Tomorrow is a big day in politics, because the last special election this year to decide if Democrats can turn a reliably red Congressional district blue takes place in Georgia in a runoff election between Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel. Seen as a referendum on Donald Trump, the election has become the most expensive House race ever. Forty million dollars has been spent so far, which is $7 million more than Jimmy Carter spent for his entire 1976 Presidential election campaign.
It’s also been an ugly race in recent weeks. Both candidates have beefed up their security, especially after a number of letters containing white powder were sent to Karen Handel’s neighbors last week (the substance was later found to be non-toxic).
Until about a week ago, the race looked good for Jon Ossoff, who in one poll had a 7 point lead. However, polls have now returned the race back to a tie, with an ever so slight advantage for Ossoff (Democrats hold a big lead in early voting, and five of the last six polls have shown Ossoff with a slight lead). Then came the shooting last week, a shooting that the GOP has successfully been able to characterize (with their base, at least) as a symptom of left-wing violence, nevermind that it was Donald Trump who hinted during the election that Hillary should be assassinated, who provoked violence at his rallies, and nevermind that it was a Republican Congressional candidate who actually beat a reporter two weeks ago. The elite liberals are apparently provoking violence with their Shakespeare.
That leads us to this incredibly cynical, inhumane statement, even by the standards of politics today:
“I’ll tell you what: I think the shooting is going to win this election for us. Because moderates and independents in this district are tired of left-wing extremism.”
That quote comes from Brad Carver, the GOP chairman in Georgia’s 11th congressional district. What’s even more troubling than the quote itself is that Brad Carver might be right: Fox News, Alex Jones, Rush Limbaugh, etc., have been able to make political hay out of the shooting of Steve Scalise and characterize the party of hippie liberal peaceniks as bloodthirsty, violent thugs. They’ve even turned the word “resistance” into a violent threat. It is insane.
Meanwhile, Karen Handel is running in a dead heat with Jon Ossoff despite the historic unpopularity of President Trump, despite the fact that she said she did not support a “livable wage,” and despite this quote:
Meanwhile, a pro-Trump PAC is airing commercials in Georgia with an out-of-context quote from President Obama designed to suppress the black vote. In the ad, Obama is quoting someone else saying:
“Plantation politics. Black people in the worst jobs. The worst housing. Police brutality rampant. But when the so-called black committeemen came around election time, we’d all line up and vote the straight Democratic ticket. Sell our souls for a Christmas turkey.”
Nevertheless, the ad attributes the quote to Obama, adding, “It may seem out of season, but all of a sudden, Democratic politicians have started coming around again. We normally only see them every other November, swarming around and making promises to get our vote. But nothing ever changes for us, does it?”
So, that’s where we stand heading into tomorrow’s election. I’d like to think that Democrats can gain a moral victory if Ossoff can make it close in a district where the Republican won by 23 points six months ago, but anything less than a victory is going to feel incredibly dispiriting. So, if you live in Georgia’s 6th, please go vote if you haven’t already.