Election means that all of Georgia’s top leaders will be white male Republicans
By Maria Saporta
What a clean sweep.
In one day, Georgians have elected an all white, all male, all Republican slate to fill all the top jobs at the state.
Let this sink in.
We have gone from having a diversity among statewide leaders serving as constitutional officers in terms of women, Democrats and African-Americans to a total “good-ole-boy” administration.
This happened while Georgia is becoming a more diverse state in terms of African-Americans, Hispanics and Asians with more than half of its population being women. The election outcome can lead us to question the whole notion of representative democracy.
It’s not as though there weren’t women, African-Americans, Democrats, Libertarians in the running. It’s just that in this political climate, voters decide to go with a leadership model that is more reflective of a Georgia that existed 30 years ago than the diversity we’ve enjoyed in the past couple of decades.
Let’s take it race by race.
In the top two jobs — governor and lieutenant governor — it’s more of the same. Gov. Sonny Perdue looks much like his successor — governor-elect Nathan Deal. They’re both Republicans and white males.
There were two shots at diversity for governor. Former Secretary of State Karen Handel lost in a Republican run-off election to Deal. Libertarian John Monds, an African-American, garnered only 4 percent of the vote.
In the lieutenant governor’s race, incumbent Casey Cagle, a Republican white male, beat out Carol Porter, one of the few women running on a statewide ballot.
In the Attorney General position, Republican Sam Olens beat Democrat Ken Hodges. Olens succeeds Democrat Thurbert Baker, an African-American who lost his bid for governor.
In the school superintendent race, Republican John Barge beat out Democrat Joe Martin and Libertarian Kira Griffiths Willis. Barge takes the spot that was held by Kathy Cox, a Republican, until earlier this year when she resigned to take a job in Washington. Put that as another loss in the women’s column.
Now the race for labor commissioner. The winner was Republican Mark Butler, a white male, who beat out Darryl Hicks, an African-American Democrat. Butler will succeed Commissioner Michael Thurmond, an African-American Democrat who decided to run for the U.S. Senate rather than seek re-election.
Then there’s the insurance commissioner race. Republican Ralph Hudgens beat Democrat Mary Squires.
And secretary of state. Karen Handel decided not to run for re-election so she could run for governor. She resigned from her post early, and Republican Brian Kemp was appointed to fill her slot, so he ended up running as an incumbent.
He beat Georganna Sinkfield, an African-American Democrat, who has been long-time state representative.
Lastly, in the public service commission race, Republican Tim Echols beat Democrat Keith Moffett, an African-American from Macon.
Needless to say, a Republican white male won the position of agricultural commissioner, Gary Black. His opponents also were white males, and he will succeed Democrat Tommy Irvin, one of the longest serving commissioners in the country.
So there you have it — a clean sweep of Republican white males in all of the state’s top positions.
It is a telling outcome. But knowing the changing demographics in the state, a state that is becoming more diverse, these election results should be of concern to the Georgia Republican Party as well as the rest of us.