As predicted, Democrat Jon Ossoff is projected to advance to a runoff in Georgia’s special election after failing to clinch a majority of the vote on Tuesday in order to avoid another election in late June.
Ossoff led the crowded 18-candidate field in Tuesday’s “jungle primary” to fill the seat vacated by Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price. But since he didn’t clear the 50 percent threshold, he will now compete in a runoff with the second-place finisher, Republican Karen Handel, on June 20.
Democratic hopes that Ossoff could win outright were buried early Tuesday evening by predicted vote returns, and Ossoff’s vote share continued to drop as more precincts reported their votes. Reports of technical glitches stemming from Fulton County delayed the results for hours as Ossoff hovered right at that 50 percent threshold.
While Ossoff ran far better than any other Democrat had in this district before, narrowly missing the runoff will be a disappointment for the party because it allows Republicans to reload and unite behind one candidate.
Despite not clearing the field on Tuesday, Democrats harnessed their base’s energy and made a race for a seat that has trended red for decades competitive. Ossoff received an abundance of national support, including paid staffers from the House Democrats’ campaign arm, and hauled in an unprecedented $8.3 million in three months.
New Mexico Rep. Ben Ray Luján, the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, shared a similar message in a statement as he lauded Ossoff’s lead.
“Ossoff has already defied the odds in this long-held Republican seat, and it’s clear that he has the enthusiasm and support he needs to be a very strong contender against Karen Handel in the runoff,” he said.
However the odds are not in his favor…..
Handel, a former Georgia secretary of State, was considered an early favorite for the GOP side of the race and led most polls.
She had the highest name recognition, after two unsuccessful statewide bids and a high-profile resignation from Susan G. Komen for the Cure over the charity’s Planned Parenthood funding.
Handel also endured the most intraparty attacks. The conservative Club for Growth, which endorsed GOP opponent Bob Gray, called her a “career politician.” She also faced attacks from another fellow republican Dan Moody.