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Shirley Franklin believes she is too liberal to chair the state’s Democratic Party

By Maria Saporta

Thanks, but no thanks (I think).

So says former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin in response to an effort to recruit her to run as chair of the Democratic Party of Georgia. The petition drive says: “We believe that SHIRLEY FRANKLIN is by far the best candidate to chair our Party.”

Actually, Franklin said she believes she is too liberal to represent the Democratic Party statewide. She also believes that she has been a controversial figure, especially in her last couple of years as mayor.

“I haven’t changed nor have my political positions,” she wrote in an email.

She went on to say that she is “pro civil union for the LGBT community, pro immigrant focused federal legislation, pro UN leadership on peace, pro tax cuts for the middle class and working Americans not millionaires, pro MARTA and anti state policy that discriminates against MARTA, pro state policy that supports Fulton and DeKalb residents/taxpayers who have sacrificed to build reliable metro Atlanta transit, anti state billion dollar cuts to education, pro state funding of public defenders for the indigent, homeless program and Level 1 trauma care, pro aggressive statewide water planning, and investment in major systems like Atlanta’s, anti loopholes in ethics practice that govern state, pro gun control, o
wners training and anti gun fairs….”

Her positions have not changed, and that’s why Franklin said she was “surprised” by the petition to have her run to be chair of the state Democratic Party.

She then seemed to wonder whether it would be a possibility and said that there are “exceptions to every rule.” Franklin then went on to say that despite her liberal position, she was elected to serve as president of the Georgia Municipal Association, the first mayor of Atlanta to serve in that position.

“So perhaps a liberal Democrat might have some qualities worthy of consideration for this position, but it never dawned (on me as a possibility),” she said. “I guess some Georgia Democrats agree Atlanta mayors just might add value to the party.”

And then she appeared to close the door on a candidacy to chair the Democratic Party.

“According to the rules, the party officers and board will elect the president from those who submit their names,” Franklin wrote. “I haven’t done so.”

By the way, in the email petition behind a Franklin candidacy, it states:

“Shirley Franklin has no requested this ‘draft movement’ but we feel that if a large number of significant Democrats will commit to supporting Shirley, she might consider running for the Chair of the Democratic Party of Georgia.”

The campaign is urging people to sign the petition before Dec. 10.

Currently, the position of Democratic Party chair is held by Jane Kidd.

Maria Saporta

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.



  1. It’s good that Mayor Franklin stands up and stands strong for what she believes in, but from a purely strategic standpoint, Shirley Franklin is NOT what the Georgia Democrat Party needs if they hope to stop the profuse bleeding. Mayor Franklin is right, she is in fact WAY TOO LIBERAL to represent a party that since the election a month ago has seemingly been seeing some of it’s most conservative members continuosly defect to the GOP. I hate to inject race into this issue, but what the Georgia Democrat Party needs ideally to stay competitive and viable in an increasingly politically conservative state is to have conservative white males in its statewide leadership positions that can work within and relate to the “Good Ol’ Boy” political system. It’s okay if the Georgia Democrat Party wants to stand for its principles, but if the party decides to stay decidedly left in its philosophy by appointing clearly pronounced liberals like Shirley Franklin to leadership positions, it will remain in the political wilderness of Georgia politics and will likely not have anywhere near enough numbers to significantly affect policy in the foreseeable future. If Georgia Democrats want to keep from falling off of the political map even further they need to go in a markedly more moderate, or dare I say even, conservative direction in their leadership positions.Report

  2. rptrcub December 6, 2010 8:34 am

    What I would love to see is people on the right starting to refer the DemocratIC party by its full and legal name. I don’t call you the Republic party.Report

  3. Scott December 6, 2010 10:50 am

    I STRONGLY disagree that she is too liberal. We need people like Franklin to show liberal is not a bad thing. There is about to be a crash and burn in the republican party, because they are running out of road to “kick the can” down, and a strong liberal leader like Franklin could hand them their head on a platterReport

  4. “What I would love to see is people on the right starting to refer the DemocratIC party by its full and legal name. I don’t call you the Republic party.”

