Republicans And Democrats Agree, Deep-South Georgia Is Turning Blue

Republicans And Democrats Agree, Deep-South Georgia Is Turning Blue

Georgia is turning blue, much to the Democrats’ relief and the Republicans’ dismay.

 

Georgian politicians are holding their breath, waiting for the release of fund-raising figures at the end of the year. Republicans are anxious; Democrats are buoyant. Two candidates for office in 2014 come from prominent Democratic political families. Their names could boost the participation of voters and confirm the trend that both parties are seeing: Georgia is becoming a blue state.

The population of Georgia is rapidly changing

The handwriting is on the wall because of simple facts. Georgia has the fastest growing black and Latino populations in the country. The question is, how quickly can the populace be galvanized to change the political face of the state?

The first Democratic candidate in this equation is Michelle Nunn, who is running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Republican Saxby Chambliss. Nunn is the daughter of former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn. Sam represented Georgia for 24 years. While Michelle Nunn has never before held elective office, she’s already a proven fundraiser. In the first 10 weeks of her campaign, she raised $1.7 million. Without a record as an officeholder, her fundraising ability is the best measure of her ability to win.

A number of ominous signs have emerged for the GOP in this race. In November, the conservative paper Savannah Morning News published a positive editorial about Nunn. It read, in part:

Ms. Nunn appears to be cut from the JFK kind of Democratic cloth: Ask what you can do for your country, and your community, on your own time and your own dime. Compared to many others in her party in Congress, she’s a refreshing voice.

That surely shocked a few Georgians as they unfolded their morning papers and prepared to drink their first cup of coffee. JFK once ruled in the region, back when Southern Democrats represented the norm, a time well before Sam Nunn’s day or the introduction of sweeping civil rights legislation. But that’s not all. According to the Washington Post, former Senator John Warner (R-Va.) attended a fundraising dinner for Nunn, which was followed by a $500 donation from his PAC. Her ability to attract bipartisan support is surely making Republicans tremble.

The GOP is creating its own bad situation

In the worst possible scenario for the GOP, a whole gaggle of candidates are competing for the Republican nomination for the seat. On the one hand is Rep. Paul Broun, who says evolution, embryology, and the big-bang theory are “lies straight from the pit of Hell”. On the other is Rep. Phil Gingrey. Gingrey is an obstetrician-gynecologist who recently kinda-sorta backed Todd Akin’s infamous declaration that women don’t get pregnant from a “legitimate rape”. In a statement that has some strategists groaning, Gingrey said Akin was “partly right” about rape. In addition, several of the candidates are competing to see who can be most ‘anti-immigrant’ — in the state with the fastest-growing Latino population.

Not surprisingly, the field of candidates from which Republicans will choose kinda-sorta worries the party’s leaders. Conservative political strategist Eric Tanenblatt sounds worried. According to The Hill, he said:

Georgia is changing, and the further you go to the right in the primary, the more difficult that becomes in the general. If we’re not careful, we could create an unfortunate situation for ourselves.

Jimmy Carter’s grandson, Jason Carter, certainly hopes so. Already a state senator, Carter is the second prominent Democratic candidate running for a new office. With a harder row to hoe, Carter is running for governor in 2014 against the incumbent Republican. It’s mostly Carter’s fundraising capabilities that are still in question. However, he thinks he’s found the campaign weak spot for Governor Nathan Deal. That would be Deal’s refusal to use federal funds to expand Medicaid in Georgia. In criticizing the governor’s position, Carter says:

Our federal tax dollars are going to expand and improve health care in New Jersey and Florida and other places with Republican governors, and Georgia is not getting those benefits. And that’s because the governor is just consumed by the Washington politics of Obamacare.

The Republican governor remains oblivious to the facts

The Black Caucus of Georgia’s Legislature has asked the governor to expand Medicaid. If he doesn’t relent, hundreds of thousands of Georgians will remain uncovered by health insurance. However, Deal seems to be one of those who is ignoring his state’s changing demographics, as well as the voices who represent the influx of new voters. All of this can only well serve Carter’s campaign.

Carter and Nunn both represent themselves as ‘consensus-builders’ who will reach out to Republicans and independents. Because of these two candidates, the Georgia Democratic Party is optimistic about turning the state blue as early as 2014. Leaders are scrambling to organize for the change. The Republican Party agrees that Georgia is headed at least toward swing-state status — but not for another 5-7 years. The upcoming primary battle, which promises to push Georgia’s GOP even further to the right, may be a first shock to the party’s entrenched state of denial.