June 21, 2017
Money can't buy love, and as Georgia's Karen Handel proved, it can't buy elections either! After months of anticipation and see-saw polling, the GOP pulled off an impressive victory last night in one of the hardest-fought races since Trump's. With Handel and Democrat Jon Ossoff exchanging the lead on and off heading into Tuesday's vote, Democrats held out hope that this might be one seat they could snatch away from Republican control. Their hopes were dashed in Handel's 52-48 win, which not only kept the GOP's 38-year streak alive in Tom Price's seat -- but dealt the Left its fourth loss in as many tries since November.
For most people, the biggest story in this race wasn't the candidates, but the contributions. Millions poured in from out-of-state groups and donors, making the campaign the most expensive in congressional history. As much as $55 million streamed into the Peach State from places like Hollywood, more than double the national average. But despite the influx of cash, Ossoff couldn't seem to overcome the strong current of conservatism in Georgia's 6th. "One lesson seems obvious from the suburban Atlanta district," Newsmax's John Gizzi points out, "emphasizing a strong conservative agenda on both economic and cultural issues is crucial to rallying the Republican base. Former Georgia Secretary of State Handel did just that to defeat Democrat and former congressional staffer Jon Ossoff."
In National Review, Alexandra Desanctis argues that Tuesday's real loser wasn't Ossoff -- but Planned Parenthood. "By tacking a $735,000 price tag onto Ossoff's failed effort, Planned Parenthood has revealed its own futility at influencing elections. That failure underscores another important point. Planned Parenthood consistently argues that, if it were to be stripped of its federal funding, millions of women would lose 'vital health care.'" Like most of us, she thinks this is just further evidence that Planned Parenthood doesn't need the money it keeps begging Congress for! If its political arm can afford to spend almost a million dollars on a single race, surely it can survive without an excess of taxpayer funding.
Of course, there's a reason Planned Parenthood wanted to send Handel packing. Five years ago, Karen was the vice president at Susan G. Komen Foundation who quietly cut ties with Cecile Richards's group in favor of clinics that actually offer mammograms. Within hours, threats flooded in from Planned Parenthood affiliates, corporate donors, and even members of Congress. Richards's friends in the media all piled on, as well as her pals in the White House. After a 72-hour national firestorm, Planned Parenthood's financial partnership was reinstated, and the following year, Karen resigned. She wrote about the political thuggery in a book called Planned Bullyhood. But if Richards's group was hoping for payback as Ossoff's second largest donor, it got anything but.
For the Democratic Party, it was yet another rebuke of the far-Left agenda it insists has traction. On the contrary, seven months removed from the presidential election, voters are still embracing the values that made Trump president. Much to their disappointment, this race wasn't a rejection of the young administration -- but an affirmation of it. Despite the media's false narrative, very few Americans have presidential buyer's remorse. Even at last night's victory party, voters were chanting "Trump! Trump! Trump!" Now, suddenly, the liberal press is rushing to reframe a race that was supposed to be the be-all, end-all for the Democratic Party. As Mary Katharine Ham tweeted last night, "Update: Formerly vitally important election with national implications that can't be overstated now scheduled to be irrelevant by 10 am."
Unfortunately for Democrats, the night only got worse after Handel. In South Carolina, Ralph Norman, a conservative Republican whom FRC Action endorsed, won the seat vacated by new Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney. Norman, another champion of the pro-life cause, didn't face nearly the opposition that Handel did, but stood strong in a tighter-than-expected outcome. We congratulate him and look forward to working with both of these newest members of the House!
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.