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Democrat Jon Ossoff hoping to pull off an upset and avoid runoff in GOP-held district
♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor
ATLANTA (CFP) — Voters in Georgia’s 6th U.S. House District will give their verdict on the first three months of Donald Trump’s presidency Tuesday, in a special election where energized Democrats are hoping to pull of a political miracle and a gaggle of Republicans are battling to stave off political disaster by forcing a runoff.
Polls show Democrat Jon Ossoff, a 30-year-old filmmaker and former congressional aide, with a sizable lead over the rest of the 18-person field in the all-party contest to fill the seat vacated in February when Tom Price became secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in the Trump cabinet.
However, if Ossoff doesn’t win an outright majority in the first round, he will face a June runoff against unified Republican opposition, in a district the GOP has held for decades and which Price won by 76,000 votes in November.
Republicans are in a four-way battle for the second slot between Karen Handel, a former secretary of state and chair of the Fulton County Commission; Bob Gray, a technology executive and former city councilman in Johns Creek, one of the cities in the district; and two former state senators, Dan Moody of Johns Creek and Judson Hill of Marietta.
Polls close at 7 p.m. EDT.
Despite the 6th District’s Republican tilt, Democrats smelled blood after Trump carried by district by a mere 1.5 percent in November. Ossoff, whose campaign has been dubbed “Make Trump Furious,” has benefited from an avalanche of more than $8.3 million in campaign cash, most of it raised from Trump critics outside the district.
The district is anchored in Atlanta’s northern suburbs, taking in parts of Cobb, Fulton and DeKalb Counties. The seat has been held previously by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Republican U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson.
Despite public insistence by Republican leaders that the Ossoff campaign is an exercise in futility, the National Republican Congressional Committee ran ads into the district, telling voters that Nancy Pelosi and her fellow liberals are are trying to use this race to stop the Republican agenda. The Republican National Committee has also moved in staffers in preparation for a runoff.
Late polling in the race points to a runoff between Ossoff and Handel, who has high name recognition from her unsuccessful races for governor in 2010 and U.S. Senate in 2014, although at least one poll shows Gray within striking distance.
Trump has been the overriding issue in the contest. While Ossoff has run as the Trump critic, a number of Republicans have been jockeying to be the Trump candidate. including Gray and Bruce LeVell, who was head of Trump’s diversity coalition.
LeVell, who campaigned in the district with former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, has taken to calling Gray “Lyin’ Bob” for overstating his ties to Trump. But Gray is insisting he is the only one of the “major” Republican candidates who had a role in the Trump campaign.
However, the Trump label might not be as useful in the 6th District as it would be in other parts of Georgia. In the Republican presidential primary last march, Trump lost to U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida in the district, on his way to losing all three of the counties that make up parts of the district.
The Republican race has taken on an establishment-versus-outsider tone.
Handel, a political fixture in North Fulton for the past 15 years, has received a slew of endorsements from city and county officials throughout the district, as well as the support of former U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss. Gray, who has positioned himself as a business-oriented political outsider aligned with Trump, is receiving support from the conservative Club for Growth.
Moody was endorsed by U.S .Senator David Perdue; Hill, by Gingrich and Rubio, whom Hill endorsed in last year’s presidential primary.
None of the major candidates in either race is above the 50 percent threshold required for a win under the state’s unique election law
♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor
ATLANTA (CFP) — Races for U.S. Senator and governor in Georgia appear heading for December runoffs, thanks to close races, support for third-party Libertarians and the Peach State’s unique requirement of general election runoffs if no candidate wins a majority on election day.
A runoff could leave control of the Senate hanging in the balance until January 6 if Georgia’s race is needed to decide the balance of power.
The Libertarian candidate Amanda Swafford, a lawyer and former city councilwoman in Flowery Branch, is polling between 3 and 6 percent – enough to cause a runoff if the battle between Perdue and Nunn is close.
Likewise, in the race for governor, the Republican incumbent, Governor Nathan Deal, and his Democratic challenger, State Senator Jason Carter, are within the margin of error but below 50 percent, with Libertarian Andrew Hunt, an Atlanta technology executive, polling at about 5 percent.
Georgia is the only state in the union that has a general election runoff. The runoff for governor would be December 2, but the runoff for Senate would not happen until January 6.
Louisiana has a slightly different system in which candidates from all parties run in a primary in November, with a runoff set for December 6 if no candidate gets a majority.
The U.S. Senate race in Louisiana also appears to be heading for a runoff, with recent polls showing both incumbent U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu and her GOP challenger, U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, polling in the low to mid 40s.
In the Georgia Senate race, Nunn and Perdue, both political newcomers, are seeking the seat of retiring Republican U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss. Nunn is the daughter of former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn, while Perdue is a cousin of former Governor Sonny Perdue.
In the governor’s race, Carter, the grandson of former President Jimmy Carter, has run a surprisingly strong campaign against Deal, who is seeking a second term as the state’s chief executive after serving more than 17 years in Congress.
Deal’s prospects for re-election may have been harmed by the state’s sluggish response to a January snowstorm that paralyzed metro Atlanta.