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Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) said in an interview Tuesday that he does not know whether Georgia Democratic congressional candidate Jon Ossoff is a progressive. "We have defied the odds, we have shattered expectations", Mr Ossoff told a cheering crowd of supporters.

The White House has claimed a special election in Georgia in which a young Democrat came first by nearly 30 points, was in fact a "big loss" for the party. But Trump, his political brand at stake, painted an opposing picture. Ossoff now faces a June 20 runoff with Republican Karen Handel, former Georgia Secretary of State, who finished second in the all-parties primary.

"Dems failed in Kansas and are now failing in Georgia". He has also mobilized strong opposition against President Trump. They came up short, and if you look at what - his percentage of what it was presidentially, it pretty much tracks.

"They ran to win last night and they lost", White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters.

Spicer left open the possibility that Trump campaigns in Georgia ahead of the run-off.

As they see it, a win in Georgia could jumpstart efforts to retake the House in 2018.

However, winning the June 20 run-off election will be tougher for Mr Ossoff. "The progressive energy out there is palpable".

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Liberal advocacy group MoveOn.org in a statement called Ossoff's first-place finish in the relatively wealthy, conservative Atlanta suburbs "a huge triumph for the Resistance and for progressives".

"The reason is clear: voters are rejecting Trump and his policies".

Mr Ossoff grew up in the district and says he will move back if he wins.

Ryan's most notable failure came over the last few months when he was unable to bring his party - and the Republican president - together to achieve the repeal of Obamacare, something they have been promising to do for almost a decade.

The victor replaces Republican Tom Price, who stepped down to serve as Mr Trump's Secretary of Health and Human Services.

DuBose Porter, chairman of the Georgia Democratic Party, said the district offers the ideal setting for Democrats to prove their momentum heading into 2018.

Ossoff benefited from a large Republican field of 11 candidates, some of whom emphasized their loyalty to Trump while others kept their distance.