An Upcoming Election for Our Friends in the Sixth

Word is on the street about the upcoming election in Georgia’s District 6. Here’s what we know so far:

Special Election in District 6:

Tom Price, previously House Representative for GA-District 6, has now been confirmed as Secretary of Health and Human Services. This means his seat in the House is up for special election.

 

This election is consequential for three reasons:

  1. It is the first opportunity to flip a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
  2. Trump’s team and Trump-supporting Republicans are eyeing this election as a model for 2018.
  3. There is a catch – a Democratic or progressive candidate must get 50% of the vote OR finish in first or second place: All candidates will run on the same ballot regardless of their party affiliation. The winning candidate must gain 50% of the vote in the special election. If no one achieves 50% of the votes, *the top two candidates* will face off in a runoff election. Meaning, for our purposes, a progressive candidate must finish in first or second place. Or else: we’re looking at a ballot with two regressive candidates and no chance of flipping the seat.

 

What are the dates?

Voter Registration Deadline: MARCH 20th, 2017

Special Election Day: April 18th, 2017

Runoff Election Day (if it comes to that): June 20th, 2017

 

Candidates: Why we must consolidate, when the time comes, behind one (and only one)

Because all candidates will run on the same ballot, there is danger of splitting the progressive vote and winding up with a runoff election with two regressive candidates. This is emphatically underscored by the fact that in 2016, 76.4% of District 6 voted on the GA-6 House seat. Of that group, Price won the seat with 61.68% of the vote. That means we’ve got some work on our hands. On the other hand, on the same 6th district ballot, Trump eked out a win over Clinton by only one point (48-47), while in 2012, Romney beat Obama by a 61-37 margin — a dramatic change in four years. The 6th district is not so fond of Trump, which might play out this time around. There’s some hope for flipping this seat.

 

Who are the candidates?

*For an extensive summary, see the resources provided by Indivisible 6th and GeorgiaPol.* The AJC’s coverage of both sides, which is becoming dated by the minute and offers less information about progressive candidates, is here.*

Right now there are five Democratic candidates (listed alphabetically by last name and updated as information changes):

Otherwise, there are 11 Republican and 2 Independent candidates who have qualified as candidates.

A nice write-up on all candidates is here.

 

What are we up against?

▪       A history of the district going Republican and by a significant margin – *but* these campaigns have often been uncontested with no Democratic or otherwise progressive candidate on the ballot (2010, 2004)

▪       Fast-approaching voter registration and (and other election) deadlines

▪       A district clearly formed by gerrymandering that excludes people of color in the area. (See the excellent synthesis of this information in the “6th Congressional Fact Sheet ” put together by Emory Professor Jessica Thompson, quoted below.)

 

Republican dominance of the 6th Congressional is strange, given its proximity to the consistently blue Districts of the 5th and 4th. This has been achieved in two ways: consistently low Democratic voter turnout and some fancy redistricting (e.g. gerrymandering) that has dramatically changed its shape over the last 18 years:

Changing 6th Congressional District boundaries from 1999 (left) to present. Scalebar is 10 miles. Yellow lines are major roads. Shape files of Congressional Districts from http://cdmaps.polisci.ucla.edu/, and shape files of Atlanta road maps from: https://catalog.data.gov/dataset/tiger-line-shapefile-2013-state-georgia-primary-and-secondary-roads-state-based-shapefile

Zooming into the modern District lines, it is clear where blocs of largely Democratic voters (blue dots) have been carved away or split, thus diluting their voting power inside the 6th Congressional:

Voting preferences in the 2008 Presidential election. Data from http://demographics.virginia.edu/DotMap/congress.html. Numbers represent enclaves of Democratic voting blocs which, if mobilized, can create a significant impact during a special election where turnout is often extremely low.

Many of these voter preferences also cluster by racial identity, so drawing the lines in this way serves to segment predominately minority communities and again dilute their voting power:

Racial identities in the 6th Congressional, as of the 2010 Census. Note the bisection of Hispanic (orange) communities along the Buford Highway, splitting of Asian (red) voting communities to the east, the exclusion of African American (green) communities along the west margin, and the inclusion of large numbers of white (blue) rural voters to the north.

 

What do we have on our side?

▪       Special election voter turnout can be as low as 2%. This means that an election can be decided with literally dozens of votes. Let’s get people out!

