GOP’s Han­del links Os­soff to Pelosi in de­bate

Demo­crat: Ri­val a spe­cial in­ter­est ally

The Washington Times Daily - - POLITICS - BY SETH MCLAUGH­LIN

Re­pub­li­can Karen Han­del warned vot­ers Tues­day in the first de­bate in the runoff race for Geor­gia’s empty con­gres­sional seat that a vote for her ri­val Jon Os­soff is noth­ing more than a vote for House Mi­nor­ity Leader Nancy Pelosi and her lib­eral val­ues.

Mr. Os­soff, a for­mer con­gres­sional aide and doc­u­men­tary film­maker, coun­tered that Ms. Han­del, a for­mer sec­re­tary of state, is a par­ti­san who will serve as a “rub­ber stamp” for spe­cial in­ter­est groups in Wash­ing­ton.

“What we need is an in­de­pen­dent voice sub­stan­tively fo­cused on the is­sues of con­cern to this com­mu­nity, not an­other ca­reer politi­cian who has run six times for five dif­fer­ent of­fices,” Mr. Os­soff said, al­lud­ing to Ms. Han­del’s mul­ti­ple failed bids for pub­lic of­fice.

Ms. Han­del, mean­while, tied Mr. Os­soff to Mrs. Pelosi over and over again, and even ac­tress Jane Fonda on one oc­ca­sion, as she pushed to make the case that the 30-year-old is not the mod­er­ate Demo­crat he por­trays him­self to be on the cam­paign trail.

“To think that a hand­picked can­di­date from Nancy Pelosi is go­ing to do any­thing other than go along to get along with the lib­eral left, that’s laugh­able,” Ms. Han­del said, adding that a ma­jor­ity of his donors have come from Cal­i­for­nia, Mas­sachusetts and New York. “They are not from this district, and cer­tainly they don’t rep­re­sent the val­ues of this district. In fact, your val­ues are some 3,000 miles away in San Fran­cisco,” she said.

The hour­long de­bate, hosted by WSB-TV in At­lanta, comes two weeks from the June 20 runoff race, which has na­tional im­pli­ca­tions and be­came the most ex­pen­sive con­gres­sional elec­tion in his­tory — with donors in both par­ties fun­nel­ing tens of mil­lions of dol­lars into the con­test.

Democrats are hop­ing to tout an Os­soff win as proof that Mr. Trump is fall­ing out of fa­vor with vot­ers.

Mr. Trump’s name, how­ever, was rarely men­tioned, and most no­tably came up when Ms. Han­del was asked where she might dis­agree with the com­man­der in chief.

“I would re­ally like to rec­om­mend some Twitter pol­icy changes,” she said in re­sponse to a ques­tion. “Some­times you should just put down the com­puter, the phone and walk away.”

For his part, Mr. Os­soff passed on chances to link Ms. Han­del to Mr. Trump and in­stead made the case that he would bring a “fresh” per­spec­tive and an “in­de­pen­dent” vi­sion to Wash­ing­ton.

The can­di­dates sparred over their records on abor­tion, ter­ror­ism and cam­paign fi­nance laws.

They split over rais­ing the min­i­mum wage, with Mr. Os­soff com­ing out in fa­vor of an in­crease and Ms. Han­del op­pos­ing it.

And they were di­vided on the bill to re­peal and re­place Oba­macare that Repub­li­cans passed in the House.

Mr. Os­soff said peo­ple with pre­ex­ist­ing con­di­tions would be left without af­ford­able health care cover­age, while Ms. Han­del dis­agreed.

She said Oba­macare is col­laps­ing and dis­missed the re­cent analysis from the Con­gres­sional Bud­get Of­fice that said 23 mil­lion fewer peo­ple would have health cover­age un­der the plan, which passed without the sup­port of a sin­gle Demo­crat.

A poll re­leased last week by WSBTV/Land­mark Com­mu­ni­ca­tions found the can­di­dates in a sta­tis­ti­cal dead heat.

Repub­li­cans have held the seat since Newt Gin­grich was sworn into of­fice in 1979 — though there are some signs that the district is trend­ing Demo­cratic — in­clud­ing the fact that Mr. Trump won the district by less than 2 per­cent­age points four years af­ter Mitt Rom­ney car­ried it by more than 20 per­cent­age points.

Rep. Thomas Price won re-elec­tion last year by 23 per­cent­age points be­fore va­cat­ing the seat to be­come Mr. Trump’s health sec­re­tary.

The con­test is the last best shot for Democrats to emerge to flip control of a seat in the spe­cial elec­tions to fill seats left open by Cab­i­net picks.

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