Republican Karen Handel told supporters gathered in Roswell Tuesday night that by morning the campaign would start anew and called on Republicans to unite around her.
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The former Georgia secretary of state will face Democrat Jon Ossoff in a runoff for the 6th Congressional District. Ossoff ended up with 48 percent of the voted, lower than the clear marjority he would have needed for an outright win. Handel came in second with just shy of 20 percent of the vote.
“You’re looking at the top Republican vote-getter, y’all,” said Handel, to cheers, claiming her spot in the slimmed down race a little after 11 p.m.
She took jabs at Ossoff’s inexperience. She linked him to House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi several times, and criticized the enormous amount of funds he’s raised.
Earlier, as supporters waited on returns, between country songs on the free music app, Pandora, an Ossoff ad had actually played out over her supporters.
“Hey that’s what happens when you have $9 million, most of it from out of Georgia,” said Handel, asked about the moment.
Pete Korman, 6th District voter, said national enthusiasm for Ossoff has been frustrating to watch, but he thinks Handel will win voters in the 6th.
Once Ossoff’s number had dipped below 50 percent, Korman gloated a bit, posing in front of a giant Handel banner.
“That picture is going on Facebook, tagging all my New York friends,” he said.
Handel, too, made sure to address her opponent’s out-of-state supporters.
“And to the actors and the liberal elitists in Washington and Hollywood, those that want to have a debate about values, a debate about, say, women’s health care. I say bring it on,” she said.
One person Handel didn’t mention was President Donald Trump, who tweeted his congratulations Wednesday morning.
Asked earlier in the night about whether she’d want Trump to help her campaign, she deflected, saying she’d figure all that out in the morning. Trump didn’t fare as well in the conservative 6th district as many Republican candidates before him.
But at least one of Handel’s supporters welcomes the help.
“Well, I would want President Trump tweeting for me,” said Nancy Couch. She added that when it comes to balancing the budget and repealing Obamacare, both Handel and Trump are for the people.
Couch says she’ll be out knocking on doors for Handel in the coming weeks. The runoff is set for June 20.