ATLANTA — Democratic U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath appeared headed toward winning reelection Tuesday night over Republican challenger Karen Handel in a suburban Atlanta congressional district once represented by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

McBath, who won the seat two years ago by turning Handel out of office, was leading Handel 55% to 45% late Tuesday night, according to unofficial results.

If those numbers hold up, it would be the second win in a row for the Democrats in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, once reliably Republican turf stretching from East Cobb County through North Fulton and North DeKalb counties.

When Gingrich resigned from Congress in 1999 after more than 20 years in office, Cobb County real estate executive and former Georgia House Minority Leader Johnny Isakson won the seat, keeping it in Republican hands.

Then, when Isakson left the House to run for the U.S. Senate, GOP state Sen. Tom Price stepped up to again retain the seat for the Republicans.

McBath, 60, entered politics as an advocate for gun restrictions after her son, Jordan, was murdered in 2012. Two years ago, she was elected to Congress over then-Rep. Handel by a narrow margin.

Handel, 58, came into this year’s campaign with the longer political track record. After serving as chairman of the Fulton County Commission during the early 2000s, she was elected Georgia secretary of state in 2006.

Handel unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination for governor in 2010, a contest eventually won by Nathan Deal. Seven years later, she became the first Republican woman from Georgia elected to Congress when she won a special election to complete the unexpired term of Price, who had left Congress early in 2017 to serve as President Donald Trump’s first secretary of health and human services.

Handel defeated Democrat Jon Ossoff in an off-year special election that became the most expensive House race in U.S. history. Her loss to McBath in 2018 set the stage for this year’s rematch.

During the campaign, McBath attacked Handel for supporting Trump’s agenda, including backing the president’s efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and its protection of insurance coverage of Americans with pre-existing conditions.

Handel portrayed McBath as a one-issue activist who supports the agenda of street protesters who have called for defunding the police.

The two also clashed over the abortion issue, with Handel defending her anti-abortion views and McBath taking a pro-abortion rights stance.

For the other two congressmen who represent parts of Cobb, U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Cassville, had 217,858 votes or 62.72% districtwide as of midnight, while Democratic challenger Dana Barrett had 129,472 votes as of midnight.

And U.S. Rep. David Scott, D-Atlanta, had 208,322 or 75.49% votes as of midnight, holds a lead over Republican challenger Becky Hites, with 67,633 votes as of midnight.

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