Thanks again to Jon Henrik Gilhuus for his help with the pictures!
Tomorrow the first round of the year’s most-watched House Special election will take place. At stake is GA-6, an R+2 (2016) seat in the northern Atlanta suburbs. The seat covers the wealthy eastern quarter of Cobb County east of I-75, wealthy suburbs of Fulton County north of the Perimeter (which also have some isolated lower-middle-class minority pockets) and the northern quarter of DeKalb County, which is a mixture of upper-middle-class suburbs bisected by a corridor of poor, heavily Hispanic slumburbs along I-85. This was once Newt’s seat and the most Republican in Georgia (a prior version of this seat was a GOP vote sink as recently as the 90s) but it trended hard-left last year, and that has led Democrats to go all-in on this race in looking for a way to defeat Trump. Polls close at 7p ET and we will be liveblogging. If you haven’t seen our poll of the race from last week, now is the time to check it out. Five Democrats and eleven Republicans are running.
The clear front-runner in the first round is former congressional staffer Jon Ossoff (D). Ossoff has coalesced national liberal support and raised a ridiculous amount for this race from national liberal donors. He is running a stridently anti-Trump campaign and seeking to cast himself as the vanguard of the bold progressive “Resistance.” However, his incredibly thin resume, which consists of a low-level staffing job with five months of security clearance and running a small video production company, and his stridently anti-Trump liberal campaign limit his ability to take crossover support. While he received essentially unanimous Dem support in the poll, his crossover support was non-existent. As a result, he is certain to finish in first, but according to our and other recent polls, he is likely to finish well below 50%, probably somewhere around the 40% mark. Ex-State Sen. Ron Slotin (D) is the other Democrat of note in the race. Slotin served two terms in the State Senate in the early 90s before launching an unsuccessful primary run for GA-4 in 1996. Slotin was initially considered a credible candidate for this race before he got eclipsed by the Ossoff hypestorm, but he may still draw a couple points from more moderate Dems turned off by Ossoff’s thin resume. Three Democratic Some Dudes are also in the race and may draw a point or two between them.
On the GOP side, the field is far more crowded with four candidates all having a chance to come in second. That said, ex-SoS Karen Handel (R) looks like the most likely to advance. Handel is well-known from a long political career, including as Fulton County Exec, a term as SoS in the 2000s, and runs for Governor in 2010 and Senate in 2014. Handel is a fairly typical suburban conservative – fiscally conservative and socially a mainstream conservative. Owing to her strong name recognition and base in Fulton County (nearly half the district), she has taken a narrow lead for second in our poll and was a more comfortable second in some other recent polling. She has also received some establishment support, including an endorsement and ad from ex-Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R).
Handel looks likely to finish in the high teens and have the best chance to advance, but there are three other candidates tightly bunched right behind her in the low teens. Johns Creek councilman Bob Gray (R) has turned into a surprisingly strong contender, thanks to significant self-funding and a campaign as the most unapologetic Trumpist in the field. Strangely for someone embracing Trump so tightly, Gray has also been backed by the fiscally conservative Club for Growth.
Ex-State Sen. Dan Moody (R) has by far the most cash of the field thanks to $2M in self-funding. He has been running as a fairly typical Chamber-of-Commerce conservative and has the support of Sen. David Perdue (R), who Moody helped recruit campaign workers for in 2014. Moody also helped recruit people for the successful campaigns of former Governor Sonny Perdue (cousin of the Senator), and several of the Perdues’ campaign people have returned the favor to work for Moody this spring.
State Sen. Judson Hill (R) is also a Chamber-of-Commerce conservative and has the support of Newt, as well as a strong base in the wealthy, heavily Republican, and high-turnout Cobb County portion of the district. All of Gray, Moody, and Hill were tightly behind Handel in our poll, and each could have a chance to upset her for second.
The other seven GOP candidates look to have no chance to advance, but will probably draw 5-10% between them. Businessman David Abroms (R) is running as a moderate and has support from
Egg McMuffin Evan McMullin, which will likely get him around three points; he seems unlikely to garner much more than that. Businessman Kurt Wilson (R) hasn’t received a lot of buzz, but has fundraised six figures and has some support in local grassroots conservative circles that may get him a point or two. Conversely, Trump campaign operative Bruce Levell (R) has received some national buzz for his ties to the Trump camp, but got zero support in our poll and looks likely to finish at asterisk level. Three other candidates, GOP operative Amy Kremer (R), accountant William Llop (R), and veteran Keith Grawert (R), are running semi-serious campaigns and may draw a percent or two between them. There is also a final Some Dude in the race on the GOP side who has been running on a message of open anti-Semitism and whose name doesn’t deserve to be mentioned.
Special Elections: There are also two special elections tomorrow, and the more interesting one overlaps with the western part of GA-6. GA-SD-32 is an R+20 (2012), but likely much more D-friendly by 2016 numbers, seat in eastern Cobb County and parts of Sandy Springs, embedded within GA-6 and vacated by congressional candidate Judson Hill (R). Five Republicans and three Democrats are seeking this seat and it is chaotic enough that any two can advance. Physician Kay Kirkpatrick (R) looks like the slight front-runner; a major GOP donor, Kirkpatrick has been well-funded. There has been a slight brouhaha over Kirkpatrick using her maiden name on the ballot instead of her married name, with rivals saying that the move was to hide past Dem donations under her married appellation. Fellow physician Roy Daniels (R) is running an antiestablishment campaign and has Erickson’s endorsement. Attorney Gus Markis (R) has Gov. Deal’s endorsement, while railroad conductor Matt Campbell (R) has the support of a prominent legislator from an adjacent district. Consultant Hamilton Beck (R) looks like the longest-shot among the GOP candidates. Three Democrats are running; attorney Christine Triebsch (D) looks like the slight front-runner, but physician Bob Wiskind (D) and Weather Channel producer Exton Howard (D) are also running serious campaigns. Any two could advance, and an R-on-R or even a D-on-D runoff are possible. The other election is far less interesting. AL-LD-67 is a black-majority ~D+23 (2008) district around Selma. Attorney Prince Chestnut (D) is the prohibitive favorite over a Some Dude Indie.