Political Insider

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Georgia lawmakers divided over local impact of Roy Moore's loss

WASHINGTON -- Georgia's elected officials on Wednesday had plenty of hot takes about what the results of Alabama's jaw-dropping Senate race meant for Democrats in the Peach State. But whether it was a watershed moment or total blip all, of course, depended on whom you asked.

Democrats from D.C. to Atlanta waxed that Democrat Doug Jones' upset of Republican Roy Moore Tuesday portended great things for the party in Georgia next year.

"The Alabama race is an important barometer of what people are thinking across the country," said U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Lithonia. "I think the Trump wave has crashed against a wall, and it’s a wall of reality. People are looking at the effects now of 11 months under the Trump regime and they’re not liking where we’re headed."

Atlanta Democratic Congressman John Lewis visited his native Alabama on weekends to campaign for Jones. He said Moore's defeat wasn't just a one-off rejection of a flawed candidate.

Democrats "had a good ground game, and they used their resources there and resources from the outside to help a build a powerful get out the vote effort," he said. "We can do that in Georgia and in some of the other Southern states."

Back in Georgia, Stacey Evans and Stacey Abrams, the two Democratic candidates for governor, each appeared hopeful they could re-create some of the key factors that led to Jones' victory, including turning out black voters and luring disillusioned white Republicans.

Read more from the AJC's Greg Bluestein: Georgia Democrats see hope in Jones’ Senate win in Alabama

GOP lawmakers on Capitol Hill, meanwhile, were having none of it.

Georgia U.S. Sen. David Perdue laughed when he was asked about whether local Democrats had any momentum to gain from the Alabama race.

“I don’t think there’s any connection between the two states except a border," he said.

Perdue said the GOP's record of running the state for the last decade-plus spoke for itself and added that he did not think the 2018 election would be a referendum of his ally, President Donald Trump.

“I think the issues of the day in ’18 are going to be the economy, jobs, family and national security, I don’t think as much a referendum on the person in the White House," he said. "But if it is, then I think we’re going to do quite well.”

Alabama Republican Richard Shelby, who came out against Moore in the days before the Senate race, was a little more blunt about what he saw as Democrats' chances in the future.

"Republicans elected (Jones) last night because they weren’t going to vote for Roy Moore," he said. "Alabama will be Republican. In three years the chances of him holding that seat are slim.”

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About the Author

Tamar Hallerman is The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Washington correspondent, covering Congress, federal agencies and other government activities that impact Georgia.