It’s an odd-numbered election year in Georgia. And that means, except for few special elections to fill unexpired terms for State House and Senate seats, voters will cast their ballots today for mayors, city council members and school board members in what are non-partisan races.
Clicking the link takes you to a website where you can input your email and zip code, then locate your polling place.
I can understand something like this coming from the national Democratic party in a state like New Jersey or Virginia, where partisan contests are going on. Buy why Georgia?
Maybe it’s because behind the scenes, some local races are more partisan than they look. Following the 2011 mayoral election in Snellville, the Democrats tweeted this:
They also listed their statewide electoral accomplishments in a blog post.
To be fair, Republicans get involved in local races as well, if not as openly as the Democrats do. Also in 2011, the Gwinnett GOP sponsored a robocall encouraging voters to elect P.K. Martin to the Lawrenceville city council.
Why all the interest from the political parties in these races? For the Democrats especially, it’s a good way to build a bench of candidates for higher-level offices down the road. And in a county like Gwinnett which is turning purple, Democrats hope that wins at the city level increase the chances of larger wins down the road.
The transformation of Georgia from a Democratic state to a Republican one started in Atlanta’s suburbs, but didn’t become statewide until Republicans began winning elections for sheriff in counties south of the Perimeter.
Periodically, I hear calls to convert partisan races to non-partisan ones. There’s even a national organization dedicated to this idea. I wonder if the interest here is to blur the lines and give the party out of power a chance in a race it couldn’t normally win if party affiliation were identified.
The major political parties understand the importance of getting their candidates on local ballots and winning local races, even if they are nominally non-partisan. Maybe it’s time we recognize that fact and turn local races into partisan contests.