HD 143 & Party I.D.

While in the past I have lamented that our legislature was suffering due to the lack of contested races, I have been derelict in talking about the few contested races we have this year.

And one is in my own backyard – HD 143 – which was DuBose Porter’s seat and covers Laurens and Johnson counties. Porter’s run for Governor created a four way race for Democrats in the primary resulting in a runoff between attorney Mitch Warnock and Dr. Pablo Santamaria. Warnock was the top finisher in the primary, but Pablo beat him in runoff. The lone Republican, Matt Hatchett, has been an elected official in the city government since 1999.

There a few interesting things going on in this district. Laurens is a fairly conservative district and their local GOP is pretty well organized from what I have seen. In 2008 they clearly rejected Obama, but reelected DuBose and Congressman Jim Marshall. Marshall had been less successful in Laurens in year prior, but DuBose was on his 27th trip to the Gold Dome.

Several people are saying this is a Republican year. That may be true. This has been called a “Red State”. That may also be true. I’m interested though in how this race will turn out. They have had an incumbent Democrat Representative for nearly three decades, they have voted for a Democrat Congressman, and now they are one of the very few open and contested races for the State Legislature.

So will party identification be the deciding factor – or are these voters independently willed enough to split tickets?


  1. Tiberius says:

    Did Porter’s newpaper endorse himself and his wife or did they sit out that round of endorsements?

  2. Mike Stucka says:

    Interesting data point: In the July 20 primary statewide, more votes were cast Republican than Democrat. There’s no way in this state to know how many were D crossover votes going R for a more competitive governor’s race, effects of that on turnout, etc.

    I don’t have the exact ballots for Laurens, but we can use governor’s race as a proxy for party, and that was 1,949 R, 6,449 D, or 77% D. So it’s possible we saw some Ds voting R in the primary statewide, but some Rs voting D in the 143rd. Or that race was enough to strongly stroke D turnout.

    Interesting days are these.

  3. John Konop says:

    Great post as usual and very good question. What I find interesting is incumbents from both parties have taking on the chin. My sense is the independents blame both parties and the GOP base is more fired up.

    I do think Obama blew it with continuing the Bush nation building foreign in the Middle East which has alienated his base and independents, the stimulus package was not well thought-out and healthcare package pissed off his base as well and did nothing for support from independents.

    The only thing keeping it interesting is the lack of sound alternative from the GOP. With that said all politics are local. And a fresh face like Austin Scott with a pragmatic fiscally conservative message could upset the apple cart. And the GOP may have shot itself in the foot with some of the harsher sounding candidates in close districts. If the GOP had more candidates like Austin in close districts or senate races like in Nevada they would of wiped out the Democrats.

  4. Ron,

    Excellent job of laying out the pertinent facts. Most of the folks I know in Laurens County are conservative, but a lot seem to need a reason to not vote Democrat.

    With an open seat, this may reveal a lot about voters in Laurens County. It should be very interesting to watch.


  5. bowersville says:

    The AJC and the Georgia Newspaper Partnership found in a poll that 37% of registered voters refer to themselves as Democrats, 33% said they were Republicans and 30% independents or identified themselves with another party. Independents tended to give lower approval ratings for the GOP controlled General Assembly. Independents were also conservative leaning.

    From a recent AJC.com article.

    Although the recent article applied to Georgia and was not specifically directed at Laurens County the numbers are probably similar in the Dublin area.

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