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Georgia Democrats Gain New Power and Run for State-Wide Positions

ATLANTA (AP) – For more than a decade, Democrats in Georgia have struggled to attract highly qualified and high profile candidates to run for state election. With Republicans firmly in control of all constitutional positions and the state legislature, none wanted to take the risk.

This year is different.

With major electoral victories in the 2020 election, a near-victory for the governor’s office in 2018, and the state’s rapidly changing demographics, seven sitting Democratic lawmakers have declared candidacies for one of eight Georgia offices statewide – nine full months away from 2022 qualifications. Deadline.

Among them are names that have gained national attention, including Democratic State Representative Bee Nguyen, a candidate for Secretary of State who seeks to capitalize on her party’s outrage over the news. Georgia’s restrictive election law to raise nationwide funds, and State Senator Jen Jordan, who is running for attorney general.

“I absolutely think it will be a strong field,” said Nguyen. “I think we recognize that we can win in Georgia. We saw it last year; we saw it in 2021.

The Republicans, who still hold all the constitutional functions of the Georgian state, have little intention of giving in. Most incumbents are gearing up for re-election, and prominent state GOP lawmakers are also planning statewide races.

Georgia is one of six southern states where only Republicans hold statewide positions. In others, Republicans are dominant. In Louisiana, Republican control is broken only by Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards, while in Florida, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is the only Democrat to hold office in the entire state.

Yet as they look to the 2022 election, few Republicans in Georgia expect the relatively easy victories that characterized the peak of GOP ascendancy in the state in the 2010s.

This is because Georgia – as evidenced by the most recent elections – is emerging as the most electorally competitive state in the South. In November, President Joe Biden became the first Democrat to win the state’s 16 electoral votes since Bill Clinton in 1992. Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff went on to win seats in the US Senate in a run-off. multi-million dollar January that shifted control of the chamber to Democrats.

Candidates also hope to benefit from Stacey Abrams ‘re-attempt for governor in 2022. Abrams’ small loss to then Secretary of State Brian Kemp in 2018 made the party stronger this year- there, just like the gains at the General Assembly.

Before Biden’s victory, the last Democrats to achieve statewide victory were four incumbents who retained polling stations in 2006, even as Republican Sonny Perdue was re-elected as governor. The victories came as voters split their tickets at a rate that has become unusual in Georgia today. Democrat Thurbert Baker won a third term as attorney general with 57% of the vote, while Perdue won 58%.

But no statewide Democrats remained after the 2010 election, and party candidates became less competitive over the next two cycles.

Candidates who may have been the party’s main challengers to GOP incumbents during this time said, “No, not now, I’m not going to give up on a sure thing for long,” the university political scientist said. from Georgia, Charles Bullock.

Some who tried did not do well. In 2014, the Democratic candidate for agriculture commissioner was Christopher James Irvin. Although he had huge notoriety as the grandson of a Democrat who held the office for 42 years, he only raised $ 52,000 compared to Republican winner Gary’s $ 1.65 million. Black.

Abrams has yet to announce plans for 2022, but other Democrats expect her to run again. Candidates are excited to have him with Warnock on top of the party ticket.

“We’re all sitting here waiting,” said State Representative William Boddie, a Democrat from suburban Atlanta to East Point, running for labor commissioner. “She brings a lot of energy, a lot of political initiatives and a lot of dynamism. Push democratic values ​​to any ticket.

Abrams is likely to raise a shipment of cash, and some could find their way to other Democrats. Nguyen, for example, could capitalize on opposition to Georgia’s restrictive new electoral law in his run for secretary of state.

Democrats face challenges. Like in 2010, when Democrats were kicked out of office statewide, 2022 falls into a midterm year, when the party that doesn’t control the White House tends to win seats. With Biden in power, the GOP’s national gains could lower the state’s Democratic ticket.

“It’s not necessarily the easiest to recruit in this cycle for constitutional office,” said Ross Rocketto, co-founder of Run for Something, a political action committee that recruits and trains Democrats to run for office. “People are worried it won’t be such a good year for Democrats.

But there are other factors that could push lawmakers in Democratic states to run for higher office. When the legislature redraws ridings this fall for the 2022 election, some Democrats could end up with hostile ridings. In addition, the party as a whole should remain in the minority in both chambers.

There is also the question of remuneration. State-wide agents all earn over $ 120,000 per year, while state lawmakers earn much less.

“You basically have two full-time jobs and one of them pays $ 17,000 a year,” Bullock said of what lawmakers earn.

Being elected statewide also gives politicians the ability to set their own agenda, instead of being a voice among the 236 in Georgia’s vast General Assembly. Jordan said it was part of the allure of running for attorney general, a race in which she faces 2018 Democratic nominee Charlie Bailey. The winner will likely face incumbent Republican Chris Carr.

To secure victory, Democrats need to make sure their supporters don’t just vote for the top positions when they go to the polls, which happened in January. Even when Warnock and Ossoff won, a fellow Democrat lost a runoff for a Georgia Public Service Commission job.

“Voters need to vote against the ticket because Stacey can’t do it on her own,” Rocketto said.


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