As we approach 2014, I will be watching very closely to see whether or not statewide candidates will put forth a effort and build grassroots support from the Swamps of Ware County to the Cotton fields of Dooly County to the Mountains of Rabun County.
All statewide democrats have to do is just go talk to people. But don't do it in a condescending, "We're going to teach you people how to vote" kind of thing. Go sit at Priscilla's Restaurant in Eastman, Ga or Sister's Country Kitchen in Hazelhurst, Ga and listen to the concerns of citizens who feel slighted by what they see as no progress in terms of job creation, the regression of the local school systems, etc. Establish a presence in Rural Areas such as these. Be a source of information and support. Most Rural Georgians are long-time residents and that means for generations. If Democrats.....Georgia Democrats are seen as just regular people and not the three-headed monster Faux Nooz and the Republican Party (who have had a control of rural Georgia for over a decade now) you'll go a long way toward earning back their trust and ultimately their ear.
One candidate, Gerald Beckum, candidate for the U.S. Senate will have no problem, being a rural conservative democratic mayor of a small town. As for the others and other potential candidates, that remains to be seen.
And for goodness sakes, lose the terminology like "Hicks", "Hillbillies" in describing rural residents in this state. Believe it or not, for the most part, these are good people who would do anything in the world for a person in need. It's important to remember that if the Georgia Democratic Party is grow their numbers, they need to stop avoiding Rural Georgians. If a Jason Carter, or Branko Radulovacki, or Michelle Nunn or whoever can cast him/herself as the candidate for rural voters, someone who understands the plight and values of the rural, bluecollar family, family farmers and attract culturally conservative voters in South Georgia.
Rural Georgia is pivotal for the resurgence for Georgia Democrats next year going forward. But they must have the right candidate, one who can break through the rural way of life and the culture brickwall, which no democrat, at least so far haven't shown a willingness to do.
It's not complicated: All they have to do is show up!
These visits are important because they have a multiplier effect: Each meeting will lead to a conversation at the barber shop, grocery store or at church about how that democrat came to town. Don't underestimate the power of the grapevine in Rural Georgia!
By democrats staying away from Rural Georgia since 2002, they allowed Republicans to define and caricature them, especially on social issues such as religion and guns. If democrats don't show up, people will only hear what republicans say about them. When Roy Barnes made that ill fated decision to not put much effort into Rural Georgia in 2002, the republicans defined him in unsavory terms and the famous "King Roy" and "Boot Barnes" slogans were all over the place (from his decision to change the confederate flag, among other issues that lead to his defeat). Because of Barnes lack of presence in rural Georgia, he couldn't refute it.
But democrats from here on out, even those who will run for the State legislature need to forcefully explain their convictions, even if they're out of step with Rural Georgia. Rural Georgians can live with candidates with whom they disagree on some issues. But nowadays people are reticent about saying they're a democrat and the reason is because many feel that democrats of today do not share their values and interests.
Winning with only the bread and butter issues is not enough to appeal to the rural voter. Many here are homeowners and entrepreneurs and and like low taxes and less regulations among other things so that's one of the reasons they vote republican.