Georgia race comes down to its final days
Proxy for political divides
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.
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.