Saturday, May 3, 2008

What's With the Georgia GOP?

In a tough recruiting year, Georgia Republicans blamed the salaries for legislators, while Georgia Democrats, predictably, just blamed each other. When candidate qualifying ended in Georgia on Friday, there was a lot of grumbling on the blogs about the recruiting efforts of one political party. Sure, one party failed to field candidates in all thirteen congressional races, while the other will compete in every single one. One party had fielded fewer state House and Senate candidates than the other. One party challenged far fewer incumbents than the other. Trouble is, the party with the poorest recruiting record is the Georgia GOP, yet, the complaining has been about the DPG, with Democrats providing the grist for the mill.

Consider this:

  • Democrats qualified great candidates in every congressional race while Republicans will only compete in eleven of thirteen.
  • 145 Democrats will compete in House races, while only 136 Republicans are running. Despite their majority status, Republicans are competing in only 17 more House districts than Democrats.
  • 50 Democrats will compete in state Senate races, while only 48 Republicans will run. Again, despite their majority status, Republicans will compete in only three more Senate districts than Democrats.
  • When it comes to challenging incumbents, Democrats clean the GOP's clock. We will challenge 23 incumbent House members while Republicans will challenge only 11 incumbent Democrats. Republicans will challenge 5 incumbent Democratic senators while Democrats drew targets on the backs of 14 incumbent Republican senators.
  • Republicans have failed to challenge incumbent Democrats in a number of marginal districts, including seats held by Amy Carter, Ellis Black and Mike Cheokas.

Georgia Republicans hold majorities in the House and Senate along with the majority of the constitutional offices. Their efforts are really embarrassing considering that the Georgia GOP enjoys a substantial cash advantage over the DPG. You'd think that with the money in the bank, a Governor with a 60+% approval rating and virtually unlimited access to lobbyist dollars, the Georgia GOP would've done a better job. You'd think that they would've recruited folks to run in marginal districts (Amy Carter, Ellis Black and Mike Cheokas are all unopposed). If the Democrats had all those things in our favor and had this kind of showing, Kidd and Company would've been run out of town on a rail. Well, if we had rail, which we don't because the GOP led General Assembly couldn't manage to address transportation. I digress.

I understand Republicans wanting to draw the media focus away from their dismal efforts; I just don't understand why Democrats were helping them do it. I'm the first to acknowledge that Democrats need to do a better job of recruiting, but there is a myth floating around that candidate recruitment was a one week marathon for Democrats, capped with an ill-advised robo-call. Whoever's floating that story doesn't know what they don't know. The truth is that many of us have been actively involved in candidate recruitment for the last two years. The truth is that many hours were invested by the Party, the Caucus and various Democratic organizations like Red Clay and Georgia's WIN List. We called, we surveyed, we trained, and, yes, sometimes we begged, pleaded and cajoled to get quality candidates in races. I know this because I have been involved in the process. And, yes, just like the Republicans, during the last month, those efforts were kicked into high gear to get people who we had reached out to over the course of time in place to qualify. And, yes, there are races where we wanted to field candidates and did not, but in many of those races, we were able to identify really quality candidates whose names you will see on the ballot in 2010. We have lots of great Democrats running this year. Now, admittedly, we need to get some real estate agents for some of these folks so that we can compete in more districts, but not only are we running more folks, this is an absolutely fantastic crop of candidates.

Could we have done better? Sure, and next cycle, with your help maybe we will. Now is the time to look around you, or look in the mirror, and help find great candidates to run in 2010.

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