After high-profile losses, some Democrats seek change at the top

Gladys Abbott
June 24, 2017

The party still doesn't know what it is or needs to be - and that can portend problems heading into next year's midterms. Of the 15 congressional districts with the highest levels of education, 13 are held by Democrats - Georgia's 6th District is one of the exceptions. An Ossoff victory might have scared Republicans into siding with the majority of Americans who disapprove of the disgusting man occupying the White House. "The House remains in play now". When it comes to her detractors, Pelosi said "my decision about how long I stay is not up to them". Rather, Trump said, "That would be very bad for the Republican Party" if Pelosi were forced out. Pelosi is accused of being a "toxic" House Minority Leader who is tarnishing the Democratic brand and making it hard for voters to connect with the Democratic party. Handel and the GOP painted Ossoff as a California liberal, like House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, while Ossoff tried to run as more of a moderate Democrat.

After Republican Karen Handel defeated Democrat Jon Ossoff in a closely watched special election for a House seat in suburban Atlanta, commentators in both parties began to spin the results furiously.

In the first tweet, Trump said former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson was "the latest top intelligence official to state there was no grand scheme between Trump and Russian Federation".

The outcome "better be a wake-up call for Democrats - business as usual isn't working", Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., said on Twitter. But it was demoralizing for Democrats, who also lost a special election in neighboring SC. So it's time for change.

Although the race was widely viewed as a referendum on President Donald Trump, he was rarely discussed by either candidate, and House Democrats were rattled that the attack ads casting the 77-year-old Pelosi as a San Francisco liberal proved so potent. But to win in 2018, Democrats will have to flip GOP-held House districts to their side. As Dave Weigel wrote in the Washington Post, "The ad strategy, and the campaign visit from Republicans such as House Speaker Paul Ryan, have had nearly nothing to say about what Republicans were working on in Washington".

A decade of Republican campaigning against Pelosi has made her the gift to Republicans that keeps on giving.

Pelosi was tied closely to Ossoff during the campaign leading up to the local election, and some in the party blame her directly for the loss. Even in the minority, the votes she commands are often needed to pass spending bills or other must-pass legislation that House conservatives disdain, and GOP speakers have had to come to her repeatedly hat in hand.

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There is no other way to say it: Tuesday night was a disaster for the national Democratic Party.

"I'm in my 10th term and I certainly have never seen someone who is smarter in the kind of backroom maneuvering that Nancy Pelosi does", said Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill. Some Democrats are taking solace in the fact that they fared better in each of those places than candidates who ran for those seats in 2016. Trump past year bested Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in the suburban Atlanta district by 1.5 points, a significantly smaller margin than other recent Republican presidential nominees.

"She's easy to demonize". They say voters in Republican-leaning districts are motivated by more than a desire to stop Pelosi and Democrats need to work on developing a message that can win them over.

Adding to Democratic frustrations Tuesday night was the logic that they may have focused too heavily on the wrong race.

Democrats don't have a cohesive message or a road map for arriving at one.

That likely helped him, but it was not enough.

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