A peek at the road ahead for Karen Handel in Congress

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Congresswoman-elect Karen Handel gives a victory speech to supporters gathered at the Hyatt Regency at Villa Christina on June 20, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)

Karen Handel punched her ticket to Washington on Tuesday after a hard-fought, four-month race in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, but she won’t find it easy when she arrives on Capitol Hill.

The Republican representative-elect will soon be sworn in as the most junior member of the U.S. House, a position that comes with little actual power but gobs of visibility.

Handel will be thrown into the House midsession, without the same transition or orientation period that most lawmakers receive at the beginning of each new Congress.

And as a freshman, Handel will be on the lowest rungs of House committees and almost certainly excluded from the Capitol’s mythical smoke-filled rooms as big decisions are being made by party leaders. Most junior lawmakers are in the same boat.

But by claiming the 6th District seat, Handel also secured herself some distinct advantages, including a major leg up on fundraising, which could help her fend off major challengers in 2018.

Read more about the road that lies ahead on myAJC.

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