▪       ~100,000 registered voters who did not show up for the 2016 election (can we get them out?)

▪       Up to 100,000 unregistered but eligible voters in this district (can we get them registered? can we get them out to vote?)

▪       The possibility of gaining support from moderates and not-so-hot-for-Trump Republicans (or splitting the Republican vote :/)

▪       Enormous energy and political will

 

What are the actions?

*The material in this section will be updated as opportunities are organized – communicate any new events or action options to us (contact information below), and we’ll add them*

Voter RegistrationONLY THROUGH March 20th!

▪       Join this drive

▪       Join trainings or drives organized by the New Georgia Project (currently being planned – we’ll update as soon as opportunities are formalized)

▪       Or others (to be added as soon as we hear of them)

 

Voter Mobilization

▪       Raising Awareness: of the election, of election dates and locations, of the candidates (check out the 6th District Task Force Cobb-DeKalb-Fulton or this online form for ways to get started)

▪       Election Day Transportation (driving people to the polls)

 

Campaigning (again, we recommend consolidating efforts under *one* candidate when the time comes)

▪       Volunteering (canvassing, calling, other activities)

▪       Donating money for the campaign or even non-campaign, on-point messaging about this election

 

Stay tuned…

We are currently preparing a piece with more details on the current and upcoming actions, ways to get involved, and good information sources to stay updated on this issue. To come soon!

 

Prepared by Lindsay Vogt (lindsay.vogt@hotmail.com) and Megan Missett with a big nod to Jessica Thompson.

17 thoughts on “An Upcoming Election for Our Friends in the Sixth

  1. Tonya Clinkscale Reply

    Input: 1.) we (the movement) MUST rally behind one progressive candidate; 2.) we MUST establish ONE clear, ‘inclusive’ messsge. For example, around the economical impacts

    A.) OBAMACARE, cuts to medicaid & Medicare will hurt evetyone
    B.) Health care for women, increases in the number of single mothers who may have to rely on welfare for assistance.
    C.) small farms & businesses that depends on immigrants.

    Finally, don’t just rely on those voter databases. Leave no voter (Dem or Rep) behind, when I ran for city council I reached out to everyone from the homeless to the stay-at-home mom to the college student. I end up getting the endorsement of both the Dems and Republicans.

    The wind is at our back we can, we MUST flip this seat.

  2. Doug Bremner Reply

    The title of this post is 5th district but you talk about 6th. I wouldn’t rush to get behind one candidate because the one you are promoting is likely too liberal to get elected. We gave you all the information on our candidate but apparently you chose not to post. That gives the impression this is a campaign for one candidate not a get out the vote effort. The Georgia dems have a terrible track record with their hand picked candidates and I’m afraid history repeats itself. No amount of money from Massachusetts is going to win this election. But good luck and we’ll see in in the primary!

    • lvogt Post authorReply

      Hello Doug,
      Nice to meet you. Just want to clear up a couple of misunderstandings:
      1. This post does not endorse anyone but briefly summarizes those candidates the authors knew about at the time of writing.
      2. To my knowledge, you did not give the authors of this post (see bottom of the piece) any information about your candidate or candidacy.
      3. This post was disseminated throughout state and several district level fora, not only in the 5th. However, many people are indeed discussing the upcoming special election far and wide. It is thus relevant for those in and outside of that district.
      Nonetheless, good luck with the campaign!

  3. Doug Bremner Reply

    I’ve been corresponding with someone from indivisible-ga /sixth for a couple of weeks now and I think their own post is coming up soon. You might want to coordinate with them in the future is you write about the 6th. I think it’s fine to rally behind one person but not before giving a chance for the others to be heard

  4. georgian Reply

    We are sympathetic to Doug’s point of view and refer all readers & interested parties to visit http://indivisible-ga.org/sixth/progressive-candidates/ for profiles on all candidates in that district who provided us information as of post time.

    As Doug is campaign manager for Richard Keatley, for ease of reference, we are posting a direct link here to the page we compiled on Keatley: http://indivisible-ga.org/sixth/progressive-candidates/richard-keatley/.

    (We have requested and hope to get further information about other candidates and will update those page as we receive it.)

    We appreciate our members’ involvement & their passions; people have opinions.

