What to watch for next in the Georgia special election

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

(ATLANTA) — Democrats were hoping for a surprise win in Georgia, but they came up just short in Tuesday night’s special election in a district held by Republicans for nearly four decades.

Jon Ossoff led a splintered GOP field by a wide margin, but did not top the necessary 50-percent threshold in the race for Georgia’s 6th congressional district, prompting a runoff election in June against former Secretary of State Karen Handel.

Here’s what to watch next in this special election:

What happens next

Ossoff and Handel will campaign head-to-head for the next two months and the race is seen by many as a bellwether election with national implications. Both Democrats and Republicans will invest heavily in the seat; Ossoff has already raised more than $8 million over the last several months.

Ultimately, roughly a dozen Republican candidates received a combined 51 percent of the vote on Tuesday, while Ossoff and four other Democratic candidates received 49 percent.

Still, the GOP side was divided between candidates with very different views of President Trump. Motivating the same voters — many of whom backed other Republicans in the primary — to support Karen Handel may prove problematic when there is so little room for error.

Meet the candidates

Democrat Jon Ossoff is a 30-year-old documentary filmmaker and former House staffer. “We have defied the odds. We have shattered expectations,” Ossoff told supporters Tuesday night before the race had been projected. “So bring it on.” He has come under fire because he doesn’t live in the district.

Actor Samuel L. Jackson recorded a radio ad for Ossoff, and other celebrities like Alyssa Milano have gotten involved in get-out-the-vote efforts.

Republican Karen Handel is the state’s former secretary of state. She mounted unsuccessful runs for governor in 2010 and the U.S. Senate in 2012. She did not embrace President Trump during the campaign, but took a congratulatory call from him and said she would accept a visit to the White House.

“He just called to say congratulations and encourage me and let me know that as we go into June 20, that it’s all hands on deck for Republicans and we take it very seriously,” Handel said today.

What is President Trump’s next move?

President Trump has been very engaged in the race, recording a robo-call to help get out the vote and tweeting multiple times.

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

White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters Wednesday that Trump will campaign for Handel “if needed,” saying Trump is prepared to do “everything he can to maintain majorities to further the party.”

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