Political Insider

An AJC blog about Atlanta politics, Georgia politics, Georgia and metro Atlanta election campaigns. Because all politics is local.

The Jolt: A Donald Trump backlash gives life to Georgia Democrats


One year after the election of Donald Trump to the White House, signs of a long-rumored Democratic comeback appeared in Georgia on Tuesday.

But the next two finishers, former council president Cathy Woolard (17 percent) and former city COO Peter Aman (11 percent) are white. Where their voters go will matter.

Woolard’s vote in particular could be important, demonstrating the growing clout of LGBT voters in east Atlanta. In Atlanta-in-DeKalb, Woolard dominated with a mammoth 37 percent of the vote, with Bottoms finishing a distant second with 15 percent. Norwood had nearly 14 percent. Which is why Woolard will matter in December.

Also note that the top three finishers in the mayoral race were women.

Former state senator Vincent Fort (10 percent) and Atlanta City Council President Ceasar Mitchell (9 percent) were the closest African-American finishers. Mitchell’s single-digit finish was somewhat surprising, given his hefty financing and an endorsement from former Atlanta mayor Andrew Young – but Mitchell also had to contend with outright hostility from incumbent Kasim Reed.

***

The Atlanta electorate still remains on a racial bubble. According to computations by Emory University political scientist Alan Abramowitz, African-American candidates for mayor received a total of 49,224 votes, or 50.9 percent. White candidates received 47,202 votes, or 48.8 percent.

***

We told you of Cathy Woolard’s strong east Atlanta showing in the mayoral race. Granted, it’s largely his home turf, but in the race for council president, Councilman Alex Wan did even better, pulling 60 percent of the Atlanta-in-DeKalb vote on Tuesday.

Wan (38 percent) is now in a runoff with Councilwoman Felicia Moore (35 percent). Councilman C.T. Martin finished with 26 percent.

***

If separate DeKalb and Fulton tallies are right, incumbent at-large Atlanta Councilman Michael Julian Bond has narrowly survived a challenge from former Atlanta school board chairman Courtney English. Our tally has Bond at 41,079 votes to 40,714 for English. Former Atlanta mayor Shirley Franklin had put a great deal of effort behind English.

***

MORE: For the AJC's metro Atlanta totals from last night, click here. And here for results posted by the secretary of state. Fulton County results can be found here.

***

In metro Atlanta, the clearest sign of new life for Democrats and worry for Republicans in the Trump era came in the Fulton County chairmanship race.

Robb Pitts (38 percent) and Keisha Waites (34 percent) were able to split the Democratic vote and still shut Republican Gabriel Sterling (28 percent), a former Sandy Springs city council member, out of a runoff slot.

***

Likewise in state Senate District 6, which straddles Buckhead, Smyrna and parts of east Cobb County. Democrats are assured of reclaiming the Senate seat that went to Republican Hunter Hill after some tweaking of the boundaries five years ago. Hill is running for governor.

Two Democrats, attorney Jen Jordan (24 percent) and dentist Jaha Howard (22 percent) will face each other in a District 6 runoff. Republican Leah Aldridge (18 percent) came in third.

***

Neither was cash a sop for Republicans last night. Democrats picked up two House seats on Tuesday.

Democrat Deborah Gonzalez (53 percent) bested Republican Houston Gaines (47 percent) to represent the Athens area, replacing Republican Regina Quick, who was appointed to a judgeship in August. Gaines had raised $200,000 for the contest -- four times more than Gonzales.

Again, the victor is a woman. We might have something of a theme here.

***

But the most stunning legislative victory may have been that of first-time Democratic candidate Jonathan Wallace, who won a  four-way race to replace Republican Chuck Williams of Oconee County in House District 119.

Williams was appointed in August to head the Georgia Forestry Commission. Three Republicans were in the contest. Wallace won with 57 percent of the vote.

***

Here’s the overall national assessment of the night from the Associated Press:

Seizing his party's first major Trump-era victory, Democrat Ralph Northam beat back a charge from Republican Ed Gillespie in the race for Virginia governor, a bruising election that tested the power of President Donald Trump's fiery nationalism against the energy of the Trump resistance.

In Virginia, as in several contests across America on Tuesday, the Trump resistance won. And it wasn't close.

Northam, a pediatric neurologist and Army veteran, led longtime Republican operative Gillespie by several points as the final votes ticked in. "I'm here to let you know that the doctor is in," a smiling Northam told supporters in suburban Washington, D.C. "As long as I'm governor, I will work hard to make sure we're inclusive."

He added, "Virginia has told us to end the divisiveness, that we do not condone hatred and bigotry and to end the politics that have torn this country apart."

Democrats also scored victories in the race for New Jersey governor and in Maine, where voters slapped the state's Republican governor, a Trump ally, by backing a measure to expand Medicaid coverage under former President Barack Obama's health care law. The Democratic mayors of New York and Boston, both vocal Trump critics, also won re-election easily.

And Virginia voters elected the state's first openly-transgender state representative, among more than a dozen state legislative pickups for Democrats.

***

The Twitter word from President Donald Trump, ">watching from South Korea:

***

And from a more local guy, a Republican who's running for secretary of state next year:

***

American Constitution Society’s Georgia Lawyer Chapter will host an annual award reception in Atlanta this evening. The speakers include Sally Yates, the former acting U.S. attorney.

***

Republican Jim Kingston, the son of the former congressman who was a potential candidate for Georgia insurance commissioner, said he's throwing his support to Jay Florence. The insurance agent said he's focused on his work and "doing my part to help elect good public officials" in Georgia. About a half-dozen candidates are in the race to replace Ralph Hudgens, a Republican who is not seeking another term. (Greg Bluestein)


Reader Comments ...


About the Author

Jim Galloway is a three-decade veteran of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution who writes the Political Insider blog and column.