Kyle Wingfield

Political commentary and opinion from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's conservative blogger

Just how blue is Georgia ready to turn?

For years, we have been told Georgia’s changing demographics are pushing the state inexorably toward the Democratic camp. A pair of tight races at the top of the ticket suggest change could be coming as soon as this year.

What we haven’t heard, though, is exactly what it would mean in practical terms if Georgia were to “turn blue.”

Rather, what has emerged during this election season is something of a paradox: The evidence Georgia is turning Democratic is the competitiveness of two candidates who have tried their level best not to sound too much like Democrats.

So we have Jason Carter saying that, as governor, he would spend hundreds of millions of dollars a year more on education and Medicaid -- but that he wouldn’t raise taxes to fund it. Rather, he supposedly would find offsetting cuts in the other one-third of the state’s budget; just don’t ask where, because he hasn’t started looking yet.

Perhaps the most left-progressive idea Carter embraced as a senator was reinstating the income caps on HOPE scholarships that Zell Miller once removed. He recently backed away from that. To the extent we can divine how Carter feels about Georgia’s tax code, his position on the tax exemptions for businesses which Democrats often excoriate is not to close them, but to open them up to even more companies.

And thus do we have Michelle Nunn -- after spending the primary season trying to avoid sharing a stage with other Democrats -- saying her chief attribute as a senator would be a willingness to work with Republicans. While allowing that she’d “defer to” President Barack Obama’s judgment on matters such as the VA hospitals scandal, she has staked out ground more hawkish than the White House on both Syria and a travel ban for Ebola-stricken countries.

Nunn’s prime example of a GOP-supported bill she’d also support is an immigration bill that already passed the Senate, which would seem to undermine the idea that what that chamber needs is a senator who will work with others. (What it really needs on most issues is a Senate majority leader who, unlike Harry Reid, won’t stonewall House GOP legislation to keep it from President Barack Obama’s desk.)

Now, it is true that, even with steadily changing demographics, the Democrats can’t run the same kind of candidates in Georgia as they might in Massachusetts or Minnesota. Not now. Probably not for a long time.

But it is hard to believe Democratic activists would work to register tens of thousands of new voters in Georgia … and liberals from California and New York would send hundreds of thousands of dollars to these candidates in Georgia … and Obama would affirm his policies “are on the ballot” across the country this fall … just so Georgia would become a bit more maroon than red.

Could the general lack of specifics from Carter and Nunn in their respective campaigns reflect a desire not to discourage their own base by sounding too Republican? That’s possible. Or might it instead be a way to sound more centrist than many specifics would allow?

That seems more likely.


UPDATE: Along these lines, Georgia Republicans send along this clip from an interview President Obama did on local radio station V103 earlier this week:

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About the Author

Kyle Wingfield joined the AJC in 2009. He is a native of Dalton and a graduate of the University of Georgia.