Democratic state Sen. Jason Carter, the grandson of former 1-term president Jimmy Carter, has announced he will challenge Gov. Nathan Deal next year in the Georgia gubernatorial contest. Carter hopes Georgia’s changing demographics can help him end the Republican Party’s 12-year domination of state’s highest office.
Carter’s decision, which he announced Wednesday in an exclusive interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, clearly sees his path forward as a replication of his grandfather Jimmy Carter, who was also elected to the state Senate and then the Governor’s Mansion before winning the presidency.
Of course, Carter’s presidency was plagued by the failures of liberal policies, leading him to get trounced by the Republican standard-bearer, Ronald Reagan.
“We can’t wait as a state,” said Jason Carter, who formally announced his candidacy Thursday. “The bottom line is we can’t afford four more years of an economy that’s not working for the middle class and an education system that’s underfunded. It’s not about politics. It’s about making sure we can get the state that we need.”
Carter, 38, becomes the second high-profile Democratic scion to compete for a spot on Georgia’s 2014 ticket. Senate candidate Michelle Nunn, the daughter of former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn, is her party’s front-runner in the crowded contest to replace retiring Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss, though as of now she has little chance of defeating him.
“We want a Georgia that’s at its best,” Carter said. “And Georgia at its best invests in education, it doesn’t cut billions out of the classrooms, it has an economy that works for the middle class and it always has an honest government.”
Carter faces the a daunting challenge in a state that has elected Republicans to every statewide office gave Mitt Romney a very large margin of victory just last year. And Gov. Deal has hit the fundraising circuit to increase the $1.1 million he had in his campaign coffers in July.
Deal’s spokesman Brian Robinson said Thursday the governor intends to focus on “keeping Georgia the No. 1 place to do business,” a mantra he repeats around the state.
“We have governed conservatively but we’ve governed pragmatically and we’ve governed with an open door policy. And people have noticed we have something in office who is mature and capable and has a record of success to run on,” said Robinson. “And he will have a vision for the next four years we will make evident.”
Deal, a former nine-term congressman from Gainesville, handily defeated former Gov. Roy Barnes in 2010 and is expected by many pundits to win a second term.
There reason many Democrats are giddy about their chances in Georgia, demographics.
The white proportion of voters shrunk 9 points to 66 percent from 2002 to 2010, and the dive was even more pronounced during presidential election years. Roughly 44 percent of Georgia residents are now minorities — which is up 7 points in the past decade — and nonwhites could outnumber whites here by 2020.
“I wouldn’t be getting in this race if I didn’t think I was going to win,” Carter said. “I’m still mad that I finished second in my law school class. I’m not in this to finish second. I think we have every opportunity to win.”
(Note: Updated polling information is available below, and more on this race can be found on the PeoplesPunditDaily.com 2014 Governor Predictions Map, where is rated “Safe Republican” as it should be.)
|Poll||Date||Sample||Deal (R)||Carter (D)||Spread|
|Atlanta Journal-Constitution||1/6 – 1/9||802 RV||47||38||Deal +9|
|InsiderAdvantage||1/6 – 1/6||529 RV||44||22||Deal +22|
|PPP (D)||8/2 – 8/5||520 RV||48||33||Deal +15|
|PPP (D)||2/15 – 2/18||602 RV||46||38||Deal +8|
|PPP (D)||11/30 – 12/2||729 RV||46||38||Deal +8|