On Tuesday evening, voters in Georgia’s 6th district went to the polls to elect a representative to fill the seat of Tom Price, who was nominated by Trump to serve as Secretary of Health and Human Services. Republicans expected to win it easily, but they encountered fierce resistance in the form of Jon Ossoff, who united a little more than 48% of voters in a district that last voted Republican during the Carter presidency.
The 6th district is a conservative district, albeit one whose median income is over $70,000 and features a diverse population that is 72.4% White, 13.4% Black, and 9.3% Asian. It’s also the seat that was held by Newt Gingrich for 20 years. In fact, no Democrat has won the 6th district since John J. Flynt Jr., whose final term ended in 1979.
That makes Jon Ossoff’s showing all the more impressive. Despite the presence of a crowded field that diluted the Republican vote, the fact is 48.1% of voters were voting for a Democrat–one who promised in numerous ads to hold President Trump accountable.
That left Jon Ossoff only 2% short of crossing the 50% threshold required to avoid a runoff, which is scheduled for June 20. Even though many predict that Republicans will eventually coalesce behind Karen Handel, who came in second place Tuesday night with 19.8%, the Republican Party and various special interest groups will have to spend big to try and keep the seat–and avoid an embarrassment that threatens to give credit to the anti-Trump movement that has made itself known in town halls throughout the country.
But the damage has already been done. The special elections in Kansas, a seat formerly held by now-CIA Director Mike Pompeo, and Georgia have already revealed an energetic grassroots movement that is uniting the anti-Trump opposition to keep the races in dead heat, or, to at least force GOP groups to spend big, meaning they have less money to spend in other races later on.
That’s good news for Democrats and bad news for Republicans. Come the midterms in 2018, Democrats need to pick up 24 seats to take control of the House of Representatives, and with momentum on their side and Republicans left to defend lots of seats–a good number of which are in swing districts–with only so much cash, we might see another wave election in the likes of the 2010 Tea Party wave, which if one can recall, was another year that saw large and sustained protests all around the country. Such a political earthquake would make it much more difficult for President Trump to get his agenda implemented, but it wouldn’t be much of a change considering how dysfunctional the Republican-controlled Congress already is anyway.
There’s another opportunity for Democrats, grassroots activists, and ordinary voters disgruntled by the Trump Administration to express their outrage: the special election to fill Montana’s sole House seat, previously held by Ryan Zinke, who is the current Secretary of the Interior. Singer Rob Quist is the Democratic nominee, and no matter what his political views may be (they’re aligned with the Sanders wing of the party), he appears genuine and his ads (which can be found on Twitter) feel real and down-to-earth. That’s in stark contrast to the dry and cookie-cutter cut-out of a politician whose name is Greg Gianforte, a guy who lost a bid for the governorship last year after he was branded as a millionaire New Jerseyan carpetbagger.