About the Election:
As those of you who either live in the Metro Atlanta area (or keep up with the Trump-ster on twitter) may know, Georgia’s 6th District is the site of a hotly contested special election for the U.S. House of Representatives. The 6th District includes portions of eastern Cobb, northern Fulton, and northern Dekalb counties. The election was called by Governor Nathan Deal after former U.S. Representative Tom Price (R) was appointed by Trump to be the next U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services.
The rules in Georgia for a special election call for a single ballot containing the names of candidates for every party and state that, in order to win the runoff election, one candidate must win >50% of the votes. The race was packed with 11 Republicans, 5 Democrats and 2 Independents running and 2 Republicans and 2 Democrats who withdrew before the election. If no one candidate received >50% of the votes, there would be another election in June between the top two candidates.
The vote itself took place on April 18, 2017. Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff recieved the most votes, winning 48.1%. This is the highest percentage of votes received by a Democrat in the GA 6th since 1992 when the district’s current boundaries were drawn. Since Ossoff failed to receive >50%, he will face off against Karen Handel, who came in second with 19.8%, on June 20th.
Jon Ossoff: Jon Ossoff was born in Atlanta, Georgia, and his mother ran a Political Action Committee designed to elect women to office across Georgia. In high school, he interned for John Lewis, U.S. Representative for Georgia’s 5th district. He attended Georgetown and the London School of Economics. At the London School, he wrote his grad thesis on trade relations between the United States and China. After school, he went on to become an aide for Hank Johnson, U.S. Representative for Georgia’s 4th district. Ossoff is currently the CEO of Insight TWI, a small business that produces investigations into corrupt officials and organized crime whose work include a report on ISIS for BBC3.
Ossoff supports a woman’s right to choose, free contraception, “Obamacare,” and immigration reform. He is a believer in climate change and is against strict sentencing for non-violent drug crimes.
Karen Handel: Karen Handel was born in Washington, D.C. and grew up in Maryland. She does not have a college degree. After working for Hallmark, she became Deputy Chief of Staff for former Vice President Dan Quayle’s wife and served as the President and CEO of the Fulton County Chamber of Commerce. In 2002 she was appointed by former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue as Deputy Chief of staff. In 2007 she became the first Republican Secretary of State in Georgia history where she instituted highly controversial voter photo ID laws. Her project to “purge” voter rolls was halted by the United States’ Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division after claims against many Georgia residents saying they were “non-citizens” were found to be false. In 2010 Handel stepped down to focus on a gubernatorial bid, which she lost to current Georgia Governor Nathan Deal. She also ran a failed campaign for U.S. Senate in 2014.
Handel supports a path to citizenship for immigrants already in the United States and is against a woman’s right to choose and “Obamacare.”
On the National Stage:
This has been a popular issue nationwide because it is seen as a significant election in gauging public backlash against Trump. Trump weighed in on the issue on twitter six times in the two days leading up to the election, including this first tweet from April 16:
He even tweeted some, rather misleading, information about Jon Ossoff:
Ossoff currently lives 1.5 miles (roughly 10 minutes) outside of the district with his girlfriend who is a student at Emory in the neighboring district.
Why LGBT+ Voters Should Care:
Karen Handel is one of the biggest flip-floppers on LGBT+ rights in political history (and not in a good way). During her time as a local representative, she was a member of the Log Cabin Republicans, a faction of the Republican party that focuses on issues related to the LGBT+ community. When Handel ran for governor, Nathan Deal used this against her to rally conservative Republicans, and Handel denied her involvement in the group. This was rated by PolitiFact to be a “Pants-on-Fire” lie, which is the most severe rating given by the independent fact-check organization. In a local news interview, Handel went on to say she was against same sex marriage and adoption, a stance she stands by today.
Jon Ossoff, while not incredibly vocal on LGBT+ rights, says on his website that, “… Jon will fight tirelessly against discrimination, hate speech, or violence against Americans on the basis of their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation or place of birth.” He has also attended several events in favor of LGBT+ groups, including the 30th Annual HRC Gala Dinner & Auction.
Final Election and Where to Learn More:
The final election between Ossoff and Handel will be held on June 20.