Democrat Lucy McBath will represent the 6th District in Congress as incumbent Karen Handel conceded Nov. 8. It’s a historic loss for the GOP, which held the seat for decades, and a triumph for Democrats after a surprise-filled, two-year effort to “flip the Sixth.”

U.S. Rep-Elect Lucy McBath.

McBath, a Cobb County flight attendant and gun control activist whose son was murdered in an infamous shooting, squeaked out a win in the Nov. 6 election with 50.46 percent of the votes. The district includes parts of Brookhaven, Dunwoody and Sandy Springs as well as other sections of north Fulton and Cobb counties.

“After carefully reviewing all of the election results data, it is clear that I came up a bit short on Tuesday,” Handel said in a written statement that added she will not take questions from the press. “Congratulations to Representative-Elect Lucy McBath and send her only good thoughts and much prayer for the journey that lies ahead for her.”

Handel, a former Georgia secretary of state and Fulton County Commission chair, has held the seat for about 18 months after winning an epic special election battle against Democrat Jon Ossoff.

While its borders shifted over the years, the 6th Congressional District has been a solidly Republican seat for decades, held by major Republican figures since the 1970s. Former office-holders include Newt Gingrich, who went on to become Speaker of the U.S. House, and Johnny Isakson, who is now a U.S. senator.

The district went into turmoil in early 2017, when Republican incumbent Tom Price was named to President Trump’s Cabinet as U.S. secretary of health and human services. Price lasted only eight months in that job, essentially forced to resign amid scandal over his use of taxpayer-funded charter and military flights rather than commercial airlines. Meanwhile, a huge political battle erupted over the right to replace him in Congress in a special election. In the end, Handel scored a narrow victory over Ossoff, a political newcomer who did not live in the district at the time, in what was said to be the most expensive Congressional race of all time.

Handel was forced to defend the seat almost immediately in the regular election. She lost in an election that saw a “blue wave” remove or replace several longtime Republican incumbents in Reporter Newspapers communities, as one of them, state Sen. Fran Millar, described it.

John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.