JOHNS CREEK, Ga – An April Fool’s joke made its way into the crowded 6th district congressional race on Saturday.

In a release sent out on April 1, Republican Bob Gray’s campaign said his primary GOP rival, Karen Handel, had dropped out of the race and endorsed him.

“Bob is a strong conservative,” said Handel, in the prank release sent out by Gray’s campaign. “He’s got nearly 30 years’ experience in the private sector.”

In response, Gray said, “With April 1st steeped in rich tradition, there couldn’t be a better day for such an endorsement.  I appreciate Karen touting my conservative bona fides and my 30 years’ experience in the private sector as attributes desperately needed in Congress.”

Most public and private polling has shown Gray and Handel battling for the No. 2 slot behind Democrat Jon Ossoff, who has been pulling away from the rest of the 18-candidate field over the last two weeks.

RELATED: New poll shows Ossoff, Handel pulling away

Early voting is currently underway in the April 18 special election to replace Tom Price, now President Donald Trump's secretary for the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. All of the candidates will appear on one ballot, and a runoff is virtually assured in the race. The only way to avoid a runoff would be if one candidate receives 50 percent-plus-one on election day, almost an impossibility in such a crowded race.

The district includes portions of Atlanta, Brookhaven, Chamblee, Dunwoody, Doraville, Tucker, Sandy Springs, Roswell, Alpharetta, Johns Creek Milton and Mountain Park. Before it was last redrawn as part of Census reapportionment, Republicans Newt Gingrich and Johnny Isakson held the seat.