For U.S. President Donald Trump, an off-year congressional election on Tuesday in the reliably Republican northern suburbs of Atlanta could spell trouble if a Democratic upstart pulls off a surprise victory.
Jon Ossoff, a 30-year-old political novice, is leading a field of 18 candidates for a U.S. House of Representatives seat that was vacated when Trump named Tom Price as his health secretary.
An Ossoff win would not tip the balance of power in Washington but could weaken the already shaky hold Trump has on his fellow Republicans by encouraging lawmakers to distance themselves from him.
Georgia’s 6th District has elected Republicans to the House since the late 1970s, but Trump only carried it by 1 percentage point in the November presidential election.
Ossoff hopes to win an outright majority in Tuesday’s vote, a “jungle primary” with all 18 candidates from both parties on the same ballot. If no one reaches 50 percent, the top two vote-getters square off on June 20.
Republicans say they could beat Ossoff in a one-on-one contest. The party avoided embarrassment last week when it narrowly held a conservative Kansas seat vacated when Trump tapped Republican Representative Mike Pompeo to head the Central Intelligence Agency.