ATLANTA -- The scramble has begun to fill Tom Price’s seat now that the Georgia congressman has been sworn in as Secretary of Health and Human Services.
When it was strongly rooted in Cobb County, the 6th district elected Republicans like Newt Gingrich and and Johnny Isakson and Tom Price. Its history suggests a Republican successor is a strong possibility.
Moments after Gov. Nathan Deal called a special election April 18, state Sen. Judson Hill found himself answering questions about the race to succeed Price. "It’s too early to tell what’s going on in this race," he protested. "It just started a few minutes ago."
Many of the same voters who’ve sent Judson Hill to the state senate also voted for Tom Price. And the Republican says there’s reason he can hope now to win Price’s seat. "I’ve got a track record here of helping people with conservative solutions," Hill said.
But Hill is likely to face a tough fight. Former Secretary of State Karen Handel has been eyeing the same race and is well-known statewide. There are other possibilities, like Betty Price, a state rep and the wife of Tom Price; and Bruce LeVell, a Dunwoody businessman and vocal Donald Trump surrogate.
They could also stir this special election into something unpredictable—in a district that is well heeled and well educated.
"It’s pretty upscale. That tends to mean they’re going to look at it. They will look at the material. They won’t just vote their gut instinct," said Chuck Clay, a former Cobb Co. state senator and statewide GOP chairman.
Former Georgia GOP chairman Chuck Clay also thinks a Republican will win. But the race to replace Price has drawn interest and money from Democrats like former congressional aide Jon Ossoff, who sees the Trump presidency as an opportunity for Trump’s opposition. "I think the President of the United States needs to be competent and respectful and carry the representation of this country with dignity. There are concerns he’s not up to that task and I share those concerns," Ossoff said.
The race will likely result in a runoff, scheduled for June 20.