After Georgia, Republicans celebrating, Dems searching

Karen Handel, a veteran GOP state officeholder, beat Democrat Jon Ossoff, a 30-year-old former congressional aide, by a surprisingly easy 52 percent to 48 percent in the suburban Atlanta district in what was the nation's most expensive House race ever.

Handel, 55, will become the first Republican woman to represent Georgia in the US House of Representatives, according to state party officials.

Donald Trump was jubilant last night after post-election votes to determine seats in Congress were solidly won by Republican candidates.

"For you to suggest that I would do anything to negatively effect her is absolutely outrageous and unacceptable", Handel said.

For all the talk of "San Francisco values" (hint: we all know that's a code word for "gay" and are pleased that Ossoff supports LGBTQ equality) and the bogeywoman Nancy Pelosi who was pilloried in local commercials, Republicans failed to scare or suppress the voters enough to avoid a down-to-the-wire race in a district they should have won easily.

Ahead of the GA6 election, political strategists were looking to the Ossoff-Handel race for evidence of a coming Democratic wave in 2018. Democrats from coast to coast threw everything they had at this race, and Karen would not be defeated. Trump barely edged out Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 6th District in November.

"Defeating Republicans in districts that they have traditionally held requires doing something drastically different than establishment Democrats have done before - specifically, running on a bold progressive vision and investing heavily in direct voter contact", said Jim Dean, chair of Democracy for America. So it came as no surprise when, after Handel edged out Ossoff by 3.8 points, the president and his allies were quick to declare the victory proof of voters' support for Trumpism and the Republican Party.

Even as Ossoff lost, Democrats' spirits were somewhat lifted by the unexpectedly strong showing of their nominee in another special House election Tuesday, in SC.

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The outcomes in Georgia and SC also could boost Republican efforts to advance health and tax legislation that has been bogged down by infighting and investigations into whether Trump's campaign colluded with Russian Federation in last year's presidential election. In fact, people who are pure Trump voters, they hate Republicans just about as much as they hate the Democrats.

Ossoff and Handel were the top two finishers in an April 19 primary, advancing to the one-on-one runoff election.

While the Center for Responsive Politics documented that over $56.7 million had been spent in the short campaign, viewed by many as a referendum on the Trump administration, gun politics also played a part in the contest.

The Georgia win will help Republicans field better candidates in 2018.

Trump kicked off Tuesday tweeting his support for Handel - whom he described as a "hard worker" - while slamming Ossoff as a candidate who would raise taxes and be weak on crime.

Winning in this once-safe GOP district would follow House special election victories this year in GOP-held districts in Kansas and Montana.

Ossoff tried to flip the Atlanta suburbs that Republican Tom Price left to become Trump's health secretary. She was the main focus of numerous Republicans' ads against Ossoff. Super PACs and the National Republican Congressional Committee contributed a combined $18.2 million to defend the seat once occupied by former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and former Georgia Sen. National Republicans' House campaign arm added $4.5 million, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce chipped in another seven figures.

But Handel's win only buys some breathing room, as Russian Federation investigations, White House intrigue and policy disagreements on Capitol Hill continue to stall the GOP agenda in Washington.