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05 January 2010

Presenting The Democratic Party Of Atlanta

Monday afternoon, former state Senator Kasim Reed (D - Atlanta) was sworn in as the 59th chief executive of Georgia's capital city. Reed's inauguration capped off an intriguing campaign that featured several, well-qualified candidates for Atlanta's top job. And the election saw the unusual entrance of the state Democratic Party into a nonpartisan race.

Hours before Reed took the oath of office, the AJC offered a post-mortem on how Reed won the December 1st run-off election.

Reed got a lot of help to overcome Norwood's grass-roots campaign. He won the backing of three major constituencies: the Atlanta business community, labor unions and, eventually, the Democratic Party -- the latter two setting up "independent" operations to put Reed in office.

Filings with the State Ethics Commission show that hundreds of thousands of dollars poured into the state party from businesses, unions and individuals nationwide during the campaign.

The party redirected much of that cash to increasing voter turnout in the runoff by paying for advertising and putting people on the street, according to expenditures listed in the party's filings with the State Ethics Commission.

Visser, Steve (2010-1-3). Unions, Democrats helped Reed pull off daring strategy. Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved on 2010-1-5.

The following quote from state Democratic Party chairman Jane Kidd epitomizes why the Georgia Democratic Party continues to struggle in statewide elections:"The bottom line is Atlanta is a big Southern Democratic city and it is important that the mayor be a big Southern Democrat," said Jane Kidd, chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Georgia, which didn't come out in force until the runoff between Norwood and Reed.

There is a growing stigma emerging about the state Democratic Party across the Georgia. The murmurs have even found their way into meetings of the state Democratic committee. Georgia's Democratic Party cares more about placating Atlanta than it does about being a truly statewide political party. There are many who believe that the Democratic Party of Georgia should be re-designated as the Democratic Party of Atlanta. And here's why:

While the "state" Democratic Party was busy investing resources into a nonpartisan municipal election, the Georgia GOP was quietly building up a massive campaign warchest to turn over to the 2010 Republican ticket. The state GOP has more than a $1 million in the bank while the Democrats barely have $300,000. The "state" Democratic Party lost a seat in the Georgia General Assembly lowering the number of Democrats in the state House to seventy-four.

As the map pictured at right demonstrates, Georgia's Democrats have no support outside of the major metropolitan areas in the state:

In fact, if it weren't for the Georgia Republican Party's current crisis in ethics, 2010 might not be the bright spot some Democrats are hoping it to be.

The priorities from the "state" Democratic Party are misplaced. More emphasis should have been placed on the grassroots and building the county Democratic committees instead of on a nonpartisan municipal election.

It really is a shame.

While the so-called state Democratic Party celebrates a "big Democratic mayor" becoming mayor of a "big Democratic city", Democratic activists across the Georgia are pondering what must they do to get the kind of attention Atlanta gets. And they grow increasingly disgruntled at opportunities missed because the Democratic leadership chooses to ignore their local communities.