House Majority Whip Steve Scalise is still in the hospital, recovering from serious injuries sustained when he was shot while practicing for the Congressional baseball game. But Republicans in Georgia are seeking to exploit the shooting to gain an advantage in this week’s special Congressional election.
Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel are locked in a tight election battle to replace Tom Price, who was appointed to Trump’s cabinet. Most polls show the race within the margin of error.
Local Republicans see the mass shooting last week as an opportunity.
“I’ll tell you what: I think the shooting is going to win this election for us,” Brad Carver, the Republican chairman of a neighboring Congressional district, said at an event for Handel. “Because moderates and independents in this district are tired of left-wing extremism.”
Carver’s comments come as a conservative group, PrincipledPAC, has launched an ad claiming “the unhinged left is endorsing and applauding shooting Republicans.” (There is no evidence to support this claim.) The ad goes on to argue that a vote for Ossoff is a vote for more mass shootings.
“When will it stop? It won’t if Jon Ossoff wins on Tuesday, because the same unhinged leftists cheering last week’s shooting are all backing Jon Ossoff. And if he wins, they win.”
Handel has condemned the ad but “stopped short of asking for the ad to be removed,” as Ossoff demanded. The ad will be airing on Fox News.
Both Ossoff and Handel have received violent threats during the campaign.
Meanwhile, Republican pollsters are quietly pointing to the shooting as a potentially decisive factor. “Trump’s handling of the shooting might bring home enough traditional Republican voters uneasy with the president to carry Handel across the finish line,” Robert Cahaly, a Republican pollster based in Georgia told Politico.
The election will be held on Tuesday.