Is there a political change blowing in the wind in Georgia?
We won’t know until November, though some say yes. Somehow, we doubt that Georgians will vote for wholesale political change in their leadership this year.
Yet talking with people throughout the state, you get two feelings:
1. Many are not at all happy with the way Nathan Deal has handled himself as governor. Besides what they perceive as a leader, they see him continuing to shoot himself in the foot by the way he handles matters.
2. The emergence of two well-known names in Democratic circles is giving rise to some people thinking perhaps the Democrats might have a chance at winning more races in this political year. Recognizable names at the top can’t hurt the Democrats any, for sure.
Consider the political spectrum of the state: what was once entirely a Democratic landscape has changed greatly in the last 12 years. People are no longer voting automatically in the Democratic column. Republicanism has swept not only North Georgia, but we have seen old, entrenched Democratic strongholds in South Georgia courthouses make amazing changes.
Some of these very people who at one time would never consider voting Republican have been doing that in much of South Georgia for several years now. But these days some are getting disenchanted with the Republicans, and thinking about making a reverse switch. They will tell you: “It’s the same old crowd who’s running things. They are Republicans in name only, and it’s time to show them up.” So, somewhat unexpected for some conservatives, they’re thinking of voting Democratic “to give some new people in the Democratic Party some energy.”
Another element that has shown itself in recent years is that the Democratic Party has a heavy African-American bent today. That seemed to spell doom for Democrats for several years. Yet no viable major black Democrat has emerged to lead the party. While Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed seems waiting in the wings, he hasn’t stepped forward on the statewide stage lately, even though his steady approach could appeal to disenfranchised whites.
Yet in 2014, here comes Jimmy Carter’s grandson, a state senator, making waves and getting some attention in taking on what seemed to be a shoo-in of a sitting Republican governor. Couple that with Sam Nunn’s daughter, Michelle, running for a Senate seat at the same time, so here are two attractive legacies turning some heads, not only among Democrats, but also among independents.
For Ms. Nunn’s chance, it may all boil down to who the Republicans nominate in the primary to be their Senate candidate. If they nominate Paul Broun or Phil Gingrey, that would mean the centrist Republicans might be looking for a better candidate, no matter what the party. That would make Michelle Nunn’s chances look better.
We suspect the Republicans will hold with a broader nominee, perhaps David Perdue or Jack Kingston. In that case, the chances for the Democrats winning a Senate seat in Georgia would be far less likely. That also might help doom Senator Carter having a better chance at victory against Governor Deal.
As we started with, when the voting is counted, we suspect Georgians will favor the Republicans in 2014. But you can never tell. Gwinnettians, especially Democrats, were sure surprised 30 years ago (1984) when Republicans swept every single contested election.
We must await the tally to find out.
By Elliot Brack