Democrats despondent, Trump emboldened after GOP victory in Georgia special election

Thursday, 22 Jun, 2017

A special Georgia congressional election billed as a referendum on Trump's presidency was won by Republican Karen Handel by almost 3 points in a suburban Atlanta district over Democrat Jon Ossoff. Spending enough money to scald a wet mule (to borrow a phrase from Haley Barbour) to hold on to a district that Tom Price (Trump's HHS secretary) and Newt Gingrich held is not a sign of Republican health.

They also lost a less publicized race in South Carolina, Tuesday, as Republican Ralph Norman beat Democrat Archie Parnel.

The win continues a string of GOP victories in special congressional elections in 2017, in the wake of Donald Trump's White House victory last November.

House Democrats seem to be second-guessing House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) after yet another devastating House special election defeat Tuesday in Georgia.

That was Politico's response to Trump's midnight tweet which said: "Well, the Special Elections are over and those that want to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN are 5 and O!"

One group supporting Handel drew fire after airing an ad claiming Ossoff supporters celebrated last week's violence against House Republicans.

"I need to also thank Speaker Ryan and the House leadership and so numerous members across this country".

Some liberals are putting an optimistic spin on things: It's a good sign for Dems, they argue, that Ossoff got as close as he did to victory in a district that hasn't voted blue since Jimmy Carter was president.

Democrats recently attempted to hedge donor's expectations about winning the race, adding that they never expected to win.

Win or lose, 2018 could be a strong rebuilding year for Democrats, especially if they can channel the anti-Trump intensity into an even more compelling message to voters. "God, no. But I believe he has the country's best interests at heart", said Jessica Podalsky, who voted for Handel on Tuesday morning.

Ossoff told his supporters: "The fight goes on". Not really: a year later, Republicans won 63 U.S. House seats and took control of the chamber. None of the special elections in Georgia past year had more than a 15 percent voter turnout rate.

The Georgia special election was the most expensive USA congressional race in history. While Ossoff was running in a congressional district traditionally dominated by Republicans, Jon Ossoff lost because he was inauthentically tried to appeal to the right and thus failed to generate enthusiasm among voters.

The two races were the latest portrayed as potential bellwethers for the upcoming 2018 midterms, following up special election races in Kansas and Montana that similarly saw Republicans maintaining seats.