There's been a lot of other news lately, so you might not have even noticed there was an election on Tuesday. It had been closely watched for months, and it made national news just a few weeks ago. This time, Democrats don't have any victories to claim, moral or otherwise.
Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert, who had been the first Republican to serve in the office since the last Republican mayor was defeated in 2001, survived (by a seven-point margin) what had been viewed as a strong challenge by Democrat Heath Mello.
But this wasn't your ordinary mayor's race. During the final weeks, the whole game changed thanks to national Democrats' meddling.
In most by-elections during the Trump era, Democrats have done unusually well, even if (so far) it hasn't translated to any major or unexpected victories. But in this race, Mello had a real shot. He had finished less than three points behind Strothert in the non-partisan April primary. The incumbent's weak 44 percent finish indicated some potential trouble for her.
Local Democrats reacted to Mello's defeat with some measure of bitterness, complaining that his campaign basically became a casualty of the "Democratic Unity Tour" staged by DNC Chairman Tom Perez and former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.
In late April, Sanders and Perez's surrogate, DNC Deputy Chair Keith Ellison, went to Omaha to stump for Mello. This generated an unexpected reaction that demonstrates there isn't much unity, and illustrates Democrats' serious, ongoing problem with voters in the heartland. The National Abortion Rights Action League freaked out over the Omaha event. NARAL released a scathing statement that the Democratic Party's embrace of Mello was "politically stupid," because Mello's record as a state legislator had been less than fully supportive of their cause.
Perez responded a day later by showing his absolute fealty to the abortion lobby, declaring that under his leadership, the DNC will back only candidates who support the right to abortion.
Mello was quoted by the Associated Press saying that the race took on a "completely different dynamic" after this. Progressive groups withdrew their support. Jane Kleeb, the state Democratic Party chairwoman, gave the AP a quote reflecting some real dismay over what Perez had done:
"It's astounding that our party chairman would say pro-life Democrats are not welcome," Nebraska Democratic Party Chairwoman Jane Kleeb told The Associated Press Tuesday as Mello conceded defeat.
Others blamed the choice of bringing Bernie Sanders to campaign in what is essentially a moderate town, calling it "a colossal mistake." Either way, the Democrats' "Unity Tour" and their abortion litmus test have just claimed their first casualty.