Democrats are forming a circular firing squad in the aftermath of Jon Ossoff’s Tuesday defeat, and they’re training their sights on the same person Republicans used as a battering ram the Sixth District fight. Consider the headlines.
— There was this from Daily Beast: “Wake up, Democrats. Ossoff didn’t lose the election – Pelosi did.”
— And this from NPR: Democrats play blame game with Pelosi after House election
— Breitbart entered the fray with glee: Cher Turns on Nancy Pelosi After Ossoff Loss
— The New York Times offers more, with perhaps the most damning quote of the day:
A small group of Democrats who have been critical of Ms. Pelosi in the past again pressed her to step down on Wednesday. And in a private meeting of Democratic lawmakers, Representative Tony Cárdenas of California, Ms. Pelosi’s home state, suggested the party should have a more open conversation about her effect on its political fortunes.….
Representative Tim Ryan of Ohio, who tried to unseat Ms. Pelosi as House minority leader late last fall, said she remained a political millstone for Democrats. But Mr. Ryan said the Democratic brand had also become “toxic” in much of the country because voters saw Democrats as “not being able to connect with the issues they care about.”
“Our brand is worse than Trump,” he said.
Others said the party needs a new message, but not necessarily a new leader. Rep. David Scott, D-Atlanta, told Tamar Hallerman that it’s not as easy as saying “get rid of Pelosi.”
“When I came up here, we had 56 Blue Dogs. When I came up here, every state in the South had a white (Democrat) or two. Like we did. And I have seen us drift away from that,” he said.
He added that the party needs to reinvent its message for labor unions, blue-collar workers and others it once had a lock on: “We cannot be a major party without the middle of America.”
Pelosi took a toll on Ossoff, as reflected in interviews with conservative voters across the district. A quick look at our inbox attests to that. One email from a voter this morning asserts, “Georgians don’t want Californians deciding who is going to represent them.”
But for another idea why Ossoff fell flat – and gave Handel an opening to unite Republicans – consider this take Jim Galloway posted late Wednesday. A taste:
It wasn’t that Jon Ossoff wasn’t a resident of the Sixth District — a fact pointed out by Handel time and again.
No, it was that Ossoff was too much a part of the Sixth, and feared offending Mom and Dad’s old Republican neighbors with attacks that tied his opponent to current events in and current concerns about Washington.
Alan Abramowitz, the Emory University political scientist, was thinking along the same lines with his op-ed piece for the New York Daily News:
[T]here was a major problem with Ossoff’s strategy: Karen Handel was not Donald Trump, and the Ossoff campaign failed to effectively tie Handel to Trump. Polls in the district found that Trump was unpopular, as was the GOP’s health-care plan, which had been crafted largely by Tom Price and was strongly supported by Handel.
But the Ossoff campaign did not strongly go after Handel for her support of either Trump or the American Health Care Act. Instead, negative ads run by Ossoff and outside groups focused on attacking Handel as a self-dealing career politicians and on her role in cutting off funding for Planned Parenthood during her brief tenure as an executive at the Susan G. Komen Foundation.
Insider’s note: This item was ripped and expanded from today’s Morning Jolt.