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.