President Trump faces a high-stakes political test Tuesday in a special congressional election that has turned into a referendum on his leadership and could have significant consequences for his stalled agenda on Capitol Hill.
On the eve of the vote to fill a House seat in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, Trump acknowledged that a Republican defeat in the district, which the party has held for nearly four decades, could have wide implications.
“The Dems want to stop tax cuts, good healthcare and Border Security. Their ObamaCare is dead with 100% increases in P’s. Vote now for Karen H,” the president tweeted, referring to Karen Handel, the GOP contender.
Handel, a former Georgia secretary of state, is locked in a tight battle against Democrat Jon Ossoff, a 30-year-old first-time candidate who lives just outside the district boundary. “Karen Handel’s opponent in #GA06 can’t even vote in the district he wants to represent,” Trump pointed out in another tweet.
Handel and Ossoff are vying to fill the seat vacated by Tom Price, who had held it from 2005 until he joined Trump’s Cabinet as health and human services secretary this year.
In the first round of voting, on April 18, Ossoff nearly topped the 50 percent threshold that would have given him an outright victory in an 18-candidate primary field. Falling just short, he has found himself in a runoff against Handel, who is scrambling to consolidate the Republican vote.
Though the two contenders rarely mention Trump, the national significance of the contest has brought forth a flood of advertising and organization.
Spending in the race by the campaigns and outside groups has topped $50 million, making it by far the most expensive House contest in U.S. history.
One low point came in the final days of the race, with a super PAC attack ad that showed footage of a bloodied House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) being taken off a baseball field on a stretcher after last Wednesday’s shooting in suburban Washington.
As the sound of gunshots echoes, a narrator says: “The unhinged left is endorsing and applauding shooting Republicans. When will it stop? It won’t if Jon Ossoff wins on Tuesday.”
Both candidates have denounced the ad.
While the affluent district has long been solidly red territory — Price breezed to a 23-point victory in November — it has not been quite as friendly to Trump’s brand of populist Republicanism. He won it over Hillary Clinton by only one percentage point in last November’s general election and had lost it to Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) in the GOP primary.
SOURCE: The Washington Post