Georgia's 6th District, which includes Cobb County, Fulton County and Dekalb County, has been held by Republicans since Newt Gingrich took office in 1978.
The victor of the run-off election will fill the seat vacated when Tom Price left the office to become Secretary of Health and Human Services for the Trump administration.
SANDY SPRINGS, Ga. (Reuters) - For U.S. President Donald Trump, an off-year congressional election on Tuesday in the reliably Republican northern suburbs of Atlanta could spell trouble if Democratic upstart Jon Ossoff pulls off a surprise victory.
The race is seen as an early test of strength for the president, and Ossoff insisted his performance in a district held by Republicans since 1979 showed Trump's party is beatable on their own turf in the current political landscape.
The outcome will not tip the balance of power in the Republican-controlled House.More news: Warriors star likely to play Game 3 against Trail Blazers
"They ran to win last night and they lost", White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters.
Ossoff faces formidable odds.
Demographic changes have made Georgia's affluent 6th Congressional District more competitive for Democrats.
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. With the slogan: "Make Trump Furious", he aims to galvanize opposition to a president who is struggling with low approval ratings. "There is no doubt that this is already a victory for the ages", he told followers.
Ossoff raised a stunning $8.3 million in the first three months of 2017, forcing Republicans to spend heavily against him.More news: Is it a bird? Is it a plane?
Yet even if Handel wanted keep Trump at arm's length ahead of the runoff, she may not have a choice.
Last week the Dems and their friends in the press tried to spin Kansas GOP Ron Estes's victory over his Democratic opponent in a special election for a Kansas House seat into "an embarrassing red-state scare". But they have yet to enact major legislation to fulfill campaign promises. "This president got 306 electoral votes", he explained.
Trump, a businessman and TV celebrity elected without having previously held political office, has attacked Ossoff on Twitter, calling him a "super Liberal Democrat" who would "protect criminals, allow illegal immigration and raise taxes".
Democrats smell blood after Ossoff far out-performed past Democratic House candidates in this historically strong Republican seat - even exceeding Hillary Clinton's margin from the 2016 presidential election. He didn't-and the top four candidates, led by Mandel with 20 percent, garnered, if you round off the pecentages, a fat 58 percent of the votes. They said that their goal was to get over 50%.More news: Opko Health Inc (NYSE:OPK) reported Beta of 1.72
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