Major impact Georgia’s special election could have on US politics

Political observers are turning their attention to a special runoff election in Georgia which many are calling a key test for both parties heading into the 2018 midterm elections.

It pits 55-year-old Republican Karen Handel against 30-year-old Democrat Jon Ossoff in a race for the Sixth Congressional District seat which was vacated by Tom Price after he joined the Trump administration.

Ossoff won the first round of the special election on April 18 with 48 percent of the vote. Handel earned second place with just 19 percent of the vote. According to USA Today, "no one got more than 50 percent of the vote, a June 20 runoff between Ossoff and Handel was triggered."

Georgia 6th Congressional District special election

The race is being so closely watched, in part, because it is considered a referendum on the effect Trump's ongoing problems like the Russia investigation have had on the Republican party.

There is also uncertainty about the outcome which could affect the fate of pending legislation like the GOP health care bill, notes CNN.

And even though a Republican most recently held the seat, the district has not been consistent in its conservative votes for president over the past several years.

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In fact, the statistics site FiveThirtyEight reports, "If one uses the 2016 presidential election as a benchmark, this is a race that Democrats should be winning."

Nevertheless, Trump has decided to weigh in on the race, tweeting in a pair of messages, "Karen Handel's opponent in #GA06 can't even vote in the district he wants to represent...because he doesn't even live there! He wants to raise taxes and kill health care. On Tuesday, #VoteKarenHandel."

Turnout is expected to be a key factor but money has not been; passionate advocates on both sides have likely helped it become the most expensive House race in U.S. politics.

According to the Washington Post, security has also been a concern, especially since the recent shooting at a GOP baseball practice.

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However, Brad Carver, a local GOP chairman in Georgia, appeared to refer to the tragedy as an advantage to Handel by saying at a rally, "I'll tell you what: I think the shooting is going to win this election for us."

He explained, "...moderates and independents in this district are tired of left-wing extremism."

The Post notes that both candidates have reported threats and are said to be protected by bodyguards as a result.