In Georgia, Handel thanks Trump and reaches out to Democrats

Elias Hubbard
June 23, 2017

The latest GOP victor is Karen Handel, who won about 52 percent of the vote in Georgia's 6th Congressional District to quell the upstart phenomenon of Jon Ossoff, a 30-year-old Democrat who raised more than $23 million and became a symbol of opposition to President Donald Trump.

Trump's collapse in November - he beat Hillary Clinton by just 1.5 percentage points in a district that Mitt Romney had carried by 24 points four years earlier - was the sole reason national Democrats saw the race as potentially competitive. Instead, Ryan argued voters want to know how Democrats will address economic concerns and grow jobs, and so far the party doesn't have a coherent message on that.

Pelosi told fellow House Democrats in a letter Wednesday, "The House was in play before the Georgia race". Republican Ralph Norman beat Democrat Archie Parnell by around 3 percentage points in SC, closer than expected and a warning sign to the GOP not to take any seat for granted.

Trump's election as president had papered over the intraparty disputes and generational divides among House Democrats, as lawmakers joined in opposing the White House and trying to channel the energy of their party's liberal base.

Pelosi allies have pushed back at the blame game, and pointed to the improvement Democrats had in other special elections in Kansas, Montana and SC as evidence that their efforts to harness the resistance against Trump was working.

They came close ― the historically conservative district swung heavily away from Republicans, but they lost anyway.

In the well-to-do Atlanta suburbs, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California was the focus of torrents of negative advertising in a House race that cost more than $50 million, the most expensive in history. This goes to the nub of the divide between centrist and more progressive Democrats, but the overall point is correct: By 2018, Democrats will need to run on something.

Pelosi also incorrectly predicted that Democrats were poised to take back the House a year ago, leading some of her colleagues to feel that this time around, she needs to deliver.

As the final returns in Georgia's 6th Congressional District were tallied, Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton tweeted the loss "better be a wakeup call" for Democrats.

President Donald Trump said he hopes Democrats keep Nancy Pelosi in her role as House Minority Leader.

"Unfortunately a loss for us, but not good news for them", Pelosi told the rank-and-file in a closed door meeting Wednesday morning, according to Democrats present.

Handel thanked Trump on Tuesday at her victory rally, where a boisterous crowd chanted the President's name.

Already, Clegg said his political consulting firm has phones "ringing off the hook from candidates who want to run in these targeted races", even though they don't have to officially file paperwork declaring their run until next March. Republicans in Congress who are not inclined to hold the president's feet to the fire should get booted out. "Karen Handel's position on life reflects the true values of Georgia's voters". Democrats lose again (0-4). She referenced that the GOP spent millions of dollars promoting House Speaker Paul Ryan since he was on the 2012 ticket as the vice presidential ticket and "I have a hundred million or so spent against me and his numbers are no better than mine".

Many Democrats considered the race to be a bell-weather contest that might foreshadow how the party will fare in the 2018 mid-term elections.

In a Tuesday night tweet, Trump congratulated Handel, saying "we are all very proud of you!" Tax reform. That's the kind of things we've got to get done.

Prominent Democrats said the party needed to rethink its approach.

The apparent effectiveness of such attacks alarmed some fellow Democrats, and they show no signs of letting up. What exactly it is, and whether they can fix it, will be debated in the weeks and months ahead.

EDITOR'S NOTE - AP Congressional Correspondent Erica Werner has covered Congress for the AP since 2010.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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