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Tuesday
Apr182017

Inside Georgia's special election to fill Tom Price's House seat

iStock/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- The polls open Tuesday for voting in the special election for Georgia's 6th congressional district and close at 7 p.m. ET.

The 6th congressional district includes parts of Cobb, DeKalb and Fulton counties north of the city of Atlanta.

Why the seat is open


The seat was formerly held by Tom Price, who is now the secretary of Health and Human Services.

Price was elected to a sixth term in the 2016 election. But then President Donald Trump tapped Price to lead the Department of Health and Human Services. Price was confirmed by the Senate on Feb. 10, leaving a vacancy in the House.

Who are the candidates?

It's a rather crowded field -- 18 candidates are running to fill the vacant seat left by Price.

Out of the 11 Republicans, former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel, businessman Bob Gray, and former state Sen. Dan Moody, who has the support of U.S. Sen. David Perdue, have emerged as front-runners.

Handel had launched unsuccessful bids for Georgia governor and for the Senate.

Jon Ossoff, a documentary filmmaker, has emerged from the field of five Democratic candidates.

The Congressional Leadership Fund, a House Republican super PAC, made an attack ad against the 30-year-old Democratic candidate, using old college videos of Ossoff in college dressed up as Han Solo and singing parody songs, in an attempt to portray him as inexperienced.

Two independent candidates, Andre Pollard and Alexander Hernandez, are also on the ballot.

Since the Georgia special election is a jungle primary, voters will receive ballots with all the candidates listed regardless of party affiliation. If one of the 18 candidates doesn't clear 50 percent of the vote, a run-off election between the two top candidates (regardless of party) will be held on June 20.

Why the race has garnered attention


Trying to deliver a knock-out punch in a red U.S. House seat, Democrats hope to prove that backlash to Trump's agenda across the country is already resulting in losses for the GOP. Many view the race as a referendum on Trump's first 100 days in office. A special election last week in Kansas resulted in a close call for the GOP in what is typically a solid Republican district.

Ossoff has the backing of prominent Georgia House members, Reps. John Lewis and Hank Johnson, as well as Democrats' congressional strong arm, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

“Donald Trump is putting everything at risk, that's why I'm supporting Jon Ossoff," Lewis says in a campaign ad. "I've known Jon Ossoff for many years. I know he will hold Donald Trump accountable."

The race has also attracted star power -- actor Samuel L Jackson has cut a radio ad for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and actress Alyssa Milano was offering free rides to the polls during early voting in March.

How Trump has gotten involved

Trump recorded a robo-call going out to voters in the district: "If you don’t vote tomorrow, Ossoff will raise your taxes, destroy your healthcare, and flood our country with illegal immigrants,” Trump said.

He's also tweeted multiple times, saying Ossoff is a "super liberal Democrat" who would be a "disaster for Congress." Trump tweeted that a runoff election would be an "easy win."

What to know about the district

Trump won Georgia's 6th district by a little less than two points back in November. Still, Tom Price won the district by 23 percentage points.

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich held the seat for two decades, and a Democrat hasn't occupied it since 1979.

Other highlights from the race

WSB-TV in Atlanta reported that four voting machines were stolen from a precinct manager's car over the weekend.

Ossoff has come under fire because he doesn't live in the 6th Congressional district, which also means that he can't cast a ballot for himself. In an interview with CNN this morning, he said he's temporarily living a mile and a half outside the district to help support his girlfriend while she attends medical school, but plans to move back.

It's all about the money

According to Federal Election Commission filings, Ossoff raised $8.3 million for his campaign through the end of March -- an astronomical sum for a U.S. House election. He's spent $6.1 million.

The three most prominent Republican candidates combined raised less than $800,000, with $464,000 for Handel, $217,000 for Gray and $108,000 to Moody. (Gray and Moody both loaned their campaigns additional money), according to the FEC.

Outside groups, like the DCCC, NRCC and End Citizens United have also poured money into the state.

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