All eyes were on Georgia’s 6th congressional district last night as Republicans struggled to replace Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price’s vacant seat in the House of Representatives. For many, it is unthinkable that Jon Ossoff (D-GA) nearly captured the seat in a region that has been a conservative stronghold for decades, with CNN reporting late last night that Ossoff will barely miss the fifty percent majority that he needed to win outright. This means that Jon Ossoff and Republican candidate Karen Handel will now be placed into a special runoff election, scheduled for this June. Ossoff ended his night rallying supporters, by stating that “There is no doubt that this is already a victory for the ages.”
Before the Republican Party enters full panic mode with agitation and anxiety clouding their judgment, they need to get a grasp on what took actually took place last night. It’s time for the party to ask themselves some serious questions: Was it a good night for the Democrats and Jon Ossoff? Absolutely. Is it catastrophic for Republicans? Not necessarily.
By simply holding Ossoff below the fifty percent threshold, it allows for a special run-off in which Republicans can consolidate support behind one candidate. In last night’s crowded field featuring eleven Republican candidates, it was extremely difficult for anyone to gain any real momentum. However, this will not be the case come June 20th when Karen Handel is the lone Republican candidate.
The message is simple and straightforward. Now is not the time for Republicans to have doubts. John Ossoff gave the impression of a weak candidate with little-to-no name recognition and limited campaign funds. However, this could not be further from the truth. Ossoff was an online fundraising superstar. Progressive activists led by the liberal blog Daily Kos pumped $8.3 million into Kossoff’s campaign. With deep pockets and an immensely divided republican field, it’s no wonder Ossoff almost pulled off an upset.
Now that Republicans can focus solely on one candidate, the Party will be able to put up a fair fight against the Democratic candidate.
Republicans should be fairly confident with their probability of winning come June 20th. With a consolidated base in a conservative stronghold, no plausible scenario comes to mind in which Handel (R-GA) would lose easily.