Republican Karen Handel wins Georgia’s special election

Republican candidate for 6th congressional district Karen Handel speaks at a campaign event where she was joined by House Speaker Paul Ryan in Dunwoody, Ga., Monday, May 15, 2017. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

ATLANTA, Georgia (AP) — Republican Karen Handel has won a nationally watched congressional election in Georgia and avoided a major upset after the most expensive House campaign in U.S. history.

Her victory over Democrat Jon Ossoff in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District comes after Republican special congressional election wins in Montana, Kansas and South Carolina.

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Republicans are claiming momentum ahead of the 2018 midterms, but each race was much closer than expected for the four districts.

Those trends leave Democrats hopeful they can win a House majority next year. They need to flip 24 GOP seats.

The 55-year-old Handel is a former Georgia secretary of state who built her professional and political career after leaving an abusive home as a teenager.

She succeeds Republican Tom Price, who resigned to join President Donald Trump’s administration.

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