Are Georgia’s Democratic Party Rising Stars Wasting Their Time in A Republican Legislature?

We may be witnessing a change in Democratic politics in the state of Georgia that has gone unnoticed. During the special session for redistricting, Georgia Republicans smartly created enough Republican leaning districts to create super majorities in the state senate and house. This super majority is important because it allows Republicans to amend the state constitution unilaterally by out voting the Democrats and generally makes it difficult for Democratic legislators to make a difference. With a super majority it would be difficult for rising Democratic stars State Senator Jason Carter and House Minority leader Stacey Abrams to create platforms to run for higher office.

Traditionally, Democratic nominees for governor were always members of the legislature or other Democrats who were already elected statewide. This method for picking nominees made sense because the nominees were likely already influential players in state politics, which created platforms for their gubernatorial campaigns. Roy Barnes, Zell Miller, Georgia Busbee, Jimmy Carter and countless other Democratic governors in Georgia served in the legislature or held statewide elected office prior to their election as Governor. As we stand today, there is no clear cut Democratic nominee for Governor in 2014 or 2018. One solution may lie directly across the street from the state capitol building in City Hall.

The mayor of Atlanta is probably the second most coveted political figure in the state of Georgia. And while Atlanta only has a population of approximately half a million residents, the mayor is the recognized political leader for the metro area of over 5 million residents. For Georgia Democrats, they are unlikely to find a bigger stage to be heard from than running the state’s capitol city while Republicans dominate state politics for the next ten to fifteen years. In addition, the name recognition and fundraising power held by the mayor of Atlanta is unmatched in state Democratic politics.

Sen. Carter and Rep. Abrams are viewed as rising stars in Georgia’s Democratic Party. Maybe if one of the two ran for mayor and used that office as a four year platform to run for Governor they would have a chance to win. Imagine if Carter ran for mayor in 2013 or 2017 and became the first White mayor of Atlanta in forty years. National press would follow and he would be poised to make a run at the governor’s mansion in 2018 or 2022. Abrams has as attractive qualities as well. She has already broken barriers as the first woman to lead a legislative caucus in Georgia.

Think this route to Governor’s mansion is unlikely? Think again. It has been done before; maybe not in Georgia, but in other states. Ed Rendell was Mayor of Philadelphia before he was Governor of Pennsylvania. Martin O’Malley was Mayor of Baltimore before he became Governor of Maryland. And John Hickenlooper was Mayor of Denver before he became Governor of Colorado.



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