Why Georgia’s 6th District vote matters

A campaign van for Jon Ossoff passes by a sandwich shop in Dunwoody on Thursday, minutes after Karen Handel greeted supporters there. BOB ANDRES /BANDRES@AJC.COM

The 6th Congressional District vote on Tuesday is more than an opportunity for Democrats to score an early victory against President Donald Trump and his agenda. It’s also a chance for Democrats to test a different sort of message in fast-changing suburban districts that they’ll need to retake the U.S. House.

That’s because the wealthy and well-educated suburbs spanning from east Cobb County to north DeKalb County are exactly the kinds of places that Democrats see as the key to their future. And it’s why both parties have turned Atlanta’s suburbs into a last stand, pouring more money into the contest than some major presidential candidates managed to muster last year.

After getting trounced in November in the rural, blue-collar districts they once controlled, Democrats hope a cocktail of changing demographics in conservative-leaning suburban seats mixed with grass-roots anger against Trump will return them to power in 2018. That could start with the candidacy of Jon Ossoff, a 30-year-old former congressional aide.

And Republicans see Tuesday’s vote as a chance to send a message of their own: that Democrats can’t compete in GOP bastions with centrist-sounding messages that they see, as Karen Handel so often says, as “fake.” Many are casting their vote as a defense of Trump, a stand for conservative values or a strike against national Democrats who think they understand Georgia.

By just about any metric, the race is neck-and-neck, and analysts from both sides of the partisan divide often say it’s a coin flip. Ossoff has marshaled more than 12,000 volunteers who have relentlessly contacted voters across the territory; Handel has had a string of big-name Republicans, starting with Trump, help her rally conservatives to her side.

Read more on MyAJC: National Democrats, Republicans both see 6th District as a must-win

More recent AJC 6th District coverage:

Jon Ossoff: The making of a Georgia Democratic dynamo

Karen Handel: A ‘fighter’ returns to the political arena

First-timers get involved in 6th District get-out-the-vote effort

Exhausted 6th District voters prepare for vote

Trump robocall slams ‘tax-raising’ Ossoff in Georgia 6th race

Georgia 6th District: AJC poll shows Ossoff with lead over Handel

 

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