Republican Karen Handel has won Georgia's record-breaking special congressional election, dashing hopes by Democrats to pull off an upset in the run-up to the 2018 midterm elections.
Seen as an early proxy for whether Democrats can flip certain Republican-leaning districts in the President Donald Trump era, Tuesday's election drew national attention and record cash from around the country. Democrats have aimed to leverage Trump's dismal approval rating and opposition to the Republican health-care bill into winning Republican seats and potentially taking control of the House in 2018.
The race for Georgia's 6th District for the seat vacated by Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price pitted Handel, 55, the former Georgia secretary of state, against Democrat Jon Ossoff, a 30-year old former congressional aide. Fueled by a rush of donors from around the U.S., Ossoff pushed for an upset in the suburban Atlanta district that Price repeatedly won easily.
He came up short, as Handel won by about 5 percentage points, according to incomplete returns.
The two campaigns and outside groups supporting and opposing the candidates shelled out at least $36 million as of May 31, including more than $22 million from Ossoff's campaign. The election easily set a record for spending in a House race, according to NBC News.
Republicans may see holding the seat as one sign that Trump's agenda and lack of popularity may not be as damaging for the party as Democrats hope. Separately on Tuesday, Republican Ralph Norman avoided an upset by winning a special election in South Carolina's 5th District, a seat vacated by Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney.