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18 candidates qualify in race for Tom Price’s former U.S. House seat in Georgia

Democrats have hopes for a breakthrough in a district Trump barely carried

♦By Rich Shumate,

georgia mugROSWELL, Georgia (CFP) — A gaggle of 18 candidates qualified for the April 18 special election for Georgia’s 6th District U.S. House seat, kicking off a wide-open race to succeed Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price in the suburban Atlanta district.

HHS Secretary Tom Price

HHS Secretary Tom Price

A Republican field of 11 includes former Secretary of State Karen Handel and two former state senators, Judson Hill and Dan Moody, as well as two candidates, Bob Gray and Bruce LeVell, who are aligning themselves with President Donald Trump

The Trump factor could prove interesting in this race. While the 6th District trends Republican (Price was re-elected with 62 percent in November), Trump carried it by a scant 1.5 percent in November, on his way to losing all three of the counties that make up parts of the district.

Trump’s weak showing in the district has drawn five Democrats into the race to succeed Price, including former State Senator Ron Slotin from Sandy Springs and  Jon Ossoff, a filmmaker and former congressional aide who has snagged high-profile endorsements from U.S. Reps. John Lewis and Hank Johnson.

A crowd-funding effort launched through Daily Kos has raised more than $760,000 for Ossoff, whose campaign website features a banner headline reading “Georgia: Stand Up To Trump.”

The district includes East Cobb, North Fulton and northern DeKalb Counties and has been held in the past by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson. The April election will be the first U.S. House contest since Trump was elected in November.

In addition to the 11 Republicans and five Democrats running, two independents also qualified. All candidates will run together in the same race; if no one clears a majority, the top two candidates regardless of party will meet in a June 20 runoff, a process likely to help Democrats with a smaller number of top-flight candidates.

Handel, who chaired the Fulton County Commission before becoming secretary of state, is perhaps the best known of the Republican candidates, having narrowly lost races for governor in 2010 and U.S. Senate in 2014. In 2012, she made national headlines after resigning from the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation after it reversed a decision to cut off funds to the abortion provider Planned Parenthood.

However, she will be competing for the North Fulton share of the 6th District vote with Moody, who represented the area in the Georgia Senate; Gray, a former city councilman in Johns Creek; and Kurt Wilson, a Roswell businessman who is making imposition of term limits a centerpiece of his campaign.

Hill will have the advantage of being the only major GOP candidate from East Cobb. He has been raising money for the race since Price was nominated for HHS secretary and resigned from the Senate after qualifying for the 6th District race.

LeVell, a businessman from Sandy Springs and former chairman of the Gwinnett County GOP, was executive director of the National Diversity Coalition for Trump during the presidential campaign. His campaign website features a photo of him standing next to the president.

Also in the running is Mohammad Ali Bhuiyan, an economist from Cobb County who is trying to become the first Muslim Republican in the House.

The election is April 18, with the top two candidates regardless of party meeting in a June 20 runoff if no one clears a majority.

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