James.qxp Jan Feb 2019 web - Page 10

has been a longstanding tradition in Georgia.
It is likely votes are stolen in Georgia, but neither
party has clean hands. In all truthfulness the numbers
likely even out in the wash. But even if you buy the concept that Abrams was somehow a victim of a massive
voter heist, keep on reading. You might be shocked at
how this story ends.
The good news for Kemp is— his Southern drawl
notwithstanding— he is not Jed Clampett. He is
instead a modern, earnest and candid person. He represents a comparably younger generation of leadership.
My guess is that he will give an approachable human
aspect to the mansion on West Paces Ferry. That may
well translate to many more suburban Atlanta votes
four years from now.
That poses a question for another day: Will one more
statewide gubernatorial re-election be about all the GOP
can expect?
Georgia’s demographic shift is strong and the ultimate result is undeniable. White voters went strongly for
Kemp. and other statewide GOP candidates. AfricanAmerican voters and other “non-white” demographic
groups went just as heavily for Abrams. The slim swing
vote is now white, increasingly moderate and can be
found in the suburbs.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution had an insightful
article about “apartment politics” in the Atlanta suburbs. Noting that single family residences were losing
their influence in the age of the booming rental phenomenon, it suggested a direct relationship between
the political leanings of the apartment voter and the
ability to locate and turn out those voters for
Democratic candidates.
A general view is that the 2018 gubernatorial race
was one of city slickers versus the country folk. Trite and
silly— but at least geographically correct. The problem for
Republicans is that metro-Atlanta truly is the 800-pound
gorilla of Georgia politics— and gaining weight. Cobb,
Gwinnett, Fulton, DeKalb and other metro Atlanta counties are swinging back to the Democrats.
The difference in this reprise of the Democratic Party
in Georgia will be very clear. In their 100-year dominance
before Sonny Perdue was elected governor, Democrats
relied on white men to deliver them statewide victory.
But in the future the Democratic nominee will likely need
to be a savvy African-American female in order to deliver
victory to the party.
Stacey Abrams, they are calling your name.
Matt Towery is the chairman and co-founder of InsiderAdvantage/James
The 2018 election cycle is history. While there will be
no statewide offices held by Democrats in the next four
years, the progress that has been made is undeniable.
While Democrat Stacey Abrams’ gubernatorial campaign may not have achieved total victory in the last election cycle, her accomplishments last year are beyond
question. She came out of Nov. 6th election day just 1.4
percent behind Brian Kemp. For reference, Democrat
Jason Carter lost to Gov. Nathan Deal in 2014 by 8 percent
and Democrat Roy Barnes lost to Deal in 2010 by 10 percent. Abrams also received approximately 1,923,000 votes,
which is 550,000 more votes than Deal received in either
of his elections and over 40,000 more than even Hillary
Clinton received in 2016. Abrams can and should take a
great deal of pride in mobilizing Democrats in a way this
state has never seen in its long history.
She also led the charge in helping Democrats win
the greatest number of seats in the Georgia Legislature
in the last 20 years. Thanks in part to her strong, progressive message and ability to drive enthusiasm,
Democrats managed to win two new Senate seats and 14
new House seats.
There was a shift in Georgia’s 6th U.S. Congressional
District as well, with Democrat Lucy McBath winning a
narrow victory over incumbent Karen Handel. McBath
seized the newfound energy in the suburbs and coupled
it with a focused campaign to ip a seat that some had
written off after last year’s special election. Additionally, in the 7th
U.S. Congressional District,
Democrat Carolyn
Bourdeaux lost by a tiny
margin to incumbent
Rob Woodall. He nished the race just 0.14
percent ahead after winning his 2016 election by
over 20 percent.
The clearest takeaway
from the governor’s race
is that Georgia’s suburbs are changing.
The heated, hateful rhetoric of President Donald Trump
and some others in the Republican Party aren’t playing
well to suburban families despite its effectiveness in
rural America. Democrats in Georgia and elsewhere capitalized on that fact in 2018 by offering a different
vision— one which is diverse, inclusive, and looks out
for people over prots.
Another indicator of Democrats’ growing electoral
strength in Georgia is the result of the December 4th
runoff elections. Democrats John Barrow and Lindy
Miller faced off against Republicans Brad Raffensperger
and Chuck Eaton for the positions of Secretary of State
and Public Service Commissioner, respectively. Runoffs
are typically dominated by Republicans as older white
voters are disproportionately represented in the lowturnout affairs. However, in those runoffs, the results
almost mirrored those of the general elections. Barrow
and Miller both nished with just over 48 percent of the
vote while Raffensperger and Eaton nished with just
under 52 percent. The days of Democratic enthusiasm
being limited to high-turnout general elections are over.
So where do they go from here?
Many Democrats ran on unabashedly progressive
platforms heavily featuring proposals like expanding
Medicaid, increasing the minimum wage, and guaranteed
paid family leave. Those proposals and others like them
cannot be forgotten in the coming legislative session.
Having won so many new state legislative seats, Democrats are in a
better position than they have
been in decades to extract concessions from the Republican
Party. This is a new opportunity to lead which cannot
be squandered if voter
turnout is to remain high
in 2020 and 2022.
Tharon Johnson is a Democratic Party
strategist and CEO of Paramount
Consulting Group in Atlanta.
M c B AT H


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