Some Democrats See Purple in Red

Long-suffering Georgia Democrats think they see purple rafts floating in a red sea.

The red sea is Georgia's 6th Congressional District, where the Democrats newest purple-pusher is Thomas Jonathon Ossoff, the front runner in an 18-candidate special election primary.

The seat became vacant when Tom Price resigned to become U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services. The district has been in Republican hands for 38 years.

Ossoff polled 48.1 percent of the vote in the crowded field. The second highest tally went to former Secretary of State Karen Handel, a Republican who polled 19.8 percent.

The percentage difference between Ossoff and Handel, coupled with the fact that President Donald Trump won the district by 1.5 percent of the vote in November's presidential election, have Democrats licking their chops over the possibility of turning the district purple in the June 20 runoff.

Some Republicans fear an Ossoff victory could set a trend for the 2018 congressional races around the nation, and in a recent visit to Atlanta, Trump himself cautioned Handel against losing the 6th District. 

But are those April primary returns and presidential results indicative of the district's true political leanings?

It's true that Trump defeated Hillary Clinton by a slim 1.5 percent in a usual Republican-rich district. But polls showed voters didn't hold Clinton or Trump in high esteem. That could account for Trump's close win in the 6th. But the district's low Republican presidential percentage didn't hold in the congressional race. Price won re-election by 23.4 percent of the vote. 

Those returns show some Republicans may have voted for Clinton in the presidential contest. But they also show the Republicans remained loyal in the congressional race.

In the congressional primary race, Ossoff missed an outright victory by just two percent. Does coming that close to victory mean he'll wrap it up in the runoff?

Ask former U.S. Senator Wyche Fowler. 

In his 1992 re-election bid, Fowler, a Democrat, polled 49.23 percent of the vote in the general election. Republican Paul Coverdell received 47.67 percent while Libertarian Jim Hudson got 3.10 percent. Hudson's tally forced a December runoff between Fowler and Coverdell.

President-elect Bill Clinton made a campaign swing through Georgia, urging Democrats to return to the polls and keep Fowler in office. During his tour, Clinton stopped in Macon and played a Central High School student's saxophone at the downtown rally.

Despite the efforts of Clinton and other Democrats, Coverdell won the senatorial runoff  with 50.65 percent of the vote. 

So does Ossoff's 48.1 percent assure his election?

Probably not.  Price's 23.4 percent general election percentage underscored the district's true political leanings. Republicans will band together June 20 and keep the district in GOP hands.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© 2017 WMAZ-TV


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