President Donald Trump gave himself some credit for forcing a runoff in a special election in Georgia on Tuesday, saying he was "glad to be of help" after Democrat Jon Ossoff failed to win 50% of the vote.
Just learned that Jon @Ossoff, who is running for Congress in Georgia, doesn't even live in the district.
On ABC World News Tonight, Anchor David Muir was still enamored with Ossoff's performance in the race. If Ossoff had won at least 50%, he would have secured the seat outright.
The election had been proclaimed widely as a referendum on the Trump administration, especially by Democrats who believed they would win the seat without a run-off. He raised a stunning $8.3 million in the first three months of the year, fueling a robust campaign. But the president called to congratulate her Wednesday morning, and Handel said she hoped he would come to campaign for her. "Partly because I think he will insist on it", said Dr. Kerwin Swint of Kennesaw State University.
An Ossoff victory, which almost came to pass despite the long Republican tradition in the district, would have sent even marginally vulnerable House Republicans into a panic that the unpopularity of President Donald Trump could bring them down next November.
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Heading into Tuesday, 18 candidates were competing - 11 Republicans, five Democrats and two independents. "And voters, if they're hearing what the message the Republicans are putting forward and the message - the non-message Democrats are putting forward, they'll go with Republicans".
"We know that this is an important race, and it's going to stay in the hands of a Republican", Handel told CNN. "The only way you fight that is you have to fire up the Republican base". However, Ossoff received a majority of the East Cobb vote in only a few precincts in or near Marietta city limits.
Ossoff, a 30-year-old documentary filmmaker and political novice, told his supporters late Tuesday that a runoff "shattered expectations".
Voters in the 6th District have also elected the likes of Republican U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, who represented the 6th from 1999 to 2005, and most recently, former Republican U.S. Representative Tom Price held the seat from 2005 until he resigned in 2017 to become the Nation's Health Secretary. Price won 62 percent of the vote in November, about 14 percentage points ahead of Trump's total.
More tests await, with special elections approaching in Montana and SC in May and June.
Werner reported from Washington.