With another Georgia election in full swing, Greg Bluestein's "Flipped: How Georgia Turned Purple and Broke the Monopoly on Republican Power" ends like a TV series cliffhanger.
As state voters head to the polls for the primary Tuesday and another general election in November, Georgia Democrats hope to repeat on a state level their stunning 2020 wins for national offices.
Bluestein's "Flipped" tells the often amusing inside story of how Joe Biden won Georgia's presidential election over incumbent Donald Trump, followed soon after by U.S. Senate upset wins by Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock over GOP incumbents David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler.
Along with nuts-and-bolts reporting, Bluestein colorfully sets the scenes of campaign events, giving a vivid picture of Georgia places inside and outside metro Atlanta.
Upholding the AJC's legacy of Ralph McGill, Jack Nelson, Gene Patterson, Cynthia Tucker, Jim Wooten, Bill Shipp, Harold Martin, Steve Oney and others, Bluestein covers Georgia politics like the dew, to echo the old Atlanta Journal motto. In "Flipped," Bluestein draws upon deep background notebook material outside of his robust daily newspaper coverage of the 2020 campaigns.
With the current election bringing back Bluestein cast members Brian Kemp, David Perdue, Stacey Abrams, Brad Raffensperger and Raphael Warnock, Bluestein's detailed account seems like a prequel that might require an update only two years later.
Continuing his indefatigable reporting in the AJC about the current campaign, Bluestein will have ample information to write a sequel or several new chapters to his fast-paced book. Democrats hope that they remain the triumphant heroes rather than quickly fading.
Kemp plays a leading role in "Flipped," heroically bucking Trump by naming Loeffler to replace the late Johnny Isakson as U.S. senator rather than Trump's preferred candidate, Doug Collins, and resisting Trump's intense pressure to intervene in Biden's victory in Georgia.
Bluestein also gives a chilling account of Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger's telephone showdown with Trump in which Raffensperger stood firm against the president's threats in beseeching him to overturn Biden's win. Raffensperger's refusal of Trump is a true profile in courage.
While Kemp and Raffensperger suffered intense vilification from Trump and his supporters, as recounted by Bluestein, both men rebounded from near political death. Kemp appears headed to victory over Trump's chosen candidate Perdue without a runoff, while Raffensperger is favored to narrowly defeat Trump candidate Jody Hice.
Along with Perdue, whose dismal Senate campaign against Ossoff was repeated in his lackluster race against Kemp, Warnock is another Bluestein subject returning for the 2022 election. Bluestein praises Warnock's 2020 ad campaign and political organization in beating the often clueless Loeffler.
In seeking to head off Trump-backed Republican front-runner Herschel Walker, Warnock is returning to his 2020 strategy of early TV ads emphasizing his warm, compassionate and family-oriented personality. With Walker showing substantial strength, Warnock must also revive the Democrats' organizational depth.
While Trump's false claims of a rigged presidential election in Georgia are blamed for dampening Republican turnout for the Senate runoff elections, Bluestein establishes that Ossoff and Warnock's networking efforts to bring Democratic voters to the polls were decisive.
In contrast to previous runoff elections in which Democratic turnout plummeted, especially among black voters, the 2020 Democratic runoff turnout exceeded that of presidential elections.
Bluestein gives a blueprint for political strategists to win Georgia elections. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams and the Democratic ticket need that same organizational power to regain control of the statehouse.
The Democratic political turnover that Bluestein analyzes had thin roots, with Republicans regaining control of the state House and Senate, and passing restrictive voting legislation that brought widespread national opposition.
Kemp’s support of the harsh voting law and other extreme conservative legislation restored his popularity among Georgia voters. With Republicans united behind him, he appears formidable in his re-election bid against Abrams, whom he defeated in 2018 without a runoff.
To truly turn Georgia purple, the Democratic Party must regain control of state government.