By John Celock
Republicans retained control of a Georgia congressional seat following a nationally watched campaign that became the most expensive in American history.
Republican Karen Handel defeated Democrat Jon Ossoff 52.6 percent to 47.4 percent in a special election for the suburban Atlanta congressional seat formerly held by Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price. The race became a national focus for Democrats and progressives, who poured over $30 million into Ossoff’s campaign coffers in an attempt to centralize their opposition to President Donald Trump.
Handel, a former Georgia secretary of state, used results from election day returns to outpoll Ossoff’s narrow win in the early voting. The result comes following an election dominated by Ossoff’s support from Democratic and progressive groups and individuals from around the country, including Daily Kos and California centered groups. Handel, who garnered support from Trump and Vice President Mike Pence along with other national groups, focused much of her campaign on her background in state and local office.
Ossoff, 30 faced criticism during the campaign for not living in the district. Ossoff, a former congressional aide, said that he lived 10 minutes outside the district and was residing in a neighboring district because it was closer to his fiancee’s medical school.
The national attention to the race, including millions of dollars spent by outside groups, propelled the largely unknown Ossoff into a national figure for progressive groups. Ossoff had easily lead the nonpartisan primary round of the election – against a large GOP field – but failed to garner a majority needed to avoid the runoff election against Handel.
Handel’s election marks a comeback for the Republican. A former Fulton County Board chairwoman, Handel left the secretary of state’s office a year before her term expired to unsuccessfully seek the governorship in 2010. She also lost a race for the U.S. Senate in 2014. Handel had encountered national controversy during her tenure as a senior vice president for the Susan G. Komen Foundation, when she crafted a policy adopted by the breast cancer charity’s board, to stop funding Planned Parenthood. She later resigned from the Komen Foundation.