Republican Karen Handel Wins Hotly-Contested Georgia Congressional Special Election

Hollywood had rallied behind Democrat Jon Ossoff’s bid to flip a Republican stronghold

Last Updated: June 21, 2017 @ 10:36 AM

Republican Karen Handel defeated Jon Ossoff, a Democrat, in the most expensive U.S. House race in history, the Associated Press reported.

Handel bested Ossoff by 3.8 percentage points in Tuesday’s high-stakes election to fill Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, a race which Hollywood tried passionately to sway left and was largely seen as an early referendum on the first months of Donald Trump’s presidency.

Ossoff — a 30-year-old documentary filmmaker and former congressional aide —  had a slight edge over Handel — a former Georgia secretary — in the days leading up to the Election. But by Tuesday, polls showed the two were in a neck-and-neck race.

The 6th District seat, vacated by Trump’s secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price, is a tough one for any Democrat: It has been in Republican hands since 1979, when Newt Gingrich first claimed it. He held it for 20 years, including during his time as Speaker of the House.

In 2012 Mitt Romney won the district  by 23 percentage points. But in 2016, Trump won by just 1.5 points, offering Democrats an opening.

Hollywood heavily invested in the race, with Sarah Silverman, Debra Messing, Mark Ruffalo, Kerry Washington, Danny Zuker, Beau Willimon, Billy Baldwin and Alex Gibney all taking to Twitter Tuesday to urge voters to vote for Ossoff.

Others, like Jane Fonda, John Leguizamo, Sam Waterston, Kristen Bell, Connie Britton, Jessica Lange, Lynda Carter, Rhea Perlman and Jon Cryer contributed to Ossoff’s campaign, according to his Federal Election Commission report.

Samuel L. Jackson cut a 45-second radio ad endorsing Ossoff. And Alyssa Milano personally drove people to the polls.

Not to be outdone, Republicans used Hollywood’s intervention as a way to fundraise for their candidate.

“Hollywood is all-in on electing Ossoff,” Handel’s campaign wrote to supporters the day after Milano campaigned for him. “The Democrats have the liberal media and Hollywood celebrities to sing their praises. But we have something better: YOU. It’s critical that we come together now to support Republicans committed to fighting against the Democrats’ liberal vision for America.”

President Trump, who had endorsed Handel on Twitter leading up to the election, was quick to congratulate the winner “on her big win in Georgia 6th. Fantastic job, we are all very proud of you!”

Ossoff, a political novice, has campaigned as a moderate Democrat favoring cost-cutting. He faced criticism for not living in the sixth district. Ossoff explained that he is currently living with his girlfriend while she completes medical school at Emory University just outside the district’s borders.

Meanwhile critics of Handel, a former county official and Georgia secretary of state, has openly opposed same-sex adoption, telling a reporter earlier this month that allowing same-sex couples to adopt is not in “the best interest of the child.”

Those conservative positions on social issues are one of the qualities that made her an enemy of left-leaning entertainers — but so did her affiliation with the president, one of the most despised people in Hollywood.

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