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20 October 2008

Charles Bullock: Georgia Dems Blew A Big Opportunity

At the conclusion of the 2008 legislative session, several of the state's largest newspapers said the four months lawmakers spent under the Gold Dome were a waste of time, money and lives [Source: Georgia Politics Unfiltered, "The Reviews Are In...2008 Session A Failure", April 8, 2008]. On the issues of major importance to Georgians such as tax reform and transportation funding, the Republican-led General Assembly failed to produce a single piece of legislation that went to the Governor's desk for his signature.

In April, I wrote on this site that the Republicans in the state House and state Senate had made several unforced errors and I wondered if the Democrats would be able to capitalize on those errors in November [Source: Georgia Politics Unfiltered, "Republicans Made Several Unforced Errors, But Can Democrats Capitalize?", April 6, 2008]. Shortly after the close of candidate qualifying, where Democrats left 101 state House and state Senate Republicans unopposed in November [Source: Georgia Politics Unfiltered, "Candidate Qualifying 2008: By The Numbers", May 2, 2008], I answered my own question.

Despite the state Democratic Party chair's claim that her party could pick up eleven seats [Source: Georgia Politics Unfiltered, "Georgia Dems Picking Up 11 Seats A 'Stretch'", March 27, 2008], the state GOP is almost certainly assured two more years of controlling the Georgia General Assembly.

Why?

Because the Democrats' failed to field candidates in all 236 legislative seats.

In today's Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a respected political scientist from the University of Georgia echoed the sentiments expressed on this site.

Charles Bullock, a UGA political scientist, said Democrats blew a big opportunity by not fielding candidates against dozens of House Republicans in a year that should be very good for Democrats.

"It doesn’t look like there is going to be much [change] because there aren’t a lot of Democratic candidates," Bullock said.
[Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "Battle to rule state House", October 20, 2008]

House Majority Leader Jerry Keen (R - St. Simons) says he doesn't expect the GOP to lose more than three or four seats.

How sad is that.

How sad is it that in a Democratic year where Democrats across the nation are energized behind a very strong top of the ticket, Georgia Democrats won't see much if any change or progress simply because their leaders did not put enough players out on the field.

As the old saying goes, opportunity only knocks once.

For Georgia Democrats, their opportunity presented itself throughout the 2008, do-nothing legislative session. Unfortunately, the Democrats did not seize the moment. When their opportunity came, the Democrats passed. And as a result, the so-called "battle to rule the state House" isn't much of a battle at all.