TUCKER, GA -- It’ll be over Tuesday. The polls will close. All the votes will have been cast for the sixth district congressional race, a wildly expensive election that has drawn worldwide attention to the Atlanta suburbs.
Karen Handel plunged into a lunchtime crowd at a Tucker restaurant – doing retail politics in a race where a few hundred or perhaps even a few dozen votes could tilt the outcome Tuesday night.
"I’m not going to make any predictions. All I care about is making sure I win. All I need is one vote more than him," Handel told reporters.
Handel is the Republican running in a historically Republican congressional district, a natural favorite in a normal election. But this is a special election where the candidates have drawn threats of harm, worldwide attention and tens of millions of dollars – and many volunteers who view the race through a national spotlight.
As she worked, a man showing an FBI shield discreetly followed her, observing the room. It was an added layer of the unusual, in a campaign that has already drawn undue national attention and resources from both political parties.
"I can honestly say it has been the craziest thing I’ve ever seen," said Handel, a veteran campaigner who watched it get even crazier last week, when somebody mailed threatening material to her and her neighbors in Roswell.
"I take great offense to the fact that whoever did this targeted my neighbors and friends," Handel said. "And never would I have expected to see (a) hazmat (crew) in my kitchen."
Yet the campaign events of Handel and Democrat Jon Ossoff took on a look on this final Monday that somewhat approached normal – intensified by volunteers and national resources targeting an otherwise modest special election rooted in Atlanta’s suburbs.
Yet Ossoff’s security also intensified. He too reported unspecified threats, and was also mindful of the ballfield shooting Thursday targeting Republican congressmen in suburban Washington DC.
"You know I can’t even think about the politics of a tragedy like that," Ossoff said. "It's an event that has united Democrats and Republicans and we need to be focused on appealing for calm and civility."