Live Updates: Republican Wins Closely Watched Congressional Election In Georgia

The special runoff election was closely watched as Democrats tried to take the 6th District, which has been held by Republicans for nearly 40 years. BuzzFeed News reporters Henry J. Gomez and Alexis Levinson are in Atlanta and the suburb of Brookhaven.

What We Know So Far

  • The seat was vacated by Tom Price, who left to become President Trump's health secretary.
  • GOP candidate Karen Handel, a 55-year-old former Georgia secretary of state with experience in the private sector, won what had been a fairly close race.
  • Democrat Jon Ossoff is a 30-year-old former congressional aide and documentary filmmaker, could not peel away enough Republican votes to overcome Handel's energized base.
  • The election has become the most expensive congressional race in history, to the tune of more than $50 million.


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What kind of Democrat will be the next Ossoff?

He didn't support universal health care. He campaigned in a right-leaning district, Georgia's sixth, as a self-described "pragmatic moderate."

And yet it was Jon Ossoff, the Democratic candidate in Tuesday's special congressional election, who became the face of the progressive movement known as the "resistance," transforming one race in a heavily Republican district into a national rallying cry buoyed by millions of dollars in donations — the vast majority of which came from outside the state.

Democrats now face a new and uncertain question ahead of statewide and local races in 2018: which candidates get to be Jon Ossoffs — with the same national attention and money — and who gets to decide?

Read more here.

—Ruby Cramer

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Handel's victory over Ossoff is a huge blow to Democrats

Republicans survived a major threat Tuesday in Georgia's 6th Congressional District, where Karen Handel defeated a well-funded Democratic rival in a race that was seen nationally as a test of shifting demographics and President Donald Trump's popularity.

Handel, the 55-year-old former Georgia secretary of state, beat Democrat Jon Ossoff, a 30-year-old former congressional aide and documentary filmmaker.

She celebrated with supporters at a hotel in Brookhaven, a suburb north of Atlanta, Tuesday night. Shortly after CNN and others, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, called the race for her, Handel came out to address her supporters, saying she wasn't quite ready to declare victory and would wait for more results to come in. As she spoke, a supporter shouted: "You won!"

When Handel came on stage again, this time assured of her win, she was introduced by John Watson, the recently installed chairman of the Georgia Republican Party, who hailed her as a trailblazer — she'll be the first woman to represent Georgia in Congress.

"You did it, girl!" one supporter shouted when Handel took the microphone.

Read more about the election's outcome here.

—Henry J. Gomez and Alexis Levinson

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Handel says she is "extraordinarily humbled and honored" by victory in Georgia congressional race

In a triumphant speech Tuesday night, Republican Karen Handel told her supporters that she was honored to have won the race for Georgia's 6th Congressional District and would work to represent all of her constituents, even those who voted for her opponent.

"Tonight I stand before you extraordinarily humbled and honored at the tremendous privilege and high responsibility that you and the people across the 6th District have given to me to represent you in the United States House of Representatives," Handel said after winning the race against Democrat Jon Ossoff.

She went on to mention tax reform, healthcare, and the economy as priorities, with special emphasis on "creating jobs especially in the small biz community."

"My promise is to work every single day relentlessly to make our state and there country a better place," Handel added.

— Jim Dalrymple II

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Ossoff describes loss as "the beginning of something much bigger" in concession speech

Democrat Jon Ossoff spoke to supporters Tuesday night after losing the race for Georgia's 6th Congressional District, saying that they "showed them what courage and kindness and humility are capable of."

"We showed them that we can still build coalitions of people who may not see eye-to-eye on everything, but rather than demonizing each other, we find common ground to move forward," Ossoff said. "And that's the only way this country will move forward. So this is not the outcome many of us were hoping for. But this is the beginning of something much bigger than us.

"So thank you, thank you for the most extraordinary experience I've ever had the honor of being a part of."

— Jim Dalrymple II

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Handel beats out Ossoff in closely watched special election runoff

Republicans survived a major threat Tuesday in Georgia's 6th Congressional District, where Karen Handel defeated a well-funded Democratic rival in a race that was seen nationally as a test of shifting demographics and President Donald Trump's popularity.

