GOP candidate Karen Handel asserted that she did not believe workers were entitled to a livable wage during a debate performance for the Georgia's 6th Congressional District race (video below).
On June 6, Handel debated Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff two weeks before their runoff election would be decided by Georgia's 6th District voters. During the forum, Ossoff voiced support for increasing the district's minimum wage.
"Look, if somebody's working a 40-hour workweek, they deserve the kind of standard of living that Americans respect," Ossoff said, according to The Huffington Post. "That's part of the American dream, and there are too many folks having trouble making ends meet."
While the Georgia's 6th District has a minimum wage of $12.01 per hour, the state's minimum wage is set at $5.15 per hour, more than two dollars less than the federal minimum.
Handel pushed back on Ossoff's call for a minimum wage increase, describing their policy disagreement as "an example of the fundamental difference between a liberal and a conservative."
The GOP candidate stated: "I do not support a livable wage."
"What I support is making sure we have an economy that is robust with low taxes and less regulation so that those small businesses that would be dramatically hurt if you imposed higher minimum wages on them are able to do what they do best: grow jobs and create good paying jobs for the people of the 6th District," the GOP candidate added.
Handel and Ossoff are competing to claim the House seat left vacant by Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price. While Republicans have historically represented the Georgia's 6th District for decades, the 2017 race has been remarkably competitive, with both candidates raising a combined $30 million, according to NPR.
On April 19, Ossoff came close to clinching the seat during the runoff election's first round. The Democratic candidate fell just short of the 50 percent threshold to winning the election outright while Handel arrived in a distant second, setting a course for the two candidates to compete in a one-on-one matchup.
On June 6, a Landmark Communications poll found that Ossoff led the race with 49 percent support while Handel was right behind with roughly 48 percent support, according to WSB-TV.
"We're looking at a dead heat," said Landmark Communications president Mark Rountree.
"The main thing that I think could change and tip the scales a little bit here and there are the debate performances," Rountree added.
The race for Georgia's 6th District seat will reach its conclusion on June 20.