Brianna Wu, candidate for Congress, issued her first campaign press release about two months after she lost.
A Democrat who unsuccessfully challenged US Representative Stephen Lynch in the September primary, Wu did not have a press secretary, money, or much of a staff for her freshman campaign.
But as she promised well before Election Day, she intends to learn from that experience and make a comeback tour.
“I’m focused on 2020. I’m going to win this time,” Wu said last week.
Wu, a video game developer, failed to generate much attention as a candidate beyond media curiosity and online fame. She raised only about $135,000 for her campaign against a congressional titan wielding about $1.5 million.
But she put the defeat into perspective in an October Marie Claire magazine piece titled, “I Ran for Congress. I Lost. I’m Persisting. Quitting Is Not an Option in the Trump Era.”
“If women are looking to replace men at the top levels of leadership, we can expect politics in all its glory, loss and heartbreak included,” Wu wrote. “Creating an equal world for women was never going to be a one-election task.”
She hired a campaign consultant, Paul Casali of New York, who is serving as her press secretary. And in recent weeks, she has been issuing statements as if it were the heat of the campaign. In one, she endorsed the Green New Deal, legislative goals aimed at shifting the United States to 100 percent renewable energy by 2035. In another, she took swipes at Lynch for joining an effort to replace House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “This is not a progressive move against Pelosi,” Wu said in a press release. “All of these House members are conservative, and far to the right of Pelosi.”
A Lynch campaign spokesman took the news of a rematch in stride.
“I guess we truly are in a 24/7 political cycle,” Scott Ferson said. “Congressman Lynch thoroughly enjoyed the race with Brianna Wu and looks forward to seeing her on the campaign trail.”
Lynch, who was first elected to Congress in 2001, won a decisive 71 percent of Democratic primary voters in September. Wu claimed 23 percent and fellow challenger Christopher Voehl took 6 percent.
Wu, and other female political newcomers, could take heart in the recent findings of the Barbara Lee Family Foundation. A recently issued report found that voters do not instinctively discount female candidates who lose their first campaigns — or think that it bodes poorly for other female candidates.
The foundation’s past research has found that voters remember a woman’s mistakes on the campaign trail and penalize them more than men. But in nine focus groups and a telephone survey, Lake Research Partners and Bellwether Research & Consulting found that a losing woman could begin resetting the message for a comeback tour as early as the concession speech.
Voters respond best when the candidate’s comeback message centers on voters, not herself. They want to see a losing candidate become a community-focused, issues-oriented public servant, rather than someone trying to gain money, power, or attention, the researchers found.
And they found that voters want to hear female candidates stay positive and hopeful — definitely not trying to make excuses or shift blame for her loss.
“This has been a thrilling year for women candidates. Yet we know that for every woman who made history, there were many more who didn’t win their races,” Barbara Lee, president and founder of the foundation, said in a statement. “It’s important for women candidates to know that voters say they will not penalize women who lose an election.”