Yes, Georgia Democrats believe they can take the Sixth District. And Republicans should, too

You might think that there is a certain futility that comes with going to a Democratic gathering to sniff out how Democrats really think they are doing in the contest for Georgia’s Sixth District.

And you’d be right, but only in part.

Forty-eight hours after Jon Ossoff pulled 48 percent of the vote in a GOP stronghold, the Democratic state party apparatus held its annual fundraiser at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Atlanta.

 


 

Republicans have claimed that Ossoff has given it his best shot, and presume that in a June 20 runoff the district’s GOP history will reassert itself. So there was a journalistic obligation to see if Democrats agreed.

In past years, the annual event (formerly tagged “the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner”) has been a sparsely attended occasion for wound-licking. But there was no cringing on Thursday night, and the crowd was sizeable – with a number of first-time attendees.

Jason Carter, the former candidate for governor, pointed east. “These people are from Coweta County,” he said, and then pointed west. “Those people are from Spalding County. It’s not just DeKalb and Fulton people here. That’s different.”

Ben Meyers, an old union hand, is chairman of the Sixth District Democratic party, and had a place at the table with Ossoff. He spoke of monthly breakfast meetings on his district’s western side.

“All of a sudden, it literally exploded,” Meyers said. “The Cobb County breakfast had to be changed three different times to up-size the location, because of the amount of people who came. We’re talking Cobb County.”

Michael Owens, chairman of Cobb Democrats, endorsed Meyers account. In the old days, Owens would have to send out tens of thousands of email nudges to generate a quorum. No more.

But they would say all that, wouldn’t they? And so the practiced skeptic looks at behavior.

The first speaker of the evening was Tom Perez, the new chairman of the Democratic National Committee. He was a reminder that national politics is in many ways a small town – one in which everyone knows everyone else.

Perez let it be known that his press secretary, a Georgia native, had been Ossoff’s roommate at Georgetown University. Perez is familiar with Karen Handel, too.

He headed up the civil rights division of the U.S. Justice Department when Handel was Georgia’s secretary of state. Perez identified her as one of many Republicans “on this ideological mission to make it harder for eligible people to vote. I’m proud to tell you we sued your former secretary of state.” (He didn’t mention the Justice Department lost.)”

And then DNC chairman dashed out a side door, ignoring all requests for a little facetime with the Fourth Estate.

Ossoff was obviously the star of the evening. But after arriving late and being mobbed at his front row table, he had only a brief, three-minute stint in the spotlight. He thanked the proper people, gave a modified version of his stump speech, and then vanished.

Again ignoring any encore with the press.

These snubs aren’t something to be resented. To extrapolate from Citizens United, silence is simply another form of speech, and so we must listen to what it says.

Earlier in the week, Perez had been hooted at by Bernie Sanders supporters at a “unity” rally in Maine, and no doubt wanted to avoid any questions about an experience that bespoke hard feelings left over from the 2016 presidential primary.

As for Ossoff, who is running as a centrist Democrat, it is fair to theorize that the candidate wanted to be out of the room when that firebrand, U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters of California, rose to perform her job as the evening’s keynote speaker. Waters has made recent headlines by using the word “impeach” when discussing President Donald Trump.

The point is that both men behaved in a genuinely cautious, but very calculated manner. Which implies that there is something valuable in hand that could be lost with a wrong move.

There are numbers that bear out this line of thought.

Also at the Democratic dinner was Alan Abramowitz, the Emory University political scientist. (He was the guest of his wife, a staffer for state Rep. Scott Holcomb, D-Atlanta.)

Five polls have already surfaced, posing an Ossoff-Handel match-up. Average them all, the academic said, and Ossoff has a lead of “less than one point.”

But it is the margin of Ossoff’s lead on Tuesday that grabs his attention.

“It would be different if [Ossoff] had 40 percent. Forty-eight? That’s putting him very close. The margin between him and Karen Handel is quite large. It’s 28 points,” Abramowitz said.

Which led me, once I arrived home, to lob an email in the direction of Charles Bullock, Abramowitz’ counterpart at the University of Georgia. One of Bullock’s many specialties is the study of runoffs in Georgia elections. He’s written one book on the topic, and his research continues.

“The research in the book found that the larger the margin of the primary leader, the more likely the leader would win the second round,” Bullock wrote in reply. “Research I am currently doing, which includes Georgia elections through 2016, continues to find primary margin the most powerful predictor.

“In 54 congressional runoffs since 1966, the primary leader won 79.6 percent,” he added.

That’s an impressive number. So the answer is, yes, Democrats really do believe they have a chance to win the Sixth District in June. And if Handel and her Republican friends are smart, they’ll believe it, too.

And behave accordingly.

Reader Comments 0

82 comments
Howard Waller Jr.
Howard Waller Jr.

More importantly Atlanta, we have a lying, liberal weasel named Ossoff that the dems are spending a lot of money on. Please get out and vote.

Anita Jones
Anita Jones

and Assoff is a paid sheeple chosen by Soros and DNC who can't even vote in the district. :) hmmm wonder why.

Margaret Penny Wood
Margaret Penny Wood

Handel has run for everything except dog catcher and she quit the job she did win. Sarah Palin is her idol?

Lynn Bearden
Lynn Bearden

Ossoff: the Pelosite !!! Could the democrats have chosen a more fake loser than this whiny punk ?\U0001f602

Sue Anne Morgan
Sue Anne Morgan

Handel is worthless. Talk to people who have worked with her. Her failures far outweigh her successes, and her duplicity is measurable.

