Georgia run-off sets new test for President Trump

Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff for Georgia's 6th Congressional District special election speaks during an election eve rally at Andretti Indoor Karting and Games in Roswell

A novice Democratic candidate weathered attacks from President Donald Trump and finished well ahead of his Republican rivals in a much-watched Georgia congressional race on Tuesday, but appeared to fall short of the majority he needed to win outright.

Republicans are so desperate to hold onto the house seat in Georgia's 6th congressional district that they are sending unpopular House Speaker Paul Ryan to campaign for GOP candidate Karen Handel.

President Trump mocked Democrats on Twitter after Jon Ossoff narrowly missed winning a congressional seat outright in what would have been a shocking flip of a traditionally red district. The question for Ossoff, and Democrats more broadly, is whether they can successfully link an establishment Republican like Handel to the less-than-popular Trump over the course of a two month, one-versus-one runoff slog. And perhaps more significantly, Georgia Democrats have a poor record historically in two-party runoff elections (for example, Democrat Jim Martin lost to Republican Saxby Chambliss by almost 15 points in a 2008 Senate runoff). As Frank Bruni of The New York Times Ossoff's strong performance (he came just shy of the 50 percent mark) indicates that Democrats are energized to punish Republicans in the 2018 midterm elections and Trump in general.

"Republicans were hoping that the 2016 results were race-specific, and that without Trump on the ballot, this district would revert to Republican form", Sean Trende, an analyst at RealClearPolitics, wrote of Tuesday's special election. Republicans had a large slate of candidates in the "jungle primary", including a few who unapologetically supported Trump. Crediting himself, Trump added, "Glad to be of help!" "It is now Hollywood vs. Georgia on June 20th".

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Ms Handel received a little over 19 per cent of the vote on Tuesday. "Karen Handel (R) is pro-life and Jon Ossoff (D) supports abortion for any reason".

Spicer noted that the reason why President Donald Trump won was the Republican Party had already made significant headway with the shifting demographics of the country.

While no poll showed Ossoff getting to 50 percent (even with undecided voters allocated), he was dominating the early vote.

What's hard to know is how Ossoff's showing will be viewed by the Democratic base and the donor community. Handel is a former Georgia secretary of state and has largely avoided talking about Trump, who lagged other Republicans in the district last November.

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