Why throw away $50 million on the most expensive house seat loss in history? Damn good question.
I voiced lukewarm support for John Ossoff, mostly because of his nominal posture as a centrist, however hollow it might have been. At this point I’m ready to accept just about any nod to centrism, even if only in spirit. Well, apparently Georgia’s 6th district felt equally lukewarm. I would agree with the tacticians saying that Ossoff should have gone on the attack more than he did – tie Handel to an unpopular Trump, an unpopular AHCA, an unpopular anything – but other than that I don’t see much takeaway from the actual outcome.
What’s stupidly partisan about the whole ordeal is that both parties probably should have used that money building up support and laying the groundwork for winnable governorship races in 2018. From the Democrat perspective, Ossoff would have had to run for the exact same seat all over again in eight months, and would quite possibly lose the next time around anyway. Even if he eked out back-to-back wins, he’d have a marginal effect, at best, in terms of supporting a long-term liberal agenda at the national level.
And while both parties waste time, effort, enthusiasm, and money on the Atlanta suburbs, they are overlooking an obvious and much more important fight that is just around the corner: there are many competitive governorships up for grabs in 2018 to decide who will have veto powers over their state’s electoral maps. Although the maps themselves are mostly drawn and passed by state legislatures, with the power of veto governors would be able to force unfriendly legislatures to draw more balanced districts. Think about that, Democrats.
That is the ballgame.
The long-term agenda for both parties right now is all about gerrymandering, so you have to look at things systemically. Why waste all your funds on what is essentially a pre-season exhibition match? Instead of being strategic, Democrats have been blinded, like the rest of us, by this inane notion of partisan wins and losses. “We need a win at all costs,” people thought, “so let’s pour everything we have into a high-risk gamble over a symbolic victory.” I see the internal logic, I suppose, but from where I stand it just sounds like futile nonsense.
I might be the outlier though, because the Democratic and Republican parties aren’t alone in this line of thinking; Much of the record-level, $50 million fund-raising haul came from individual small donors at a national level… for an utterly inconsequential, local, special election with intentionally bland candidates, where whoever won would have to run for re-election in eight months anyway.
Strange times, my friends. Strange times indeed.
Update (8/22/2017): These budget woes look pretty bad in hindsight.
Update (11/7/2018): And now neither of them are even in office anymore. Incredible.