Republican wins Georgia election in blow to anti-Trump effort

Pelosi is confronting renewed questions about her leadership In the wake of a dispiriting loss for Democrats in a Georgia special House race.

"I think it's very concerning that that tactic still has some punch", Tim Ryan said of the challenges Ossoff faced, "It's part of the broader national brand that average people don't feel connected to the Democratic Party".

But his Republican opponent, Karen Handel, as well as a GOP-aligned super PAC and the House Republicans' campaign arm, the National Republican Congressional Committee, spent millions on television ads and mailers latching Ossoff to Pelosi.

It was the most expensive house race in history, with more than $50 million spent and it denied democrats their first major victory of the Donald Trump era.

Ryan told CNN that his constituents are more concerned about economic issues than congressional investigations into allegations of collusion between members of the Trump campaign and Russian officials. People in Ohio, Don, aren't really talking about Russian Federation or Michael Flynn or Putin ... If there's a charismatic, rising star in the House - who boasts the trust of the party's rising left-flank, a persona that appeals to independent voters in middle America, and an apparent talent for fundraising and legislative deal-making - then by all means, Pelosi should make way for the future.

Just as Democrats accused Republicans of being sexist and racist for not electing Hillary Clinton last November, that seems to be the go-to excuse now.

Democrats have now lost all four opportunities to win in special elections so far this year, following earlier losses in Republican-held districts in Kansas and Montana.

And while Democrats were mourning in Georgia Tuesday night, they nearly stole a House seat in SC where Archie Parnell came within about 2,800 votes and 3 percentage points of defeating Republican Ralph Norman.

Put on defense, House Democratic leaders from Pelosi on down tried to spin the outcome in Georgia as positive, arguing that coming in a close second in the solidly Republican district augured well for their chances of taking back the House next year. But if they can not transform that energy into wins, it will further demoralise a party still reeling from a White House loss it did not see coming.

"Look, I think the Democratic Party has to come to terms with the fact that what we're doing isn't working", Moulton said.

Several House Democrats believe the GOP playbook of linking Democratic candidates to Pelosi is hurting.

And as long as they remain so angry at Trump they can't think straight, I say, "Stay angry, my friends".

Rep. Filemon Vela (D., Texas), who supported Ryan over Pelosi in the leadership election, agreed. If they can't win a seat in one of the most educated swing districts in the country despite all of President Trump's problems, their path to recapturing the House will be a lot tougher. Moulton, who let loose on Twitter on Tuesday night after Ossoff's loss, does not know if the party can win in 2018 with the current leadership.

"In the districts where we are truly competitive, I don't think that [anti-Pelosi] message is going to hold very much", said Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif. Congressman Bill Pascrell of New Jersey downplays the attacks. Porter said Wednesday that he expects Democrats to field "strong candidates" for every statewide down ballot office - something the party hasn't managed in recent years.

Pelosi said she didn't want to hear Republicans "all of a sudden be sanctimonious" as if they had "never seen such a thing before".

"It works only 100 percent of the time", said Todd, the GOP ad-maker.

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