Angry Democrats in Blame Game After Georgia Defeat

SANDY SPRINGS, Georgia — Democrats are tired of losing and the accusations are flying.

After going all in and coming up short in Georgia’s special election Tuesday, Democratic lawmakers and political operatives are venting their frustration at losing every competitive special congressional election so far this year.

Many were upset that Democrat Jon Ossoff blunted what was arguably his greatest asset — antipathy toward President Donald Trump — by going relatively easy on the president and avoiding controversy at all cost. Others, however, countered that Ossoff was a fine candidate who was the victim of a party that is too cautious and has lost its ability to connect with voters.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), one of the party’s rising stars, said Democrats have been distracted by the investigation in Trump’s alleged ties to Russia and need to focus more on making a concrete impact on voters’ lives.

“We’ve been hyper-confused for the past five years,” he said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “Some of the time we’re talking about economic growth, some of the time we’re talking about economic fairness.”

“We need to be hyper-focused on this issue of wage growth and job growth — I think Democrats are scared of this message because it’s what Republicans have been talking about,” he added.

Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) said, “Close is only good in horse shoes. A loss is a loss…We can’t just dismiss it. We need to review it together.”

RELATED: Five Lessons From the Georgia Special Election

Democrats also have an “authenticity” problem, he said, noting, “I think that there are a lot of people who look at the Democratic party and aren’t sure that we aren’t also captive by special interest — and that’s not true.”

On her path to victory, Republican Karen Handel returned to the GOP playbook of tying Democratic candidates in purple-to-red districts to the party’s liberal wing, and especially to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Ossoff presented himself as squeaky clean alternative with uncontroversial plans like cutting government spending.

Image: Karen Handel, Steve Handel

Republican candidate for Georgia’s 6th District Congressional seat Karen Handel celebrates with her husband Steve as she declares victory Tuesday, June 20, 2017, in Atlanta.