Democrats Frustrated After Ossoff Loss: 'Our Brand Is Worse Than Trump'

Jon Ossoff / Getty Images
June 21, 2017

Democrats were visibly frustrated and second-guessing themselves on Wednesday after Democrat Jon Ossoff lost Georgia's special congressional race the prior night.

The election outcome has caused activists and Democratic lawmakers to regroup and try to develop a new strategy for taking back the House of Representatives in 2018. Democrats had hoped to make the special election a referendum on President Donald Trump's agenda by electing Ossoff, who had raised about $25 million.

The loss hit Democrats hard, and some questioned the leadership and strategies under House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.), according to the New York Times.

"Our brand is worse than Trump," Rep. Tim Ryan (D., Ohio) said, urging Democrats to make a clear economic message an urgent priority. "We can't just run against Trump."

Ryan has been openly critical of the Democratic Party's strategic direction since last November, when he tried to unseat Pelosi in order to implement a new strategy.

"[Republicans are] still running against [Pelosi] and still winning races, and it's still a problem," Ryan said.

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D., N.Y.) was also frustrated after Ossoff's loss, according to CNN reporter Deirdre Walsh.

In an attempt to exhibit optimism for Democrats in 2018, Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D., N.M.), who serves as the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, circulated a memo highlighting how Democrats will take back the majority in 2018, saying he had "no doubt that Democrats can take back the House next fall."

"Let's look outside of the traditional mold to keep recruiting local leaders, veterans, business owners, women, job creators, and health professionals," Luján wrote. "Let's take the time to find people who fit their districts, have compelling stories, and work hard to earn support from voters."

But Democratic activists, donors, and lawmakers have become weary of special elections that "end with a better-than-usual showing by a defeated Democrat," according to the Times.

Jim Dean, the chairman of Democracy for America, a liberal activist group, blasted Mr. Ossoff overnight for "lighting millions of dollars on fire" and delivering an "uninspiring message" that he predicted would fail again in 2018.