Georgia Special Election, WTF is That?
By: Kayla Pasacreta
All eyes are on Democrat candidate Jon Ossoff and Republican candidate Karen Handel, for the special election in Georgia’s 6th congressional district. This seat has been historically Republican since 1979, and the seat was left vacant when Tom Price left to serve as the Health and Humans Service Secretary for the Trump Administration.
But, just who are the candidates? Jon Ossoff is just thirty years old and has a special talent for making film documentaries. The Atlanta native attended Georgetown University and interned for Civil Rights icon John Lewis, who he cites as his hero. Osoff holds progressive views on health care and women’s rights, but is described by The New Yorker, as having “moderate stances on jobs and security.”He supports abortion rights, and is an opposition of sentencing for nonviolent drug crimes. Osoff and Trump do not have the best of relationships – Osoff has been the victim of some of Trump’s Twitter rants. Osoff has described Trump saying, “have great respect for the office. I don't have great personal admiration for the man himself."
On the other hand, Republican candidate Karen Handel is a D.C. native who attended Prince George’s Community College, but did not receive a degree. She worked for Hallmark Cards, where she was promoted as deputy chief to Hallmark’s vice president’s wife. She went on to start her political career in 2006, when she ran for the position of Georgia Secretary of State. Throughout the 2017 campaign cycle for the special election, she was rather hesitant to associate herself with Donald Trump until holding a joint rally with him in April of 2017. She wants to help repeal Obamacare, opposes embryonic stem cell research, and supports cut funding for Planned Parenthood. She has caught some heat with critics for her opposition of minimum wage, saying “I do not support a livable wage.” She also is unsure that human activity has a direct impact on global warming.
Television commercials are associating with Jon Ossoff with the “violent left”, just weeks after GOP Majority Whip Steve Scalise was shot. Pollster website FiveThirtyEight describes, “Georgia 6 is a tough district to diagnose because its politics in presidential elections shifted a lot from 2012 to 2016.” Most recently, the district voted for Trump over Clinton by 1.5 points. FiveThirtyEight has been monitoring polls via several different methods, and they have concluded that Democrats typically find success in special elections. On average, Jon Ossoff is leading the polls by 2.4 points. Still, most polls before the election had Hillary Clinton up against Donald Trump – so polls have the potential to be wildly inaccurate.
But why are the stakes so high for a congressional election? With 2017’s unusual political climate, Republicans have to try to cling to their majority in the wake of scandals and historically low disapproval rates of their party’s president. The bill for the AHCA is incredibly unpopular – and Republicans need all the seats they can to win over support of it. Trump’s base that helped him win the election has already shrunk, due to multiple factors. Negative perceptions of the President may affect the success of various Republican candidates. Georgia’s special election will be an early test to show just how much of an affect Trump’s presidency is having on the future of the Republican Party..
The polls are open tomorrow, and we'll keep you updated.