DCCC Failure/Lucy McBath Victory

Last year, in a special election to replace Tom Price-- who Trump had named to his cabinet (and soon fired him once it became public he was as crooked as almost everyone else in the cabinet)-- Republican Karen Handel beat Democrat Jon Ossoff 134,799 (51.8%) to 125,517 (48.2%) in the R+8 suburban Atlanta district where Trump had only defeated Hillary 48.3-46.8%. Ossoff's candidacy-- or at least the therory of it had set the national Democratic base on fire. Money flooded into Ossoff's online account and he raised $23,600,861.14, compared to Handel's $4,555,808.76. Outside spending was also through the roof-- for both sides. Trump's America First PAC spent $1.6 million. The DCCC spent around $5 million. Pelosi's SuperPAC sept $1.2 million. Ryan's SuperPAC spent around $3.5 million. The NRCC spent around $2.5 million.

Eyes wide open, Blue America endorsed him. Soon after, I wrote:

The vetting process for Jon Ossoff was shorter than normal for a Blue America candidate. I never met him in person and spent a couple of hours on the phone with him over 3 calls. He wrote a guest post for DWT. He checked out OK. And, no he wasn't going to be the next Pramila Jayapal, Alan Grayson, Ted Lieu, Elizabeth Warren or Raul Grijalva. But he was't going to be a Blue Dog or New Dem and his instincts were pretty good across the whole spectrum of issues we talk with our potential endorsees about. He's pro-choice and opposes discrimination based on all the things conservatives use as excuses to demonize people. On economic issues... he checked out OK, as good as you're going to get in the South, at least as good as his mentors, John Lewis and Hank Johnson. As for the other Democratic congressman in Georgia, David Scott... Ossoff is ten-thousand times better. Find me a more progressive Democrat in the South (in Congress) than Jon Ossoff; I can't think of one. I suppose if it wasn't a winnable special election that could significantly put a check on Trump's legislative agenda, we might have dragged it out longer before endorsing Ossoff. But he really is good enough and under the circumstances, absolutely good enough.

Bernie was more discerning and never did go down to Georgia to help. Interviewed by the Wall Street Journal, he said "Some Democrats are progressive and some Democrats are not." Pressed about whether or not Ossoff is a progressive, he, in the words of the WSJ, demurred. "I don’t know."

As his campaign came under the total control of the DCCC I started having second thoughts about the endorsement-- and regretting it. It wasn’t even that he started inching inextricably towards the center really fast, as much as something else I smelled. The DCCC moved in immediately and took over with their crooked money-sucking consultants. Everything I started seeing coming out of the Ossoff campaign started looking bad to me-- the multiple e-mails with no content everyday was an immediate give-away. When I complained, they took me off their mailing list. Every time I asked Jon substantive policy questions for follow-up posts, he wouldn’t respond. By the time he said he opposed single payer, I realized I’d been had by another establishment suck-up. But I generally held my tongue and hoped he’d win just for the message it would send to Republicans wavering in their support for the Ryan-Trump agenda. That was fucked up of me. Because there was another message an Ossoff victory would have sent, one the media would have crowed about endlessly-- how the Democratic Party can only win with centrist candidates who don’t have campaigns based on strong values. "Maybe," I wrote, "Ossoff can now go off and join Jason Kander in whatever he’s doing to push backward centrism on unsuspecting Democrats."

Ro Khanna was kinder: "Until we take a risk as a party in offering a bold economic platform, we're not going to break through in some of these elections. When you try to target things to a lowest common denominator, you run the risk of not having an inspiring message." MoveOn's Anna Galland also grew frustrated with the DCCC Republican-lite approach they saddled Ossoff with: "In the closing weeks of the race, Ossoff and the DCCC missed an opportunity to make Republicans’ attack on health care the key issue, and instead attempted to portray Ossoff as a centrist, focusing on cutting spending and coming out [in] opposition to Medicare for All. This approach did not prove a recipe for electoral success. Democrats will not win back power merely by serving as an alternative to Trump and Republicans."

This morning, the woman who beat Ossoff, wrote that "After carefully reviewing all of the election results data, it is clear that I came up a bit short on Tuesday. Congratulations to Representative-Elect Lucy McBath and I send her only good thoughts and much prayer for the journey that lies ahead for her." These are the results she was referring to:

McBath won on a more progressive agenda than Ossoff's. She wasn't inauthentic or wishy-washy, pulled in different directions by DCCC consultants and staffers dangling millions of dollars. No one would accuse her of being a Republican-lite candidate. Voters seemed to appreciate it.

McBath was vastly outspent by Handel-- around $8 million to just over a million. The DCCC kicked in $134,000, a drop in the bucket, although Bloomberg's Everytown for Gun Safety PACs spent $4 million on the race.

Nationally, the intensity of the feelings for Ossoff and McBath were similar, although Ossoff had far more focussed attention. McBath, after all, was just one candidate of over a 100 who people were excited about. In the district, though... why did McBath win where Ossoff failed? The wave? The anti-Red wave had already begun when Ossoff ran. If anything it had dissipated slightly by last week. The Trump effect? He may seem more horrible now than he did in 2017, but not enough so to move more voters. Maybe I'm wrong about this, but I think the most important factor differentiating the two campaigns is the authenticity factor. Whatever authenticity Ossoff had-- and having talked to him early on, I can vouch that he did have some-- was killed by the DCCC's overbearing, albeit well-meaning, involvement. By the time they get their hooks into a candidate, the candidate is worthless mush, never more than the lesser of two evils, the DCCC guiding principle. Was that worth all that DCCC money and "expertise?" Ossoff may have been elected without them. McBath was.

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