Trump Gets His HHS Secretary, Dems Get a Big Opportunity

So, last night, Democratic sound and fury about Tom Price, Trump’s Health and Human Services nominee, ended up signifying nothing. Price was confirmed in a 52-47 vote (and get used to seeing those numbers), despite (or because of) being interested in cutting government investment in the realm of healthcare, being virulently opposed to Obamacare, and a little bit of insider trading on the side.

Price is the latest in a string of confirmations – Betsy DeVos, Jeff Sessions, Rex Tillerson – where Democrats showed surprising fight against Trump and Republicans. But we’re learning a hard lesson in these first weeks, specifically that fervor does not count extra when it’s time to vote.

It can be disheartening. I’m already sensing a slight wilt in some of the fight I’ve seen on Facebook, and I get it. Taking losses is demoralizing, especially when there’s more at stake than a game. But I urge you to look beyond the scoreboard a bit. It matters that DeVos takes her post by the slimmest of margins. It matters that Democrats fought the racism that Jeff Sessions represents. The only way that the energy with which we fought ceases to matter moving forward is if the energy itself dissipates.

Tom Price will be leaving his Congressional seat to take the job at HHS. There will be a special election in Georgia this year to replace him. I’ve been harping on mayor’s races as the first real electoral chance to take a bite at the Trump apple because of chronology, but this is a real chance for Democrats to lay down a marker.

District 6 in Georgia gave Tom Price 61% of the vote in 2018. In the presidential election, however, Donald Trump carried it by less than 2 points, doing almost 13% worse in the mainly suburban district than Mitt Romney did. Price ran up the score because he’s exactly what’s wrong with Congress – a 7 term incumbent that keeps getting recycled because Democrats run nobodies against him. In 2016, he was opposed by someone named Rodney Stooksbury. Price is a multimillionaire who routinely raises several million dollars for his campaign and has a war chest of over $2.1 million. Stooksbury, best that I can tell, didn’t file a finance report.

But with a special election in a competitive district, Democrats have a chance to field a candidate that can win. The media loves special elections. They use them – perhaps unfairly – to measure the temperature of the entire nation, and there’s no doubt that there will be narratives crafted about the result of this special election. Lots of progressive activists are specially excited about the candidacy of Jon Ossoff, who’s shown some pretty impressive fundraising punch. Republicans will have some fairly impressive candidates of their own, but if you’re in the market for an anti-Trump avatar that you don’t have to wait 18 months to support, Ossoff may be your guy.

I’m going to be adding a “2018 Key Races” page as another outlet for activism. You don’t have to live in Georgia to help out – remember, contributing directly to candidates rather than party committees is the way to go, and phone calls can be made from anywhere. Let’s keep an eye on this.

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