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Republican concedes congressional race in major Dem upset in Georgia

Tamar Hallerman, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on

Published in News & Features

ATLANTA -- U.S. Rep. Karen Handel on Thursday conceded to Democrat Lucy McBath in the Georgia's 6th District congressional race, a major upset that showcased Democrats' strength in suburbs once dominated by the GOP.

"After carefully reviewing all of the election results data, it is clear that I came up a bit short on Tuesday," Handel said in a statement. "Congratulations to Representative-Elect Lucy McBath and send her only good thoughts and much prayer for the journey that lies ahead for her."

McBath declared victory in the race Wednesday afternoon after narrowly leading Handel by several thousand votes.

The suburban Atlanta 6th District, which includes portions of Fulton, DeKalb and Cobb counties, was home last year to the most expensive congressional race of all time. In that special election to replace Tom Price, Handel defeated Democrat Jon Ossoff by 4 percentage points after tens of millions of dollars was spent to sway voters.

McBath will become the first person of color to represent the 6th District and the third African-American woman Georgia has sent to the U.S. House.

A surrogate for the gun control group Everytown for Gun Safety, McBath said pushing for new gun control policies will be her "top priority" upon arriving in Washington.

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"We've sent a strong message to the entire country. Absolutely nothing -- no politician & no special interest -- is more powerful than a mother on a mission," tweeted McBath, a former flight attendant who became a gun control advocate after her teenage son Jordan Davis was fatally shot following a racially-charged dispute in 2012.

Once represented by Newt Gingrich, Johnny Isakson and Price, the 6th District was until recently considered safely Republican. Mitt Romney carried the district by 24 percentage points in 2012 but Donald Trump won it by less than 2 percentage points in 2016.

Handel's ouster comes after Republicans struggled on election night in many suburban seats that were once friendly to the party, including in states like Texas and Kansas. Disdain for Trump, paired with a groundswell of energy on the left, helped turn the tide.

McBath also benefited from elevated turnout from the Georgia governor's race.


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