    Comment by rptrcub — December 6, 2010 @ 8:34 am

    rptrcub, have you been witnessing the events of the last few years in the Georgia General Assembly, or in national politics for that matter? Attempting to insult the GOP by referring to it as the “Republic” party would only be taken as a compliment by its members as many of them don’t think of the U.S. as a true democracy, but as a “Federal Republic” (representative democracy), instead. “Democrat” Party is a mild insult compared to what the GOP is worthy of being referred to these days. As a former Democrat turned Republican (because being a Republican gets better pay from lobbyists these days) who is actually a political independent, philosophically (as the name implies, I only got into politics for all of the numerous “perks”), and as a strong advocate for the return of the lobbyist-inspired, fueled, supplied and funded “Babe Alley” to the hallway outside of the speaker’s office, I can testify that using such derisive terms as “(G)ay (O)ld (P)arty”, the “RepubliCON” party and my personal favorite (and oh-so-accurate) “RePUBICan” wouldn’t be so far beyond the pale if you would have witnessed and been party to some of the hypocritical, debaucherous and downright purely disgusting acts that I’ve seen (and participated in) in my years in politics. Though the smaller group of bad apples may give the entire bunch of legislators a bad name, the majority of legislators are good civic-minded citizens who want to serve their state to the best of their ability, but I’m not one of ’em….Report

  5. “I STRONGLY disagree that she is too liberal. We need people like Franklin to show liberal is not a bad thing. There is about to be a crash and burn in the republican party, because they are running out of road to “kick the can” down, and a strong liberal leader like Franklin could hand them their head on a platter”

    Scott, Mayor Shirley Franklin may not be too liberal for decidedly left-of-center ITP voters or what’s left of the Georgia Democrat Party, but for OTP suburbanites, exurbanites, rural interests and predominantly conservative statewide voters in that increasingly conservative red-state sea that is Georgia, a Philadelphia-born black liberal female who is rumored to be gay in a political leadership post is a complete non-starter and only serves to prove to socially conservative voters to whom the term “liberal” is a dirty and offensive word that is about the same as being an “anti-American traitor”, it shouldn’t be that way as it shouldn’t matter your color and sexual orientation, but it is.
    In Georgia, politics at the state level is dominated by socially conservative suburban, exurban and rural small-town and agricultural interests and if you want to have the power to control state politics you have to able to appeal to those particular interests. I know way too many people that wouldn’t even vote for a Democrat if Hitler or even Ol’ Lucifer himself was the Republican nominee. The so-called “Bubbas” have the strongest voice in Southern politics right now and thanks to loud and flashy outlets to numerous to count like the decidedly right-leaning talk radio and, of course, Fox News, the Republicans have done the much better job of appealing to the socially-conservative block of voting “Nascar Dads”, “Bubbas” and suburban moms that is needed to secure majority rule in legislatures across the former confederate states. Right now, Republicans are just simply better at telling the socially conservative majority the xenophobic stuff that they want to hear. Why do you think that gay marriage has been banned multiple times in Georgia and many other “flyover states”, and guns and illegal immigration are the most pressing issues in the Georgia General Assembly every year ahead of truly critical issues like lack of water, education and inadequate infrastructure? If Georgia Democrats want to be true to themselves and don’t mind being on the short end of Republican supermajorities in the Legislature, then picks like Shirley Franklin and the like are the way to go, but if Georgia Democrats want to make inroads in state politics and regain some of their former glory that they had for years and years and years as a ruling supermajority, then they need to strongly consider a socially conservative good-ol-boy traditional Southern Democrat in the mold of a Sam Nunn or a Zell Miller to help reconnect with and recapture the vote that ITPers hate, but that is critical to having the power needed to set the agenda and move the needle on the critical issues, the “Bubba” vote, because in the South, if you don’t have the “Bubba” vote then you pretty much don’t have any votes.Report

