WASHINGTON ― President Donald Trump on Monday reiterated his support for Republican Karen Handel in Georgia’s highly anticipated House runoff election, signaling how the race is being viewed as a bellwether for national politics.
In a morning tweet, Trump called on constituents in Georgia’s 6th District to “vote now for Karen H,” and criticized Democrats, who he said “want to stop tax cuts, good healthcare and Border Security.”
Tuesday’s runoff election between Handel and Democrat Jon Ossoff, who are vying for the suburban Atlanta seat recently vacated by Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, attracted the attention of outside groups and leaders in both national parties. With spending surpassing $40 million last week, the contest has become the most expensive House race in U.S. history.
Trump himself appeared at a fundraiser for Handel back in April, praising her as “incredible” and depicting Ossoff as “someone who is going to raise your taxes to the sky and destroy your health care.”
Vice President Mike Pence also hit the campaign trail for Handel earlier this month. Over the weekend, Price and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, Georgia’s former governor, appeared with Handel at a rally.
Turnout in Tuesday’s election is expected to be high. More than 140,000 voters participated in early voting, indicating huge interest in the special election.
With recent polls showing Ossoff narrowly leading Handel in the traditionally GOP district, Republicans are hoping to stave off defeat. Democrats, meanwhile, are hoping to capitalize on a groundswell of anti-Trump activism and finally achieve a victory after losing previous congressional special elections this year.
In April’s first-round election, Ossoff fell just a few thousand votes short of winning the seat outright.
Tuesday’s race is also seen as a referendum on the GOP’s efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare.
Trump’s tweet that Democrats want to block “good healthcare” appears to contradict his assessment of Republicans’ health care legislation last week. Trump reportedly told Senate Republicans, who have been crafting their Obamacare repeal bill behind closed doors, that the House version of the bill was “mean” and implored them to pass a “more generous” version.
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