Handel defeats Ossoff in most expensive House race in history

By Ray Downs  |  Updated June 21, 2017 at 6:30 AM
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June 20 (UPI) -- Republican Karen Handel defeated Democrat Jon Ossoff in the most expensive congressional election in U.S. history to replace former Georgia Rep. Tom Price, who joined the Trump administration.

Together, the campaigns spent more than $55 million, with Ossoff outspending Handel by roughly $25 million. But despite his vast support from the Democratic Party and online popularity, including celebrity endorsements from people like actress Alyssa Milano, Ossoff did not beat Handel in Georgia's 6th District, which has belonged to the GOP since 1979.

Ossoff, a 30-year-old political newcomer who attained nearly 50 percent of the vote in a runoff against three Republicans, including Handel, captivated Democrats who believed he had a chance to rise a perceived wave of anti-Trump sentiment.

It looked like Ossoff had a chance. In polls running up to Tuesday's election, Ossoff was neck and neck with Handel. But the spirited and well-funded campaign failed to fend off Handel, an experienced 55-year-old Georgia politician who served as Georgia's secretary of state between 2006 and 2009, in addition to running failed campaigns for governor and senator.

The high-dollar contest was fueled by super PACs and other outside groups, which accounted for $26.2 million of the overall cost, with Handel raking in the bulk of it at $18.2 million, compared to Ossoff's $7.6 million.

Many of these groups were from out-of-state, a reflection of how much attention the race received nationwide. According to the Center for Public Integrity, five of 42 groups that donated to the campaigns were from the state of Georgia.

Ossoff received much more than Handel when it came to individual contributions, although most of it was also from out of state.

Ossoff took in $8 million from individual contributions, compared to Handel's $2.1. But most of Handel's individual donations came from Georgians, while Ossoff received more donations from California and New York than from his home state.

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