Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff, with his girlfriend Alisha Kramer, after speaking to supporters in Atlanta as votes were being counted in a key Georgia congressional race, April 18, 2017. Great job Karen Handel!
That massive influx of cash, coupled with a lack of any other serious Democrats in the race and a disdain among many Republicans in the district for Trump's in-your-face style, made for a surprising opportunity for Democrats in the south - a region where the party has been decimated over the last decade.
The Kansas and Georgia races also serve notice that GOP candidates may struggle to handle Trump, who alienates many independents and even some Republicans. Handel, who took 19.8 percent, is a former Georgia secretary of state and chair of the Fulton County Commission who has unsuccessfully run for governor and Senate.
But he received tremendous support from national Democrats who saw the race as an early bellwether of how the party will do in the 2018 mid-term elections. The 54-year-old organized a Facebook group, "Liberal Moms of Roswell and Cobb", in 2015.
Meanwhile, Ossoff is celebrating his near victory. The Dunwoody retiree and Handel volunteer says Republicans were too cautious in the primary for fear they'd "step on toes".More news: Diet soda study looks at dementia, heart risks
DuBose Porter, chairman of the Georgia Democratic Party, said the 6th District offers the flawless setting for state and national Democrats to prove their momentum heading into 2018. He just "hopes to have a Republican elected", Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.
In response, Press Secretary Sean Spicer blasted the absurd liberal media narrative that it was a "symbolic" or "emotional" victory for Democrats despite their candidate falling short. They spent over $8.3 million. They lost. And the reaction has somewhat been, you know, that they nearly won.
He lectured the journalists in the room: "And so, anything sort of describing that as a loss is - is sort of inconceivable to me in the sense that that's literally what they said their goal was to do.They put all the money that they had in there, they put all the firepower, and they came up short". She trailed Ossoff by more than a 2-to-1 margin, but drew immediate endorsements from some of her fellow GOP candidates and national party leaders, including House Speaker Paul Ryan. But we'll see if we're needed. GOP Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, an ally of House leadership, said congressional Republicans must start showing they can lead after the failure of their health care legislation, or risk voters snatching away their majorities.
"I think this was a big loss for them".
The victor in Georgia will succeed Republican Tom Price, who resigned to join Trump's administration as health secretary.More news: Fox News Cans The O'Reilly Factor
"We defied the odds, shattered expectations, and now are ready to fight on and win in June", he said in a statement. "This is a story about this community at this moment in history", he said Tuesday night, casting the race as a choice about "the kind of country" the United States will be, though he never named Trump.
"‶It is now Hollywood vs. Georgia on June 20th", Trump wrote, referring to the date of the runoff election between Ossoff and Handel.
More tests await in the weeks to come, with special elections approaching in Montana and SC in May and June.
Associated Press reporter Kathleen Foody contributed. Werner reported from Washington.More news: Kompany scores as Manchester City climb to third with Southampton victory
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