Georgia Special Congressional Election 2017 – A Contest with National Significance

The Georgia special congressional election of 2017 was a closely watched and highly contested race that garnered national attention. It was seen as a barometer of political sentiment in the early days of the Trump administration and held the potential to influence the balance of power in Congress.

The Vacancy and the Contestants

The special election was held to fill the seat in Georgia’s 6th congressional district, which had been vacated by Tom Price. Price had resigned to become the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services in the Trump administration, triggering the need for a special election.

The election featured a large field of candidates, but the two frontrunners were Karen Handel, a Republican, and Jon Ossoff, a Democrat. Handel, a former Georgia Secretary of State, had a long history in Georgia politics. Ossoff, on the other hand, was a political newcomer who gained national attention and substantial funding from Democrats across the country.

The Runoff and National Attention

The special election took place on April 18, 2017, and resulted in a closely divided outcome. Jon Ossoff received the most votes but fell short of the majority needed to win outright. As a result, a runoff election was scheduled for June 20, 2017, between Ossoff and Karen Handel.

The runoff election became a focal point of national political discourse. It was considered a critical test of public sentiment towards the Trump administration, as Georgia’s 6th district had traditionally been a Republican stronghold but was seen as potentially competitive in the changing political landscape.

Karen Handel’s Victory

The June 20, 2017, runoff election ultimately saw Karen Handel emerge as the victor. She secured 51.8% of the vote to Jon Ossoff’s 48.2%, winning the seat for the Republican Party. Handel’s victory was celebrated by Republicans as a successful defense of a traditionally Republican district against Democratic efforts to flip it.

Handel’s campaign emphasized conservative principles and her experience in Georgia politics. The race had become one of the most expensive congressional contests in U.S. history, with both candidates and outside groups pouring millions of dollars into advertising and campaigning.

Implications and National Impact

The Georgia special congressional election of 2017 had significant implications for both parties. For Republicans, Karen Handel’s victory was a relief and demonstrated their ability to defend key seats even in the face of well-funded opposition and changing demographics. It also provided a boost to Republican efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), as it increased the party’s majority in the House of Representatives.

For Democrats, although Jon Ossoff fell short in the runoff, the race indicated that traditionally Republican districts could be competitive with the right candidate and resources. It energized the Democratic base and contributed to the party’s efforts to retake control of the House in the 2018 midterm elections.

In retrospect, the Georgia special congressional election of 2017 was a closely watched and influential race that showcased the evolving dynamics of American politics and the importance of special elections in shaping the balance of power in Congress.


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