Democrats lose an iconic battle in Georgia

Frederick Owens
June 22, 2017

Republican strategist Brian Robinson told Elliot that he believes Handel's win will be a blueprint for other Republican Congressional candidates looking to win in a district where President Trump may not be popular. According to OpenSecrets.org, the two major outside spenders were the Congressional Leadership Fund, which spent over $6.5 million backing Handel, and the National Republican Congressional Committee, which spent $6.7 million.

In South Carolina, Charleston attorney and Democratic political newcomer Joe Cunningham said on Wednesday he would seek the House seat now held by Republican Mark Sanford, but that if elected he would not back Pelosi as the Democratic leader.

But for Democrats, having failed to unseat a Republican in four special House elections in a row despite an extremely energized base, it's now a time for soul-searching - and finger-pointing.

Indeed the best news Democrats got Tuesday night was that a different special House race, in SC, ended up closer than the Georgia contest even though it had drawn little national attention.

A day after the election, Democrats are left with the bittersweet achievement of another tighter-than-usual margin, still searching for a contest where anti-Trump energy and flush campaign coffers actually add up to victory.

Democrats must defend their current districts and win 24 GOP-held seats to regain a House majority next November.

At a rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Wednesday night, Trump said: "If Karen Handel had lost, they would have blamed it on me".

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"Ossoff race better be a wake up call for Democrats - business as usual isn't working", tweeted Representative Seth Moulton of MA.

The political number crunchers have produced a variety of analyses of the results in the recent special elections in Kansas, Montana, Georgia and SC in an attempt to quantify the two parties' strength in the Trump era.

"I feel extraordinarily honored and privileged to have this opportunity to represent the people of the 6th District", Handel told Channel 2 political reporter Richard Elliot. "Time to stop rehashing 2016 and talk about the future".

Lawmakers are also bemoaning a weak Democratic bench of candidates nationally, and demanding a better strategy for success and a new and stronger economic message that differentiates them more clearly from the Republicans.

Trump sent supporters a text message crowing, "Congrats to Karen Handel on a HUGE win in GA!"

"It shows us that people are wanting some of the things we've been talking about, President Trump's been talking about - less government, more power to the folks". She had handled Trump delicately throughout a primary and runoff election to fill the congressional seat vacated by Tom Price to take a spot in Trump's cabinet.

"She was able to use the president's support", said Robinson. What exactly it is, and whether they can fix it, will be debated in the weeks and months ahead.

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