Georgia Democrats should be taking Paul Begala’s advice very seriously, right about now.
After Tuesday night’s stunning loss in Florida’s 13th congressional district – a race in which Democrats seemingly had the perfect candidate in the perfect district – President Bill Clinton’s former advisor took to Twitter, writing:
“Dems should not try to spin this loss. We have to redouble our efforts for 2014. Too much at stake.”
Florida Democrats were fielding Alex Sink, a former statewide official who put up a decent showing in the Sunshine State’s 2010 gubernatorial race. The GOP candidate? A pinstripe-suited, high-powered lobbyist named David Jolly.
Democrats had money; Sink far outraised Jolly and got $4 mil from outside Democratic groups.
Democrats had the district; a purple-hued swing region that seemed poised to elect a Democrat after more than 40 years of GOP representation.
And Democrats had a Libertarian candidate in the race, usually a phenomenon which siphons more red votes than blue.
Sink portrayed herself as a moderate, promising to bring Republicans and Democrats together. Jolly, however, pushed his opponent to the left while moving himself to the right, winning by more than 3,400 votes using a tactic we’re going to see a lot more of: oppose ObamaCare and anyone who seems remotely for it.
Based on Florida 13’s outcome, Michelle Nunn could be playing right into Republicans’ hand. She’s having to support ObamaCare while equivocating that it needs some tweaking. And she’s portraying herself as a reach-across-the-aisle bridge builder, much like her father did in 24 years in the Senate.
But Sam Nunn served in Washington before the 24-hour news cycle was jammed with partisan commentary from both sides; before real-time blogging in the digital world; before people received the majority of their political news from Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart.
The fact of the matter is, we are moving far beyond the days when a politician can get elected by promising to work with the other side, or by failing to equivocate clearly to the left or right.
Make no mistake: whoever wins the GOP Senate primary will leave no doubt regarding their political leaning, or where they stand. And there is no doubt as to the tactics he or she will use.
Democrats in Georgia have already raised more money than in recent years using the names “Nunn” and “Carter.” They had best use it very strategically, and very, very wisely.