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Handel yields seat in Congress to McBath

Last year, Handel won the most expensive Congressional race in history

MARIETTA, Ga. — Thursday, U.S. Rep. Karen Handel conceded Tuesday’s election and congratulated the Democrat who beat her, Lucy McBath. McBath won the 6th District by less than 3,000 votes.  

It was just last year that Democrat Jon Ossoff waged the most expensive congressional campaign in the history of the planet – for a seat in Congress that had been Republican for nearly 40 years.  

Ossoff lost. But he left behind an infrastructure of Democrats anxious to keep trying. 

"The money Jon Ossoff raised last year was phenomenal," said Michael Owens, chairman of the Cobb Co. Democratic Party.  "But part of that money went to building an infrastructure, went to building and training people on the ground."

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Though she expected another close race, Karen Handel seemed poised for another win. Handel is a political veteran who nearly beat Nathan Deal in the governor’s race eight years ago. The congressional seat she’d won against Ossoff gave her a hometown political base.

"The voters of this district, they know me, they trust me and I have a really long tenure and connections in this community," she told 11Alive photographer JoJo Johnson after she voted Tuesday. 

Meantime, McBath was a political newcomer with a horrifying story about the loss of her son Jordan Davis to gun violence, and a call for new gun laws. Tuesday, McBath surprised Handel and many many others.  

"Lucy McBath was a phenomenal candidate," Owens said. "Had a really good message. She connected with people really really well. And obviously we had a much better ground game."

McBath didn’t respond to multiple requests for interviews.  In a statement, she noted the mass murder overnight in California – saying, “I pray that Congress will support me in taking action to prevent these tragedies from affecting the lives of so many.” 

Handel also declined interviews. She released an upbeat statement, congratulating McBath and saying she doesn’t know yet what she’ll do next.