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Wednesday, October 19, 2011 - 12:10pm

Democrats Open New Headquarters

Democrats opened a larger state party headquarters in Atlanta Wednesday. It’s aimed at reviving the Democratic party in Georgia.

The Atlanta office is one of several the party plans to open around the state. It’s looking at office space in Savannah, Albany and Athens, among other places. The new office can hold up to 300 volunteers. And it’s wired to be able to accommodate laptops and other new technology campaign tools.

State Democrats also plan to begin nominating candidates in state races where Republicans are heavily favored. Previously, the GOP would run candidates unopposed.

State Republicans say the Democrats have taken voters for granted. Mike Berlon, chairman of the Democratic Party of Georgia, agrees.

“The Republicans are absolutely right about that. And that’s part of the sins of the prior administrations," he said in an interview. "When Democrats were in power for so long, they began to take things for granted. They never felt like they really needed to put an infrastructure together.”

Berlon says the party hopes to win back white male voters who have defected to the GOP.

State and local Democratic officials along with the party faithful crowded into the new space near Midtown Atlanta.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed took advantage of the festive atmosphere to tell state Democrats to get ready to help re-elect President Barack Obama. He said they should rest up now while they can.

“My message is real simple," Reed said as part of his remarks. "I need you all to enjoy Thanksgiving. I want it to be quiet. I want you all to have a big meal. And then I want you to have a wonderful Christmas -- knowing that’s the last time Democrats are going to rest until Barack Obama is re-elected.”

Indulging in the campaign feel of the event, Reed made it clear he relished the upcoming campaign and would not shrink from the fight.

"I stood in the White House on Sunday and I looked in the President’s eyes," he said to the crowd. "I said, ‘How are you doing, Mr. President?’ He said, ‘I’m ready to go.’”

Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz was on hand to celebrate the new office. She's also the chair of the Democratic National Committee. And Reed pointed to her presence as proof that the Democratic Party has high hopes of winning back Georgia in next year’s presidential contest.

“Georgia must be very important for the Democratic party for the Congresswoman to be here,” he said.

Wasserman Schultz said Democrats need to prepare for a long fight, but that new Hispanic registered voters in Georgia would help.

"We are going to continue to quietly organize, slowly but surely," she said. "Remember what the margin was in 2008 -- It was only 52-47. I know what the perception is -- that Georgia is a red state. But we're slowly turning it purple around the edges. And that purple is going to bleed into the center, until eventually we sneak up on them, and make this state blue once again."

After his talk, Reed told reporters that Obama could beat any of the Republican front-runners, including Georgia businessman Herman Cain, Texas Governor Rick Perry and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.

Democrats hold no statewide office in Georgia. Republicans are poised to seize supermajorities in both houses of the state legislature next year. And many state Democrats have switched to the GOP.

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