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04 August 2010

Fmr. AJC Investigations Editor Questions GA Dems' Incumbent Protection Policy

A few weeks ago, I boldly declared that the Charter & Bylaws of the Democratic Party of Georgia aren't worth the paper they're printed on after the state Democratic Party took sides in a contested primary election.

The Democratic Party might as well save the taxpayers some money by avoiding these expensive primary elections, and just have the good ol' boys gather in the smoke-filled backrooms to pick the Party's nominees.


Now, in the post mortem analysis of the state Senate district 39 Democratic primary contest between Vincent Fort and Graham Balch, it seems that others are beginning to question whether the actions of Georgia's Democratic Party were kosher.

Former Atlanta Journal Constitution investigations editor Jim Walls, who runs the website Atlanta Unfiltered, posted a column that saw state Democratic Party officials defending $30,000-plus in political mailings that urged the defeat of a Democrat in the Democratic primary.

Literature denouncing candidate Graham Balch greeted voters as they opened their mailboxes in recent weeks in Georgia’s 39th Senate District.

The difference: Balch ran as a Democrat, and a state Democratic organization paid for the attack ads.

Balch now says he feels betrayed by party leaders whose bylaws prohibit endorsements of one Democrat over another.

. . . party officials say no bylaws were broken because the Senate Democratic Caucus, not the state Democratic Party, paid for the mailings. The caucus is legally a part of the party, officials say, but it operates independently. Campaign finance records filed with the State Ethics Commission make no such distinction, though.

Walls, Jim (2010-7-30). Ethics Watch. Atlanta Journal Constitution. Retrieved on 2010-8-4.

Graham Balch, a voting member of the Fulton County Democratic Committee, has a right to feel betrayed because he wasn't defeated by Republicans. Balch was defeated by his own Democratic Party.

And that is a low-down, dirty shame.

In the Democratic primary, it is up to the voters and not the Party to decide which candidate wins the Democratic nomination. Plain and simple, the Democratic Party needs to butt out of contested primaries.

If the Democratic Party is picking sides, then what exactly is the point of state Democratic Party chairman Jane Kidd sending threatening letters to county Democratic committee chairs demanding that they refrain from criticizing a Democratic member of Congress? What is the point of having a non-endorsement policy in the Democratic Party's governing documents? And, if the Democratic Party is picking sides, then what exactly is the point of having primaries at all?

The Democratic Party might as well save the taxpayers some money by avoiding these expensive primary elections, and just have the good ol' boys gather in the smoke-filled backrooms to pick the Party's nominees.