Republican Handel wins Georgia House seat

The Palmetto State district hasn't seen the erosion of support for Trump that Georgia's 6th did last November though, and Republican state Rep. Ralph Norman is expected to beat Democrat Archie Parnell, a former tax attorney and financial adviser.

But it's the Ossoff defeat that's particularly painful for the party.

As for Democrats, the main culprit tonight was probably the outsized expectations they developed in what was after all a Republican district that Tom Price won seven straight times with a minimum of 61 percent of the vote.

"I think in the 6th District we have a chance to make a decision about who's going to lead us whether the president is there or not there, whether his policies are good or bad", said Mr Ware, 63.

But moral victories only get you so far - and Democrats are clearly chafing at their inability to turn the tables on President Trump. And the liberal grassroots spent accordingly, showering Ossoff with money. It's been deemed the most expensive House race in USA history, with Issue One, a nonpartisan political reform and government ethics group, estimating the total amount spent on the race by candidates and outside groups at $59.6 million.

But it wasn't what Democrats who pumped $23 million into Ossoff's campaign so desperately craved: A win.

The district has been red for almost 40 years, but Democrats were hoping that this seat - which represents the wealthy Atlanta suburbs - would be the first of a trend of taking over the House.

But as important as what Democrats won't get is what Republicans avoid: The full-scale panic that would have been triggered by a Handel loss.

All of this seems very encouraging indeed for Democrats.

And then late Tuesday night, the results came in.

Donald Trump won Georgia's 6th district by 1.5 points.

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

That's a big problem for the Democratic Party.

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The race had been framed by some as a referendum on Trump and his agenda, and the win may ease any GOP fears - for now - that its base wouldn't stay engaged heading into the 2018 midterms.

Those worries will disappear - at least for the moment - with Handel's victory. In the House's first attempt at passing it, back in March, moderates shied away from the bill at the last moment.

Democrats will also need to take a close look at what happened on the organizing front.

The national implications, however, will dominate the story coming out of this race. Meanwhile, a literal defeat for the GOP would have been a disaster.

Republicans are facing a sobering reminder of their president's poor approval ratings, which could act as a drag on their efforts to hold not just this congressional seat, but the 435-member House of Representatives next year.

It's always been clear that Ossoff had some serious weaknesses as a candidate.

Republican Karen Handel, a veteran Georgia politician, is fighting to claim the 6th Congressional District seat that's been in her party's hands since 1979.

Still, he was a fresh-faced outsider, he was easily the strongest Democratic candidate actually running in this district, and he caught fire among the party's grassroots donors, who showered him with cash. So, the GOP victory on the merits is pretty limited.

Handel has aligned herself gingerly with Trump. They ran a banjo-strumming populist in Montana.

Instead, he emphasized his willingness to cut wasteful spending, and criticized Handel for her role in a five-year-old controversy in which the Susan G. Komen foundation, where she was a top official at the time, cut off breast cancer screening funding for Planned Parenthood. Perhaps that's the case. They called in the cavalry in SC and tried to catch their foe sleeping through a long-shot in Kansas.

Questions also lingered about whether the grass-roots coalition backing Ossoff - fueled by highly motivated anti-Trump activists who were, in many cases, new to political activity and organizing - could improve on its April showing in a runoff set for the beginning of the summer vacation season, in a district where people have the means to escape to the beach. To oversimplify, the Hillary Clinton wing of the party tends to like the former theory, and the Bernie Sanders wing tends to prefer the latter.

Still, Ossoff's performance will be a bitter pill. This is a Republican district. Tuesday night was a double disappointment for the party - not only did they lose in the Georgia 6th, but they also came up short in South Carolina's 5th district.

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