It was a photo finish in the “jungle primary” special election in Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District on Tuesday to select a replacement for Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), punctuated by unusual technical reporting delays from Fulton County, the largest county in the district.
In the early hours of Wednesday morning, thirty-year-old Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff fell just short of the 50-percent-plus-one vote total he needed to avoid a June runoff with the GOP’s Karen Handel, the former Georgia Secretary of State who finished in a distant second.
CNN declared the race a runoff between Ossoff and Handel shortly after midnight.
At 12:09 a.m. President Trump tweeted, “Despite major outside money, FAKE media support and eleven Republican candidates, Big “R” win with runoff in Georgia. Glad to be of help!”
With 177 of 210 precincts reporting as of 12:25 a.m. eastern on Wednesday morning, the Associated Press results had Ossoff in first place with 49 percent of the vote, followed by the GOP’s Karen Handel in second at 19 percent, and the GOP’s Bob Gray in third place and out of the runoff election with 10 percent.
Ossoff did very well in early voting, garnering 61 percent of those ballots from Cobb, DeKalb, and Fulton County. Strong early voting results are usually an indication of organization and preparation on the part of the campaign.
However, as the evening wore on, Ossoff’s margin continued to diminish.
By 11:00 p.m. eastern, with 113 of 210 precincts reporting, Ossoff had 50.3 percent of the vote. Handel was in a distant second with 18 percent. All precincts in Cobb and DeKalb County had reported by then, but only 19 of the 116 precincts in Fulton County had reported.
The evening was set up for a dramatic finish, since only a few months earlier Hillary Clinton had won the precincts in Fulton County within the Sixth Congressional District with 48 percent of the vote.