Porter, who served in the state legislature for almost three decades, knows his party’s best chance to return to political relevance lies with the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Saxby Chambliss. That’s why he’s taken every opportunity to publicize the candidacy of Michelle Nunn, often to the dismay of the other Democrats in the primary, none of whom can match Nunn’s visibility or ability to bring in big dollars.
The GOP Senate primary is crowded, another factor in Porter’s favor. He knows if the Republican primary gets rough and bloody, whoever survives will be weakened and battered.
The 2014 governor’s race is more problematic. So far, Gov. Nathan Deal‘s popularity doesn’t seem to have been affected by ongoing ethics charges, and the governor has already begun a series of campaign ads on TV and over the web.
Porter has to keep hammering home the ethics issue in the hope that their negativity will cling to Deal and, at the same time, help state Sen. Jason Carter’s candidacy gain some traction. To date, Carter doesn’t even have a website for his gubernatorial campaign.
Porter has also made a point of targeting state Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgins for his opposition to the Affordable Care Act. While Georgia remains a predominantly red and conservative state, Porter is hoping that Obamacare will be a rallying point for his party’s faithful, and thus drive them out to the polls next November.
Already, Georgia Democrats are seeing a fundraising bump from Nunn’s and Carter’s candidacies. It’s Porter’s job to keep the momentum focused and growing.
This is exactly the strategy the party should have pursued after 2002, when Sonny Perdue upset then-incumbent Roy Barnes for governor. Four years later, party leadership under Bobby Kahn allowed then-Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor and then-Secretary of State Cathy Cox obliterate each other in a gubernatorial primary that cleared Perdue’s re-election path as well as further GOP domination.
Today, both Taylor and Cox – two young, attractive and once-promising candidates who could have been the party’s future – are out of politics. And Republicans gained a stronghold on the legislature and every statewide elected office.
In 2010, unbelievably, Democrats elected Barnes one more time to run for governor, even more evidence the GOP has outmatched and outgunned the party in grass roots organization, candidate recruitment and fundraising.
Now, Georgia Democrats has two big-name candidates poised to become the party’s future for 2014 and beyond. Porter needs to keep the momentum going by picking and choosing his battles.