Democrats’ Lessons from Jon Ossoff Loss: Move Left, Forget Civility

Resist sign (Jason Redmond / AFP / Getty)
Jason Redmond / AFP / Getty

Democrats are concluding that Jon Ossoff’s disappointing loss to Karen Handel in the special election for Georgia’s 6th congressional district on Tuesday means they must move even further left, and reject calls for more civility.

That might seem odd, especially in the wake of last week’s shooting attack against Republican members of Congress, and given that Handel won partly by tying Ossoff to the left and to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

But Democrats are convinced that Ossoff fell short by moving towards the center after running as the darling of the “#Resistance” in the primary election in April, and by trying to convince moderate Republicans to cross over.

The Washington Post reports:

Indeed, more than 200 miles to the north, a dramatically underfunded Democrat, Archie Parnell, nearly pulled off an upset victory in a House seat that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee largely ignored. In Ossoff, Democrats hoped they had found a potential new path to defeating Republicans with a message of peace and civility. They calculated that the fiery rage, often associated with supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), would not win over moderate Republicans and centrists, whose support Ossoff needed to have any chance to win a district that Tom Price, the six-term congressman who is Trump’s health secretary, won by more than 20 percentage points in November.

So Ossoff chose the high priest route instead of the fierce warrior. It was civil disobedience rather than civil unrest. And he still lost, by an even wider margin than the almost forgotten Parnell.

The Post quotes Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee: “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.”

Other Democrats offered similar advice on Twitter, encouraging the party to move left:

Some Democrats were more cautious, suggesting that the party needed to think more carefully about moderate voters:

And one Democrat dared to utter the unthinkable — that the party should rid itself of Pelosi:

However, no Democrat or media outlet noted a rather obvious point: that it is hard to win with a candidate who does not even live in the congressional district he or she is running to represent.

Attacks on Ossoff’s residency problem were at the core of Handel’s message:

Karen Handel message (Screenshot / MSNBC)

Karen Handel message (Screenshot / MSNBC)

The Democrats’ main problem may have been their inability to attract a credible candidate from inside the 6th district itself.

Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, the architect of Democrats’ midterm victory in 2006, offered this advice: “Winning hotly contested swing seats … requires candidates who closely match their districts—even if they don’t perfectly align with the national party’s activist base.”

The party, however, does not appear to be listening.

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.


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