Democrat Ossoff finishes first in Georgia primary but falls short of threshold to avoid runoff

The candidates needed 50 percent of the vote to win the seat outright.

A first place finish for Ossoff was expected as Democrats in the traditionally red suburban Atlanta district heavily favored the 30-year-old first-time candidate, while Republicans spread their votes across 11 choices. Former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel, a Republican, finished in second and will face Ossoff in the runoff on June 20.

Trump himself got involved in the race, making robocalls in opposition to Ossoff and tweeting Tuesday morning that forcing a runoff would ensure victory for the top Republican, a stance he repeated, while taking credit for himself, as news of the results came in early Wednesday morning.

Democrats, therefore, felt confident that the area, which is home to a number of Atlanta's wealthiest and highly-educated suburbs, could be competitive in the special election.

Republicans pegged Ossoff as inexperienced and portrayed the investigative film producer as a carpetbagger for living outside the district -- a fact Trump tweeted that he "just learned" earlier in the day Thursday. Ossoff, who grew up within district boundaries, has explained that he lives "10 minutes" away in order to facilitate the graduate studies of his girlfriend, an Emory University medical student.

The election in Georgia is the second of five scheduled special elections to fill current house vacancies. One week ago, Republican Ron Estes defeated Democrat James Thompson in Kansas' fourth congressional district by a margin of less than seven percentage points. Despite the loss, Democrats touted their progress in the district; CIA Director Mike Pompeo won the race as a Republican in November by more than 30 percent prior to his appointment.

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