Nobody likes to lose, but nobody likes a sore loser, either.
And after last month's primaries, we've gathered enough tweets, press releases and general observations to determine our list of the three sorest losers, who all happen to be Democrats who'd consider themselves candidates from the more progressive side of the party. But they're sore for different reasons, as you'll read below.
1. Saira Rao, District 1 Democratic Primary Challenger
Saira Rao showed exceptional promise as a progressive challenger to Diana DeGette's decades-long tenure as Denver's congresswoman, earning nearly a third of the vote despite hopping into the race just five months before the primary. Rao used social media to her advantage, garnering enthusiasm for her campaign against a deeply entrenched incumbent with solid name recognition. Rao raised a lot of money and probably even forced her challenger further to the left in the process. After the race had been called, DeGette arrogantly told the Denver Post : "It didn't really turn out to be a strong challenge, did it?" It was the kind of quote that Rao could have used as fuel for a future run for DeGette's seat.
Rao, however, has gone haywire on her Twitter account since the election. While saying she's left Colorado because of death threats following a social-media post attacking white people, her Twitter attacks against fellow Democrats and journalists have been overly harsh.
Nobody deserves death threats for a social-media post, and Rao, an Indian-American woman, will hopefully come back to Colorado sooner rather than later. But for a promising political newcomer who burst onto the scene with youthful optimism that galvanized thousands of progressive voters in a few short months, Rao has taken a hard turn toward anger and bitterness.
2. Levi Tillemann, District 6 Democratic Primary Challenger
On the night Levi Tillemann lost his primary challenge to fellow Democrat Jason Crow in the 6th District primary, the former Obama administration official sent off an abrasive press release, saying in part:
"And we ask our supporters to urge the media to do a better job of fact checking candidates’ statements for honesty and accuracy — rather than focusing myopically on fundraising. We firmly believe that the only appropriate response to the avalanche of lies and corruption emanating from Donald Trump’s White House is the force of truth — not the same old politics that got us here. That was not the road chosen by our opponents or Democratic leadership."
Of all of Tillemann's complaints, it's beyond ironic that the media would be at the top of his list. Without local and national media essentially gifting Tillemann thousands of words of free publicity during his ill-fated campaign of self-macing and secretly recording members of his own party, it's hard to see where his 25,000-plus votes would have otherwise come from. Despite his distinguished family tree filled with generations of high-profile local and national politicians, Tillemann's campaign never really got off the ground (and yes, his fundraising was bad, especially considering those deep local roots and connections), and he gradually shifted from a normal-ish candidate into, as Aurora Sentinel reporter Kara Mason tweeted after Tillemann maced himself in the face to try to prove a point about gun violence, "the Tide pod challenge of #copolitics."
During his quest for Congress, Tillemann repeatedly attacked the press, stirred up fringe controversies and tried to sow distrust in the American political system. Sound like a certain someone?
3. Joe Salazar, Democratic Attorney General Primary Challenger
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Top honors here go to Salazar, who barely lost the Democratic primary in the attorney general's race to Phil Weiser. Salazar ran a tough race and was outspent by party favorite Weiser by a more than ten-to-one margin, but when it became clear that he was going to lose, the Thornton state rep hung around way longer than he should have.
It was abundantly clear the day after the June 26 primary that there was no mathematical path to victory for Salazar, but he hung around until Saturday — four long days from the Tuesday election — before finally reaching the same conclusion that the numbers had been pointing to for days.
For context, Republican Justin Everett lost by almost the exact same margin to fellow GOPer Brian Watson in the attorney general's race (about 4,800 votes statewide), and conceded less than eighteen hours after polls closed.
It's tough watching your dreams of higher office evaporate after months of relentless campaigning, but nobody likes to see a sore loser hang around and wait for votes that don't exist, either.