Republican Karen Handel won a special congressional election Tuesday in the southern U.S. state of Georgia, allowing her party to hold onto a closely contested seat and deny the Democratic Party a chance to chip away at the Republican majority in the House of Representatives.
The race between Handel and Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff was a major focus for both parties, sparking $50 million in campaign spending in what was by far the most expensive congressional race in U.S. history.
Handel won with about 53 percent of the vote to Ossoff's 47 percent.
That was much tighter than when the same seat was up for election last November and won by Republican Tom Price by 23 percentage points. Price stepped down after President Donald Trump picked him to run the Department of Health and Human Services.
Trump barely won in the same district in November, topping his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton by one percentage point, and he had used Twitter in the closing days of the campaign to both criticize Ossoff and urge voters to support Handel.
Republican Ralph Norman also won a special election Tuesday in the state of South Carolina, keeping another House seat in Republican hands. Earlier this year, Republicans won special elections in Montana and Kansas, while a Democrat won a race in California.
The result is that going forward Republicans will hold a 241-194 majority in the House. The party also has a majority in the Senate.
All of the 435 House seats will be up for re-election in 2018, and if Democrats want to reclaim control of the chamber they will need to gain at least 24 seats.