A novice Democratic candidate has weathered attacks from President Donald Trump to finish well ahead of his Republican rivals in a much-watched congressional race in the U.S. state of Georgia.
The 11-candidate Republican field is far behind, with former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel holding down the second-place spot in public polls with 17%.
Democrat Jon Ossoff drew 48.1 percent of the vote in Tuesday's special election, just shy of the 50 percent needed to win the most closely watched us congressional race since Trump took office in January.
Ossoff garnered 48.1 percent of the vote, 1.9 percent shy of the 50 percent he needed to win the seat outright and avoid a June runoff election.
Jon Ossoff, 30, hopes to capitalize on Trump's lackluster popularity and make the race for a congressional seat long held by Republicans a litmus test of the president's first 100 days.
Ossoff's performance - coming after a better-than-expected showing by the Democrat in an special House election in Kansas last week - raises the stakes in the next special House election, which will held in Montana in May. Ossoff's supporters cast the race in Georgia as a referendum on President Trump and an early indicator of the 2018 midterm elections.
Meanwhile, Republicans point to the enormous financial backing of Ossoff - and, as CNN noted, the narrow win of President Donald Trump in the district - as to why it should have been an easy victory for the Democratic candidate.
Trump took to his favorite messaging service Tuesday to encourage Republicans to vote and to reject Ossoff, one of several tweets leading up to the election.
Demographic changes have made Georgia's affluent 6th Congressional District more competitive for Democrats. Despite the impending runoff election, Ossoff characterized Tuesday's first round race as a victory, saying, "This is already a remarkable victory". They said their goal was to get over 50 percent.
Ossoff was backed by major Democratic PACs and raised $8.3 million this quarter, mostly from outside groups. The Ossoff campaign has just blossomed as national Democrats have tuned in to the race and seen his potential. She did not embrace President Trump during the campaign, but took a congratulatory call from him and said she would accept a visit to the White House.
The district covers many northern suburbs of the Atlanta area.
The Georgia congressional seat is attracting so much attention also because it has been the Republicans' since the late 1970s - and a candidate as strong as Ossoff is definitely a threat to them.