Sen. Murphy on Dem’s Georgia loss: Russia has been a distraction

Democrat Jon Ossoff’s loss Tuesday in Georgia’s special election to fill the Congressional seat left vacant by Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price does not necessarily spell doom for the Democratic Party, Sen. Chris Murphy said Tuesday morning.

But Democrats running in the 2018 midterm elections would do well, Murphy said, to turn away from the “distraction” of the ongoing Russia investigations and campaign on an economic message.

“Democrats have to be hyperfocused on an economic message that tells people that the Republican Party is all about economic growth for millionaires and billionaires and the Democratic Party is about economic growth for everybody,” Murphy (D-Conn.) told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Tuesday. “The fact that we have spent so much time talking about Russia, you know, has been a distraction from what should be the clear contrast between Democrats and the Trump agenda, which is on economics.”

Democrats were eager to score a major victory in Georgia’s sixth Congressional district, where President Donald Trump won last November by just a single percentage point even though Price’s victory was by more than 23 points. Instead, Republican Karen Handel emerged victorious, keeping the seat in GOP hands and dashing the hopes of Democrats looking to win a seat last held by a member of Trump’s cabinet.

But Tuesday’s race, along with other special elections that have been won by Republicans, does not necessarily portend a bad outlook for Democrats in 2018, Murphy said. He recalled Democrats winning special elections following former President Barack Obama’s 2008 victory, noting that it wasn’t until the 2010 Massachusetts special election to replace former Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy, won by former GOP Sen. Scott Brown, that the tide began to turn in favor of Republicans.

Murphy predicted that Republicans “are going to do tremendous damage to themselves” if they continue to move forward with their plan to repeal and replace Obama care. Democrats have been “hyper-confused” over the past five years, he said, vacillating between talking about economic growth and economic fairness and failing to win the argument on the latter. But with Trump in the White House, their message should be clear.

“Democrats have to be hyperfocused on an economic contrast and I think this president is handing it to us,” Murphy said. “He is using this administration and presidency to enrich himself and his millionaire friends. We’ve got to be focused on an economic agenda for everybody else.”

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