The Future Is Bright


On Tuesday, political newcomer Justin Fairfax narrowly lost the democratic nomination for Virginia Attorney General against current State Senator Mark Herring. The Fairfax campaign may be instructive for Democrats here in Georgia.

Even though Herring had much of the Virginia democratic establishment backing him, Fairfax came within 4,500 votes or 3% of defeating him. Former Hillary Clinton aide and Georgetown faulty member, Mo Elleithee, tweeted this Tuesday night.

Elleithee hit the nail on the head – Fairfax’s future is bright. He’s a 34 year old Duke University and Columbia Law School graduate who most recently worked as a federal prosecutor in Virginia. As a first time candidate Fairfax wowed crowds throughout the state with his knowledge of the issues and personable nature.

In the end, Fairfax came within a sliver of beating the odds and getting the nomination. He did this with a dedicated field strategy, competent campaign staff, and top notch consultants despite having a very limited budget. In fact, many political observers believe that with an additional $50,000 to $100,000 he would have been victorious.

In Virginia, Fairfax was competing against the democratic establishment. In Georgia, Democrats will have to compete against a well-oiled Republican machine in 2014. We need candidates that inspire and who can appeal to everyday people not just the party’s base. We need to execute field plans, but we also need to maximize the proven methods of paid media – television, radio, and direct mail.

Regardless of who the Republican nominees are, they are likely to be better funded and more entrenched than our Democratic nominees. But that shouldn’t be the determining factor in the outcome of the races. Fairfax proved in Virginia that voters are looking for fresh faces and new ideas.

Georgia Democrats have the opportunity to win next year. We have to be willing to accept new candidates who may not have the same ideas we’ve heard in the past. They may not run their campaigns the same way as past candidates. Like Fairfax our candidates must appeal to everyday voters and excite them to turnout on Election Day.

At the same time, the candidates must strike a balance between their newness and proven methods to win. They must run competent campaigns, reach as many voters as possible in every venue and implement strategic media strategies. Thanks to the Fairfax campaign in Virginia, we can hone our plan to win in Georgia.


  1. Burroughston Broch says:

    Mr. Fairfax has an impressive resume and is plugged into the strong DC-Northern VA Democratic Party structure: He was also endorsed by the Washington Post.

    For Georgia Democrats to have an opportunity to win next year, it must have candidates declare. When might that happen? There hasn’t been a mad rush – in fact there hasn’t been one. The General Election Primary will be about a year from now.

    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

      Virtually no candidates have declared on behalf of Georgia Democrats because, let’s face it, at this particular point, Georgia Democrats have virtually no opportunity of winning next year.

      At this particular moment, Georgia Democrats have no leadership, Georgia Democrats have no organization and, most importantly, with only about $30,000 on hand, Georgia Democrats have no money, especially when compared to Georgia Republicans who have many candidates who individually may each have 20-30 times what the entire Georgia Democratic Party has on hand.

      Compare the $500,000-$1 million that a leading GOP politician like a Tom Price or a Karen Handel or a Jack Kingston may each individually have on hand to the $30,000 that the Georgia Democratic Party has on hand and you start to get the picture of just how ridiculously overwhelming of a mismatch it is between Georgia Democrats and Georgia Republicans.

      As I’ve stated before, instead of being a year where Georgia Democrats are competitive enough to be within striking distance of an upset for the ages, at this point, 2014 will likely be a year where the Georgia Democratic Party completely bottoms out with the party being very near or at rockbottom with no money and possibly even no candidates in some key statewide races (Governor, U.S. Senate, etc).

      Some are saying that the Democrats have a shot at winning the state in the Presidential contest in 2016 and the Governor’s race in 2018, but at this particular point where Georgia Democrats have no leadership, no organization and no money whatsoever, both 2016 and 2018 look to be a stretch for the party to be in contention absent some kind of huge Republican scandal or meltdown.

      Which a scandal of some sort certainly seems possible given the way that Georgia Republicans have “governed” the state over their first decade of political supremacy.

      But Georgia Democrats cannot depend on a Republican implosion because even with as badly as Republicans have governed the state at times during their decade of political reign, some type of implosion or meltdown is no guarantee.

      Georgia Democrats also cannot depend on demographics alone to help them contend and win in statewide elections as Texas (as a place where minorities makeup over 55% of the state’s population) is a strong example of a state with demographics that are highly favorable to the Democrats who still find themselves being dominated by Republicans in statewide contests.

