Handel to make Georgia history as its 1st GOP congresswoman

Handel defeated Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff in a special election.

ByABC News
June 21, 2017, 4:05 AM

— -- Republican Karen Handel, who won a special congressional election in Georgia on Tuesday to replace the vacated seat of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, will make history as the state's first GOP representative.

Acknowledging the historic moment while giving her victory speech in Georgia on Tuesday, she said, "Tonight reminds me anything is possible."

In her speech, Handel discussed what she felt she owed the voters, including "the obligation of being the first Republican woman elected to Congress from the great state of Georgia."

Handel will be the only woman in the current 16-member Georgia congressional delegation, and the seventh woman sent to Congress from the state.

The last woman elected to the Senate or House of Representatives from Georgia was Democratic Rep. Cynthia McKinney, who served from 2005 to 2007.

While women account for just over half of the U.S. population, they make up less one-fifth of Congress, according to the Center for American Women in Politics at Rutgers University.

With the addition of Handel, there will be 105 women in Congress — 21 senators and 84 representatives — or 19.6 percent of members, according to the center's data.

The organization congratulated Handel via Twitter after the win but said that there was still "more work to do."

Despite the large imbalance between men and women, the current Congress has the most female representatives in its history.

The Democratic Party retains an edge in the number of its female members of Congress, with 78. There will now be 27 Republican women in Congress.

Two states — Mississippi and Vermont — have never sent a woman to Congress, according to the Center for American Women in Politics.