A More Cautious Approach To Special Elections

June 1, 2021

At this point two years ago, all eyes were on the special election in Georgia's 6th Congressional District. By Election Day on June 20, 2017, more than $55M had been spent in the race to replace former GOP Rep./HHS Secretary Tom Price in this suburban Atlanta district. Harnessing the energy of the national Democratic 'resistance' to Trump, Democratic nominee Jon Ossoff raised $30M — more than five times that of the GOP nominee (and eventual winner), Karen Handel. For her part, Handel benefitted from $18M in SuperPAC and campaign committee spending. Before that, almost 14 years ago to the date, the national parties poured money and attention on a special election in California's 50th CD to replace indicted GOP Rep. Duke Cunningham.

Republicans held on to both seats, but in 2006 and 2018, their party went on to lose seats and their majority in the November midterm election. So much for the predictive power of a special election. Even so, special elections have often provided a good opportunity for a party to juice up its donor base, test out

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