Oh my: Handel concedes defeat in GA-06 to gun-control Dem

Remember the $60 million fight for GA-06? It turns out that both parties lost it last year. Karen Handel, who managed to survive in a special election against Jon Ossoff, conceded her attempt to win her first full term to a Democrat running on gun control:

U.S. Rep. Karen Handel on Thursday conceded to Democrat Lucy McBath in the 6th District congressional race, a major upset that showcased Democrats’ strength in suburbs once dominated by the GOP.

“After carefully reviewing all of the election results data, it is clear that I came up a bit short on Tuesday,” Handel said in a statement. “Congratulations to Representative-Elect Lucy McBath and send her only good thoughts and much prayer for the journey that lies ahead for her.”

McBath declared victory in the race Wednesday afternoon after narrowly leading Handel by several thousand votes.

The suburban 6th District, which includes portions of Fulton, DeKalb and Cobb counties, was home last year to the most expensive congressional race of all time. In that special election to replace Tom Price, Handel defeated Democrat Jon Ossoff by 4 percentage points after tens of millions of dollars was spent to sway voters.

How did Handel lose this election? The GA-06 congressional district has a Cook index of R+8, which should have made this a fairly safe seat even in a wave election. Handel may not have been a full-term incumbent, but she had well over a year to prepare for a re-election bid.

Don’t forget that this district was as safe as it gets when Tom Price held it through seven elections. With some adjustments over the years from decennial redistricting, it’s the same seat held by Newt Gingrich and Johnny Iskakson since the 1978 election. Price won the seat by 61% or more in every election, including in 2016, the most recent regular election for the seat.

How did it go from 61.7% GOP to Lucy McBath and gun control? A deeply compelling personal story helps, of course, as McBath’s teenage son was shot down by someone complaining about his music. And so does nearly $3 million from Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown:

Lucy McBath felt compelled to “stand up” and protect children after the Parkland, Florida high school shootings.

McBath’s 17-year old son, Jordan Davis, was shot and killed in 2012 by a stranger at a Georgia gas station who said the teenager was playing his music too loud. …

McBath, who got a $2.79 million boost from pro-gun control group Everytown for Gun Safety in her run for Congress, also reacted to the news of her win this morning on Twitter, writing “This win is just the beginning. We’ve sent a strong message to the country. Absolutely nothing – no politician & no special interest – is more powerful than a mother on a mission.”

Republicans had better figure out what went wrong in GA-06 before the 2020 election cycle. If they can’t hold a suburban R+8 district and have to fend off a recount in a gubernatorial election, Georgia might not be such a reliable red state in the next presidential election, either.