Friday, May 6, 2011

Georgia Democrats Need New Stars: a Farm Team.

Georgia Dems needs more Will Rogers & less Michael Moore's in its ranks

They say Georgia Democrats are an endangered breed at a time when Republicans control the governor's office, legislature and Cabinet. They say the Georgia Democratic Party has no "bench" of next-generation candidates for statewide races.

Who's left to push the Georgia party, and who are its leaders? Looks to me like slim pickins.

The Old-Guard is virtually extinct. What's left is a party with no stars in its ranks. (Only State Senator Jason Carter qualifies as a star currently in the legislature)

What the Georgia Democratic Party needs more than anything is to develop its farm system of statewide & local candidates, the way the Republican Party did in the late 1980s and early 1990s with David Schafer, Brian Kemp, Allen Peake and others.

And they have some potential. There is Teresa Tomlinson, the first woman mayor of Columbus, who some see as a gubernatorial candidate four years hence. There is Andrew Ginther, a city councilman for Columbus who those who know him well is primed for a run for State Senator.

Then there's Christopher Pike, City Commisisoner of Albany, fellow Commisisoner Bob Langstaff, Irwinton Mayor Darrell Burns, Sumter County Tax Commissioner Bill McGowan, Montgomery County County Commissioner Brandon Braddy, Hazelhurst Mayor Bayne Stone, Millen Mayor King Rocker just to name a few

Major league/professional sports teams have 'farm team' systems where they can identify and train prospects. The NBA only recently saw the usefulness of having a minor league system with the NBDL ... developing the Democratic Minor League will be just as important, if not more important, than keeping the Democratic Major League in line."

If Democrats want to come back, they should look to the past for a path to a better future.

Concentrated on two areas: getting full slates of candidates in every county and getting full slates of party offices in every county. Just by doing that, democrats will started getting a reasonable share of state legislators, sheriffs and state’s attorneys and so on.” But on the local level, democrats are strong... but anyway tyhat’s a textbook method for rebuilding a party,

Where the rejuvenation can come in is with organizations. What you’re really trying to build are local candidates. Winning legislative seats is more important than competing for the high-profile races like governor.

Democrats, they really do need to start at the ground level, bringing people into the state Legislature races and building up some statewide names. “It’s not that hard to win some of these state legislative districts, if you can find well-known, popular local candidates.

Successful local candidates also help build up a “farm team” of politicians to run for bigger statewide offices, another important piece of party-building. Democrats must “find a first-class candidate to put on the top of the ticket. That’s one of the anchors that’s going to go out and build a party.”

When Georgia Democrats in their heyday have had success in recent history, it has been at the federal level where politicians, like Sam Nunn, built strong organizations over decades in office.


The downside of relying heavily on organizations of individual candidates is that eventually politicians leave office and their organizations can go with them.

To some degree, that’s true of party organizations But Democrats have suffered more than usual from a flight from the state after a candidate retires. While Republicans have had strong candidate organizations, they have also had a more robust state party.

The Georgia Republican Party has organized better within the party organization itself. The state (Democratic) Party was able to step up and replace the level of financing and the level of organization that the Democratic campaign organization was able to muster, something they are trying to change now

The attempt to resurrect the Georgia Democratic Party is largely in the hands of a new generation of leaders, who plan to revive the party by re-establishing a grassroots organization.

Part of it is a back-to-basics approach, reaching out to folks who haven’t been involved,” said
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In order to be successful, the to-do list is lengthy. Aggressive fundraising and messaging, making sure Democrats stay in the public conversation and always having resources to compete, focus on candidate recruitment and building local county parties.

The dominance of younger politicians is frequently seen in rebuilding parties. On the one hand, it reflects a party without many successful, experienced leaders. But it is also presents opportunities.

“If you’ve got a hungry young person, it’s easier to get a nomination for a statewide office in the Democratic Party than the Republican Party. “In one sense, the Democrats are devastated and have nowhere to go; but in the other, it’s an opportunity for young people to become leaders in the party very quickly and that is exactly what Democrats need: new leaders who aren’t “yesterday’s news.”

“Find somebody new, a fresh face, articulate,” he said. “Help build the party around that person.”

Now can Democrats can recreate their 1970s, 80, 90s glory days? Who knows!

The prospects are tough, to be sure, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a possibility. Among Democrats, no one expects to take over the state in two or four years. But there is hope for the future.

I think the Democrats can come back again, maybe not right away, but I think it’ll happen.

3 comments:

Burroughston Broch said...

I am an independent, and these are the first sensible words I've heard from a Georgia Democrat in a long time. The state Democratic Party will become irrelevant after the 2012 election cycle unless it can articulate issues of substance that matter to Georgians, and that does not include racial politics as practiced in metro Atlanta. Keeping a far distance from national Democratic politics will also be a plus.

Burroughston Broch said...

One more thing - Joe Frank Harris is a Cartersville boy, not Rome.

Keith MacCants said...

Burroughston Broch,

I agree with you 100% except the part about the state party being irrelevant after 2012. Now if they don't articulate a message that hits right in the heart of Georgians, then it will be a tough road to hoe for the dems.

The National Dems are hazardous to Democrats who want to prove they are a "Georgia" Conservative, not a pawn of National Dems & their ultra-liberal stances

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