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.
This VA AG primary is something! I like Herring but Justin Fairfax never should've gotten so close on such a small budget. He's got a future
— Mo Elleithee (@MoElleithee) June 12, 2013
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.