Progressive Democrats have criticized the party leadership for the campaign waged by Jon Ossoff in Georgia's sixth congressional district.
Ossoff failed to defeat his Republican rival Karen Handel even though Democrats had hope for the 30-year-old to benefit from a backlash against the Trump administration, The Guardian reported.
Osoff's campaign was supported by DNC chairman, Tom Perez, and the DNC also spent $5 million on the race. In total, Ossoff's campaign raised $23 million, a record for a congressional seat. Handel's campaign also raised tens of millions.
"He didn't have a core progressive message and that ultimately is why he lost. The Democratic party could spend $100 [million] and he would still lose. Because he didn't stand for anything," said Winnie Wong, an activist who supported Bernie Sanders in 2016, The Guardian reported.
She said that Ossoff stuck to Republican values.
"This is a massive failure of the DNC leadership. They enabled the same old pattern and the same old way of doing things. It was a re-entrenchment. It was like act two of 2016," Wong added.
Ossoff focused his campaign on tackling government waste and growing Atlanta's economy while also criticizing Handel's record. He particularly took aim at the Republican's attempts to defund Planned Parenthood.
"If you look at his platform, he didn't talk about single-payer health care, he didn't speak about free college or student debt," added Wong. "As a 30-year-old, imagine how much appeal he could have held with millennials."
Seth Moulton, a Democratic congressman who served in Iraq, also stated that Ossoff's defeat shows the Democrats need to change course.
"One thing I learned in the Marines is you're responsible for everything you do or fail to do, your platoon does or fails to do," Moulton said. "I think that our leadership owes us an explanation for what happened, how the resources were spent, but also a plan for going forward and that's got to be a part of the discussion … At the end of the day, we've got to win back seats in 2018."
In his concession speech, Ossoff cast the campaign in a more optimistic light. His final margin of defeat was 4 percentage points in a district which Republican candidate Tom Price won by 23 percentage points in 2016.
"We showed the world that in places where no one thought it was even possible to fight, we could fight," he said, according to the New Yorker.
Some of his supporters have already begun preparing for 2018, although Ossoff has not said whether he will run again.
"This is the beginning of something much bigger than us," Ossoff added. "The fight goes on. Hope is still alive."