Handel, who said Trump called to congratulate her on Wednesday morning, dismissed Ossoff as a well-funded novice who would flounder as Republicans consolidated support behind a single candidate. That massive influx of cash, coupled with a lack of any other serious Democrats in the race and a disdain among many Republicans in the district for Trump's in-your-face style, made for a surprising opportunity for Democrats in the south - a region where the party has been decimated over the last decade. Under the so-called "jungle primary" system, the top two candidates - Ossoff and Handel - will head into the June runoff. That's not to mention that there will be a different level of voter turnout for the runoff.
On ABC World News Tonight, Anchor David Muir was still enamored with Ossoff's performance in the race.
The election had been proclaimed widely as a referendum on the Trump administration, especially by Democrats who believed they would win the seat without a run-off.
Ossoff was backed by major Democratic PACs and raised $8.3 million this quarter, mostly from outside groups. "Beating Ossoff and holding this seat is something that rises above any one person".
The district, which encompasses a stretch of well-heeled suburbs north of Atlanta, has elected Republicans to the House since the late 1970s, but Trump carried it by only 1 percentage point in the November presidential election.
President Donald Trump is likely to loom large in the 6 district congressional runoff as candidates Jon Ossoff and Karen Handel look toward the June 20 showdown. "It is now Hollywood vs. Georgia on June 20th", Trump wrote, alluding to celebrity donations that came in for Ossoff.
"[She used] our tax dollars to pay for her luxury SUV then jetted around on our dime", the ad says of Handel's tenure as Georgia's secretary of state". GOP Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, an ally of House leadership, said congressional Republicans must start showing they can lead after the failure of their health care legislation, or risk voters snatching away their majorities. "I do not think that gay relationships are-they are not what God intended" and that she also opposed adoption by gay parents. "The only way you fight that is. fire up the Republican base".
The victor replaces Republican Tom Price, who stepped down to serve as Mr Trump's Secretary of Health and Human Services. Price, now the president's Health and Human Services secretary, was re-elected with almost 62 percent of the vote in 2016.
For Democrats, their next two federal contests look very bleak with special elections coming up in Montana and SC where the GOP is expected to easily prevail.
Associated Press reporter Kathleen Foody contributed.
Werner reported from Washington.