Early voting began Monday in the U.S. House race for Georgia's sixth district, capturing national attention as Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff has raised millions of dollars with a surge of grassroots support in the traditionally conservative enclave.
The vacancy left by former Georgia representative, now-Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price, has resulted in a so-called "jungle primary," with Ossoff as the clear front-runner among 18 candidates vying for his seat. As Vox put it Monday, "the April 18 special election...is Democrats' first chance to eat into Republicans' House majority—and potentially preview the 2018 midterm elections."
According to the most recent poll on March 24, Ossoff leads with 40 percent (up from 18 percent in a separate survey earlier this month). Notably, the new survey by the Georgia-based Opinion Savvy found that in hypothetical run-off races, which will occur unless one candidate wins a full 50 percent, Ossoff is favored to beat his likely Republican counterparts.
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A national fundraising effort launched by the left-leaning Daily Kos has helped Ossoff raise more than $3 million dollars, said to be an unheard of amount in a district that hasn't voted Democrat in decades.
"Normally, a Democrat running for Price's seat would be lucky to raise $10,000 to $20,000," Phil Lunney, legislative liaison for the Fulton County Democrats, told Vox. "There's been nothing like it here, at least in the 21st century."
Ironically, the doomed Republican healthcare plan that Price supported could turn out to be the GOP's undoing in this race. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution observed Saturday that the election "will be a quick test of the impact of the dramatic failure of the GOP's effort to deliver on its promise to 'repeal and replace' Obamacare."
For his part, Ossoff "blasted the scuttled House plan as a 'raw deal' and stood beside a former director of the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to criticize its sharp cuts to a disease-fighting fund," AJC reported. After the vote he said that "both parties should sit down and deliver more affordable health care choices to the American people without throwing millions off their insurance," adding: "We all know Obamacare needs work, but repeal makes no sense."