Monday, December 05, 2016

Special Congressional Election In Georgia Is Not As Open-And-Shut As It Would Have Once Been


Price and Ryan-- these 2 want to end Medicare

Georgia doesn't have any swing districts. The state's 14 congressional districts are gerrymandered up to pack huge numbers of Democrats into 4 districts. John Lewis' 5th (metro Atlanta-- D+32), Hank Johnson's 4th district (mostly DeKalb County east of Atlanta plus Rockdale County and parts of Gwinnett and most of Newton counties-- D+21), David Scott's 13th district (the mostly African-American suburbs southwest of Atlanta-- D+16) and Sanford Bishop's 2nd district (Macon, Columbus and Albany- D+6). By packing so many Democrats intro just 4 districts, Republicans-- especially incumbents-- have tended to have free rides in 10 districts.

Something interesting was going on in the wealthy white suburbs north of Atlanta this year, GA-06, Tom Price's district. The PVI is R+14 and in 2008 McCain beat Obama 59-40%. Four years later Romney beat Obama 61-37% in these Fulton, Cobb and DeKalb county towns. These year, however, it was a little different. Price won reelection handily-- 61.6-38.4%, having raised $2,225,897 and spent $2,220,447. His opponent, Rodney Stooksbury spent... nothing. Zero. Really; look:

And in past races, even with Democrats spending a little money-- nothing competitive, but something-- Price did better. 66% in 2014, 65% in 2012. In fact, until this year, 65% was his lowest-ever win. This year, Hillary's suburban strategy that failed her in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, Wisconsin and Michigan actually worked pretty well-- albeit pointlessly-- in the Atlanta area. She fought Trump to a virtual tie-- 47.7% to 47.5%. The numbers aren't all available yet to be able to figure out why so many wealthy Republicans in Chamblee, Dunwoody, Sandy Springs, and up the Georgia 400 to Alpharetta abandoned Trump-- either staying home or actually voting for Hillary. In the primary, the district went for Rubio, not Trump. That doesn't suddenly make GA-06 a swing district, of course, but...

Price is going to resign to take the job of destroying Obamacare and Medicare in the Trump administration (officially, Secretary of Health and Human Services). As soon as Price resigns-- presumably when he's confirmed after a bloody battle in the Senate-- the governor will announce a special election within 30 days. Everyone, regardless of party, runs on one ballot and, presuming no one gets over 50%, there's a run-off between the two top vote-getters. One Republican, state Sen. Judson Hill, has already declared. Another dozen Republicans (literally 12) are sniffing around and a few are very likely to run, including 3 other state senators, 3 state Reps (one of whom is Betty Price, Tom's wife), former Secretary of State Karen Handel, who has huge name recognition because of campaigns for Governor and the U.S. Senate, and a wealthy Trump crony, jeweler Bruce LeVell. There is also a Democratic state Rep interested in running, Scott Holcomb, and an ex-state Rep, one-time Georgia Tech quarterback, Taylor Bennett, who was just defeated, narrowly, last month.

Is this a race worth contesting? Definitely. Is it a race worth the time and effort and resources of Democrats from outside the district? Possibly. We're going to look at it more closely. And there are some obvious possibilities that could make this a winnable seat, not least of which will be a vicious primary among the Republicans. Holcomb, age 44, is widely considered a rising star in the Georgia Democratic Party and he was just reelected convincingly, 59.2-40.8%, winning in both the DeKalb and Gwinnett parts of his district.

GA-06 voters will have a chance to caution Trump and the Republican Congress to not make an extreme moves in dismantling the health care system. Polling shows that even GOP voters are not eager for Paul Ryan's, Mike Pence's and, of course, Tom Price's stated intentions to disembowel the country's health care system. If GA-06 elects a Democrat to replace Price, the message would send a chill through an already jittery Republican conference. This might be the right district to step up to the plate for the whole country. Here's a CNN interview with Holcomb:

Dec. 15 UPDATE: Scott Holcomb Isn't Running

Today the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported on the state of the race to replace Tom Price. With Holcomb having taken himself out, he's backing former state legislator Sally Harrell, who represented a DeKalb district from 1999-2005.
With several Republicans eyeing a run for the district... Democrats hope to consolidate behind a single candidate in hopes of landing a spot in the runoff. But two other Democrats are already in the contest: Former state Sen. Ron Slotin, who vows to bring "progressive" ideals to the contest, and Josh McLaurin, an attorney and political newcomer.

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