    I remind myself that “Indivisible” is a loose, fluid, dynamic, ephemeral cloud of people with little or nothing to bind them beyond a determination to resist the Trump agenda. Here in Georgia, we have an unusual situation in that there is this special congressional election in the Sixth District.

    It poses an opportunity: if we are able to come together to put an anti-Trump agenda champion in the Sixth District seat, we send a powerful message to our other representatives here and across the country. That is a goal worthy of all progressives, Bernie supporters, and even thoughtful Republican never-Trumpers.

    Win or lose the seat, it won’t make any appreciable difference to actual legislation (at least until the next election) however, because math doesn’t lie. The rubber-stamp Republican bloc has the numbers. There are no independent actors there.

    So I hope we can work through this process with the utmost respect for one another. We have had earnest, sincere people come forward to run. It is not easy. One may win, or they all may be defeated – in this race. But this is not the last race we’ll ever need to run and we will need these good people going forward.

    We need good, earnest, sincere people for offices in 2018; we need them in the State; we need them in our counties and municipalities. So please – let’s do all we can to highlight the positive qualities of these people.

    If, in this election, we ultimately lose the seat but come out of it with a strong group of better-known candidates for whatever the next round might be, we have won. On the other hand, if we win this seat now, but at the cost of tearing down the other candidates who’ve had the guts to come forward, I’d say we won’t really have won much. In fact, anyone who wins at that cost looks far too much like the opposition.

  5. lvogt Post authorReply

    Thank you, Georgian, for these additional resources!
    I have updated the piece with links and references to that piece and sent this summary to the 6th chapter for their use. (We have been in touch with them throughout preparation, but those contacts may be different from those preparing other pieces. As you said, it is quite a fluid group, and all relevant points of contact may not yet know or reach each other in the current sea of activity.)

    Doug, I also recognize your concerns and thank you for reaching out. This piece does not endorse any candidate but rather summarizes the special election more generally and offers a very, very brief summary of candidates’ professional backgrounds and endorsements. We have updated the piece to include Richard Keatley’s information, adopted the alphabetical-by-last name ordering of Indivisible 6th’s site, and also referred readers to the Indivisible 6th’s overview of the candidates. I hope that helps address your concerns, and, again, my very best wishes with the campaign.
    Thanks again for reaching out!

  6. MMissett Reply

    Thanks everyone for weighing in!

    I assisted the talented LVogt in putting together some of the District 6 special election information that we shared here. I am also a “5th Dixer.”

    We’ll make sure that information on this blog identifies all Democratic/Progressive candidates who qualify by February 15th, and include links to their campaign sites, if available.

    We know that the Indivisible 6th district group and the 6th District Task Force are not currently officially endorsing a candidate.

    We look forward to providing (and rousing) rigorous support for voter registration (deadline March 20th!) and GOTV efforts! It’s wonderful to see so many people passionately interested in a special congressional race, and so excited for the opportunity to turn this seat blue!

    • lvogt Post authorReply

      Nice to meet you, Ragin!

      Apologies for the late reply – I included your information in the post.

      Good luck!

  7. Leslie Cummings Reply

    Member of Action for a Better Tomorrow in IL (34K members) want to help turn this seat. I signed up to phone bank and posted the link to this page in our group. What else can we do? Let’s get behind one candidate ASAP so we can get on this. Fired up! Ready to go!

  8. Margaret Elaine Gowder Reply

    I would like to make a donation to help elect a Democrat to replace Tom Price. I can seem to find where to click to make the donation. Can you help?

    • lvogt Post authorReply

      Hello also!

      Just a thought: As of this early point in the race, there are five Democratic candidates. The hope is that people will eventually rally behind one candidate to increase their chances of taking the seat. You might consider making a donation once the larger groups in the area have made their endorsement; however, the choice is yours, of course 🙂 I’m sure the candidates would be grateful.

      Alternatively, the following two organizations are doing voter registration in the district and also accept donations:

      The New Georgia Project, which registered 123,000 voters in Georgia in 2015 (!). (Trump won GA by only ~200,000.)
      Asian Americans Advancing Justice Atlanta, which does voter registration, GOTV, along with a quite a bit of other important social justice work.

      Best wishes.

  9. hmays Reply

    Donations will also be appreciated at the local Democratic Party Chapters: Cobb, Dekalb and Fulton. Thank you!

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