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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is taking credit for Democrats retaining control of the chamber despite the fact that the party lost roughly a dozen seats after forecasting gains this year.
Moreover, a handful of far-left candidates who received significant funding for their races lost every one of them, leading to disappointment among party leaders after expecting a “blue wave” of House gains.
The unexpected losses of those left-wing candidates, as well as some of the party’s more moderate members, was frustrating to many Democrats including self-described socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York as they seek answers post-election.
But the California Democratic Speaker wasn’t taking any of the blame. In fact, she credited herself for keeping the chamber in her party’s hands, despite the losses.
“I accept credit for winning the majority and holding the House,” she told reporters on Capitol Hill Friday.
For her part, Ocasio-Cortez told The New York Times the so-called ‘progressive’ candidates who lost their races had plenty of cash on hand but they failed to spend enough online.
“I’ve looked through a lot of these campaigns that lost, and the fact of the matter is, if you’re not spending $200,000 on Facebook with fundraising, persuasion, volunteer recruitment, get-out-the-vote the week before the election, you are not firing on all cylinders,” she said. “And not a single one of these campaigns were firing on all cylinders.”
She repeated some of those same points during a virtual town hall with her constituents last week, according to Mediaite.
The losses by Democrats in the House were “just extraordinarily upsetting to all of us,” Ocasio-Cortez told one attendee. “It’s upsetting to all of us who are invested in having a Democratic majority so that we can expand health care so that we can raise wages, so that we can protect working people.”
Democrats were pinning their hopes on picking up House seats in “bellwether” districts including Nebraska’s 2nd District, New York’s 24th District, and Texas’ 10th, 21st and 24th Districts, according to Fox News, which quoted National Journal columnist Josh Kraushaar on Saturday.
Incumbent GOP Rep. Don Bacon beat back a challenge from Democrat Kara Eastman after she got an infusion of money from a far-left group Justice Democrats, which is aligned with Ocasio-Cortez, as well as other groups, The Intercept reported.
And in upstate New York, Republican incumbent Rep. John Katko beat Dem challenger Dana Balter, who had raised a lot of money from various sources including a $100-per-ticket virtual fundraiser in October attended by Hillary Clinton.
Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) maintained his seat in the state’s 10th District after beating leftist civil rights attorney Mike Siegel after the latter raised more than $1 million in the third quarter and received backing from Sen. Bernie Sanders and a number of national left-wing groups.
In Texas’ 21st District, GOP Rep. Chip Roy defeated Democrat Wendy Davis after she raised some $8 million, or twice as much as the incumbent, KEYE-TV reported.
And in the Lone Star State’s 24th District, Republican Rep. Beth Van Duyne won another term after beating Democrat Candace Valenzuela after the latter raised $2.44 million in the third quarter.
Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) said that progressive candidates tend to do better in districts where there is already a large pool of left-wing voters.
“The challenge I have with some of our most progressive candidates, they usually come from districts that are exclusively progressive,” Warner said in support of fellow Virginia Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger, who blamed losses on the party’s leftist faction for championing socialistic policies like defunding police and the Green New Deal.
“[She’s] got parts of her district that may appear just as progressive as parts of Brooklyn or the Bronx,” Warner said.
“But there are wide swaths of her district that are totally unalike. She’s got to be able to run in both, and I sometimes think our progressive friends don’t have that necessity of running both districts that are quite forward-leaning but parts of districts that are still pretty conservative,” he added.
As of Sunday, according to Fox News’ Decision Desk, Democrats have won 219 House seats to Republicans’ 203, with GOP candidates leading in a majority of 13 races that remain undecided.
Democrats also failed to gain a single gubernatorial seat while Republicans also expanded majorities in state legislatures.
As for Pelosi, she justified the losses by juxtaposing wins as victories against President Donald Trump.
“We lost a few seats, but as I said, we won those seats in Trump districts,” she said. “He wasn’t on the ballot [in 2018], he is now. I do believe with Biden in the White House and a Democratic Congress and hopefully a Democratic Senate — we’ll see in January — we’ll be able to do great things for the American people.”
Democrats have an uphill battle in trying to win both U.S. Senate run-off races in Georgia Jan. 5. They would need them both to bring the chamber to a 50-50 tie, with a Vice President Kamala Harris serving as the tiebreaker.
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