Democrats see chance to steal GOP House seat

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY SETH MCLAUGHLIN

Even if a Demo­crat emerges as the top vote-get­ter in Ge­or­gia’s spe­cial con­gres­sional elec­tion Tues­day, the race is al­most cer­tain to go to a runoff, where Repub­li­can strate­gists said they will pre­vail and notch an­other win for Pres­i­dent Trump.

Demo­crat Jon Os­soff, a for­mer con­gres­sional aide and first-time can­di­date, is lead­ing the polls but would have to win more than 50 per­cent of the vote to claim out­right vic­tory.

That is un­likely in a field of nearly 20 can­di­dates, and Repub­li­cans are hop­ing that in a oneon-one matchup they can close the gap be­fore a June 20 runoff.

“If Os­soff doesn’t put this away Tues­day, he is not go­ing to win,” said Jay Wil­liams, a Ge­or­gia-based Repub­li­can Party

strate­gist. “If it gets to a runoff, the Repub­li­can will win.”

Lib­eral pres­sure groups have na­tion­al­ized the race in the state’s 6th Con­gres­sional District — a seat made open by the ap­point­ment of Rep. Tom Price as Health and Hu­man Ser­vices secretary. They be­lieve that putting Mr. Os­soff over the top would be a re­jec­tion of the Trump agenda and could scare Repub­li­cans from ag­gres­sive moves.

“A Repub­li­can loss here would send a bit­ter re­buke to the en­tire Repub­li­can Party that Amer­i­cans across the coun­try do not sup­port their rad­i­cal, anti-worker agenda,” said Kaitlin Sweeney, spokes­woman for the Pro­gres­sive Change Cam­paign Com­mit­tee.

Eleven Repub­li­cans are run­ning for the seat in an in­creas­ingly nasty race for sec­ond place and the chance to face Mr. Os­soff.

Polls sug­gest the con­test within the con­test has boiled down to a bat­tle be­tween for­mer Secretary of State Karen Han­del, who has the sup­port of for­mer Sen. Saxby Cham­b­liss; for­mer state Sen. Dan Moody, who has the back­ing of Sen. David Per­due; state Sen. Jud­son Hill, who has the sup­port of for­mer House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Sen. Marco Ru­bio of Florida; and Johns Creek City Coun­cil mem­ber Bob Gray, who has the sup­port of the Club for Growth.

Mrs. Han­del has taken the most ar­rows. Mr. Moody, Mr. Gray and Mr. Hill, as well as and the anti-tax Club for Growth, have at­tacked her, cast­ing her as a self-in­ter­ested ca­reer politi­cian.

In the mean­time, a group called End­ing Spend­ing, which is funded by the Rick­etts fam­ily, owner of the Chicago Cubs, is run­ning pro-Han­del ads.

“It is like a cir­cu­lar fir­ing squad with Repub­li­cans,” said David John­son, an­other Ge­or­gia-based Repub­li­can Party con­sul­tant. “I think if Repub­li­cans had united be­hind Karen Han­del or Moody or Jud­son Hill, I don’t think there would be a race at this point.”

Mr. Wil­liams said the in­fight­ing could haunt Repub­li­cans on Tues­day by push­ing Mr. Os­soff over the fin­ish line.

“If the Repub­li­cans keep beat­ing them­selves up as much as they have, it might sup­press our own vot­ers from show­ing up,” he said. “And if he can keep the in­ten­sity up among his sup­port­ers, he can get there.”

While the Repub­li­can Party is di­vided, lib­er­als have man­aged to co­a­lesce around Mr. Os­soff, feed­ing the hope of Democrats ea­ger to land a body blow against Mr. Trump since he stunned pro­gres­sives by de­feat­ing Hil­lary Clin­ton last year.

The “re­sis­tance” move­ment missed an op­por­tu­nity to score an up­set last week in the spe­cial elec­tion in Kansas, but pro­gres­sives took so­lace in the fact that Repub­li­can Ron Estes won by 7 per­cent­age points in a district that Mr. Trump won by 27 points six months ago.

Mr. Estes cau­tioned against see­ing that race as a bell­wether, and an­a­lysts said it had its own fac­tors, in­clud­ing an un­pop­u­lar Gov. Sam Brown­back drag­ging down Repub­li­cans in the state.

Pres­i­dent Trump took to Twit­ter on Sun­day evening to im­ply that the in­ter­est in Ge­or­gia is purely a func­tion of me­dia hopes for a Demo­cratic vic­tory — hopes he said would be dashed.

“The re­cent Kansas elec­tion (Congress) was a re­ally big me­dia event, un­til the Repub­li­cans won. Now they play the same game with Ge­or­gia-BAD!” he said.

Ge­of­frey Skel­ley, of the Univer­sity of Vir­ginia’s Center for Pol­i­tics, also warned against view­ing the Ge­or­gia elec­tion as a sign of things to come.

“The Ge­or­gia 6th con­test should be viewed as just one part of try­ing to gauge the fu­ture po­lit­i­cal at­mos­phere,” Mr. Skel­ley said, adding that Democrats might be mak­ing a play for an un­winnable seat.

“Democrats should prob­a­bly be care­ful not to be­come over­in­vested in the Ge­or­gia 6th out­come. We’re talk­ing about a district that rou­tinely re-elected then-Rep. Tom Price with at least 60 per­cent of the vote for years and that Mitt Rom­ney won by 23 points,” he said.

“Yes, Pres­i­dent Trump strug­gled there com­par­a­tively, win­ning by 1.5 points, but it’s still a district with a Repub­li­can regis­tra­tion ad­van­tage,” he said.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Jon Os­soff will ap­pear on the bal­lot along with four other Democrats, but he is con­sid­ered the great­est threat to the many Repub­li­cans run­ning to keep Ge­or­gia’s 6th Con­gres­sional District in their party’s con­trol. Two in­de­pen­dents also are run­ning.

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