      As painful as it sounds and may actually be for Georgia Democrats, 2014 will likely be the type of bottoming-out year that the Georgia Democratic Party will have to experience (and needs to have) to learn a valuable lesson on what and just how much it will take for them to be competitive and in contention in future statewide elections.

      Like Georgia Republicans had to learn the very-hard way before them during their very-lengthy time in political oblivion, Georgia Democrats in their rockbottom year of 2014 will have to learn the very-hard way that they will ALWAYS have to be raising huge sums of money, both in very large and very small amounts and everything in-between.

      Georgia Democrats will also have to learn the very-hard way that they will need to have competent leadership who takes on the role of fundraising and organization-building very seriously while cultivating voter turnout and future candidates, particularly in and around the increasingly-diverse Metro Atlanta region and its fast-diversifying suburbs, around also in and around outlying principal cities and regions like Augusta, Columbus, Athens, Savannah, Albany, South Georgia, etc.

      When Georgia Democrats take the hard lessons to heart that they are about to learn the very-hard way in 2014, Georgia Democrats will be able to apply those lessons going forward with increasing effectiveness in subsequent future election cycles.

      The very-hard lessons that Democrats learn in 2014 will likely combine with Georgia’s changing demographics to culminate in statewide victories in future years like the 2024 Presidential Election cycle and the 2026 Gubernatorial Election cycle from this current vantage point of 2013-14.

      The sooner that Georgia Democrats take the very-hard lessons of 2014 to heart, the sooner that Georgia Democrats can effectively compete and contend in statewide contests.

      • The linkage of our state Democratic candidacy deficit to the Democratic Party of Georgia is an important and often-missed (or side-stepped) point. While individual campaigns are structurally independent of the Party until at least the moment of nomination (and typically to a great extent still thereafter), the DPG and DNC are the public face off of which the Georgia GOP plays in attempting to dissuade voters from so much as even considering our policy ideas and candidates for office. Until both the label of our brand and then, the organizational and financial strength of it are repaired, potential candidates cannot be expected to marginalize their (and our) effective futures with politically suicidal runs.

        As the DPG State Committee faces the priority task of replacing our Party Chair, those of us seeking restoration of actual Democratic policy success in Georgia hope that members will start from a deeply thoughtful and open-minded foundation about how to get there, rather than recycle old names, traditional and inapplicable plans and dragging internal factional battles.

        – Jeff

  2. Burroughston Broch says:

    @ The Last Democrat in Georgia
    “Which a scandal of some sort certainly seems possible given the way that Georgia Republicans have “governed” the state over their first decade of political supremacy.”

    Thank you! I needed a laugh to start the day. 10 years of Republican supremacy have been little different from the preceding 130 years of Democrat supremacy, except for fewer scandals.Don’t forget that many on the Republican side of the aisle learned their craft on the Democratic side of the aisle. Of course, that was before the Democratic Party deserted them.

    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

      Of course Republicans have had fewer scandals as they’ve only been in power 10 years compared to the 130+ years that the Democrats were in power.

      But those Republican scandals, while being far fewer in number just by virtue of being in power of for only a fraction of the time that Democrats were in power, have certainly been no less impactful on the state’s political scene.

      Impactful Republican scandals such as:

      The Sonny Perdue land deals in Middle Georgia (Oaky Woods and Highway 96);

      Former House Speaker Glenn Richardson and his affair with the lobbyist and his resulting divorce from his wife and subsequent suicide attempt;

      Former State Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers “issues” (the loan that he and U.S. Rep. Tom Graves never repaid to the bank that went under, Rogers’ past as a gambling tout, Rogers’ make-work at GPB that makes him one of the highest paid public employees in the state);

      The federal indictment and prosecution of a commissioner and the untimely resignation of another commissioner and a former county commission chairman as related to a series of shady land deals involving the Republican-dominated county government of GOP-dominated Gwinnett County, the most politically-dominant county in the state;

      Former State Senate Rules Committee Chairman Don Balfour collecting per-diem payments for expenses for travel back-and-forth between the Capital and his home in Snellville on days that he either stayed at the Midtown condo he shared with his lobbyist girlfriend or was out-of-town on lobbyist-funded trips;

      {{“Don’t forget that many on the Republican side of the aisle learned their craft on the Democratic side of the aisle.”}}

      …Exactly…Current Republican Governor Nathan Deal and former Republican Governor Sonny Perdue are both former Democrats.

      Sonny Perdue switched parties mainly to gain a leadership position in a then-rising Georgia Republican Party while Nathan Deal switched parties because his conservative North Georgia district was trending more and more Republican (as was Sonny Perdue’s Middle Georgia district and the state of Georgia as a whole).