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Tuesday, April 18, 2017


Seventeen at one blow?

by Tom Sullivan

It's "jungle primary" day in Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District. A special election will determine who fills the seat vacated when Republican Tom Price became Donald Trump’s Secretary of Health and Human Services. A candidate who garners 50 percent today wins outright, otherwise the top two finishers go to a runoff in June. Democrat Jon Ossoff leads in the polls. His nearest challenger is Karen Handel, the former Georgia Secretary of State who wrecked the Susan G. Komen Foundation's reputation in 2012 when she tried to cut off foundation funding to Planned Parenthood.

The New Yorker's headline recalls the Brothers Grimm. Can 30-year-old Osoff vanquish seventeen at one blow:

Handel has the lead among the Republicans in the race, at between seventeen and twenty-one per cent, according to the latest polls. On Tuesday, Democrats, Republicans, and independents will all appear on one ballot. Unless one candidate captures a full fifty per cent of the vote, there will be a runoff between the top two finishers, on June 20th. Ossoff’s overall polling lead is formidable, but it also reflects a crowded conservative field that features pro-Trump Republicans, establishment Republicans, at least one vocally anti-Trump Republican, and a John Wayne-quoting Muslim Republican named Mohammad Ali Bhuiyan ...

“If I had to put money on it, I’d say Ossoff is headed for a runoff against Karen Handel,” Jim Galloway, a longtime political columnist for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, told me. She would be poised to become the first female Republican member of Congress from Georgia. “Ossoff is going to look for the support of college-educated women and independents,” Galloway said. “And they’re not going to be turned off by Handel.” Galloway said that he would be “mildly surprised” if Ossoff won outright on Tuesday.
Which is why Charlie Pierce decided to forgo a visit to the Peach State (unless because it was a United flight). Pierce calls the race "the most overhyped political event since the Wesley Clark For President campaign." He writes:
Ossoff's already getting general election heat from afar. He was the subject of a spurious ad linking him to terrorists because, in his career as a documentarian, Ossoff did some work for Al-Jazeera. (This little beauty came from a PAC connected to Speaker Paul Ryan, the zombie-eyed granny starver from the state of Wisconsin.) And on Monday, he was the subject of a Tweet from the Oval Office itself.

Unless Atlanta used up its weekly quota of buckled highways and bridge fires yesterday, and barring one of Georgia's spring tornadoes keeping Republicans from the polls, more votes will be cast today for his opponents than for Ossoff (and the other four Democrats), which will make June 20 the greater challenge.

Nate Silver observes:
... Tuesday night’s first round won’t actually resolve that much — unless Ossoff hits 50 percent of the vote and averts the runoff entirely. (That’s an unlikely but hardly impossible scenario given the fairly high error margins of polls under these circumstances.) Even if Ossoff finishes in the low 40s, it will be hard to rule him out in the second round provided that he still finishes in first place by a comfortable margin. But even if Ossoff finishes just a point or two shy of 50 percent, and Democrats finish with more votes than Republicans overall, he won’t have any guarantees in the runoff given that it’s a Republican-leaning district and that the GOP will have a chance to regroup. With the runoff not scheduled until June 20, there will be lots of time for speculation about what the first round meant — and a lot of it will be hot air.
Plenty more bridges to burn in Atlanta between now and June 20 too.