White House paints Handel win as Trump triumph

7:12:28 PM Eastern

Republicans were able to maintain all four House seats that were vacated by individuals who went on to serve cabinet posts in the Trump administration. "Democrats will not win back power merely by serving as an alternative to Trump and Republicans".

As President Donald Trump celebrated Republican victories in two special congressional elections on Wednesday, one man who advised presidents from both parties warned the results "should be a wake-up call for Democrats" that Trump could be on his way to re-election in 2020.

Almost every take has now been written; but as one of very few reporters who visited each of the districts, I got some take left in me. So you know, I got to - I think I got to wrap it up here. The flashiest ads in Georgia, from the Congressional Leadership Fund - a House Speaker Paul D. Ryan-backed super PAC - portrayed "Californians" (actually, actors) thanking Georgia for sending a "liberal congressman" to join their "liberal congresswoman". The ads write themselves.

When pressed to give a name of who might fill that void, Rice said, "I look to a lot of my colleagues now". Gerrymandering GOP officials across the country have left so few districts in play that to succeed, Democrats must win over Republicans in places like Kansas' 3rd District, which is now represented by Kevin Yoder.

The focus on Pelosi comes in part because she's the only figure in Democratic politics who is universally known and detested on the right. When Democrats took control of the House in 2007, Pelosi became the first - and so far only - woman Speaker of the House.

The Resistance is being turned against Democrats.

Other members were even more blunt in their assessment of the Georgia defeat and Pelosi's culpability. Trump's approval numbers have hovered around 36 percent, and 23 GOP congressmen are running in districts Trump lost past year. But they are divided over how much top-line spending should be appropriated next year, including for a military build-up that Trump wants.

"People are finally realizing that if they want to fix something, they have to do it themselves", said Amanda Litman, a co-founder of the Democratic recruitment group Run for Something. It was a neat trick, because Trump's approval rating slipped throughout the election, and on Election Day he was viewed negatively. He returned to Washington late Wednesday. It's important to note here that mainstream GOP groups left the shooting alone. But they believe that their candidate numbers show the enthusiasm needed to take back the House is out there.

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Handel frequently tied Ossoff to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and reminded voters often her opponent does not live in the district and that much of his funding came from elsewhere.

FILE - In this June 9, 2017 House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speakson Capitol Hill in Washington.

On the other hand, Republicans can nationalize 2018 against the Democrats pretty effectively at this point.

They point to crumbling special election margins in once-safe Republican seats, big Democratic leads on generic ballot polls, a president whose approval rating hovers around 40 percent and a GOP healthcare bill that's even less popular as factors that will only boost their candidates in 2018.

Put this another way. Democrats also point to their own lessons learned in President Obama's first midterm, when they lost control of the House a year after winning a key special election in upstate NY.

A little less than half said Trump was not a factor in their decision, while 14 percent said their vote, in part, was meant to show their support for the president.

That was more than republican Karen Handel spent during the entire special election.

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