Georgia Special Election Headed To Runoff As Republicans Avoid Nightmare Scenario

CNN Anchor Presses Leading Georgia House Candidate On When He'll Propose (VIDEO)

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.

Handel, who raised $463,744, was also targeted by a number of her Republican competitors. If he doesn't, he'll probably have a tough time in the runoff; as Erick Erickson observes, "There hasn't been any significant poll showing Jon Ossoff equaling or exceeding Hillary Clinton's 46.8 percent" that she received in the district in 2016.

Despite Trump's Twitter barrage, the White House insisted the race isn't about the president. He has pledged to fight Trump when he "embarrasses" the country.

"We have an incredible chance here, an extraordinary moment for Georgia", Ossoff told campaign volunteers as they headed out for a final round of door-knocking on Monday afternoon.

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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. Former Georgia Secretary of State is a distant second behind Ossoff but has a comfortable lead over other Republican candidates. But others struck a decidedly more centrist tone, talking about how he wanted to cut wasteful spending, boost infrastructure investment and attract new tech jobs to the area.

Handel finished second as the top Republican vote-getter. (New York magazine's Jon Chait wrote an excellent piece on Trump and TV that you really should read.) The narrative over the last week or so - as people outside of Georgia have started to pay attention to the race - is that an Ossoff victory would signal a rejection by Republicans of how Trump has performed in his first 100-ish days. "Say NO", Trump tweeted Tuesday morning.

That still wasn't enough for voters like Matt West, a 45-year-old financial planner from Roswell.

West said he voted for the Republican Handel.

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As for residency, Ossoff acknowledges that he lives just south of the district, in Atlanta, so that his girlfriend is close to her work at Emory University's medical complex.

Whatever the outcome, the race highlights Republican candidate's challenge in dealing with the president: He still engenders intense loyalty among his core supporters, but alienates many independents and some Republicans.

Handel rarely if ever talked about Trump unless she was asked. Unofficial return numbers as reported by the Washington Post show Ossoff with 48.6 percent; Handel got less than 20 percent of the vote, but the threat of a Democrat in a seat that has always been held by the Republicans will surely be enough to mobilize the party into action. They predict conservative voters would be energized in a Republican vs. Democrat scenario. Democrats ran a lot better than usual in the heavily-Republican Kansas district last week... but they still fell short.

Associated Press reporter Catherine Lucey in Washington and Kathleen Foody in Alpharetta, Ga., contributed.

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