ERICKSON: Wishful thinking

August 16, 2013 

Many national Democrats, finally realizing their hopes of turning Texas blue will not happen in the next decade, have decided to turn their attention to Georgia. As the number of minorities in Georgia grow, they think 2014 could be the year.

Democrats have settled on Sam Nunn’s daughter, Michelle, as their Senate nominee. Many of the Democratic activists in the state who’ve had encounters with Nunn are not impressed. Privately, they say she has lost her roots and won’t be able to connect outside the urban Atlanta base. She won’t be able to drive out black voters in middle and south Georgia to support her.

Remember, in 2010, Sen. Johnny Isakson ran for re-election against the very popular Mike Thurmond, a black Democrat long supported even by large numbers of the Republican establishment. I had voted for Thurmond as Georgia’s labor commissioner even with the “D” after his name.

Thurmond, who held elected statewide office in Georgia for 12 years through three election cycles, could get no more than 39 percent of the vote even with Barack Obama encouraging black voters to turn out. Black voters in Georgia simply do not turn out in off year elections at the percentage Democrats need.

More significantly, the Democrats do not have a candidate for governor in Georgia and some prominent Democrats are urging the party not to even try. Typically, it is the gubernatorial infrastructure that helps turn out the base for the Senate candidate.

In 2008, Sen. Saxby Chambliss relied on incumbent Gov. Sonny Perdue’s existing organization. It is axiomatic in Senate politics that if you want to flip a Senate seat, flip the Governor’s Mansions first.

Second, in addition to having no gubernatorial grassroots infrastructure, the state party itself has no infrastructure. It has gone through a series of scandals. The state party sued members of its board to find the source of a leak. The chairman was deposed in a nasty whisper campaign. The executive director, himself mired in scandal, got tossed. The Democrats are scrambling now to find a new party chairman and they’ve limited it to only white men. That, in and of itself, is now a scandal.

Party rules for the Georgia Democrats require that the chairman and vice chairman be of both different race and sex. Because the vice chair is a black female, the Democrats have had to deny several white women the opportunity to run for party chair.

Third, after all the problems with the state party, you will not be surprised to learn the party is out of money. It has barely enough to buy a used car.

Fourth, Republicans have a home field advantage that should not be taken for granted. The governor is running for re-election even against no Democrat. He’s stepping up his grassroots organization as are other statewide officers who are building up their networks for their present races, but are really doing so for 2018’s gubernatorial race. This is the dry run.

The Legislature plans to move the primary up in the calendar to curtail a messy, long, resource draining Republican primary. Though they will most likely do this, we should not ignore that the GOP in Georgia, still largely controlled by the metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce Republicans, rarely nominates real extremists.

Finally, the Nunn name, does not go as far as it once did. It has been two decades since Sam Nunn left office. Georgia’s demography has changed, filled with many not here when a Nunn last held office. Democrats might want to look elsewhere in 2014.

Erick Erickson is a Fox News contributor and radio talk show host in Atlanta.

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