While Stacey Abrams' battle for the Georgia governorship draws national attention, state Democrats can take control of the secretary of state's office and curtail suppression of minority voters in future elections.
Incumbent Secretary of State Brian Kemp's voter suppression tactics glare in the national spotlight as he claims a narrow win over Abrams in the governor's race. As Abrams vows legal action over the counting of remaining absentee and provisional ballots, the importance of the secretary of state's office in overseeing fair elections rises.
As Abrams forges onward, Democratic Secretary of State candidate John Barrow is headed to a runoff Dec. 4 against Republican Brad Raffensperger. If Barrow wins, the former congressman would have the power to curtail Kemp's voter suppression policies and increase the number of Democratic voters.
A Barrow victory would ease the pain of a Kemp win without a runoff. Meanwhile, the Democrats made major inroads in the state, most notably Lucy McBath's impressive win over GOP incumbent Karen Handel in the suburban 6th congressional district. Handel beat Democrat Jon Ossoff in a nationally watched race in 2017.
The party also cut into the GOP's dominance in the Georgia Legislature. Locally, I was pleasantly surprised by incumbent Jen Jordan's victory in the Georgia Senate's sixth district and Democrat Betsy Holland's win over GOP incumbent Beth Beskin in the 54th House District.
After Jordan won a special election in the sixth district against a divided Republican field, state political observers expected her to lose to Republican front-runner Leah Aldridge. The GOP thought it had safely gerrymandered the district, but Jordan took advantage of shifting suburban demographics with an energetic campaign and local connections as a University of Georgia law school alum. Jordan also crafted a successful constitutional amendment to equalize property taxes for Atlanta schools.
Holland's support in intown neighborhoods of Lenox Part and Morningside and new city areas around Emory gave her a solid win over Beskin, who lost support of Democratic members of Atlanta's legislative delegation and was unable to capitalize on her sponsorship of a successful constitutional amendment to cut property taxes for senior citizens.
These gains brighten Democratic hopes for the future even if Abrams fails in her effort to overcome Kemp. A Barrow win would further strengthen Democratic plans to make Georgia a blue state.