15th in a series of profiles of candidates in the 6th congressional special election\

ATLANTA, Ga – Thanks to a political career that led her to chair the Fulton County commission and then Georgia’s first Republican secretary of state, Karen Handel has arguably the highest level of name recognition in the nation’s most closely watched election.

Handel is one of 18 candidates seeking to become the 6th district’s next representative. The special election, set for April 18, is being held to replace Tom Price, now President Donald Trump’s secretary for Health and Human Services.

Most recently, however, Handel ran – unsuccessfully – for governor in 2010 and U.S. Senate in 2014.

“Those campaigns brought me a great deal of experience,” Handel said. “I’ve been under a great deal of scrutiny in the past, and that brings a real advantage against this large field of mostly inexperienced candidates.”

Handel has been consistently polling behind Democrat Jon Ossoff, a first-time candidate who does not actually live in the district. Last week, a poll was released showing Ossoff with 41 percent of the vote, followed by Handel and another Republican, Bob Gray, tied at 16 percent.

RELATED: New poll shows Ossoff pulling ahead, Handel and Gray tied

Handel touts her track record “of getting things done.

“As chairman of the Fulton board of commissioners, I turned a $100-million deficit into a balanced budget,” she said. “Then, as secretary of state, I led the state’s implementation of photo ID for voting, which became the national model for the law.”

RELATED: Handel campaign launches first digital ad

Advance voting begins Monday, March 27, and runs through April 14.

The only way to avoid a June 20 runoff would be if one candidate receives 50 percent-plus-one, which Handel admitted is “almost an impossibility. Anything can happen, but I don’t see how we can avoid a runoff with so many candidates in the race.”

Follow 11Alive's extensive digital coverage of the race here.

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.