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Jon Ossoff Heads to Runoff With Big Vote in Georgia House Race

Jon Ossoff
Jon Ossoff

The Democrat narrowly missed the majority needed to avoid a runoff but got far more votes than any rival.

Democrat Jon Ossoff received a plurality of the vote in the special election to replace U.S. Rep. Tom Price in Georgia's Sixth Congressional District, and he will advance to a runoff against Republican Karen Handel, The New York Times reports.

Ossoff narrowly missed the majority needed to win the seat outright. He had 48.3 percent of the vote with 88 percent of precincts reporting as of 1 a.m. local time Wednesday, the Times reports. Handel, his closest rival, had 19.7 percent. There were five Democrats, 11 Republicans, and two independents in the race; with no candidate winning a majority, the top two, regardless of party, go into the runoff, to be held June 20.

Ossoff's strong showing in what has long been a Republican district is seen by many as a wake-up call to Republicans and a sign of voters' dislike of Donald Trump. "Trump erased any doubt the contest was all about him when he waded into the race at the last minute," CNN notes. "Trump recorded a robocall to Republicans in the district and attacked Ossoff on Twitter repeatedly on Monday and Tuesday. The President tweeted after midnight that he was 'Glad to be of help!' -- even though the district was competitive largely because of Trump's unpopularity with the white-collar white voters who make up much of its voting base." Democrats hope the election bodes well for the 2018 midterms, in which they will seek to pick up House and Senate seats.

Price, a deeply conservative, anti-LGBT Republican, had won reelection to the House from the district in November with 62 percent of the vote. But he resigned the seat to become Trump's secretary of Health and Human Services. Before Price, the seat was held by Republican Johnny Isakson, and before that by GOP stalwart Newt Gingrich.

Ossoff, a progressive and former congressional aide, received some criticism in the race for living outside the district, which includes parts of Atlanta and its northern suburbs. He grew up in the district but is currently living outside it to be with his girlfriend, Alisha Kramer, who is in medical school at Emory University, located in Atlanta but outside the district's boundaries. As soon as she graduates, he will move back to the district, he told CNN Tuesday.

Late Tuesday night, Ossoff was jubilant about his showing in the race. "There is no doubt that this is already a victory for the ages," he told supporters before the race was called, according to CNN. "That no matter what the outcome is tonight -- whether we take it all or whether we fight on -- we have survived the odds. We have shattered expectations. We are changing the world. And your voices are going to ring out across this state and across this country."

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