This is a developing story and was updated April 19 at 1:05 a.m.
UPDATE: DUNWOODY, Ga. — A Georgia congressional election is headed to a runoff that will ratchet up the already significant national attention — and campaign cash — on a race that poses an early measure for President Donald Trump and both major parties ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.
Democrat Jon Ossoff, a 30-year-old former congressional staffer, and Republican Karen Handel, a former Georgia secretary of state, will meet in the June 20 runoff. But as they campaign across the northern suburbs of Atlanta, they will act largely as proxies for the roiled political atmosphere in Washington and across the country.
Ossoff led an 18-candidate field of Republicans, Democrats and independents, the entire slate placed on a single ballot to choose a successor to Republican Tom Price, who resigned to join Trump's administration as health secretary. But Ossoff fell shy of the majority required to claim Georgia's 6th Congressional District outright, opening the door to Handel, who finished a distant second but ahead of a gaggle of Republican contenders.
Republicans believe a two-candidate scenario will benefit them in a district that has been in Republican hands since 1978, when Atlanta suburbanites elected a young congressman named Newt Gingrich. But Ossoff's campaign maintains momentum, fueled by more than $8 million in contributions from all over the nation, and liberal advocacy groups on Tuesday hailed his first-place finish as a success in its own right.
National leaders in both major parties agreed the Georgia race is a prime test run for the 2018 election cycle, because the affluent, well-educated district is replete with the kind of voters Democrats must win over to have any chance at reclaiming a House majority and winning more governor's races.
At the least, the results suggest Republicans have no easy answer for how to handle Trump in down-ballot races. He still engenders an intense loyalty among his core supporters but alienates many independents and even Republicans, leaving him unable to command a majority of the electorate. That was reflected in November, when Trump barely won the Georgia 6th over Hillary Clinton, falling shy of a majority just four years after Republican Mitt Romney garnered more than 60 percent of the presidential vote.
Given those fundamentals, Ossoff has tried to capitalize on the anti-Trump energy while still appealing to independents and moderate Republicans in the conservative district.
He demonstrated the tightrope through the final hours of the primary campaign.
"This is not about me. ... This is about the kind of community we want to live in. The kind of country we believe in," Ossoff told supporters Monday night, forgoing any mention of the president despite Trump attacking him on Twitter as a "super liberal" who wanted to raise taxes, protect criminals and allow illegal immigration.
Trump continued his Twitter barrage Tuesday, even as a White House spokeswoman insisted the race wasn't a "referendum" on the president. Sarah Huckabee Sanders made that case within hours of Trump urging 6th District Republicans to vote and mocking Ossoff for not living in the district.
Ossoff acknowledges that he lives a few miles south of the district, in Atlanta, so that his girlfriend is closer to her work at Emory University's medical complex.
Republicans, meanwhile, have made their own attempts at nationalizing the race.
A political action committee backed by current Speaker Paul Ryan funneled more than $2 million into attacks on Ossoff, mostly tying him to national Democrats such as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Handel, meanwhile, called Ossoff Pelosi's "hand-picked" candidate. Pelosi remains an unpopular figure in the district, which includes GOP-leaning territory in three metro Atlanta counties: Cobb, Fulton and DeKalb.
Handel rarely if ever talked about Trump unless she was asked. But she also was careful not to criticize the new administration.
"I certainly support the president and will work with him where we agree," Handel told the Associated Press at one of her final campaign stops before polls opened. "But my job is not to go to Congress as a rubber stamp for anybody. My job is to be the representative for the people of the 6th District, and that's what I believe regardless of who is the president."
Handel left some of her Republican rivals to squabble over who would be more loyal to Trump. One of her closest competitors, technology executive Bob Gray, even donned hip waders for one television spot as he paid homage to one of the president's campaign signatures by, literally, draining a swamp.
PREVIOUS STORY: The Latest on Georgia's 6th Congressional District election (all times local):
Republican Karen Handel and Democrat Jon Ossoff will meet in a runoff for a greater Atlanta congressional seat with national implications.
Ossoff harnessed opposition to President Donald Trump to lead an 18-candidate ballot in the typically conservative district. But he fell short of the majority needed to win outright.
Handel finished second as the top Republican vote-getter.
A two-month runoff campaign will test both parties ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.
Ossoff has pitched himself as a check on Trump and an opponent to Washington gridlock. Handel is a former Georgia secretary of state and has largely avoided talking about Trump, who lagged other Republicans in the district last November.
