Jon Ossoff supporters cry after he loses Georgia special election to Karen Handel

Jon Ossoff Beat By Karen Handel: Did Democrats Spend Too Much On Losing Candidate? 2018 Election May Go Red

Jon Ossoff has learned a hard lesson in his first major political campaign; money cannot buy votes. In the much-anticipated battle against Republican Karen Handel in the special congressional election for Georgia’s 6th district, the 30-year-old Democrat came up short, even though he spent more than six times the amount of money of his Republican counterpart, according to the Washington Examiner.

The special congressional election was hyped by both Democrats and Republicans, who felt that the results of the race for Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price’s seat would give some indication of the political climate for the 2018 midterm elections, in which all 435 positions in the House of Representatives and 33 of the 100 positions in the Senate will be up for grabs.

Most Money Spent On A House Congressional Race Ever

CNBC reports that the election between Ossoff and Handel was the most expensive House race ever, with both opponents spending a combination of $36 million as of May 31. According to the Washington Examiner, Jon Ossoff’s campaign raised over $24 million, while Karen Handel’s campaign only raised $4.5 million. However, Karen Handel did benefit from $18.2 million in super PAC money, but this was not enough to make up the difference.

Ironically, Democrat Jon Ossoff spent much of his campaign complaining about money in politics, stating on an NPR broadcast that “we need campaign finance reform,” according to the Washington Examiner.

Karen Handel declares victory on election night
Karen Handel declares victory. [Image by John Bazemore/AP Images]

Trump’s Support For Handel Vs. Celebrity Support For Ossoff

According to CNBC, President Trump sent several tweets in support of Karen Handel’s congressional candidacy, stating that the former Georgia Secretary of State would “fight for lower taxes.” In sharp contrast, Jon Ossoff was supported by a cadre of liberal celebrities, who both donated to his candidacy and personally campaigned for him, according to Breitbart. Ossoff’s most vocal celebrity fans included Samuel L. Jackson, Alyssa Milano, Sarah Silverman, and Debra Messing. But, like Hillary Clinton, Jon Ossoff just wasn’t able to make the Hollywood stardust resonate with voters.

Jon Ossoff
Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff. [Image By David Goldman/AP Images]

What This Means For Democrats In 2018

Democrats were very excited about this election, which they built up as a gauge of the political climate and a run-up to the 2018 congressional race. They were so sure that Trump’s apparently low approval ratings would translate to a victory for a young, politically inexperienced Democrat in a mostly-red district. According to CNBC, Trump won this district’s presidential votes by only 1.5 points. However, Republican Tom Price, the seat’s previous occupant, won over 60 percent of the congressional vote in 2016.

The election between Jon Ossoff and Karen Handel was just the latest in a string of special elections prompted by vacancies left by members of Congress who were nominated to President Trump’s cabinet. According to CNBC, Republicans won all four special congressional elections in Kansas, Montana, South Carolina and, now, Georgia.

Judging by Karen Handel’s upset victory in the Georgia race, Democrats may need to change their strategy if they want 2018 to turn out differently.

[Featured Image by David Goldman/AP Images]

Comments