All eyes were on Georgia tonight in the special election to replace the new Secretary of Health and Human Services, Dr. Tom Price. The race has been billed as the most expensive in history for a single House race and the Democrats have thrown everything but the kitchen sink (I think they threw that in as well) in an effort to win this Republican seat and make it a national referendum on President Trump.
The Democrats ran a former Congressional staffer, Jon Ossoff, and funded him like no other candidate. In all he raised over $24 million for this race. The Republicans countered with Karen Handel, a former Secretary of State in Georgia, and an experienced political hand. She had a decidedly large deficit in funding with only about $3 million. The money for Ossoff came from all over the nation, particularly the liberal strongholds of California and New York. He was the darling of the left when he finished first in the open primary but seasoned political hands knew that once the Republicans came together on a single candidate this would not be an easy seat for the Democrats to win. But still they announced that they would win and they fundraised off this national theme to record amounts.
The race for the Georgia 6th District came down to three counties. DeKalb county would be the strength of Ossoff and Cobb County would be the strength of Handel. That would leave Fulton County to decide the race.
In DeKalb Ossoff ran as strong as was expected and captured 58% of the vote and defeated Handel by a comfortable margin of over 9000 votes. In Cobb County Handel turned the tables capturing 61% of the vote and erasing that lead DeKalb had given Ossoff by winning with a margin of over 15,000 votes.
In Fulton County the vote was closer but in the end Handel prevailed and was declared the winner with 52% of the vote.
Now the finger pointing will start with the Democrats. Remember, this was not a Trump district, and they made it all about him. Republicans let everyone know that Ossoff did not even live in the district but he promised to move to the district if he won once his girlfriend graduated from medical school.
The real issue in this race was the lack of a message from the Democrat candidate. Once again, just like in the Presidential race, the entire message was you had to vote against Trump. There was no real message on why you should vote for him. In his final speech Ossoff conceded but acted like he had won. He forgot to mention that only 3% of his funding came from within the state of Georgia. He forgot to mention that he started out with a lead and squandered it because he had no real message.
Already there is noise from the Sanders side of the party complaining that Ossoff tried to run as a moderate and not a progressive. That side of the Democrat party wants candidates to embrace a far more liberal agenda and they will be even more reluctant to support someone that waffles on their form of politics.
Tomorrow the Democrats will trot out some tired old refrains. They will let everyone that will listen know that this was a safe Republican seat, that they did better than Tom Price by a large margin and that they never really expected to win this seat. Now if you believe that you will believe anything. You don’t invest millions and millions of dollars in a race you did not expect to win. The final margin, while not the 29 points Price won with, was still a comfortable win for Karen Handel. You always expect an open seat to be closer than one with a long term incumbent .
There was another House race in South Carolina to replace current OMB Director Mick Mulvaney but the Democrats did not even try to contest that one. It was a lot closer than the one in Georgia and perhaps they should have spent some money there.
And now we are done with the special elections for people who left Congress to accept positions in the Administration and the Democrats struck out in every one of them.