Articles

What Does Georgia Say About 2018?

April 20, 2017
5820128a13d0a28ec8082c29eb9e6e5c

Here’s the takeaway from Tuesday’s special election in Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District: Democrats and Republicans have reasons to be concerned.

Democrat sachems cleared the field for 30-year-old Jon Ossoff and showered him with millions of dollars. They hoped to clinch victory without a runoff by clearing 50% of the vote in the first round against the splintered GOP field. It didn’t happen.

Mr. Ossoff won 48.1%, only 1.3 points better than Hillary Clinton did in the district last fall. Because the early in-person and absentee vote was reported first, he started the evening with 61.5%. But as the votes cast on Election Day were tallied, his numbers fell and finally settled below the 50% threshold. Mr. Ossoff now goes to a June 20 runoff.

Democrats have a decision to make. Should they keep plowing millions into this race? Or do they divert resources to the May 25 special election for a House seat in Montana—a state that actually elects Democrats? The party could also simply stockpile dollars for 2018.

Complicating the decision are Mr. Ossoff’s lackluster political skills. He tries compensating for his youth by speaking clichés slowly in a bass voice, betraying excessive ambition. It doesn’t help that he lives outside the district. All this largely escaped attention as 11 Republicans—four of them credible candidates—cut each other up. But Mr. Ossoff’s shortcomings will be more visible in a two-person race.

Also advancing to the runoff, with 19.8% of the vote, was Karen Handel, a former Georgia secretary of state. She has campaigned as the traditional, conservative Republican that she is. As an added advantage, she once was chairman of the Fulton County Commission, giving her chops on local issues in the state’s most populous county.

A two-person runoff will magnify Mr. Ossoff’s liberal views and give Ms. Handel a good shot at winning the 13% of district voters who supported former Rep. Tom Price last fall but did not vote for Donald Trump.

But Ms. Handel has a reputation as a poor fundraiser and lost primaries for governor (2010) and senator (2014). It’s also unclear if the GOP will remain unified in this deep-red district. The major Republican candidates earned 92,590 votes compared with Mr. Ossoff’s 92,390. Ms. Handel has little room for defections.

The quality of each side’s ground game will prove critical in the runoff. Ms. Handel’s victory could depend on how many volunteers show up at her headquarters or that of the Congressional Leadership Fund, the Republicans’ principal outside group in the race.

A defeat could foreshadow major Republican losses in 2018. Still, neither party’s approach to this special election is sustainable or provides an obvious path to victory in the midterms.

Democrats will not be able to clear the field in each priority contest or shower candidates with Mr. Ossoff’s record spending of perhaps $10 million. There won’t be enough open races in 2018 for Democrats to pick up the 24 seats they need for control of the House. They’ll mostly face incumbents, who tend to win re-election, except in massive wave elections like 2006 and 2010.

Republicans relied on the Congressional Leadership Fund’s attack ads to keep Mr. Ossoff under 50%. Along with the National Republican Congressional Committee, the group will fill airwaves and computer screens with spots as the runoff approaches. But not all 2018 GOP candidate can count on similar levels of support.

There are 23 Republican incumbents in House districts Mrs. Clinton won. There are 47 in districts more Democratic than Georgia’s Sixth. At least 28 of these are similar to Rep. Price’s former stomping grounds: suburbs with white-collar, college-educated Republicans who are sometimes lukewarm toward Mr. Trump.

To continue reading this article, visit WSJ.com

Related Article

Bef230b794dab25235d37da0efc27421
October 19, 2017 |
Article
Steve Bannon, the failed presidential adviser and alt-right sympathizer, has declared war on incumbent Republicans, particularly Sen. Mitch McConnell. From his perch at Breitbart, Mr. Bannon is vowing to defeat officeholders who back Mr. McConnell as majo...
A112a8f0b3e08a2e93aa45a55912c041
October 12, 2017 |
Article
The feud started a week ago Wednesday, when Sen. Bob Corker (R., Tenn.) told a reporter that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly are “people that help separate our country from chaos.” ...
A946ad31d5206e9e12399d914dc3a692
October 05, 2017 |
Article
There’s no tax-reform bill yet, only a framework, but the left is already trumpeting the old argument that Republicans want to help their rich buddies while blowing up the deficit.  ...
12a9991f86b9a848793f7a153ae25955
September 28, 2017 |
Article
It was a disastrous day for the whole GOP—President Trump, congressional Republicans, grass-roots activists and anyone who wants progress on the party’s agenda. On Tuesday, for a second time this year, Senate Republicans failed to repeal and replace Obama...
Button karlsbooks
Button readinglist
Button nextapperance