Georgia Special Election Headed for June Runoff

Jon Ossoff, the 30-year-old upstart making a run for Tom Price’s former congressional seat representing the Atlanta suburbs, will finish tonight’s jungle primary with approximately 48.6 percent of the vote – 1.4 percent shy of the 50 percent threshold needed to win the seat outright.  He will face off against former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel in a head-to-head runoff election on June 20.

Democrats in Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District had coalesced around Ossoff, while the Republican voters were divided among 11 other candidates, with Handel emerging as the leading Republican with 19.5 percent of the vote.

The race was the focus of intense outside spending and activism, particularly on the Democratic side. Outside groups spent a combined $8.2 million in this race, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The organization also reported that a staggering 95 percent of Ossoff’s campaign donations came from outside of the district.

This is the second special election for a congressional seat since the beginning of Donald Trump’s presidency.  Last week, Democrat James Thompson overperformed by 20 points in an ultimately losing effort to fill the seat vacated by Rep. Mike Pompeo. Ossoff, unlike Thompson, was running in a much more competitive district. Donald Trump won the district by 1.5 points, despite the fact that incumbent Republican Congressman Tom Price won reelection by 24 points, as well as the fact that the district has not had a Democratic congressman since 1979.  Though it was viewed as a more winnable seat than the Kansas counterpart up for grabs a week earlier, the concern now for Democrats is if Ossoff can still maintain or even increase his support in a race against a single Republican candidate with unified party support. It was for that reason that Ossoff and Democrats were trying to deliver a knockout punch today by clearing the 50 percent threshold to avoid a runoff election.

The race continues for another two months.

Special Election Voter Registration Deadlines Approaching

There are five special elections to fill vacant congressional seats over the course of the next three months.

  • Kansas: (21 days before the election: March 21, 2017). Election Day: April 11
  • Georgia: March 20. Election Day: April 18, June 20 (if necessary)
  • Montana: (30 days before the election: April 25, 2017) Election Day: May 25
  • South Carolina: April 2 for primary, May 21 for general) Election Day: June 20
  • California: (March 20 for primary, May 21 for runoff) Election Day: April 4, June 5 (if necessary).

2017 Special Election Calendar

Having spoken to and emailed several party officials, here is what the special elections schedule looks like over the next three months to fill the five vacant seats in the House of Representatives:

March 5-6 – Party nominating conventions for Democratic and Republican candidates for Montana AL CD.
April 4 – California 34th CD primary election
April 11 – Kansas 4th CD general election: Ron Estes (R) v. Jim Thompson (D)
April 18 – Georgia 6th CD general election
May 2 – South Carolina 5th CD primary
May 16 – South Carolina 5th CD primary runoff election (if necessary)
May 20 – Montana AL CD general election: Greg Gianforte (R) v. Rob Quist (D)
June 6 – California 34th CD general election (the top two candidates from primary, if no candidate gets 50 percent of the votes +1 on April 4)
June 20 – Georgia 6th CD runoff election (only if no candidate gets 50 percent of the votes +1 on April 18)
June 20 – South Carolina 5th CD general election