DUNWOODY, Ga. - After a long-fought campaign that gained national attention and millions of dollars in contributions, Republican Karen Handel claimed victory Tuesday night in the race for the 6th Congressional District.
Channel 2 Action News called the race for Handel around 10:15 p.m. Tuesday.
[MINUTE-BY-MINUTE: Karen Handel wins 6th District Runoff]
"I have to start, first of all, by saying thank you," Handel said to all of her supporters gathered at her elections' headquarters. "Tonight I stand before you extraordinarily humbled and honored at the tremendous privilege and high responsibility that you and the people across the 6th District have given to me to represent you in the United States House of Representatives."
Channel 2 political reporter Richard Elliot was there as Handel talked about receiving the phone call from her opponent, Democrat Jon Ossoff, congratulating her on her win.
"He was more than gracious and he thanked me for a spirited campaign. And I wish him and Elisha all the best in the new life that they are going to be starting," Handel said.
Handel said throughout the race she received an extraordinary amount of support and met many new friends, including Rep. Steve Scalise, who was shot last week during a practice for a congressional baseball game.
"We need to lift up this nation so that we can find a more civil way to deal with our disagreements," Handel said. "No one should feel their life threatened over their political beliefs and positions. And I say that ladies and gentlemen in regards to both sides of the politic aisle."
Handel said if it weren't for her supporters, she never would have won this race.
"I really am honored to stand before you and so extraordinarily humbled, but as everyone knows, most big things are not accomplished by one person alone, and I had a tremendous amount of support in this campaign," Handel said.
Her narrow victory over Ossoff allows Republicans to breathe a sigh of relief after what's being recognized as the most expensive House race in U.S history, with a price tag that may exceed $50 million.
The 6th District seat has been in the Republican Party's hands since 1979.
Ossoff, a 30-year-old first-time candidate, was hoping for an upset that would rattle Washington ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.
Handel, 55, embraced her experience as a statewide and local elected official, often telling voters: "You know me."
She's also known for being a Susan G. Komen Foundation executive in 2012 when the organization sought to cut off its support of Planned Parenthood.
Channel 2 Action News talked with Handel exclusively as she resigned from the position.
The affluent and well-educated 6th District has elected former House Speaker Newt Gingrich; Johnny Isakson, now Georgia's senior U.S. senator; and most recently Tom Price, who resigned in February to join President Donald Trump's administration.
Handel has handled Trump gingerly. She barely mentioned him ahead of finishing second to Ossoff in the April primary but welcomed him for a private fundraiser later that month.
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan came to Atlanta to show his support for Handel. Vice President Mike Pence also came to Atlanta earlier in the month to stump for Handel.
Throughout her campaign, Handel worked to gain the support of past rivals from previous campaigns.
Handel narrowly lost a battle for the GOP nomination for governor in 2010. She was the top vote-getter in the primary but lost the runoff to Nathan Deal. In 2014, she ran for an open U.S. Senate seat but finished in third place in the Republican primary.
Her resume also includes leading the Fulton County Commission as its chairwoman; working in the office of Marilyn Quayle, the wife of then-Vice President Dan Quayle; and serving as deputy chief of staff to then-Gov. Sonny Perdue.
Republicans won House special election victories already this year in GOP-held districts in Kansas and Montana. Republicans won a fourth seat Tuesday evening in South Carolina, while Democrats held their lone open seat in a California special election.
The Associated Press and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution contributed to this article.
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