Demo­crat Os­soff ahead of field in Ge­or­gia race

Repub­li­cans split con­ser­va­tive vote

The Washington Times Daily - - POLITICS - BY SETH MCLAUGH­LIN

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.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

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.

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