  6. Scott, unfortunately for liberals in GA, to the majority of Georgians, liberal is a bad thing, it’s an additude that is just too firmly ingrained in the minds of the majority of Southerns these days. Conservatism is the hot-and-trendy thing and liberalism is considered to be radioactive in many “flyover” areas of the nation. I agree that Mayor Shirley Franklin is and would be a strong leader if her race, gender and sexual orientation weren’t issues, but because her race, gender and sexual orientation are issues and because liberals are outnumbered in this environment that has become somewhat toxic and even hostile for them in a state increasingly dominated by Repubs, people in the conservative GOP-dominated state political arena will disagree with, demonize and be affronted by Mayor Franklin just because of who she is, where she is from and what she stands for. I’m not saying that Democrats need to totally deny and disregard who they are, but since they are on the verge of being a permanent minority in Georgia politics, it wouldn’t hurt if they could find strongly pronouced leadership with conservative appeal who could help stop the profuse bleeding and take advantage of more-than-obvious Republican shortcomings so that they can once again be a real factor in GA politics to affect policy and be an effective opposition party which, I’m sorry to say, they are not anymore.

    There has already been a crash-and-burn in the Georgia Republican Party with their penchant for perverse scandal (Babe Alley lobbyists), corruption (Sonny and the boys shady land and “bidness” deals in Middle Georgia and at the Port of Savannah, Gwinnett CONmission, etc), across-the-board incompetence and failure to seriously address such pressing issues as water, education and transportation year-in and year-out. It’s just that the GOP keeps getting votes no matter how bad their performance because they can say to the conservative majority of Georgia voters that “we’re one of you, because my ancestors fought for the Confederacy and “states rights” just like yours did, I’ve got the country twang in my voice just like you do, I go to high school football games on Friday nights and church on Sunday just like you do, I’m a true America-loving, red meat and potatoes-eating, Nascar-watching Southerner just like you who hates those Godless immoral, sexually-perverted anti-American pacificist tax-and-spend liberals just as much, if not more, than you”.
    I tell my liberal dyed-in-the-wool Democrat friends all the time that if they want to regain power in these parts then they’ve got to fight Republicans on what they’ve claimed as their own turf. Democrats have got to have authenic socially conservative candidates to talk about in an attacking manor and push the needle on such emotionally compelling issues as abortion, gay marriage, guns, taxes and religion so that they can have the power to push the needle on critical issues on water, education and transportation for starters. It’s got to be like when a musician sings socially-conscious lyrics over a catchy or memorable tune to get people to listen and act on a critical issue.Report

  7. Burroughston Broch December 7, 2010 10:32 am

    If Shirley Franklin is not available, what about John Lewis or Hank Johnson? Answer – they have the same problems as Shirley Franklin. Perhaps the Democrats will bring back Cynthia McKinney?Report

  8. Scott December 7, 2010 11:57 am

    Perhaps we need more Carol Porter (who really impressed me in her run at Cagle), and less Shirley Franklin.Report

  9. Burroughston Broch: Someone like Cynthia McKinney can’t get away with the type of strange behavior that she exhibited for long because she is black, female and liberal and her extreme leftist views are out-of-step with the decisively right-leaning views of the conservative mainstream majority in Georgia. On the other hand, someone like Rep. Bobby Franklin, a Republican from Cobb who prefiles dozens and dozens of way off-the-cuff right wing extremist legislation each year that wastes much of the legislature’s precious time every session gets voted back into office time and time again, because even though he’s a right-wing extremist and a certifable nutjob, the views of the center-right mainstream majority are alot closer to his than someone who is perceived to be far-left.Report

  10. Scott: A democrat who is perceived to be a centrist and a moderate like Carol Porter would be a very good place to start in statewide politics in Georgia, but she seems like she might be way too decent of a person to help hit the GOP right where it hurts in the statewide political culture of hypocrites, fratboys and just plain ole scumbags. You know, the type that tote the Bible while standing beside their wife at a political rally OTP and then go and meet their lobbyist girlfriend at a posh Atlanta hotel on a combination of corporate and taxpayer money?Report

  11. Burroughston Broch December 7, 2010 8:20 pm

    @ Bring back “Babe Alley” to the Georgia Capitol!