Tom Price resigned the seat to become Trump's health secretary.
President Donald Trump has tweeted that Georgia's special congressional election was a "Big 'R' win" as late results seemed to indicate a runoff in the race led by an upstart Democrat.
The president has attacked Georgia 6th Congressional District candidate Jon Ossoff on Twitter over the past two days.
Tuesday night, Trump wrote: "Despite outside money, FAKE media support and eleven Republican candidates, Big 'R' win with runoff in Georgia. Glad to be of help!"
Feeding on opposition to Trump, Ossoff raised more than $8.3 million from across the country as he tries to flip a seat that has been held by a Republican since 1979.
Although technical difficulties have delayed a final tally, Ossoff has dropped under the 50 percent threshold required to win the 18-candidate primary outright. If he falls short, he'd likely face Republican Karen Handel in a June 20 runoff.
Democrat Jon Ossoff has dropped below the majority vote he needs to avoid a runoff in Georgia's nationally watched special congressional election.
Late Tuesday, upstart Ossoff fell under the 50 percent threshold required to win the 18-candidate primary outright in Georgia's 6th Congressional District. If he falls short, he'd likely face Republican Karen Handel in a June 20 runoff.
Technical difficulties uploading results in one county were delaying the vote tally.
Ossoff is trying to pull a major upset in the conservative district that stretches across the northern suburbs of Atlanta.
Officials in one county are having technical difficulties that have delayed the count in Georgia's nationally watched special congressional election.
Democrat Jon Ossoff is clinging to a narrow majority in Georgia's 6th Congressional District. DeKalb and Cobb counties have reported all their votes. But Fulton County still has almost 100 precincts to count.
A spokeswoman for Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp says Fulton is "having technical issues with uploading results from their memory cards" taken from voting machines. She calls it a "county issue" but says Kemp's office is trying to help.
Ossoff is trying to pull a major upset in the conservative district that stretches across the northern suburbs of Atlanta.
If Ossoff falls short of a majority, he'd likely face Republican Karen Handel in a June 20 runoff.
An upstart Democrat continues to lead the incomplete, early vote count in a special election in a conservative Georgia congressional district. But he's barely clinging to the majority required to pull off a shocking upset in the Atlanta suburbs.
The 30-year-old former congressional staffer sought to parlay opposition to President Donald Trump into a victory that would rebuke the Republican's White House and embolden Democrats ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.
With early voting totals and about half of precincts counted, Ossoff hovered right at the majority threshold required to win an 18-candidate primary outright in Georgia's 6th Congressional District.
But tens of thousands of votes remain uncounted, and Ossoff's lead has been shrinking as more precincts roll in across a district that has been held by a Republican since Newt Gingrich was elected here in 1978.
An upstart Democrat is leading a special election by a wide margin in a conservative Georgia congressional district as he bids for a major upset, but his margin is narrowing in the early and incomplete returns.
Votes are being counted in Tuesday's metro Atlanta race in which Democrat Jon Ossoff sought to parlay opposition to President Donald Trump into a victory that would rebuke the White House and embolden Democrats ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.
With early voting totals and more than a third of precincts counted, Ossoff was slightly above the majority threshold required to win an 18-candidate primary. The question was whether Ossoff would ultimately command a majority to claim the seat outright — or be forced into a June 20 runoff.
Tens of thousands of votes have yet to be counted in Georgia's 6th Congressional District that stretches across the northern suburbs of Atlanta, and Ossoff's lead had already narrowed in the evening as more precincts reported.
Republicans nationally and in Georgia acknowledged before polls opened that Ossoff would top the 18-candidate field, which included Republicans, Democrats and independents on one primary ballot.
Early, incomplete election returns show an upstart Democrat leading in a conservative Georgia congressional district in his bid for a major upset.
After polls closed Tuesday evening, votes were being counted in the metro Atlanta race in which Democrat Jon Ossoff sought to parlay opposition to Republican President Donald Trump into a rebuke of the White House.
With about a third of precincts reporting, Ossoff led the incomplete, early returns with about 53 percent.
Republicans had acknowledged even before Tuesday's balloting began that Ossoff would top the 18-candidate field Tuesday.
An entire slate — Republicans, Democrats and independents — appeared on one primary ballot in the state's 6th Congressional District covering several northern Atlanta suburbs.
