Ted Terry is, by all accounts, a nice guy. A friend who knows him says he is sure Terry and I would enjoy hanging out at a baseball game. Terry, the 36-year-old mayor of Clarkston is a committed progressive, environmentalist and, I am told, a great neighbor.
Clarkston elected Terry as its youngest mayor in the city’s history. Terry, a Florida native, settled into Clarkston and embraced its diversity. He began working with the Sierra Club, moved into politics, and now has pushed Clarkston to decriminalize marijuana, cease cooperation with federal immigration authorities, embrace renewal energy and increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
Ted Terry, the good neighbor, environmentalist, marijuana advocate and committed progressive intends to challenge David Perdue for the Senate. Terry will be Perdue’s gift.
The problem for the other Democrats is Terry is a dynamic personality. He got a make over on the “Queer Eye” show. They made him cut his “resistance beard.” He knows how to get attention and the progressive national media will love him. Business executives and Democrat leaders may be flocking to former Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson, but Terry will attract young progressive energy.
That means Tomlinson and other Democrats will have to go left to compete with Terry for money and for the heart and soul of the Democrats’ attention machine, i.e. the national press corps. A reasonable Tomlinson who portrays herself as a friend of business and former Republican will not be able to compete with Terry.
Tomlinson, just last week, already showed what a gift Terry is to Perdue. When asked about Terry being a progressive, Tomlinson declared herself a more committed progressive with a better progressive score who implemented more progressive policies in Columbus than Terry has in Clarkston. Tomlinson must have been smoking some of Terry’s decriminalized Clarkston weed at the time because she was not nearly the radical progressive she is now claiming to be. But don’t tell Tomlinson. She wants Democrats to know she will out progressive Terry.
Sarah Riggs Amico, who ran unsuccessfully against Geoff Duncan for lieutenant governor, also intends to run for the Senate. According to the media, Amico is lining up a host of progressive advisors, including a handful of Stacey Abrams’ team. She will try to run to the left of Terry as well. Democrats are, naturally, misinterpreting 2018.
In 2018, Abrams came really close to … well to what exactly? People like to believe Abrams came close to winning. But she did not. Democrats have built a twofold mythology of her loss. First, they say Abrams ran as a hyper-progressive candidate drawing new people into the race. Second, they say she actually won, but Kemp stole it from her.
The second has festered and is false. The first is more nuanced. Abrams actually turned off some voters, but new voters mad at Trump did flood in and vote Democrat. The whole part of the equation Democrats are missing is that while Democrats turned up at near presidential turnout levels, Republicans turned out at midterm levels. But 2020 will be a presidential year and Republicans will turn out at their typically high presidential year levels. There are still many more of them than Democrats in the state.
Democrats will go far to the left of the mainstream thanks to Ted Terry’s charisma. Then Republicans will show up at presidential levels in a presidential year and put Perdue back in office using the Democrats own progressive shift against them.
Erick Erickson is host of Atlanta’s Evening News on WSB Radio.