By: Alex Seitz-Wald
Ossoff took 48 percent of the vote in the unusual 18-candidate race, according to the Georgia Secretary of State, but he needed 50 percent to avoid a runoff.
Now, the race has simplified, with Trump and the GOP coalescing behind Handel and Democrats and the so-called “resistance” behind Ossoff.
The two candidates projected confidence Wednesday, with Ossoff telling MSNBC he is “ready to move forward and win in June.”
“I’m thrilled by the result,” the 30-year-old candidate told MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle. “If you had told anyone a couple of months ago that a Democratic candidate would be able to build a coalition this broad with this much grassroots support, come in first place by these kinds of margins in a district that hasn’t been competitive for decades, they would’ve been shocked.”
Handel, appearing on CNN, said she hopes Trump would campaign for her in the district, even though he dramatically underperformed other Republicans there last November. “It’s all hands on deck for us,” she said.
“For the people of the 6th District, it has always been about who will be best served and who has the values aligned with the 6th District,” Handel added on Fox News.
At her election party the night before, Handel said Hollywood elitists and Washington Democrats like Nancy Pelosi were trying to “steal a seat” that has been held by GOP lawmakers like Newt Gingrich and Price.
Trump echoed the sentiment in a series of tweets Wednesday.
“Dems failed in Kansas and are now failing in Georgia. Great job Karen Handel! It is now Hollywood vs. Georgia on June 20th,” Trump wrote, referring last week’s narrower-than-expected special election in Kansas.
Samuel L. Jackson recorded a radio ad for Ossoff while actress Alyssa Milano helped drive voters to the polls. Hollywood producers were among the 95 percent of Ossoff donors from outside Georgia.
Ossoff made a similar case against Handel, warning that conservative “dark money” groups would drown the district in phony attack ads.
Despite raising a record-breaking $8.3 million in the first three months of the year, Ossoff was still outspent by Republicans almost two-to-one on advertising, according to the analytics firm Echelon Insights.
Three outside conservatives groups alone spent a cumulative $5 million on ads attacking the Democrat.
“There’s no doubt that mega-donors eager to protect the rigged system in Washington will pour millions in corporate special interest money into this race,” said Tiffany Muller, the executive director of End Citizens United, which raised more than $800,000 for Ossoff.