Karen Handel was not supposed to win the Georgia special election. Jon Ossoff was supposed to flip the Republican seat, giving the “#Resistance” its first victory after a series of disappointments and setting the stage for Democrats to take back the House of Representatives next November.
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was already preparing to take power. And President Donald Trump would have been an effective lame duck after just five months in office.
Republicans were very nervous. They knew what the media narrative would be the moment the election was called for Ossoff.
As timid as Congress has been to repeal and replace Obamacare, or to pass massive tax reform, it would have become even more skittish. Trump’s legislative agenda would have been shelved indefinitely, as each member of the Republican caucus would have focused on saving his or her own seat, the president be damned if necessary.
Now that Handel has won — and won decisively, stunning the pollsters and pundits once again — the road is wide open for Trump’s legislative agenda.
The Senate is due to vote on the American Health Care Act next week, and it is likely to keep that date. The tax reforms Speaker Paul Ryan described on Tuesday have much brighter prospects. The Republican caucus will pull together, confident that whatever Trump’s troubles, he is not a drag on the ticket.
The audience at Handel’s victory party knew it, too. They chanted, “Trump! Trump! Trump!”, though Handel had not made the president the centerpiece of her campaign.
— Charlie Spiering (@charliespiering) June 21, 2017
For the media, the special election was supposed to be a referendum on Trump. It was a referendum he won — so now, naturally, the media will find that the election was really about something else entirely.
Regardless, what matters now are the priorities on Steve Bannon’s whiteboard.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.