As voters turn their gaze to the next round of elections, proxy wars are popping up around the nation that could decide how Republicans and Democrats chart their path forward. No state embodies those upcoming battles like Georgia. It has changing racial demographics, a volatile electorate craving change, entrenched politicians on both side of the political spectrum, and civil wars within state leadership.
The state’s race for governor will determine which factions control state politics for years to come.
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Republicans are choosing between establishment candidates that have held positions within state government for decades and insurgent MAGA candidates seeking to flip the state on its head. Leading the establishment faction is Lt Governor Casey Cagle, a career politician by anyone’s definition. He’s been known to play it safe during contested elections. In 2016 he backed Jeb Bush. Another establishment contender is Secretary of State Brian Kemp who’s focusing on rural Georgia and positioning himself as a populist candidate (his campaign slogan is Georgia First) has had over a decade to deliver results but has achieved little while failing to safe guard Georgian’s voter records.
The MAGA candidate is State Senator Michael Williams, long time supporter of President Trump. He loudly broadcasts that he was the first elected official in Georgia to endorse Trump and his job as Georgia Co-Chair for Trump. That’s a fact he takes great pride in to the point he calls out his opponents for using Trump’s name after refusing to endorse him. He’s using guerilla tactics to lead the narrative and attack his opponents. His MAGA credentials include an endorsement by Roger Stone, one of Trump’s longtime confidants and political strategists.
Georgia Democrats are energized by Doug Jones’ victory in Alabama. POLITICO called the Democrat primary for governor a must-watch for political observers. They have two credible candidates, both named Stacey. On one hand, voters have Stacey Abrams, an African American touting her race as an important factor. She is the true progressive candidate and has the backing of Soros-funded MoveOn.org and other far-left national organizations. On the other hand, Stacey Evans represents the moderate wing and has the backing of Georgia’s old Democrat establishment and the state’s last Democrat governor, Roy Barnes.
Abrams supporters have already turned the Democrat primary into a white vs black election, race-baiting at every opportunity. During an event in Atlanta, Evans delivered a policy speech until Abrams supporters began chanting, “support black women!” There is no indication that Evans does not support black women, but it’s an easy way for Abrams to rally her Atlanta voters.
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Those in Trump’s orbit hope that Republican voters nominate Michael Williams on the Republican ticket while McConnell allies are sending money and endorsements to Lt. Governor Casey Cagle. National Democrat elites are leaning on Evans, believing her moderate message will gain more traction with voters outside of Atlanta; however, Abrams is popular among left-wing organizations still upset with the Democrat National Committee rigging their nomination process against Bernie Sanders.
Roger Stone released his analysis of the election last week. He wrote this about Michael Williams:
The people who supported Donald Trump are remarkably similar to the people moving to Michael Williams – hard-pressed Georgia taxpayers sick of fraud, waste, and arrogance from Atlanta. They’re sick of the special interest groups whining for our tax dollars.
The race is shaping up to be a preview of what both parties will experience in the future: The party elite’s vs the grassroots supporters. The answer could very well decide how both parties proceed for decades to come.