This week, Republican Karen Handel beat Democrat Jon Ossoff in the special election for Georgia’s sixth congressional district—a seat vacated by Republican Tom Price, who joined the Trump administration as the Secretary of Health and Human Services. Ossoff, a 30-year-old center-left Dem, lost to Handel by 3.8 percentage points, a considerably better result than when Price won by 23.2 points in 2016. Still, because Democrats poured a lot of time and effort into flipping the district, it’s been seen as a failure for the party—even though the district has been red since 1979.
Ossoff’s wasn’t the only loss. Despite President Trump’s dwindling approval ratings—hovering at around 40 percent nationwide—Dems have lost all four special elections since Trump took office, albeit in four red states where the candidates gained considerable ground on their predecessors. In other words, the tide is turning, but not as fast as many Democrats would like, which has led to some members blaming party leader Nancy Pelosi for the losses.
But, according to Bill Maher, it’s not Pelosi’s fault—it’s Democrats’ lack of fight.
“The Democrats poured a ton of time and money into [the Ossoff] election, and he came so close. Party leaders are calling it a terrifying brush with success!” joked Maher.
The Real Time host was presumably citing the $23.6 million that donors poured into the Ossoff campaign versus the $4.5 million in donations that Handel received. Of course, when you factor in outside money, it’s a lot closer: $31.2 million for Ossoff and $22.7 million for Handel, who received a whopping $18.2 million from party committees and super PACs (the right-wing media has been pushing the false narrative that Ossoff spent six times more than Handel, failing to factor in outside money).
“You know this: Donald Trump is the worst person ever, and he’s a Republican and he’s president, and yet, since he’s been president there’s been four special elections. Democrats: 0-4 in the Trump era. Democrats are so lame that the Russians were like, ‘We were going to hack this election, but why bother?’” cracked Maher.
“And of course, the big excuse is: well, we weren’t supposed to win. What election are you supposed to win if you can’t win this one?” the comic continued. “You know, Georgia’s sixth district, where this election took place—the sixth most educated district in the entire country. This is affluent, college-educated, the upscale part of Georgia.”
“Folks, I have to tell you: Democrats have to stop losing elections because—sorry, Republican viewers, I love ya—but the wrong people are in power. And they are not afraid to use that power.”
The problem, Maher has long claimed, is that Democrats don’t fight as hard as Republicans during campaigns. And Maher has a very valid point here. Despite Handel’s close ties to President Trump, Ossoff ran a total of zero attack ads tying her to the low-rated POTUS, while Republicans ran a series of egregious attack ads tying Ossoff to everyone from Kathy Griffin to the shooting of Republican Congressman Steve Scalise by an unhinged lefty. To quote Sean Connery in The Untouchables, the Dems keep bringing “a knife to a gunfight.”
Cue Maher: “I heard Trump say the other day ‘Obamacare is a disaster.’ I just don’t hear the counterargument. Republicans are great at saying something that’s completely untrue, and then having Democrats just flinch,” said Maher.
“There’s this fake debate, I think, about ‘should the Democrats move left or right.’ It’s not that. It’s about how you fight,” he added. “Have some balls.”