The Daily 202: Democrats despondent, Trump emboldened after GOP victory in Georgia special election
HE BIG IDEA: With all the ballots counted, Republican Karen Handel won the most expensive House race in U.S. history by 3.8 percentage points. That’s a larger margin of victory than the 1.5 points that Donald Trump carried Georgia’s 6th Congressional District by last November.
Handel even wound up winning by a greater margin than the GOP candidate in an unexpectedly close special election to replace OMB Director Mick Mulvaney in South Carolina that had not been on the national radar.
The suburban district north of Atlanta is ruby red and has been in GOP hands since Newt Gingrich won it in 1979, but that does not make Jon Ossoff’s defeat any less devastating for Democrats struggling to find their way in the Trump era.
-- The results are already prompting Democratic recriminations, as the Bernie Sanders wing of the party pushes the establishment to get behind more liberal candidates. Initially, Ossoff’s mantra was “Make Trump Furious.” But he rarely talked about the president toward the end of the contest because he needed to win over moderate Republicans and didn’t want to motivate low-propensity Trump voters to turn out against him. He modulated his rhetoric, calling for fiscal conservatism in his ads and focusing on jobs. He avoided hot-button issues and called for civility.
Liberal activists and their allied outside groups are grumbling that Ossoff moderated too much, and they’ve been complaining for weeks that the national party apparatus invested more to help him than outspokenly liberal candidates in Montana and Kansas special elections. “The best way for Democrats to maximize gains in 2018 — especially in purple and red districts — is to harness the power of the resistance and field candidates who proudly challenge power,” said Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee.
From the executive director of the National Nurses union and a prominent Bernie supporter: