Democrat Ossoff ahead of field in Georgia race
Republicans split conservative vote
Democrat Jon Ossoff was poised to finish first in the “jungle primary” for the empty seat in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, but it remained unclear whether he would avoid a twoperson runoff this summer that political observers say could favor Republicans.
Mr. Ossoff, who ran on the slogan “Make Trump Furious,” raced out to a lead shortly after polls closed at 7 p.m. EST and had won about 60 percent of the early vote.
But Mr. Ossoff’s lead dipped as the night wore on and more votes trickled in, making it uncertain whether the 30-year-old would be able to capture more than the 50 percent of the vote he needed to win the seat outright.
If he failed to cleared that hurdle, he would have to face the second-place finisher in a June 20 runoff, which would give Republicans time to regroup after a race filled with GOP infighting and to unite behind Mr. Ossoff’s opponent.
With 72 percent of the precincts reporting, Mr. Ossoff was clinging to 50.4 percent of the vote.
His leading challengers in the 18-candidate race were Republicans.
Former Secretary of State Karen Handel was running second with 18.1 percent of the vote, followed by former state Sen. Judson Hill with 9.9 percent of the vote, former John Creeks City Council member Bob Gray with 9.6 percent of the vote and former state Sen. Dan Moody with 8.4 percent of the vote.
Bragging rights were on the line for both parties in the contest for the seat in the wealthy Atlanta suburbs, which Republicans have held since 1979.
President Trump waded into the race earlier in the day by calling on Republicans to head to the polls to vote in the race to replace Thomas Price, who had won 60 percent of the vote in his last three re-election races before becoming Mr. Trump’s Health and Human Services secretary.
“Force runoff and easy win! Dem Ossoff will raise your taxes-very bad on crime & 2nd A,” Mr. Trump said on Twitter.
Democrats hoped to build off James Thompson’s campaign last week in Kansas, where he came within 7 percentage points of defeating Republican Ron Estes in a special election in that deep-red state’s 4th Congressional District, where Mr. Trump had defeated Hillary Clinton by 27 percentage points.
After being criticized for not investing more in Kansas, national Democrats on Tuesday bragged about their involvement in the Georgia district, which Mr. Trump won by less than 2 percentage points in the November election.
Tom Perez, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, cut robocalls over the final 48 hours of the campaign urging voters to head to the polls to “elect a representative to Congress who will stop Donald Trump and the GOP Congress, and who will actually care about people.”
The DNC also targeted voters through a five-figure digital ad buy, and the Association of State Democratic Chairs spearheaded a phone-banking effort with state parties around the country.
The crowded GOP field splintered Republicans.
Sen. David Perdue backed Mr. Moody, while former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida endorsed Mr. Hill. Bruce Levell, who spearheaded minority outreach for the Trump campaign, campaigned with ex-Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.
Mrs. Handel, meanwhile, was endorsed by former Sen. Saxby Chambliss, and also was attacked by the conservative Club for Growth, which endorsed Mr. Gray.
Mrs. Handel has received support from the Ending Spending anti-spending advocacy group funded by the Ricketts’ family.
Democrat Jon Ossoff emerged at the front of the pack Tuesday in the race for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, as Republicans split the conservative vote.