GOP Divisions Put Georgia in Play for Democrats

Georgia Democrats better wake up fast. Although 2012 was a slow election season in Georgia for most Democrats that could change very soon.

Republicans are already talking about a possible primary challenger in the 2014 Senate race against Saxby Chambliss. Apparently, Chambliss’ bipartisan forays of the last couple of years have turned off the Georgia GOP base.

The comments Chambliss made last week about potentially raising taxes next year should have many of his potential Republican challengers chomping at the bit. Actually, voting to raise taxes would seal the deal. And Democrats should be ready.

Republican Primaries in Georgia are usually a contest of who can move farthest to the right. In the 2010 Republican gubernatorial primary Governor Nathan Deal, Susan G. Komen Foundation star Karen Handel, and ethics poster child John Oxendine went to the mattresses over who was the most anti-gay and pro-life among them. As Atlanta Journal Constitution columnist Jay Bookman recently speculated, if the 2014 Senate primary is anything like the 2010 hate fest, then it may provide an opening for a Democrat to win statewide.

Georgia Democrats should expect a more progressive electorate in 2014. After all, Georgia’s changing voter demographics are already leading many presidential pundits to suggest that Georgia may be a swing state in 2016.   Former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz and pollster John Zogby explain in a recent Huffington Post column how the growing Latino vote will likely dog republicans for years to come.  Georgia’s Latino population won’t be the exception.  However, fielding a legitimate Democratic candidate who can win is far more important.

In order to be successful, Democrats need to avoid the previous GOP mistake and nominate a candidate who will appeal to a broad section of Georgians. They must be able to raise money and more importantly convince the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee to contribute. Also, Democrats need to avoid a costly and time consuming primary fight by consolidating the contest to just one candidate early.

So who are the contenders? You decide. The speculation has privately begun, let’s hope a thoughtful and effective game plan will start soon.


  1. When I read Chambliss’ comments about Grover Norquist’s pledge the same thing occurred to me. I think by 2020 Georgia will be in play by sheer force of demographic changes alone. Perhaps if the Democrats field a good candidate, raise enough money, and develop a good “ground game” 2016 could be the year.

    I haven’t followed the rising stars in the Georgia Democratic Party. I suspect Roy Barnes would have the most name recognition. I’ve heard very good pronouncements on a number of issues coming from Kasim Reed. Whoever it is, I think it’s up to us Georgia Democrats to take the lead with both money and time. If we begin really contesting elections, the national party will start paying more attention to Georgia races.

  2. I think it is very likely that Saxb Chambliss will receive a primary challenge, but I think it’ll be from Arch-Conservative Congressman Paul Broun. Now who would run for the democrats, the perfect candidate would be John Barrow who provided the blueprint for democrats to run, compete & WIN! Jim Marshall (D-Macon), DuBose Porter (D-Dublin), Rob Teilhet (D-Atlanta) & Mike Thurmond are also possibilities as well. If you want a darkhorse candidate…Former Secretary of State Cathy Cox, but she’s been out of politics for 6 years now

  3. Burroughston Broch says:

    @ Larry Felton Johnson & Keith

    I suggest that you look at some new names, because many of those you named didn’t perform well the last time they ran.
    Let’s look at 2010:
    Michael Thurmond lost the US Senatorial race by 19%.
    Roy Barnes lost the Gubernatorial race by 10%.
    DuBose Porter lost the Lieutenant Gubernatorial race by 13%.
    John Barrow retained his US Congressional seat by only 7%.
    Let’s look at 2012:
    Kasim Reed couldn’t carry TSPLOST to victory in Fulton & DeKalb counties.
    Romney got a higher % of votes statewide than McCain did in 2008.

    How about coming up with some candidates that will be statewide contenders?

    • Of course Tim Lee couldn’t get TSPLOST over in Cobb County either. The initiative was generally unpopular for a variety of reasons.

      The GOP definitely has the hearts and minds of the majority of Georgians at this point, and whoever the Democrats put forward, how well we do will depend on both the ground game, and putting a compelling argument forward for why the Democratic Party will make life better for most Georgians.

      2010 was the high water mark for the GOP nationally, and while I don’t favor wishful thinking as a political strategy, I think the GOP in Georgia peaked in this electoral cycle. So numbers from 2010 don’t necessarily reflect how any given Democrat would do in future election.
      Still, it would be nice if some charismatic young Democrat rises to the fore. Having a strong candidate will help with both messaging and “ground game” (I’m getting tired of using that phrase, but it does describe what we need to do well.)

      • Burroughston Broch says:

        “Putting a compelling argument forward for why the Democratic Party will make life better for most Georgians.” That’s the big problem.
        The state party has been unable to do this. Instead it has just repeated the national party line that doesn’t interest most voters.

        • Well, with the plethora of birther bills, Agenda 21 nonsense, and xenophobic bills the GOP is likely to unleash with their new supermajority, the Democratic Party has a chance to position itself as the sane party if it does focus on a few key statewide issues. Parts of the Democratic national agenda could be quite compelling at the state level, and there are certainly enough local issues of interest to voters that the Democrats could take up.

  4. bloggingwhileblue says:

    Just wondering. Which Democrats would you suggest?


    • Burroughston Broch says:

      I don’t have any suggestions.

      • Cmon Fox news bad Cmon Fox news bad mouthing dearocmts nothing new here Fox News is not independent journalism but republicans who make one sided stories click

        • Burroughston Broch says:

          Dibesh, writing a cogent sentence with correct spelling is obviously not your strong suit. You should keep your day job.

  5. Burroughston Broch: Those are the only names Democrats have left who have the ability to mount a statewide campaign. The Democratic Bench is very thin at the moment. One person that comes to mind is Deke Coperhaver, the mayor of Augusta. He’s a independent, but he would be better running for governor than the U.S. Senate. John Barrow wrote the Blueprint for democrats to start winning in Georgia again. Who can do what Barrow did in a statewide contest? Two names comes to mind: Rob Teilhet & Cathy Cox. Kasim Reed can’t win statewide. Too closely tied to the Obama Administration. Porter ran in 2010 in a field that featured Roy Barnes. I think he’ll do better second time around. Thurmond would be great, but he maybe eyeing governor in ’14.

    • Burroughston Broch says:

      Cathy Cox might do well, but I suspect she’s too smart to give up her position at Young Harris to joust with windmills.
      Agree about Kasim Reed, although his ego might tell him otherwise.
      Dubose Porter doesn’t show well.
      Michael Thurmond failed miserably during his last race, and nothing suggests to me that he would perform better next time.