The special runoff election is being closely watched as Democrats try to take the 6th District, which has been held by Republicans for nearly 40 years. BuzzFeed News reporters Henry J. Gomez and Alexis Levinson are in Atlanta and the suburb of Brookhaven.
Special election in Georgia is a high stakes race for Republicans
David Goldman / AP
Tuesday's election in this collection of Atlanta suburbs is the closest thing the Republican Party faces this year to a must-win congressional race — because if it can't win this one, it may be hard for the GOP to find strong candidates for other seats.
Voters here are classic suburban Republicans: They make good money and are highly educated, if not entirely wedded to the irreverent politics of the Republican president, Donald Trump. The GOP candidate, Karen Handel, is a conservative chamber-of-commerce figure from central casting, with experience in government and in the private sector.
And if she can't win a district like this, what Republican can? That's a question that will bounce around Washington and state party offices on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning if Handel loses to Democrat Jon Ossoff. Some believe the party's candidate recruitment efforts could take a hit in similar districts. Others fear a loss would prompt establishment-wing incumbents in swing seats — many of whom are already dreading the thought of running for re-election with Trump in the White House — to retire.
“It sends a message nationally that a pattern is developing,” a Georgia GOP operative, who requested anonymity to speak candidly, told BuzzFeed News. “In districts where Republicans rely on moderate Republicans and independents to get over 50%, this would be a warning bell, for sure. And it would show Georgia beginning to emerge as a purple state if Ossoff wins.”
Read more about the race here.
—Henry J. Gomez