In the wake of Georgia’s 6th U.S. House district Democratic Party hopeful Jon Ossoff’s loss to Donald Trump-endorsed Republican Karen Handel, Democrats are crying in their cups of Starbuck’s latte and chai. In what was the most expensive House races in American history, Handel beat Ossoff by 3.8 percentage points.
Ossoff always had an uphill battle in a district formerly represented by Trump’s Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and former GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich. The district boundaries had been purposely drawn—gerrymandered—by Georgia Republicans to ensure large GOP victories. Even in the GOP-manufactured 6th district, Trump only received 1.8 percent more of the vote than Hillary Clinton in the Republican district.
Ossoff received millions of dollars from Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) coffers to run a “centrist” campaign that barely mentioned the repeated failures of the Trump administration. Instead, Ossoff campaigned in opposition to tax increases for the uber-wealthy and single-payer national health care. That made Ossoff barely indistinguishable on “bread and butter” issues than Handel. Left Democrat standard bearer Bernie Sanders warned that Ossoff’s was the wrong course, emphasizing that Democrats must run on the left to distinguish themselves and their platforms from the Republicans.
Sanders is correct. Had the Democrats spent a quarter of their national funds on defeated candidates in special House elections in Kansas, Montana, and South Carolina, they could have been basking in the sunshine of three House seat gains instead of four-in-a-row losses.
The centrist money misers who run the DCCC put all their chips on Ossoff, who lost. At the same time Ossoff was going down to defeat in Georgia, Democratic political newcomer Archie Parnell came within 3 percentage points of defeating Republican Ralph Norman in the South Carolina 5th district. No one expected the Democrat to give Norman a run for his money in filling the seat formerly held by Trump’s Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney. In fact, Parnell, who received nothing in the way of substantial financial help from the DCCC, did better in his race than did Ossoff, who hoovered up $5 million in DCCC funds. With just a percentage of the investments wasted on Ossoff, Parnell might have defeated Norman in the district that was thought to be more out of reach for the Democrats than the Georgia 6th.
The Kansas U.S. House 1st District special election to succeed Republican Mike Pompeo, who Trump appointed to be CIA director, saw Democrat James Thompson receive almost 46 percent to Republican Ron Estes’s 52 percent. Last November, Trump carried the district by 27 points in one of the deepest red districts in the country. Pompeo won the district with 61 percent, which means disaffected Republicans went to Thompson instead of Estes. The DCCC spent zero on Thompson’s race. Thompson ran to the left of Ossoff and still came within striking distance of Estes, proving Sanders is correct about Democrats running on issues they are supposed to stand for: national health care, livable wages, college tuition assistance, and tax hikes for the obscenely wealthy like the Koch Brothers of Kansas.
The other special election for the U.S. House, in the single Montana at-large district vacated by Trump’s interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, saw the Democrat folk-singer Rob Quist come within 6 percentage points of defeating the Republican journalist-assaulter and billionaire Greg Gianforte. Trump won Montana by 20 percentage points. Quist also ran to the left of Ossoff and the DCCC, campaigning for a $15 an hour national minimum wage. Although Quist raised some $6 million from primarily small individual donations, he received only $350,000 from the DCCC. Had the DCCC spent only a fraction of the $5 million it wasted on Ossoff in the media market-expensive suburbs of north Atlanta in the less expensive markets of north-western South Carolina, central Kansas, and Montana, they may have ended up with Thompson, Quist, and Parnell in the House along with bragging rights about how Republicans went down to defeat in districts that went heavily for Trump.
The Democratic Party has a branding problem and it will not solve it by continuing to engage in identity politics and political correctness. As long as the Democrats have a message that attracts the working class, including disaffected white men and women, they do not need to promenade through their upper ranks those like Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez, merely because of his surname, or his deputy Keith Ellison, merely because he is both black and a Muslim. Quist specifically requested that Perez not visit Montana to campaign on his behalf.
It would also help the party immensely to ditch House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who is well past her political shelf life, in favor of Tim Ryan, the Ohio congressman who challenged her last November for the Democratic caucus leadership. Ryan, who hails from working class and formerly solid Democratic eastern Ohio, would have been a better choice to campaign with Thompson, Quist, and Parnell. Pelosi never even showed her face in the special election districts in Kansas, Montana, and South Carolina.
One of the reasons why Parnell (Anglican) and Thompson (Christian non-affiliate) received no DCCC money and Quist (Lutheran) received a mere $350,000 is that the DCCC membership includes too many House members who were more than happy to squander $5 million on Ossoff, the nice Jewish boy who does not even live in the 6th district of Georgia, than on the goyim candidates who had solid chances of winning. Perhaps if the DCCC were to have members who were fairer—and that would certainly not include current members Lois Frankel, Jared Polis, and Jan Schakowsky—in charge of handing out campaign funds, more Democrats might have a chance of knocking off Republicans in swing and GOP districts. When asked about the special House election in South Carolina’s 5th district, Frankel responded, “Who is Archie Parnell?” Yes, the Archie Parnell who almost knocked off a Republican in a solid red district and who received not a cent from the arrogant likes of Frankel and her compatriots.
The DCCC, like the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, have a history of those with built-in biases being in charge, and they include Senator Chuck Schumer and former Representatives Rahm Emanuel and Steve Israel.
If the Democrats hope to ever command majorities in the Senate and the House, they will have to forego the identity politics that places the interests of women over more capable men, and minority ethnic and religious groups over more capable Caucasian Christians. It is not being racist or sexist to suggest that maybe winning back the Congress, governorships, and state legislatures may be more important for the Democratic Party than in playing the identity politics game. Had the Democrats been less interested in having the first female presidential candidate, ensuring that either Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders would have been the 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, there would have been no crying today over the Trump presidency.
Previously published in the Wayne Madsen Report.
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Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and nationally-distributed columnist. He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report (subscription required).