On Monday, July 29, the Statesboro Herald newspaper published a story about Bulloch County’s 2013 Independence Gala which featured local and state Democrats along with candidates for the vacant chairman’s job of the Democratic Party of Georgia.
Statesboro is a rural, college town which is home to Georgia Southern University and is located about two hours southeast of Macon.
There is an old adage that says leadership starts at the top, and for the Democratic Party of Georgia, the August 31 special election for the party’s new chairman will be a pivotal turning point for progressives.
A handful of candidates have submitted their names for nomination with knowledge that the deadline is July 31.
Who will be the best person to move the Democratic Party of Georgia forward?
Mary Squires, one of the DPG candidates told the Statesboro Herald the following:
“We have a great opportunity now, you know. The demographics have shifted,” Squires said. “We are solidly 50-50 Democrat and Republican, and Democrats need someone who will focus on winning elections.”
Even though the demographics have shifted, will the strategies of outreach change or shift as well?
Georgia is becoming an increasingly more diverse state, but there is a mindset from some inside our own party that believe capitulating to Republicans or former Democrats on certain issues to ‘avoid being labeled’ is the pathway to winning elections.
Well, it is safe to say, it hasn’t worked.
This leads to mixed messages and as we head into 2014, state Democrats don’t need to be projecting mixed messages on issues relating to the Voting Rights Act, immigration reform, public education, common sense gun control, women’s issues and other topics.
Trying to out-Republican the Republicans is never a winning strategy.
There may a lot of ‘Reagan Democrats’ who are Georgia Republicans, but there are a lot of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama Democrats out there as well and the party should focus on getting these people to the polls in 2014.
I want accountability from the next chairman of the Democratic Party of Georgia.
The next state Democratic Party of Georgia chairman must take all elections seriously, not just presidential elections.
Over the past twenty years, Republicans have made the most gains and done the most damage during non-presidential, mid-term years.
And the figurative hijacking of the Georgia General Assembly by Republicans in 2003 had begun a decade-long effort –led by Sonny Purdue and now Nathan Deal– to turn the Peach State into a more tougher place to live for all of its citizens.
The next chairman needs to address this, and this is where having traits such as being a strong communicator along with having solid organizational skills are vital.
In 2010, a large number of younger independent or Democratic voters stayed home and this has to be reversed.
Additionally, a large numbers of younger voters that didn’t vote or weren’t made aware of the issues that directly affect them as an age group had an impact on the outcome of the last governor’s election in 2010.
Only 11% of younger voters (18-29) bothered to vote nationally in 2010.
And this begs the question, are younger voters –especially under 30– a priority in Georgia?
Candidates such as R.J. Hadley, Doug Stoner, Mary Squires and Dubose Porter need to articulate publicly a plan for outreach to younger voters and tell the public whether he or she agrees with President Obama on various issues.
Let’s face it 2014 will be referendum on President Obama, so this is a pertinent question.
Porter, who was the floor leader to Zell Miller in the 1990’s, is the only DPG candidate thus far who lives outside Atlanta in the city of Dublin– a hour southeast of Macon.
However, what is his plan? Does Porter agree with President Obama on the issue of immigration reform or what are Porter’s thoughts about the Supreme Court striking down parts of the Voting Rights Act?
Porter owns newspapers in eight different counties surrounding Laurens, but if there is virtually no news in his own newspaper about issues that are important to Democrats locally, then how will Porter be able to lead and/or motivate Democrats in a state that has a 45 percent minority population?
Laurens County’s largest voting location and most progressive is Dublin’s Calhoun Park. However, it ranks among the lowest in regard to voter participation.
There is a disconnect between the Democratic Party of Georgia and the people of Georgia and this problem has to be fixed.
The next chairman must be able to articulate a detailed plan moving forward that includes Central and South Georgia– especially rural counties.
It is difficult for any statewide candidate to win Georgia if the state party routinely ignores counties outside the metro Atlanta area.
And it is also difficult if the leadership of Democratic Party of Georgia isn’t on the same page with a sitting Democratic President, Barack Obama.