Jon Ossoff, the failed Democratic congressional candidate from Georgia, will participate in a panel discussion on how Democrats can succeed in the 2018 midterm elections. Perhaps Democratic candidates who actually managed to win their elections will be busy this Saturday since, you know, they’re elected officials.
But Ossoff has plenty of free time for panel discussions these days, since he lost the June 20 special election in Georgia’s sixth congressional district. Despite the fact that Ossoff’s campaign raised a record $23 million, his GOP competitor Karen Handel defeated him, well, handily, by almost four percentage points.
Ossoff will likely have plenty to say to the left-wing audience at Netroots Nation this weekend, but not about how to win. He’s much more of an expert on how to lose. The first step, as he can explain, is to live outside the boundaries of the district in which you’re running — Ossoff lived not in Georgia’s sixth, and not “just down the street” as he claimed, but over five miles away, with his girlfriend.
The young candidate is surely an expert on raking in donations, the most in the recorded history of House races — but that money flooded in mainly from outside the sixth district and outside of Georgia, and plenty of it came from the national Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Ossoff was unquestionably well-funded, but because that superior financing came from non-voters, it didn’t translate into a victory.
He could also speak to the dangers of allowing the national Democratic party and the mainstream media to overinflate a candidate’s chances and overstate the importance of any particular House election. Months in advance, pundits and Democratic leaders — who clearly misunderstood the dynamics of the district — insisted GA-6 was a referendum on the Trump presidency, and they turned Ossoff into a vehicle for all of the nation’s anti-Trump sentiment. His defeat was not just a loss for himself and for local Democrats. It was also a blow to the national “resistance” movement, which had unquestionably ordained him its champion.
Unless Ossoff plans to tell Netroots Nation attendees how Democratic candidates in 2018 can learn from his campaign’s many mistakes, he should probably just stay home.