Ge­or­gia race comes down to its fi­nal days

Proxy for po­lit­i­cal di­vides

Arab Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

DORAVILLE, Ge­or­gia, June 19, (AP): Dr Na­dine Becker wasn’t po­lit­i­cally in­volved un­til she saw Don­ald Trump elected pres­i­dent, but the sub­ur­ban At­lanta gy­ne­col­o­gist didn’t know how to en­gage, given her tra­di­tion­ally Repub­li­can sur­round­ings.

“I was yelling at the TV and throw­ing things at the TV,” re­calls the 55-year-old mother of three. Then she found her cause in 30-year-old Demo­crat Jon Os­soff, who is aim­ing for a ma­jor up­set in Ge­or­gia’s 6th Con­gres­sional District runoff Tues­day against Repub­li­can Karen Han­del.

With a po­ten­tial price tag ex­ceed­ing $50 mil­lion, the most ex­pen­sive House race in US his­tory has be­come a proxy for the na­tion’s po­lit­i­cal di­vides, of­fer­ing another early test for Trump and the GOP’s mo­nop­oly in Wash­ing­ton. And it gives Democrats a chance to prove they can flip at least 24 GOP-held seats and re­claim a House ma­jor­ity in the 2018 midterm elec­tions.

“My val­ues are be­ing threat­ened,” Becker said, men­tion­ing health care ac­cess, abor­tion rights and vot­ing rights, “and now we have some­thing we can do.”

Busi­ness own­ers Brian Sleeth and Dave McCleary are equally ap­palled, but for rea­sons that leave them back­ing Han­del.

“This is about who will sup­port Don­ald Trump and his agenda,” says Sleeth, a 37-year-old land­scaper from Johns Creek, Ge­or­gia. “Karen Han­del says she will, and we look for­ward to hold­ing her ac­count­able.”

For McCleary, 58, it’s less about Trump. The Roswell, Ge­or­gia, res­i­dent sees Os­soff as a char­la­tan, cam­paign­ing as a mod­er­ate but cer­tain to be­come a mar­i­onette of his na­tional party.

“He’s a phony. I think he’s been coached up,” says McCleary, ar­gu­ing Han­del would cast re­li­ably con­ser­va­tive votes.

Those are some of the ra­tio­nales that could ul­ti­mately set­tle what both cam­paigns agree will be a close race, de­spite Repub­li­cans hold­ing the seat since 1979 with rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Newt Gin­grich, the even­tual House speaker, to Price. The seat opened in Fe­bru­ary when Price re­signed to be­come Trump’s health and hu­man ser­vice sec­re­tary.

Os­soff, who led April’s first round but fell shy of out­right vic­tory, gamely in­sisted that “this is about the folks right here in Ge­or­gia.”

Han­del, 55, said it’s about choos­ing her record as Ge­or­gia sec­re­tary of state and com­mis­sion chair­man of the state’s most pop­u­lous county over the re­sume of a for­mer con­gres­sional staffer and doc­u­men­tary film­maker who’s never held pub­lic of­fice.

“My op­po­nent likes to talk about it,” she says. “I’ve done it.”

But the na­tional at­ten­tion — and all the money — tells another story. And the at­ten­tion is all the more in­tense given Repub­li­cans held on to House seats in Montana and Kansas ear­lier this spring and are ex­pected to hold a South Carolina seat on Tues­day.

Os­soff’s tele­vi­sion ads mostly frame him as a cen­trist who crit­i­cizes both par­ties in Wash­ing­ton for “waste­ful spend­ing” and prom­ises to fo­cus on de­vel­op­ing metro At­lanta’s econ­omy. He’s also taken aim at Han­del as a “ca­reer politi­cian” and an ex­ec­u­tive for the Su­san G. Komen Foun­da­tion when the or­ga­ni­za­tion threat­ened to cut off fund­ing for Planned Par­ent­hood, a health care and abor­tion provider.

Han­del

WASH­ING­TON:

Also:

US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump is at­tack­ing Democrats and pro­mot­ing the Repub­li­can run­ning in this week’s House runoff elec­tion in Ge­or­gia.

In a tweet Mon­day, Trump said that Democrats “want to stop tax cuts, good health­care and Bor­der Se­cu­rity.” He also said “their Oba­maCare is dead.”

Trump con­cluded: “Vote now for Karen H,” an ap­par­ent ref­er­ence to Karen Han­del, the Repub­li­can run­ning in a spe­cial con­gres­sional elec­tion in Ge­or­gia. The elec­tion in the state’s 6th Con­gres­sional District is set for Tues­day.

Han­del faces Demo­crat Jon Os­soff in a na­tion­ally watched matchup that Democrats want to turn into a ref­er­en­dum on Trump.

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