Trump seizes on Republican victory in Georgia to push agenda
US President Donald Trump accused Democrats on Wednesday of obstructing his agenda, the day after a fellow Republican won a Georgia congressional election that many saw as a referendum on his turbulent presidency.
Sandy Springs: US President Donald Trump accused Democrats on Wednesday of obstructing his agenda, the day after a fellow Republican won a Georgia congressional election that many saw as a referendum on his turbulent presidency.
Former Georgia secretary of state Karen Handel on Tuesday defeated political newcomer Democrat Jon Ossoff, 52 percent to 48 percent. The 4-point win in the most expensive congressional race in history was a blow to Democrats, who tried to wrest control of a suburban Atlanta district that Republicans have held since the 1970s.
The special election, to fill the seat vacated by Tom Price after Trump appointed him as secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services, does not change the balance of power in Washington, where Republicans control the White House and both chambers of Congress.
But it was demoralizing for Democrats, who also lost a special election in neighboring South Carolina. There Republican Ralph Norman easily prevailed over Democrat Archie Parnell for a seat formerly held by Republican Mick Mulvaney, now Trump`s budget director.
Democrats had hoped Georgia would provide a breakthrough for a party trying to harvest electoral victories from the grassroots anti-Trump activism seen in marches on Washington and boisterous crowds at town hall meetings around the country.
Democrats came close but still lost two other contested special elections earlier this year for Republican-held seats in conservative Kansas and Montana, and the outcomes in Georgia and South Carolina could put a crimp in the party`s fundraising and candidate recruitment.
Prominent Democrats said the party needed to rethink its approach.
"The Democrats have to be hyper-focused on an economic message that tells people that the Republican Party is all about economic growth for millionaires and billionaires, and the Democratic Party is about economic growth for everybody," Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut told MSNBC.
The outcomes in Georgia and South Carolina also could boost Republican efforts to advance health and tax legislation that has been bogged down by infighting and investigations into whether Trump`s campaign colluded with Russia in last year`s presidential election.
"Democrats would do much better as a party if they got together with Republicans on Healthcare, Tax Cuts, Security," Trump said on Wednesday morning in a tweet after the election. "Obstruction doesn`t work!"
Congressional Democrats have accused Republicans of shutting them out of the debate over issues such as healthcare and taxes. Democrats also say Trump`s agenda of rolling back Obamacare and revamping the tax code would benefit the wealthy and big businesses while hurting the poor and middle class.
Still, Ossoff`s loss may force Democrats to retool their strategy as they look ahead to next year`s midterm elections, when all of the seats in House of Representatives and one-third of the Senate will be up for grabs.
With the Georgia victory, Republicans showed that they could still win in the kind of affluent, educated districts where Democrats have made gains and Trump`s populist agenda was sometimes a tough sell.
Handel thanked Trump on Tuesday at her victory rally, where a boisterous crowd chanted the president`s name.
Ossoff initially campaigned on a promise to "make Trump furious" but more recently backed off that approach.
Both candidates tried to focus on local issues and avoided mentioning Trump, whose approval rating sits at 37 percent, according to Reuters/Ipsos polling.
That did not stop Trump from weighing in on Twitter, urging voters to support Handel before the election and celebrating her victory afterward.
"Fantastic job, we are all very proud of you!" he posted Tuesday night.
Spending on the race reached at least $57 million, nearly twice the previous record, according to the Center for Responsive Politics watchdog group.