Karen Handel is running against Jon Ossoff in a special Georgia election to fill a U.S. House of Representatives seat opened when President Donald Trump nominated Rep. Tom Price to be Secretary of Health and Human Services. Ossoff was handpicked by House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.
Mr. Trump's name, however, was rarely mentioned, and most notably came up when Ms. Handel was asked where she might disagree with the commander in chief.
Last night they held their first debate.
As in the previous races, the biggest spender on the Republican side in the Georgia race is the Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC closely aligned with House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and other House Republican leaders.
For his part, Mr. Ossoff passed on chances to link Ms. Handel to Mr. Trump and instead made the case that he would bring a "fresh" perspective and an "independent" vision to Washington.
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"We need an independent voice in Congress to hold both parties accountable, to stand up for the USA national interests no matter who's in charge and to stand with our allies in defense of our security", Ossoff said.
The idea is that Democrats like Ossoff don't have to feed liberal intensity by harping on Trump and Republicans in a way that risks turning off potential swing or crossover voters. Never mind. We're talking about a Republican politician in the year 2017.
Ms. Handel, meanwhile, tied Mr. Ossoff to Mrs. Pelosi over and over again, and even actress Jane Fonda on one occasion, as she pushed to make the case that the 30-year-old is not the moderate Democrat he portrays himself to be on the campaign trail.
"This is an example of the fundamental difference between a liberal and a conservative", she said.
Each candidate was permitted to ask their opponent one question during the debate.
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"I do not support a livable wage", she said on Atlanta's WSB-TV in response to a question about raising the minimum wage.
Handel did say that she led efforts, but she also said at the time that the decision wasn't entirely hers, and that Komen's board ultimately approved the move, which was later reversed.
"I think policies that restrict travel based on country of origin is not the approach", Ossoff said. And I have been working on women's health issues for almost my entire life.
"I will not, not be lectured by you or anyone else", Handel told Ossoff at one point. "We know what we stand for", the Handel supporter said. They sparred on the GOP health bill, Trump's tax plan and national security issues.
Ossoff's recent campaign schedule also is dotted with gatherings like a block party celebrating Asian-American Heritage Month and La Raza Fest, a celebration of Hispanic culture. But the campaign doesn't often try to nail down Handel's position on national issues, instead zeroing in on her history in Georgia and her time at the Susan G. Komen foundation, where she pushed to stop funding Planned Parenthood.
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The stakes were high.