Georgia Democrats seize new power, run for statewide offices

FILE - In this Monday, Nov. 2, 2020, file photo, Stacey Abrams speaks to Biden supporters as they wait for former President Barack Obama to arrive and speak at a campaign rally for Biden at Turner Field in Atlanta. Abrams is expected to make another gubernatorial run in 2022.  Boosted by President Biden's win and two U.S. Senate victories, high-profile Democratic candidates in Georgia are running for statewide office in a way unseen in years. Seven sitting Democratic lawmakers have already declared candidacies for one of Georgias eight statewide offices  a full nine months away from the 2022 qualifying deadline.  (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson, File)
FILE - In this Monday, Nov. 2, 2020, file photo, Stacey Abrams speaks to Biden supporters as they wait for former President Barack Obama to arrive and speak at a campaign rally for Biden at Turner Field in Atlanta. Abrams is expected to make another gubernatorial run in 2022. Boosted by President Biden's win and two U.S. Senate victories, high-profile Democratic candidates in Georgia are running for statewide office in a way unseen in years. Seven sitting Democratic lawmakers have already declared candidacies for one of Georgias eight statewide offices a full nine months away from the 2022 qualifying deadline. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson, File) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

ATLANTA – For more than a decade, Georgia Democrats struggled to lure highly qualified, big-name candidates to run for statewide office. With Republicans firmly in control of all constitutional positions and the state legislature, none wanted to take the risk.

This year is different.

Boosted by significant electoral victories in the 2020 election, a near-win of the governor’s office in 2018 and rapidly changing state demographics, seven sitting Democratic lawmakers have declared candidacies for one of Georgia’s eight statewide offices — a full nine months away from the 2022 qualifying deadline.

Among them are names that have drawn national notice, including Democratic state Rep. Bee Nguyen, a candidate for secretary of state who seeks to leverage her party’s outrage over Georgia’s restrictive new voting law to raise money nationwide, and state Sen. Jen Jordan, who is running for attorney general.

“I absolutely think it is going to be a strong field,” Nguyen said. “I think we recognize we can win in Georgia. We saw it last year; we saw it in 2021.”

Republicans, who still hold all of Georgia’s constitutional statewide offices, hardly intend to concede. Most incumbents are gearing up for reelection and prominent GOP state lawmakers are also planning statewide runs.

Georgia is one of six Southern states where only Republicans hold statewide office. In others, Republicans are dominant. In Louisiana, Republican control is broken only by Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards, while in Florida, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is the only Democrat in statewide office.

Still, as they look to the 2022 elections, few Republicans in Georgia expect the relatively easy victories that characterized the peak of GOP ascendance in the state in the 2010s.