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Lessons from Doug Jones Win for Georgia Democrats

There is a lot at stake in 2018. Will the party chart a new course or dig in for more of the same failed strategies?

Georgia Democrats Need to learn the right lessons from Doug Jones' win in Alabama.

Doug Jones close race and subsequent win should be a warning to Georgia Democrats. However, it is likely they will take all of the wrong lessons from his run going into the 2018 cycle.

With several statewide offices up for grabs, Georgia Democrats need to be building support and engagement instead of relying on cheap tactics. Newly elected Senator Jones was lucky a mailer sent out before the election didn’t turn Black voters off. It 

Recently, Democratic candidate for Governor Stacey Evans demanded her Republican counterparts “disavow” Roy Moore. A point now moot with his loss, but demanding Georgia Republicans distance themselves from Moore because of his preference for underage girls and not his racism or homophobia does little. It lacked real substance and had no bearing on the upcoming Georgia elections.

If Republican voters in Georgia supported Trump despite all of his scandals and allegations, having republicans denounce Moore achieves little other than bragging rights. To reclaim the Governorship Democrats need more than gimmicks and empty gestures. There needs to be clear purpose and plan, with campaigns that engage voters across the entire state.

With several vital seats requiring Democrats full attention in 2018, the focus needs to be on developing the base. Like much of the south voters of color are a significant component of the Democratic base in Georgia. Nearly 60% of voters participating in the 2016 Georgia Democratic Primary were Black. Developing support and relationships around issues that matter and investing in voter outreach sooner than later is crucial.

Voters will turn out in more significant numbers when given something and someone to support.  Also, Democrats need to firmly stand for the people and policies versus trying to play nice with Republicans. They have made it clear how they feel about issues and where they stand when it matters.

We need bold leaders in Georgia statewide. Races like Secretary of State and Attorney General are often overlooked. These positions perform essential functions and cannot be left on the table. Given the issues with our current Secretary of State, it should be clear why we need a steady hand committed to protecting voter access. Backroom deals and appealing to moderate Republicans will not secure Democratic wins in 2018 and beyond.

We need leaders with conviction and clearly defined loyalties. More conservative Democrats who try to straddle the line are a concern in statewide races. Democratic candidates should have no tolerance for dog whistles and should not shy away from courting Black and Latino voters. While issues of economic concern cut across race, there is a history of Democrats not investing the time and energy in these voting blocs until the last minute if at all.

Hopefully, Georgia races will focus on the issues affecting people and build on the multiracial coalition that it takes to win. Such a coalition relies on the strengths of its member groups, not simply looking to assimilate all into one narrow position. Democrats need to be bold and stop chasing the elusive moderate Republican voter. Organizing the South, and specifically organizing Georgia requires a fearlessness to support all of our communities and not simply the select few.

 

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