans view Trump - a reality with major policy and political implications. It could also show House incumbents that they can separate themselves from Trump effectively on the campaign trail, and stave off a potential wave of retirements.

Mr. Ossoff countered that her strategy is part of the "tired" partisan playbook voters are sick of.

If Handel were to win, Republicans on Capitol Hill could feel they are on the right track - helping the GOP's push for health care and tax reform legislation.

While many in the party's energized liberal base are arguing for an aggressive approach that would emphasise their disdain for and differences with Trump and the Republicans, Ossoff has lately taken a more conciliatory line. Handel hosted two of his Cabinet secretaries over the weekend at a rally, but did not talk up the president.

Ossoff has run as a "relatively optimistic moderate", Bennett said.

But if you watch Ossoff on the campaign trail or in TV ads, you'd never know it.

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