ATLANTA, GEORGIA — As it became clear that Jon Ossoff would not flip the sixth, pave it blue, make Trump angry, or do any of what Democrats here have worked for in recent months, supporters at his election night party were still not ready to call it a loss.
“This is what democracy looks like,” they chanted together. “In democracies, sometimes you lose,” one supporter said.
Despite the outpouring of money (making this the most expensive House race in U.S. history), the national attention, and the tens of thousands of doors knocked, Ossoff was unable to flip the seat in the historically conservative district.
When CNN projected Republican Karen Handel’s face onto the TV screen, the room fell silent. Some booed. Others headed for their cars. But mostly, supporters said they felt like they’d found a new, likeminded community whose energy isn’t going anywhere.
Moms from organizations like Pave It Blue and Indivisible began talking about 2018 and the need to focus on state-level races in the meantime. Liliana Bakhtiari, a 29-year-old Atlanta resident running for city council, handed out business cards.
“As darkness has crept across this planet,” Ossoff told his supporters late Tuesday night, “you have been a beacon of hope to Georgia and to the world.”
“This is the beginning of something much bigger than us,” he continued. “The fight goes on.”
Tonya Grimmke, a special-needs teacher and a member of Pave It Blue, said she is embarrassed she hasn’t been involved in politics until this race.
“Pave It Blue is 3,200 plus bad-A women who are dedicated to moving this state in the right direction, and I am absolutely, one thousand percent ready to go,” she said.
Wearing an Ossoff t-shirt covered with pins, Jane Weiss told ThinkProgress her eyes are already on 2018.
“This is just the beginning,” she said. “We’ve got midterms coming up in 2018 and we’ll learn from this. We’ll be even stronger coming back. We’ve got the foundation built now for how to get out the vote and get out the message, so we’ll come back stronger than ever.”
Roswell, Georgia resident Jennifer Wilson agreed.
“We regroup by Saturday,” she said. “We’re looking at every race that’s competitive. We’re looking at the seventh [district.] Whoever is up for reelection in 2018, they have a force to be reckoned with, because the people have come together… They’re going to take on whoever is running in 2018, and they’ll be victorious then.”