Georgia House race to high-stakes runoff as Trump wades in

Georgia runoff seen as Trump test

Handel, who said Trump called to congratulate her on Wednesday morning, dismissed Ossoff as a well-funded novice who would flounder as Republicans consolidated support behind a single candidate. Republican Karen Handel, a former Georgia secretary of state, finished a distant second, qualifying for the June 20 runoff.

A young Democratic Party candidate has come close to winning an outright victory for a US Congressional seat in a staunchly Republican district in Georgia, in an early sign of trouble for the ruling party in next year's mid-term elections.

That swing foreshadowed an opening for Ossoff, who became a candidate for the open-seat race after former Rep. Tom Price became the president's secretary of Health and Human Services earlier this year. All of which virtually guarantees that Round Two of Georgia's special election will be the most expensive House race in history, as Republicans scramble to hang onto a suburban Atlanta seat that they've held since the 1970s.

DuBose Porter, chairman of the Georgia Democratic Party, said the 6th District offers the ideal setting for state and national Democrats to prove their momentum heading into 2018.

Trump in the final days of the campaign appeared to perceive the damage an Ossoff win would do to a presidency scoring historically low approval ratings and with an agenda that has been stymied by the courts and Congress.

Ossoff had the strongest showing Tuesday in a hotly contested race that some saw as a gauge of President Donald Trump's popularity. "Glad to be of help!" he wrote late on Tuesday.

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The president's approval rating has not topped 50 percent since he took office on January 20, Reuters/Ipsos polling shows. "The only thing that seems fake is Trump coming out and saying this was good for Republicans, that they gave away 48 percent of the vote to somebody that nobody knows". "The reaction has somewhat been, you know, that they nearly won".

Pete Korman, 6th District voter, said national enthusiasm for Ossoff has been frustrating to watch, but he thinks Handel will win voters in the 6th.

Spicer did not mention that outside Republican groups also plowed millions into attacking Ossoff and encouraging GOP turnout; a political action committee backed by House Speaker Paul Ryan and other House GOP leaders accounted for at least $2.2 million. Ossoff would have needed more than 50 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff.

He took credit for the results shortly after midnight on Wednesday - even though his unpopularity nationally and in the district is why the race is competitive in the first place.

"There is no doubt that this is already a victory for the ages", Ossoff told his ecstatic supporters Tuesday night.

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