One might wonder if any discussions were had amongst Republicans in Washington last week about the likelihood that passage of the TrumpCare bill in the House could hand the Georgia 6th Congressional District to Democrat Jon Ossoff. I’m sure the Republican in race, Karen Handel, hasn’t been sleeping all that well.
The June 20th special election to replace now-Secretary of Health and Human Sevices Secretary Tom Price has always been framed as a referendum on Trump. That hadn’t changed. And now the AHCA is in the mix in a big way.
Ossoff released a statement that said in part:
I strongly oppose this bill, which allows discrimination against Georgians with pre-existing conditions and would make health insurance unaffordable for millions of families.. This bill puts Georgians’ lives at risk. Congress should put aside partisan politics and work to make affordable insurance and quality care available to all Americans.
Karen Handel’s office gave this statement to the Washington Examiner:
Karen would have joined with the Republicans in the Georgia delegation in voting in favor of the bill. She believes that the status quo is unacceptable and that this legislation, while not perfect, represents just the first step in replacing Obamacare with patient-centered healthcare.
As I wrote last week, Ossoff got more good news when a federal judge ruled against state provisions that would prevent more voter registration.
Add to that Ossoff’s ability to attract significant amounts of outside money and you might have a perfect storm for a Democratic steal.
Handel seems to believe there is no risk in appearing with and supporting the president. Perhaps she is right, and sticking close to Trump is the only way to turn out regular GOP voters. If, however, voters are souring on Trump, then Ossoff may be the first but certainly not the last Democratic beneficiary of the anti-AHCA backlash.
Handel may indeed be right. Republicans have held this seat since the late ’70s and while Trump’s approval ratings may be soft, he’s holding on to his base. Having said that, Trump isn’t very popular in the Georgia 6th.
No counting chickens here, etc., and a Democratic loss would be disappointing. But these special election seats have been in previously very red districts, which means that real Democratic competitiveness is bad news for the GOP especially this early in the mandate.