He probably thought he has it in the bag, but things are not looking as clear for him now. Democrat Jon Ossoff ran to wrestle an Atlanta House seat from the Republicans, fueled by millions in donations and support from what his party thought is a growing anti-Trump movement.
Things are not looking as great for Ossoff as he would have hoped for after midnight. Unofficial returns showed that Ossoff had fallen below 50 percent of the vote, when he would have needed at least 50 percent to declare an outright victory. Instead, It looks like Ossoff is headed to a runoff against Republican Karen Handel, who got the top GOP votes in a special election to replace Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price in Georgia's 6th Congressional District.
Being forced into a run-off is not good for Ossoff as he might find it hard to sustain the momentum he enjoyed the past week in a traditionally Republican district since 1979. And here's what Ossoff should find worrying in the event of a runoff. Although Handel had gotten only less than 20 percent of the vote with 86 percent of precincts reporting, in a runoff it is expected that Republican voters who had divided their votes among 11 GOP candidates would rally behind a common candidate in Handel.
Handel sounded confident at her election night party in Roswell. She thanked supporters and called on Republicans to unite. She declared that "tomorrow we start the campaign anew", certain as she is of a runoff.
Ossoff spoke at his own party, even as his voice turned hoarse. He said that it has been a long evening, that may even turn into a longer one. He appeared resigned with the prospect of a runoff and not an outright victory, however, when he acknowledged that " we may not know the outcome for some time." As if to boost the morale of his supporters, he added "there is no doubt this is already a victory for the ages". He said that they will be ready to fight on "and win in June if it's necessary."
Democrats were hoping for a stunning victory in just the first round of voting to inspire a demoralized party following Trump's amazing upset win over Hillary Clinton in the presidential election last year. They saw an opportunity to raise expectations before the mid-term elections next year with the goal of winning back majorities in Congress. Ossoff's candidacy gave Democrats an exhilarating feel of what it would be like to compete in Republican strongholds next year, when they need to win 24 seats to regain majority of the House. It turned out the upbeat feeling over Ossoff's own run was all too brief.
Trump was happy with the likely runoff, with his after midnight tweet. The President said that despite major outside money, fake media support and eleven Republican candidates, it's a ""BIG R" win with runoff in Georgia. Trump said he was glad to be of help.
Georgia law states that a run-off ballot would feature the two top finishers from the crowded non-partisan primary, which was called after Republican Tom Price vacated the seat to serve in Trump's cabinet as his secretary of health and human services. The Atlanta district remains a center of white college-educated professionals and upscale shopping centers.
Ossoff, 30, raised more than $8 million in campaign funds and received heavy support from popular Democrats and liberal organizers. They banked on his campaign as a battleground for their "recovering" party. President Trump can not be outdone, however, as he tweeted on Tuesday that Republicans must go out and vote in Georgia 6. He warned that "Dem Ossoff" will raise taxes and is very bad on crime. Trump also pointed that Ossoff did not even live in the district. Ossoff admitted in a television interview that he was indeed living outside the district with his girlfriend. The Republicans picked that interview part to criticize and campaign against Ossoff.