Georgia political leaders are mining the state for strong candidates

By Saba Long

For Georgia Democrats, the ability to win the seat soon to be vacated by Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss is improbable. Yet it could set the stage for the future of Democratic politics in the state.

There is much scuttlebutt surrounding the Republican primary and the merry-go-round of career politicians that have expressed an interest in the Senate race and possible subsequent open seats as a result.

Declared candidates include Congressman Phil Gingrey (R-Marietta) and Congressman Paul Broun (R-Athens).

The noncommittal but curious crowd include Congressman Jack Kingston (R-Savannah) and Congressman Tom Price (R-Roswell) and former Secretary of State Karen Handel who lost the gubernatorial Republican primary run-off by a mere 2,000 odd votes.

The Republican primary will inevitably turn into a litmus test of true conservative values and verbal sword fights in defense of the U.S. Constitution.

In a recent Washington Post article on Broun’s Senate candidacy, an anonymous Georgia GOP insider quipped, “He’s going to say things that are going to make him unelectable, even in an ultraconservative GOP primary in Georgia.”

While the chances of a Democrat winning Saxby’s Senate seat are slim — even with a “right, right” Republican primary, the right candidate and a robust ground game could lay the foundation for a highly contested 2016 Presidential election and the 2018 statewide constitutional officer elections.

Who is the right Democrat?

Some say it is a centrist such as Congressman John Barrow of Athens who has successfully escaped the jaws of defeat by redistricting. Barrow’s reelection record speaks for itself, however, as Georgia Democrats plot and plan an attempt to restore the  party’s strength question whether he will rally the base and increase voter registration.

In private conversations, many metro Democrats were perturbed by Barrow’s Republican-like tactics in his 2012 Congressional reelection campaign — including the gun-toting ad and his hesitancy towards all things Obama.

There is also State Representative Scott Holcomb, a former military Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps prosecutor, who could bring a fresh face to the campaign and give Democrats national security credibility. Where Holcomb would be challenged in fundraising capability and name recognition, he could make up for in a willingness to hit the pavement going door-to-door.

A Democratic primary between two Caucasian males, say Congressman Barrow versus State Senator Jason Carter, would be the most competitive and would undoubtedly likely attract the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC). If Carter were to run statewide, this would be an optimal time especially if he were to have his grandfather, former President Jimmy Carter, by his side. The optics would be advantageous, and with the right message, allow the younger Carter to tap into a national fundraising ocean.

There is also a particular school of thought to use this campaign to go outside of traditional politics and rally behind a business or civic leader – including Bain consultant Peter Aman, former chief operating officer for the City of Atlanta; or Rev. Raphael Warnock of the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church.

The right candidate is one that is electable yet exciting, attractive to minority voters ,and most importantly, someone who is able to speak to the values of the public.

Let’s hope the right candidate, regardless of party affiliation, emerges for the 2014 election.

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6 comments
David Farrar
David Farrar

There will, of course, be a "Birther" candidate in this race to represent Georgians who demand to 'know', rather than just 'believe', their president has met his Constitutional burdens.

But I can think of no other way to attack this injustice and thereby escape the judgement of history than to run on a birther ticket for Sen. Chambliss' seat as a public statement of that resolve.

ex animo

davidfarrar

David Farrar
David Farrar

There will, of course, be a "Birther" candidate in this race to represent Georgians who demand to 'know', rather than just 'believe', their president has met his Constitutional burdens. But I can think of no other way to attack this injustice and thereby escape the judgement of history than to run on a birther ticket for Sen. Chambliss' seat as a public statement of that resolve. ex animo davidfarrar

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

Excellent article, Ms. Long and the quick correction is greatly appreciated, Ms. Saporta.

{{"Some say it is a centrist such as Congressman John Barrow of Athens who has successfully escaped the jaws of defeat by redistricting. Barrow’s reelection record speaks for itself, however, as Georgia Democrats plot and plan an attempt to restore the party’s strength question whether he will rally the base and increase voter registration....

....In private conversations, many metro Democrats were perturbed by Barrow’s Republican-like tactics in his 2012 Congressional reelection campaign — including the gun-toting ad and his hesitancy towards all things Obama."}}

Those are good points to ask whether a conservative Democrat like John Barrow would be able to rally the liberal base of the party.

