She treated Trump gingerly throughout the campaign in a district he barely won in November, but the president called to congratulate her Wednesday morning and Handel said she hoped he’d campaign for her. The former Georgia Secretary of State is most infamous for being forced to resign from the Susan G. Komen after seeking to cut funding to Planned Parenthood.
Democrat candidate Jon Ossoff fall short in his bid to win a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives from Georgia on Tuesday. If any one candidate received 50 percent of the vote, they would win the seat outright; however, if no one reached that threshold, the top two vote getters would be moved to a runoff election scheduled for June 20.
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. Ms Handel did not mention Mr Trump during a 10-minute speech on Tuesday night, according to local media. “Glad to be of help!” the president tweeted, pointing to the large sums of money raised by donors outside the state of Georgia.
“We have an fantastic chance here, an extraordinary moment for Georgia”, Ossoff told campaign volunteers as they headed out for a final round of door-knocking on Monday afternoon. 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. GOP State Treasurer Ron Estes earlier this month defeated Democrat James Thompson by 6 points in a race for the 4th Congressional District seat in Kansas.
Ossoff aims to win an outright majority in Tuesday’s vote, a “jungle primary” with all 18 candidates from both parties on the same ballot. “We have defied the odds, we have shattered expectations”, Ossoff, who attended a Reform synagogue as a child, told a cheering crowd of supporters.
Trump in the final days of the campaign appeared to perceive the damage an Ossoff win would do to a presidency scoring historically low approval ratings and with an agenda that has been stymied by the courts and Congress.
The close contest had prompted Mr Trump to take to Twitter to urge Republicans to vote.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer echoed the sentiment.
“There is no doubt that this is already a victory for the ages”, said Ossoff.
“He just called to say congratulations and encourage me and let me know that as we go into June 20, that it’s all hands on deck for Republicans and we take it very seriously”, Handel said today.