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Karen Handel Defeats John Ossoff in Georgia Special Election

Posted  June 21, 2017

By the C|C Whistleblower Lawyer Team

In an election widely viewed as a referendum on the Trump presidency, Republican Karen Handel has defeated Democrat John Ossoff in a bid to represent Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District. Out-of-state interests from both sides of the political spectrum spent millions of dollars on the House race, the most expensive in U.S. history.

Although Handel garnered less than 20% of the vote in the April primary, Republicans rallied to give her 52.6% percent of the runoff vote on Tuesday.  Nonetheless, the victory is bittersweet for Republicans who, until recently, had little reason to doubt their control over the Sixth District.  In 2016, the District’s voters chose Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton by 1.5 points, despite delivering double-digit margins of victory for Republican candidates in the prior four Presidential elections.

Both Handel and Ossoff walked fine lines in the election.  The former sought to avoid direct affiliation with Trump while the latter hoped to avoid association with “liberal elites.”  Throughout the election, Republicans ran relentless attack ads linking Ossoff to House minority leader Nancy Pelosi and her “San Francisco values.”  Ossoff, in an apparently unsuccessful attempt to distance himself from those values, ran a centrist campaign, promising not to raise taxes on the rich and pledging to seek compromise and root out wasteful spending.

Georgia’s Sixth District is among the fifteen “most educated” in the nation, meaning that more than half of its adult residents hold a college degree.  Handel had good reason to distance herself from Trump in the election; the President’s ratings among college-educated voters are now in the low 30s.