But the "Republican-like tactics" that John Barrow used in his 2012 Congressional re-election campaign are what wins elections in that social and cultural world outside of I-285 that is thoroughly and overwhelmingly completely dominated by conservative politics.

If John Barrow, as the LAST WHITE DEMOCRAT IN CONGRESS FROM THE DEEP SOUTH, didn't ruthlessly utilize the "Republican-like tactics" of gun-toting, frequent and endless fundraising drives, and an active hesitancy towards all things Obama in a rural part of the state and country where Obama is by far the most-hated public figure and is public enemy #1, there is no way that Barrow would be able to survive the repeated and relentless attempts by Georgia Republicans to defeat him and put his congressional seat in GOP hands.

As a SUPERMINORITY in Georgia politics that currently finds itself on the verge of political extinction at the statewide level, Georgia Democrats can most certainly learn a thing or two from the political survivalist tactics of a conservative rural white Democrat like John Barrow.

This current timid and seemingly completely clueless version of the Georgia Democratic Party that seems to be focused solely on the liberal/progressive-dominated world inside of I-285 needs to learn the fine art of conservative culture-speak if they ever hope to be competitive in statewide elections within the next 20 years.

Georgia Democrats need to learn how to talk to, appeal to and, most importantly, relentlessly FUNDRAISE in the conservative/libertarian-dominated world outside of I-285 if they ever hope to challenge the political, cultural and social supremacy of Georgia Republicans.

Despite quickly-evolving demographics that are continuing to change the racial makeup of the state's population in favor of Georgia Democrats, Georgia Democrats will likely be best-served to leave the most liberal and progressive of their political platform inside of Fulton and DeKalb counties when attempting to re-establish the party at the statewide level.

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

Excellent article, Ms. Long and the quick correction is greatly appreciated, Ms. Saporta. {{"Some say it is a centrist such as Congressman John Barrow of Athens who has successfully escaped the jaws of defeat by redistricting. Barrow’s reelection record speaks for itself, however, as Georgia Democrats plot and plan an attempt to restore the party’s strength question whether he will rally the base and increase voter registration.... ....In private conversations, many metro Democrats were perturbed by Barrow’s Republican-like tactics in his 2012 Congressional reelection campaign — including the gun-toting ad and his hesitancy towards all things Obama."}} Those are good points to ask whether a conservative Democrat like John Barrow would be able to rally the liberal base of the party. But the "Republican-like tactics" that John Barrow used in his 2012 Congressional re-election campaign are what wins elections in that social and cultural world outside of I-285 that is thoroughly and overwhelmingly completely dominated by conservative politics. If John Barrow, as the LAST WHITE DEMOCRAT IN CONGRESS FROM THE DEEP SOUTH, didn't ruthlessly utilize the "Republican-like tactics" of gun-toting, frequent and endless fundraising drives, and an active hesitancy towards all things Obama in a rural part of the state and country where Obama is by far the most-hated public figure and is public enemy #1, there is no way that Barrow would be able to survive the repeated and relentless attempts by Georgia Republicans to defeat him and put his congressional seat in GOP hands. As a SUPERMINORITY in Georgia politics that currently finds itself on the verge of political extinction at the statewide level, Georgia Democrats can most certainly learn a thing or two from the political survivalist tactics of a conservative rural white Democrat like John Barrow. This current timid and seemingly completely clueless version of the Georgia Democratic Party that seems to be focused solely on the liberal/progressive-dominated world inside of I-285 needs to learn the fine art of conservative culture-speak if they ever hope to be competitive in statewide elections within the next 20 years. Georgia Democrats need to learn how to talk to, appeal to and, most importantly, relentlessly FUNDRAISE in the conservative/libertarian-dominated world outside of I-285 if they ever hope to challenge the political, cultural and social supremacy of Georgia Republicans. Despite quickly-evolving demographics that are continuing to change the racial makeup of the state's population in favor of Georgia Democrats, Georgia Democrats will likely be best-served to leave the most liberal and progressive of their political platform inside of Fulton and DeKalb counties when attempting to re-establish the party at the statewide level.

Maria Saporta
Maria Saporta

Thanks for the catch Brian. It's been fixed.

Brian
Brian

Bob Barr is a candidate for the 11th Congressional District seat, not the Senate.