You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myAJC.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myAJC.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myAJC.com.

Opinion: 6th District race shows Georgia GOP needs an updated blueprint


Tuesday night was a good, but not quite great, night for Jon Ossoff. It will have been a good, and not mediocre, night for Georgia Republicans if it leaves them with the feeling they may need to maintain to win in this new political environment: a little bit scared.

Not scared as in lacking the courage of their convictions, but in the sense they can’t take their dominance of Georgia politics for granted any longer.

They didn’t take the special election in 6th Congressional District for granted, which is why we aren’t referring to Ossoff today as a congressman-elect. National Democrats’ latest heartthrob, to whom they sent millions of dollars, did his part to drive enthusiastic liberals to the polls. His campaign affirmed the surprising 46.8 percent support Hillary Clinton got in the 6th vs. Donald Trump last November, which until Tuesday was logically seen by many of us as a single data point set against years of contrary experience.

Despite those millions from blue states, however, Ossoff barely built upon Clinton’s progress. That’s due in large part to the seriousness with which Republicans treated the race. With their share of the electorate splintered among a half-dozen legitimate candidates, it was conceivable Ossoff could sneak his way to an outright win in the first round of balloting. The GOP prodded its voters to the polls and needed every bit of the 43 percent turnout — huge for a special election — to ensure a runoff.

That they did so without the glee and unity of purpose Democrats marshalled behind Ossoff may be instructive about how they must win in Georgia going forward.

Republicans’ internal disagreements about Trump aren’t going away. And some of the elements of Trumpism that won over blue-collar workers in states like Michigan don’t go over as well with the more affluent suburbanites north of Atlanta who for years have reliably voted Republicans. But what the 6th shows — so far — is this trade-off need not be fatal to Republicans’ chances in such a district. They just have to work at it a bit differently.

That may mean the Republican fad of large, fractious candidate fields will continue, though one wonders if Georgia Democrats, more apt to coalesce quickly behind their choice, will make them pay for it sometime soon. (How the state party might bring some internal discipline to this process ought to be asked of those vying to be the next Georgia GOP chairman.)

One way to avoid that is with a quick mending of fences between the surviving Republican and the vanquished. That too got under way before the vote-counting was even finished, as most of the top GOP candidates lined up behind Karen Handel.

Let me say here that Handel deserves this, and more. It was significant to see fast pledges of support for her from House Speaker David Ralston and Chris Riley, chief of staff to Gov. Nathan Deal. Handel ran for governor in 2010 as an anti-establishment candidate, and hard feelings toward her lingered among elected Republicans for a while — even as she dutifully rallied her supporters behind GOP nominees. To see that wound stitched up now is more than surely gratifying to her. It’s absolutely necessary if she’s to beat Ossoff.

Now she’ll have to pioneer a path other Republicans, in Georgia and beyond, may find useful: how to embrace Trump just enough to please his fervent supporters, while maintaining just enough distance that she doesn’t needlessly whip up his detractors.

Compared to that, the rest of this should be a breeze.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Opinion

Opinion: You can’t take the low road to the high place

The other day, a Muslim saved a terrorist. It happened just after midnight Monday in London. The terrorist, according to authorities, was Darren Osborne, 47, from Cardiff, Wales, who drove a rented van 150 miles to the British capital, where he jumped a sidewalk and plowed into a crowd of worshipers outside a mosque as people were attending to a man...
Opinion: Let us plunge toward our fast-unfolding future

WASHINGTON — In 1859, when Manhattan still had many farms, near the Battery on the island’s southern tip The Great American Tea Company was launched. It grew, and outgrew its name, becoming in 1870 The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company, which in 1912 begat the first A&P Economy Store, a semi-modern grocery store. By 1920, there were...
Opinion: … because fathers deserve more than just one day

I know Father’s Day was last weekend and all, but this weekend I’m making an overdue visit to the parental units, so this is where my thoughts still are. Dad sang a lot of songs to us as we were growing up, accompanied by his trusty ukulele. His repertoire was mostly traditional folk songs like “The Ballad of the Boll Weevil&rdquo...
Opinion: Health care plan would dig big Ga. budget hole
Opinion: Health care plan would dig big Ga. budget hole

Since its inception in the late 1960s, Medicaid has been a lifeline for the nearly 2 million Georgians who depend on it for vital health services. The modest medical coverage provided by Medicaid goes to the most vulnerable in our society. In fact, 92 percent of Medicaid goes to children, seniors or the disabled. Medicaid is administered by the state...
Obama's secret struggle to punish Russia for Putin's election assault
Obama's secret struggle to punish Russia for Putin's election assault

WASHINGTON — Early last August, an envelope with extraordinary handling restrictions arrived at the White House. Sent by courier from the CIA, it carried "eyes only" instructions that its contents be shown to just four people: President Barack Obama and three senior aides. Inside was an intelligence bombshell, a report drawn from...
More Stories