Trump loyalists flail in Georgia special election

Republican Karen Handel. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

Democrat Jon Ossoff appears headed for a June runoff against Republican Karen Handel in the nationally watched special election to represent a suburban Atlanta district in Congress, but here are some takeaways from the rest of the 18-candidate ballot:

Being a Trump loyalist didn’t pay off.

Bob Gray made allegiance to Donald Trump the cornerstone of his campaign, and he may have suffered for it. He got about 10 percent of the vote and came under a barrage of criticism over his pro-Trump bona fides.

And Bruce LeVell, head of Trump’s diversity coalition, got less than 1 percent of the vote. He also put Trump at the center of his campaign, and even made a last-minute trek to the White House to visit with the president, who didn’t endorse any candidate in the race.

The pro-Trump route was always a risk in Georgia’s 6th District, an establishment-friendly stretch that he carried by less than 2 points in November.

It wasn’t a good day for big-name Republican endorsers. Or for self-funders.

Judson Hill never gained much traction beyond a few Cobb precincts, and his endorsements from Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich didn’t get him very far.

Dan Moody had an even worse night. The former state senator pumped more than $2 million into his own campaign, had the support of U.S. Sen. David Perdue and some of the most formidable operatives in the race. Yet he still hovered below double-digits.

Fox commentator Sean Hannity endorsed Amy Kremer, whose bid for office went nowhere. And ex-Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski stumped for LeVell, who similarly struggled.

Ossoff had no problems consolidating Democratic support.

The other four Democrats in the race barely mustered a few hundred votes between them, even as several vowed there would be no “coronation” for Jon Ossoff. Ron Slotin, the only Democrat with elected experience, earned just a fraction of 1 point.


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