UPDATE FEB. 15: Sally Harrell, an experienced Democrat with endorsements from a number of state leaders, just announced that she will not run in this race, ideally to pave the way for another progressive candidate to win the seat.
Now that Rep. Tom Price has officially ascended to Secretary of Health and Human Services under Donald Trump, the race to fill his seat is on.
Democrats are expected to ultimately rally around a single candidate, in order to increase the chances of a Democratic making it to the expected runoff. While Republicans are trying to find their sea legs in a predictably conservative district that did NOT rally around Trump, handing them only the slimmest of margins — one percent — in the most recent presidential election.
On Tax Day — April 18, this year — a special election will be held for Price’s Georgia Congressional District 6 seat. This district covers Alpharetta, Brookhaven, Chamblee, Doraville, Dunwoody, East Cobb, John’s Creek, Milton, Roswell, Sandy Springs and Tucker. There are no primaries, all the candidates will compete on one ballot, and the top two winners will likely go into a runoff election June 20.
The race is lining up to be the first referendum on Donald Trump’s presidency. Will Trump’s historically low approval ratings inspire voters to come out in force to push back against his policies?
If you live in or around these areas and want to see if you are eligible to vote in this election, visit the Secretary of State’s My Voter Page.
This is a district that, compared to the rest of Georgia, skews white, older, married and higher income. This is the same district that Mitt Romney won with more than 60 percent of the vote in 2012. However, by 2016 Trump only won the district by 1 percentage point, beating Hillary Clinton 48-47.
Theses numbers — along with Democrats successfully flipping Cobb and Gwinnett — raise questions about just how reliably Republicans can carry once-conservative strongholds, like the Ga. Congressional District 6 seat.
While we’ll know by the middle of this week who, officially, are candidates, right now Jon Ossoff and Sally Harrell are the top Democratic contenders, while current State Sen. Judson Hill is the most recognizable name on the Republican side. Karen Handel, former Secretary of State and 2010 Candidate for Governor, is expected to join the race on the GOP side, as are a handful of both local politicians and political outsiders.
Ossoff has made a big splash with his campaign. He rounded up $250,000 in promised donations before even declaring his candidacy, and has raised another $600,000 since then. Ossoff has also received endorsements from his former boss Congressman John Lewis, Rep. Hank Johnson and from Daily Kos, a liberal media site.
Another candidate — political newcomer Josh McLaurin — even dropped out of the race to back Ossoff, saying:
When I joined the race, I promised to step aside if a clear frontrunner emerged, in the interest of maximizing the chances that a Democrat makes it into the runoff. Jon Ossoff is that leader. He is in the best position to mount the energized and professional campaign necessary to win. More importantly, after meeting with him, I now have the utmost confidence that he will be the vigilant advocate we need to fight corruption and failures of compassion in Washington.
Harrell, meanwhile, shows the spirit of a team player and has a real history in politics, having served in the Georgia State House of Representatives from 1999 to 2005. She has been promoting the work of local Democratic organizers, like the 6th District Task Force, an effort from the Cobb, Fulton and DeKalb county Democratic parties to elect a Democrat to the seat. She has also received endorsements from respected local leaders, like Sen. Elena Parent, and Reps. Stacey Evans, Scott Holcomb and Michelle Henson.
Special elections tend to have really, really low voter turnout, but hopefully all the money and energy going into this race will help change that. Given the current political climate, even if you don’t live in the district, this will be a race to watch.