Early voting ends, a weekend avalanche begins in Sixth District race

You’ve woken up to Friday, the final day of early voting in a Sixth District congressional contest that only seems endless. Get through this weekend, and you’re nearly in the clear.

Given the emphasis that Democrat Jon Ossoff has placed on ballots cast before next Tuesday, we may look back and say his race was won or lost today.

Republicans tend to dominate Election Day voting, which means Karen Handel will spend the weekend ramping up her GOTV effort. Hence the Saturday rally with former Gov. Sonny Perdue and former congressman Tom Price, President Donald Trump's secretaries of agriculture and health and human services, respectively.

A Republican super PAC with ties to House Speaker Paul Ryan will flood conservative-leaning households in the Sixth District with 100,000 pieces of mail targeting Ossoff. The Congressional Leadership Fund's mailers, an example of which you can see here, feature celebrity supporters of Ossoff like Rosie O'Donnell, Jane Fonda and, of course, Nancy Pelosi.

It's part of the super PACs $7 million expenditure in the contest.


We love it when our readers do the numbers for us:


The Atlanta-based Trafalgar Consulting Group released a poll on Thursday showing Ossoff with a 3-point lead over Handel in the final stretch of the race. The margin of error? Plus or minus 2.9 percentage points. The poll involved more than 1,100 likely voters. The crosstabs can be found here.


But truthfully, given the nationalized nature of this congressional contest, the more important poll may be this one conducted by the Associated Press and NORC Center for Public Affairs Research:


Which may be why, when she was in Dunwoody on Thursday, Karen Handel emphasized her independence in an interview with Dyana Bagby of Reporter Newspapers:

“[M]y job, my responsibility is to be an extension of the people of the 6th District. It is not to be an extension of the White House or even the leadership in the House, but of the people here who are across the district, who vote for me or don’t vote for me, that I represent their interests,” she said.

As mentioned above, Tom Price and Sonny Perdue will be in Chamblee tomorrow to campaign for Handel. Watch to see whether they pitch themselves as ranking members of the Trump cabinet, or two old Georgia friends come to help another.


But here’s the reason that Handel can’t stray too far from a “Trump who?” message:


Meanwhile, Democrat Jon Ossoff had a biting response to a Washington Post story that documented the concerns of a Georgia Tech professor who said Republican Karen Handel ignored a report that outlined vulnerabilities to Georgia's elections system when she was secretary of state.

"She had a job to do. She didn't do it," said Ossoff. "She was too busy preparing for the next run for higher office, I suppose."

Richard DeMillo, head of the Office of Policy Analysis and Research at Georgia Tech, told the Post that he heard "nothing" from Handel about the report, which outlined potential problems with the election center at Kennesaw State University.

There was a data breach at the center earlier this year, and Secretary of State Brian Kemp is considering dropping the contract with KSU over security lapses. Handel defended her 2007 to 2010 record as the state's top elections official.

"I oversaw the largest turnout in population in one of the most intense presidential elections. I oversaw the implementation of photo ID in a fair and right way, so my record is clear," she said. "I find it interesting that whomever this individual is who’s making these comments, it’s rather curious that it was so important that it took him nearly 10 years to bring it up.”

Ossoff, meanwhile, made clear that he had "full confidence in our elections process."


One senses a behind-the-scenes brawl unfolding in the GOP race for lieutenant governor. The campaign of state Sen. Rick Jeffares of McDonough picked up an important ally on Friday.

His fellow state senator Burt Jones of Jackson said he'll be his campaign co-chair, flipping his support from Senate Pro Tem David Shafer of Duluth.

“I worked closely with Rick in the Senate and he is one of those guys who just gets it," said Jones. "He knows what we need to do to make government smaller and work better for its citizens and he is going to be a great lieutenant governor."

Jeffares' other campaign co-chair is Dr. J. David Allen, a dentist and member of the Georgia World Congress Center Board. His campaign vice-chair is Aaron McWhorter, who is vice chair of the Department of Natural Resources board of directors.


Republicans and Democrats joined in a spirited, friendly rivalry at their annual Congressional Baseball game, many fresh from the penetrating horror of the ballfield shooting rampage a day earlier and all playing in honor of their grievously wounded colleague, the Associated Press reports.

The game at Nationals Park on Thursday evening carried on a century-old bipartisan ritual, this one tinged with worry about Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise and the players' determination to answer the attack by coming together in sport. Democrats won in an 11-2 blowout.

U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Cassville, was the only Georgian on either team. He was the designated hitter for the Republican squad.

But there was another Georgia connection.

U.S. Rep. Roger Williams, R-Austin, the coach of the Republican squad, broke an ankle in the melee on Wednesday. One of his staffers was shot.

Before he was a congressman, before he was Texas’ secretary of state, before he was a successful car dealer, Williams was a second-baseman in the Braves farm system. By the numbers, he played three years with the Braves, the last two in Greenwood (1972 and ’73), and finished with a .273 batting average.

A shoulder injury did him in. The stats don’t pick it up, but he might have had a late-season cup of coffee with the Atlanta team, his first cousin remembers.

That would be Dick Williams, the publisher of the Dunwoody Crier and host of WAGA-TV’s “Georgia Gang.” We caught Dick on the beach. Phil Kent is in charge of this morning’s taping.

“His epitaph will say he was a congressman, but baseball is his life,” the Atlanta cuz said. He would become the baseball coach for Texas Christian University. Upon arriving in Washington as a congressman in 2013, Roger Williams was named coach of the Republican team. The Braves immediately sent him a custom-stitched uniform, his cousin said.

Roger Williams didn't wear his Braves uniform last night. He donned his TCU uniform -- which shares the purple of Scalise's LSU:

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About the Author

Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.