Handel, the 55-year-old former Georgia secretary of state, beat Democrat Jon Ossoff, a 30-year-old former congressional aide and documentary filmmaker.

She celebrated with supporters at a hotel in Brookhaven, a suburb north of Atlanta.

The battle, which started with a nonpartisan "jungle primary" of 18 candidates in April, was the most expensive congressional contest in history — to the tune of more than $50 million. Local TV and radio were clogged with ads in the final days, many of them attacking one of the two candidates and one that tied Democrats to last week's shooting of House Majority Whip Steve Scalise at a baseball practice for congressional Republicans. (Handel and Ossoff both blasted the commercial.)

Handel's victory preserves for the GOP a seat the party has controlled for nearly 40 years and once was held by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Read more here.

—Henry J. Gomez

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Rain batters Georgia ahead of polls closing in pivotal congressional race

Voters in Georgia were forced to fight Mother Nature Tuesday as they cast ballots in a closely watched congressional election runoff that many saw as a test of President Trump's impact on the nation's political climate.

Polls in the race for Georgia's 6th District, which pits Republican Karen Handel against Democrat Jon Ossoff, were set to close at 7 pm ET. But as the day wore on, rain driven by Tropical Storm Cindy — which was in the Gulf of Mexico Tuesday — was battering the region. Images showed drenched yards and polling places as authorities issued flash flood warnings that covered counties within the congressional district.

Pouring rain in probably the most-Democratic precinct in #GA06 #gapol

A viewer sent us these incredible pictures of flooding in Brookhaven. Seeing floods in your area? Send us your pics…

Some longtime political observers in the region speculated that the weather could cause gridlock, impacting voters who might want to head to polling places after work. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution suggested that could particularly problematic for Handel.

By early Tuesday evening, multiple car crashes had been reported in the region. Authorities also performed at least one swift water rescue.

DeKalb Co. firefighters just did swift water rescue, took family of 4 out of home. Live at 5:33 with story.

Unrelated to the weather, officials received permission to leave two polling places open for an extra 30 minutes to address problems with checking in voters earlier in the day.

Still, many votes had already been cast before the storms arrived. Prior to election day, more than 140,000 people had cast their ballots, the Journal-Constitution reported. That represents a 150% increase over the number of people who voted early in the April special election.

— Jim Dalrymple II

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Karen Handel is keeping Donald Trump at arm’s length in Georgia's 6th District

You could count on one hand the red "Make America Great Again" baseball caps in the crowd here Saturday at a get-out-the-vote rally for Karen Handel, who is in danger of being the first Republican since the 1970s to lose in Georgia's 6th Congressional District.

At least two of the hats sat atop the heads of voters from the nearby 14th District. And that summed up rather neatly the struggle Handel and her GOP allies face.

They need to keep Donald Trump close. Just not too close.

Read more here.

— Henry J. Gomez

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Special election in Georgia is a high stakes race for Republicans

Tuesday's election in this collection of Atlanta suburbs is the closest thing the Republican Party faces this year to a must-win congressional race — because if it can't win this one, it may be hard for the GOP to find strong candidates for other seats.

Voters here are classic suburban Republicans: They make good money and are highly educated, if not entirely wedded to the irreverent politics of the Republican president, Donald Trump. The GOP candidate, Karen Handel, is a conservative chamber-of-commerce figure from central casting, with experience in government and in the private sector.

And if she can't win a district like this, what Republican can? That's a question that will bounce around Washington and state party offices on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning if Handel loses to Democrat Jon Ossoff. Some believe the party's candidate recruitment efforts could take a hit in similar districts. Others fear a loss would prompt establishment-wing incumbents in swing seats — many of whom are already dreading the thought of running for re-election with Trump in the White House — to retire.

"It sends a message nationally that a pattern is developing," a Georgia GOP operative, who requested anonymity to speak candidly, told BuzzFeed News. "In districts where Republicans rely on moderate Republicans and independents to get over 50%, this would be a warning bell, for sure. And it would show Georgia beginning to emerge as a purple state if Ossoff wins."

Read more about the race here.

—Henry J. Gomez

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