• Politics

Republicans Breathe a Sigh of Relief

4 minute read

The results are in in Georgia and Karen Handel will be the first Republican woman to represent the state in the House of Representatives. Handel defeated Democrat Jon Ossoff in the most expensive congressional race in history, buoyed by a massive injection of GOP ad dollars which trounced spending on her rivals’ behalf. The result was a sigh of relief for Republicans in Washington, who had to work far harder in the Trump era for what would otherwise be considered a safe GOP seat. Republicans feared that middle class, college educated Republicans—who were never sold on Trump—would stay home or even back Ossoff, but their efforts to tie the novice candidate to liberals in Washington, like House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, won the day. For Democrats, the defeat is just the latest demoralizing loss in a year of them, as the party has struggled to turn base anger at President Trump into votes. Meanwhile, Republicans will still be on the defensive next year, but have a playbook that now reliably works—that is if they keep raising the cash to fund it. For Trump, the result is no doubt a victory. But Handel did her best to avoid mentioning his name and there is no indication that her victory will spell an easing of pressure on his beleaguered White House.

Senate Republicans are set to unveil the top-lines of their bill to repeal and replace Obamacare Thursday, in hopes of setting up a vote next week. Democrats are preparing to use whatever stall tactics and obstructive maneuvers available to them. But they might not need to do much. Whatever plan is announced Thursday will face broad skepticism even from Republicans in the Senate—let alone the more unruly House and the unpredictable White House.

Flynn’s secrets. Trump’s housing aid cuts. And Pence’s tweets come home to roost.

Here are your must reads:

Must Reads

Republican Wins Special Election in Georgia Amid Concerns About 2018
TIME’s Philip Elliott on the GA-6 results

Fate of Obamacare Repeal Uncertain in Senate
GOP leadership has planned a key meeting for Thursday [Politico]

Trump’s Net Worth Slips to $2.9 Billion as Towers Underperform
New York buildings’ worth slips [Bloomberg]

Democrats Dig In Against Health Bill as Vote Nears
Lawmakers escalate parliamentary and messaging tactics in protest against bill [Wall Street Journal]

Trump Seeks Sharp Cuts to Housing Aid
Except for program that brings him millions [Washington Post]

Democratic Loss in Georgia Underscores Party Challenges
Party incapable of channeling base enthusiasm to electoral wins [Associated Press]

Despite Concerns About Blackmail, Flynn Heard C.I.A. Secrets
Flynn’s vulnerability didn’t keep him from the job [New York Times]

Sound Off

“In hindsight perhaps I should have camped out in front of the headquarters of the DNC.” — Former DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson testifying on Capitol Hill about the Democratic National Committee’s refusal of help after the email hack

“I mean, the President clearly wants a bill that has heart in it. He believes that healthcare is something that is near and dear to so many families and individuals. He made it clear from the beginning that that was one of his priorities. And as the Senate works its way through this bill, as the House did, any ideas are welcome to strengthen it, to make it more affordable, more accessible, and deliver the care that it needs.” — White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on President Trump’s priorities for the GOP healthcare bill. He did not define what “heart” means

Bits and Bites

Karen Handel’s Victory in Georgia Was Bigger Than Trump’s [TIME]

Attorney General Sessions retains a personal attorney [Washington Post]

Chris Christie on His 15% Approval Rating: ‘The Fact Is, Who Cares?’ [TIME]

President Trump Is Returning to Iowa, Where He May Find Remorseful Independent Voters [Associated Press]

Mike Pence’s Obamacare Tweet Came Back to Haunt Him [TIME]

Congressional Black Caucus expected to decline Trump meeting [Politico]

‘I’m Right Here!’ Sean Spicer Says While Toiling to Find Successor [New York Times]

Trump likely to reveal this week whether secret tapes exist [Associated Press]

More Must-Reads From TIME

Contact us at letters@time.com