Dale Hardy
Dale Hardy

Ossoff the Anthohy Weiner, weiner

Carolyn McLemore Payton
Carolyn McLemore Payton

Ajc. Shouldn't be so bias one way or the other. Should just report the news, without opinions.

Robert Bass
Robert Bass

Time to make the transplants very unwelcome in our state, they're not much difference than the freeloading wet backs....

Jim Dempsey
Jim Dempsey

Handel resembles the Quaker Oats man.

Henry Allen Black
Henry Allen Black

Georgia is a red state, and dont want or need a damn brain dead communist repersenting any district in this state!

Scott Burns
Scott Burns

Anyone but a Republican, they are self centered money grubbing Trump want to bees an live off the working class.

Maxine Rains
Maxine Rains

Not so fast. Age and experience will win out over youth and inexperience. Go Karen!!! USA Conservatives

Bethany Walsh
Bethany Walsh

Experience in losing and quitting midterm? Karen needs to go back to Washington DC where she is from.

Andy Adams
Andy Adams

Republicans get out and vote its not over with

David K Wilson
David K Wilson

I love it when dems call an election before it takes place . I guess it makes them feel victorious for a little while anyway.

Joe Whitfield
Joe Whitfield

I am wondering why anyone would want to vote for Karen Handel. In the one election she actually won, she quit in the middle of her term. Georgia told her no on two other occasions as she tried to run for governor and the US Senate. She quit when in college. She quit when things got tough at Komen. And now you want to put her in Congress?? What has she offered new for the 6th District? We always here about how dysfunctional Washington is and how it needs to change, yet people want to send the same lifetime politicians to Congress, it is simply mind-blowing. Just so you know, if you elect Handel, she will quit when she thinks she can get more fame and money. She is not dedicated to the 6th district. She is dedicated to Karen Handel. Ossoff is born and raised in the 6th District. This is home.

Daniel Eason
Daniel Eason

Ossoff has to keep enthusiasm among his supporters, and get 2% more of the total voter turnout. Handel has to convince more Republicans than voted for her to now support her. And she has to raise her share of voter turnout by more than 2.5 times. Anyone who'd rather be in Handel's position, more than 28 percentage points behind her rival and tasked with attempting to woo so many who years ago lost interest in her, isn't thinking straight. Add to her being so far behind, that she's now getting large outside donations (which is a ridiculous criticism), her attacks on Ossoff are even more severely limited than before.

Gerald Gunnell
Gerald Gunnell

If they do Atlanta is turning into a socialist society!

Rahul Gokulnath
Rahul Gokulnath

Dems need to work hard and not get caught up in the optimism of it all.

Jon Tsang
Jon Tsang

A documentary producer is a step up from a communist organizer

Brenda Addison
Brenda Addison

No more lying dem/lib 2 CENT BARGAINS! ! ! ! ! Trying to buy INTEGRITY . GO KAREN . YOU HAVE OUR VOTES ,

Kevin Post
Kevin Post

Compare the two. Born in Atlanta, Ossoff was raised by his parents in Northlake, an unincorporated community in Georgia's 6th congressional district. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in 2009 and he earned a master’s degree from the London School of Economics in 2013. Handel was born in Washington, D.C. and grew up in Upper Marlboro, Maryland.[3] After graduating in May 1980 from Frederick Douglass High School in Upper Marlboro,[4][5] Handel attended both Prince George's Community College and The University of Maryland, but did not complete any degree.[6] She then went to work for Hallmark Cards.

Teresa Frost
Teresa Frost

Look out Paul Ryan is on his way. No joke. Go Dems go.

Daniel Eason
Daniel Eason

Paul Ryan may go down as the most inept Speaker in history.

Dustin Ketchem
Dustin Ketchem

Karen Handel is from Washington DC.. literally. Born and raised. She also attended two different colleges but failed to ever earn degree.

Rahul Gokulnath
Rahul Gokulnath

dem ticket is always going to be evil to republicans.

Kevin Post
Kevin Post

Born in Atlanta, Ossoff was raised by his parents in Northlake, an unincorporated community in Georgia's 6th congressional district. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in 2009 and he earned a master’s degree from the London School of Economics in 2013.

Ashley Marsh
Ashley Marsh

So what? She lives her now. Ossoff lives a mile out of district. How does education make you qualified to hold office?

Keith Taylor
Keith Taylor

And still does not know how the real world works. How about starting at the bottom and working your way up.

Joe Whitfield
Joe Whitfield

Keith Taylor So you would prefer a failed lifetime politician who has nothing new to offer? Handel brings absolutely nothing to the office that has not already been tried and failed. Nothing. She quit in the middle of the term of the one election she actually won, then lost two other statewide races. Georgia said no to her twice. She quit as Sec. of State, she quit when going to college, she quit when things got rough at Komen. She is a failure and a quitter. We don't need anything like that near Congress. There is already enough of that in DC.

Dustin Ketchem
Dustin Ketchem

Karen Handel accomplished a lot as SOS.. like the lawsuit she got us involved in for voter suppression.

Dustin Ketchem
Dustin Ketchem

If there were a Democrat from DC running the right would be up in arms.. plus, if she can't finish something for herself, like a degree, what makes you believe she will be motivated to finish something for us?

Dustin Ketchem
Dustin Ketchem

Osoff was born and raised in the district. He lives a mile outside of it, and is moving back as soon as his fiancée finishes her degree at Emory. Lmao.. incredible how people choose party over logic.

Patty Hopper
Patty Hopper

Just to clarify, I'm pretty sure she was fired from Komen.

Sue Anne Morgan
Sue Anne Morgan

Handel is worthless. Talk to people who have worked with her. Her failures far outweigh her successes, and her duplicity is measurable.