The question is whether Ossoff would command a majority to claim the seat outright. If not, he would face the top Republican vote-getter in a June 20 runoff.
The winner is to succeed Tom Price, who resigned to become Trump's health secretary.
Most polls are preparing to close at 7 p.m. in a high-profile Georgia congressional race where Democrats are bidding for a major upset in a historically conservative district.
Democrat Jon Ossoff is a 30-year-old former congressional staffer who is expected to lead a field of 18 candidates. The entire slate — Republicans, Democrats and independents — appeared on a single ballot in the race to succeed Tom Price, who resigned to become President Donald Trump's health secretary.
The question is whether Ossoff can win a majority to claim Georgia's 6th Congressional District seat outright. If he doesn't, he'll meet the top Republican vote-getter in a June 20 runoff.
The race is a barometer of Trump's standing and a chance for both major parties to test their strategies ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.
President Donald Trump is mocking a Georgia congressional candidate for not living in the district where the Democrat is trying to pull an upset in a special election.
Trump told his Twitter followers on Tuesday afternoon that he "just learned" that Jon Ossoff doesn't live in Georgia's 6th Congressional District. The president urged Republicans to "get out and vote."
Ossoff is expected to lead an 18-candidate primary Tuesday. Republicans are trying to hold him short of a majority and force a two-person runoff in June.
A 30-year-old former congressional staffer, Ossoff acknowledges he resides in Atlanta, south of the 6th District that encompasses many of the city's northern suburbs.
Ossoff has capitalized on anti-Trump sentiments to raise more than $8 million for the race.
Georgia voters continue to stream into polling sites in the suburbs north of Atlanta to cast their ballots in the special election to fill the 6th Congressional District seat.
Polls opened at 7 a.m. Tuesday and will stay open until 7 p.m. Local election officials have reported steady turnout all day, and state officials have received few reports of problems.
Voters arriving at North River Baptist Church in Roswell found a line of more than 30 people stretching out through the front door and into the parking lot on Tuesday afternoon.
A brief rain shower prompted some to return to their cars until the sun returned.
The district, which spans parts of Fulton, DeKalb and Cobb counties, has been in Republican hands since 1979. Democrats are trying for an upset.
Georgia election officials are investigating reported issues at three polling places in the 6th Congressional District.
Voters began casting ballots on Tuesday in the special election to fill the House seat vacated by Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price.
A spokeswoman for Secretary of State Brian Kemp says voting is going smoothly other than some "isolated complaints."
Spokeswoman Candice Broce says electronic polling machines used to check in voters at one precinct in Johns Creek weren't working properly. A state investigator was able to resolve the problem.
Elsewhere in the district, a polling place inside a Fulton County high school opened late and voters at a Roswell polling place received incorrect instructions from a poll worker about how to cast ballots.
Broce says state officials went to both sites.
President Donald Trump is rallying voters in Georgia's 6th Congressional District to "get out and vote" Republican in a special election.
In a tweet early Tuesday, Trump urged voters not to vote for Democrat Jon Ossoff for the House seat vacated by Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price.
Polls opened at 7 a.m. Tuesday and will stay open until 7 p.m.
Trump says, "Democrat Jon Ossoff would be a disaster in Congress. VERY weak on crime and illegal immigration, bad for jobs and wants higher taxes. Say NO."
In a second tweet, he wrote, "Republicans must get out today and VOTE in Georgia 6. Force runoff and easy win! Dem Ossoff will raise your taxes-very bad on crime & 2nd A."
Democrats opposed to Trump have rallied behind Ossoff, who has raised more than $8.3 million.
Republicans are trying to prevent a major upset stoked by opposition to President Donald Trump in a conservative congressional district in Georgia.
Tuesday's jungle-style primary lumps all 18 candidates on one ballot. The leading Democrat, 30-year-old Jon Ossoff, needs to clear 50 percent to avoid a June runoff.
Polls put Ossoff in the lead but short of that margin. Four of the 11 Republican candidates are fighting for the No. 2 spot, limiting their ability to focus on Ossoff.
Both national parties have paid field staffers working the race for the seat Tom Price resigned to become Trump's health secretary. Ossoff supporters have contributed more than $8 million. A political action committee backed by House Speaker Paul Ryan has spent more than $2 million attacking Ossoff.
Stay with the Times Free Press as more information becomes available.