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When Scott Brown pulled off his surprise win in a special election for the US Senate in 2010, Republicans rejoiced. Here was a Republican winning Ted Kennedy’s seat in deeply Democratic Massachusetts. The race centered on the Affordable Care Act and served as an early indicator of the big Republican wins in the midterm elections that followed.
In 2017, Democrats are hoping to have their own Scott Brown moment. With Tom Price becoming President Trump’s Health and Human Services secretary, there is a scramble of a special election to fill Price’s House seat in Georgia.
Already the race is centered on the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Already Democrats think they have a shot to win what has historically been a very Republican seat. If they pull it off, Democrats think it will be a harbinger of a big Democratic midterm in response to Trump.
The race in Georgia is extremely messy, however. There are nearly 20 candidates (Republicans, Democrats, independents and a Libertarian) who will all be lumped into one primary on April 18. If one candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote, he or she gets elected. If not, the top two vote-getters will advance to a run-off. Keep in mind, the top two could be from the same party.
The hope for Democrats is a 30-year-old entrepreneur and former Capitol Hill staffer named Jon Ossoff. He has already raised $3 million, aided by an online pitch of “Make Trump Furious.” He released his first television ad this week and, yes, it was on the repeal of Obamacare. The 11 Republicans running — some who have good name recognition from previous races — are all struggling to get attention.
Still, an Ossoff win would be huge for Democrats. This district is at the heart of the Republican Party. Newt Gingrich once represented it, and it’s the home of Republican US Senator, Johnny Isakson. Price won the district in November by 24 points.
What gives Democrats hope, however, is that while John McCain and Mitt Romney also won the district by big margins in their presidential runs, Trump won the district by only 1.5 percent. Local political experts note that this affluent district is also well-educated, a group that went to Hillary Clinton in the presidential race.
Georgia’s is one of two special House elections being held in the coming months. Montana’s at-large House seat was vacated when Ryan Zinke became Trump’s Interior secretary. So far, however, the political money and attention are going to Georgia and not Montana.
James Pindell can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @jamespindell or subscribe to his Ground Game newsletter on politics:http://pages.email.bostonglobe.com/GroundGameSignUp