    You know very well that the behavior you attribute to GOP legislators is also typical of the Democratic legislators, and has been for many years. Want to regale us with the story of Cheney Griffin doing Gov. Marvin Griffin’s bidding and firing the secretaries near the airport?

    Cynthia McKinney bailed to the more hospitable climes of Berkley, while Bobby Franklin stands before the voters every two years. He has more courage than she.Report

  12. “You know very well that the behavior you attribute to GOP legislators is also typical of the Democratic legislators, and has been for many years. Want to regale us with the story of Cheney Griffin doing Gov. Marvin Griffin’s bidding and firing the secretaries near the airport?”

    Burroughston Broch: Of course that same behavior is and was typical of Democrats, who we all know held a virtually impenetrable supermajority in the legislature from the end of the Civil War until a few short years ago. Heck, as we’ve seen in the past dozen or so years, many of the Republicans in leadership posts in state government now (Gov. Perdue, Gov.-elect Deal, etc) are former Democrats. Debaucherous behavior in state government isn’t strickly a Democrat or Republican thing, it’s a power and money thing- he who has the most political power to create policy gets the most lobbyist-funded “perks” thrown their way. When Democrats had overwhelming control of the legislature they got the most attention from corporate entities via lobbyists. Now that Republicans are in overwhelming control of state government, they get showered with all of the overwhelming “attention” of big corporations and their hired lobbyist guns. As they say “money is the mother’s milk of politics” and not a day goes by when politicians don’t pass up the opportunity to nourish themselves at the expense of the taxpayer.Report

  13. “Cynthia McKinney bailed to the more hospitable climes of Berkley, while Bobby Franklin stands before the voters every two years. He has more courage than she.”

    Cynthia McKinney went to Berkley? That’s news to me, I thought that it was pretty much common knowledge that she went home to Mars! Maybe Mars wouldn’t take her back so she had no choice but to go to Berkley.

    Bobby Franklin has more courage than McKinney? Sure, why not. Standing up for what you believe is one thing, but clogging up the works and slowing down the functions of the General Assembly with numerous articles of frivolous legislation year-in and year-out is another. A scant few of those bills may have some basis in legitimacy and reality, but most of them seem to be the intent of a small group of a few on the fringes of the right to impose their personal beliefs on everybody else.
    Bobby Franklin’s annual numerous prefiled bills also seem to be an attempt by the right-wing lunatic fringe to protest not getting their way by slowing down and gunking up the legislative process for everybody else. The Georgia General Assembly only convenes for 40 days every year and way too much of that precious time that could be spent addressing truly urgent and pressing needs like the budget, water, education, transportation, etc is spent wading through all of the obstructionist crap that Rep. Bobby Franklin (and like-minded friends) places in their way every session. Bobby Franklin’s penchant for frivolous and obstructionist legislation is one of the main reasons(but by no means, is he the only reason) that the legislature doesn’t get to the most pressing issues facing the state until the very last days, or often times, hours, of the General Assembly.

    There are alot of words that can be used to describe, judge and compare certain character traits of fringe lawmakers like Bobby Franklin and Cynthia McKinney, but COURAGE clearly isn’t one of them. When thinking of their rightful places amongst the lunatic fringes on the right-wing and left-wing, respectively, terms like “bat-sh** crazy” just seem to automatically come to mind. Cynthia McKinney’s “courage” was never in doubt, it was her sanity, or complete lack thereof as a proud and registered moonbat, that was the reason why fellow Democrats had enough and ran her off from the party. And while some may call Bobby Franklin’s behavior as legislator “courageous”, many others in the mainstream may call it “a wing-nut throwing a continuous tantrum because he knows that he’s not gonna get his way”, even in a state as conservative as Georgia, Franklin is viewed by many of his level-headed peers as an obstructionist wackjob.Report

  14. Scott December 9, 2010 1:47 pm

    Just for the record…I might be a progressive, but Cynthia McKinney makes me look like I’m just to the right of Attila the Hun. I cant believe we are even discussing her. Bat-sh*t crazy is an accurate description. I think Carol Porter was pretty tough on Cagle…her problem was name recognition. Also, I think she is politically savy enough to know that being one of the good guys could give her some advantageReport


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