On February 10, 2017, Tom Price assumed the office of the 23rd United States Secretary of Health and Human Services. The former Republican representative for Georgia’s 6th District left a vacancy in the U.S. House of Representatives, and a replacement is in the process of being determined.
Though it seems like a simple transition, the stakes are high for both the Republican and Democrat Party. The cruciality of the who the new representative will be has caused the election to gain the nation’s attention. Even the president is expressing urgency for the race, releasing several tweets highly encouraging Republican voters to cast their ballots for a non-Democrat candidate.
The 6th District of Georgia and the state as a whole have historically voted Republican. This may seem encouraging for the GOP. However, it has been observed that Georgia seems to prefer establishment Republicans, such as Former Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney. This is seen in Trump’s slim victory in Georgia, winning the vote by only by 1.5%.
Trump’s anti-establishment campaign attracted once Democrat voters in rural areas to vote Republican. The opposite effect happened in the suburbs of Georgia, moderates began to lean Democrat. These were factors that led to a Trump only barely winning a traditionally red state and now endanger the GOP.
How is this a big threat to the GOP you may ask? The party currently holds a strong majority in the House of Representatives, which advantages Republicans when it comes to passing bills and other policy actions. A Democrat replacing a Republican would certainly weaken this edge.
The results could also harm Trump’s standing withing the GOP. Should a liberal win a red district, it will appear as though the president is ‘politically toxic’ for his own party. Furthermore, the left could use a victory like that as an example of anti-Trump sentiments, as well as gaining seats back in the House. It will undoubtedly energize their voter base.
So what is going on right now?
At the moment, there are 18 candidates. The most popular Democrat is Jon Dossef, who leads in Democrat Voters by a lot. Contrarily, the Republicans are much more divided, with 10 runners for office. This significantly splits the vote. In polls, Dossef accumulated the most support of any individual candidate. As a result, Republicans are hoping there is a runoff, realizing their contestants are dividing the vote too far to win. In order for this, Dossef cannot receive 50% of the vote. If he does, he will be confirmed that same day.