The race isn’t officially over in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District covering parts of Cobb, Fulton and DeKalb counties.
Wednesday afternoon, Democrat Lucy McBath declared victory in the race, despite the fact that the race has not officially been called at this time.
McBath released the following statement.
Karen Handel said she is not conceding the race.
"Given the close results of our race, and the fact that the official results at this time are within the 1% threshold where a recount is possible, we believe it is prudent to review and assess all data before making additional actions or statements," Handel said in a statement.
According to the unofficial results, McBath has 159,268 votes and Handel has 156,396 with 100 percent of the precincts reporting.
While they have differed over issues, they agreed on one thing: the race wouldn’t be called on Tuesday.
"I have a knack for the close ones, y’all. There are still precincts coming in from north Fulton,” Handel told the hardy clutch of supporters who made it to the end of the night and into the morning at Handel’s watch party at Le Méridien Atlanta Perimeter. “If it keeps going our way it’ll be a win. Unfortunately I don’t think it’ll be tonight."
While Handel maintained a slim lead in the early hours of Wednesday, the opposite was true by the time the sun came up.
McBath’s election watch party was about two miles from Handel’s, at the Westin Atlanta Perimeter North.
“It appears clear that the election in the 6th Congressional District will not be decided this evening,” she said as Tuesday night became Wednesday morning. “Now we look forward over the next few days to having the voice of the remaining voters to be heard. It is imperative that every vote be counted. Until that time, we cannot call this race one way or the other.”
She joined the dozens of supporters left in the audience in a deafening chant of “Flip the 6th” before adding, “I grew up with my parents working tirelessly in the Civil Rights movement to make sure that everyone had the ability to vote. And so we will make sure that everyone that has cast a vote has the ability to be heard. So hang in there, we have a couple more days to go, but in the end we win.”
ELECTION 2018 COVERAGE:
The 6th District matchup drew far less national attention than the last time the district was in play, when Handel, Georgia’s former Secretary of State and a former Fulton County Commission chair, fended off a star-studded challenge from political newcomer Jon Ossoff.
Ossoff showed up at McBath’s watch party and expressed confidence early on that she would manage to unseat his former opponent. He pointed to President Donald Trump, who held campaign rallies stumping for Republican candidates including Georgia’s Brian Kemp, as a motivating factor in voter turnout.
"There’s no doubt (Trump) is a huge part of why there’s this much activism, this much concern about the country, why so many people for example in the 6th District who may have voted Republican historically are questioning their political identity and asking whether the GOP under Donald Trump really reflects our values," Ossoff said.
Handel staked her first reelection campaign on some of the GOP's big-ticket legislative items, including the tax law, school safety grants and response to the opioid crisis.
McBath, a gun control advocate and former flight attendant, has spent much of her campaign sharing her personal story to make the case for why she should be in Congress. She lost her teenage son to gun violence in 2012 and is a breast cancer survivor. Gun control has been the central tenet of her campaign, and it resonated with supporter Beth Freeman, who was one of several women wearing red “Moms Demand Action” T-shirts at McBath watch party.
“I think I’d be a puddle. As a candidate, she’s amazing,” Freeman said. “To pull herself out of such tragedy and run to do something about it.”
McBath voted early, while Handel voted Tuesday morning at their Roswell precinct.
During a brief interview after casting her ballot, Handel touted her longtime ties to the area and expressed confidence going into the final hours of the race. She had dinged McBath’s ties to Michael Bloomberg and Hillary Clinton, as well as tax exemptions she and her husband received in Cobb County while also owning property in Tennessee. Handel said those details showed McBath would not be good steward of taxpayer money.
McBath dismissed all of Handel's attacks as "baseless."
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