Democrat Jon Ossoff, who is attempting for the first time to gain elective office, came up just short of an outright win in a Georgia House district that is heavily conservative.
That has scared Republicans in the special election for state congress that was seen as a referendum on President Donald Trump.
Ossoff won 48.1% of Tuesday’s vote, just less than the threshold of 50% needed for an outright win of the seat and now faces Karen Handel, the top vote getter for the Republicans, in a runoff in June.
However, despite his advantage financially, Ossoff raised over $8.3 million, which as quadruple the candidate that was next closest, and energized liberal support base, the 50% vote threshold was out of his reach in a district that has not seen a Democrat represent them in Congress since the President Carter administration.
Ossoff released a prepared statement in the early hours of Wednesday following the announcement of the results.
He said it was a remarkable victory already as he and his supporters defied the odds, beat all expectations and now are prepared to fight and win the June runoff.
Ossoff’s strong campaign and results will ensure that the Democrats continue to compete in the area and will increase the pressure on the GOP to contest an election in June in Montana that so far has been ignored.
Combined with the performance that was better than had been expected by the Democrats last week in Kansas, the result in Georgia will give an immediate boost to Democrats, lifting fund raising and increasing efforts of candidate recruitment.
At the same time, it will give second thoughts to Republicans that are assessing if they will run during the first midterm of Trump’s candidacy. Already GOP candidates and other groups have spent more than $7 million against their Democratic opponents in a number of districts that are deeply conservative.
It is not known if Ossoff can sustain his success enjoyed in the Tuesday special election when he faces Handel on June 20 in a head to head election.
Handel, in Tuesday’s 18-person field, earned 20% of the overall vote. She is a former secretary of state in Georgia and is establishment friendly.