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Thursday, May 30, 2013 - 3:34pm

State Democratic Party Rebuilding

Updated: 1 year ago.
Georgia’s state Democratic Party appears to be in turmoil. The party’s chairman has announced he’s quitting. Mike Berlon was reprimanded by the State Bar amid other legal problems. The leadership upheaval comes as Democrats hope to capitalize on demographic changes in Georgia. (GPB file photo of the opening of state democratic headquarters in 2011)

Georgia’s state Democratic Party appears to be in turmoil. The party’s chairman has announced he’s quitting. Mike Berlon was reprimanded by the State Bar amid other legal problems. The leadership upheaval comes as Democrats hope to capitalize on demographic changes in Georgia.

Andra Gillespie, a political science professor at Emory University, says there's a lot going on within the Georgia Democratic Party. "There are individual members of the party who have their own personal and legal troubles." she says." Then you've got a party whose finances are in shambles right now, and so they really don't have a whole lot of money to be competitive. And you've got a party that's still trying to recuperate from changes in the last ten years where they've seen themselves go from the majority party to the minority party."

While Mike Berlon resigned after being reprimanded for how he treated one of his legal clients, Gillespie says the bigger issue that led to his resignation was the state of the party's finances. "You can't be competitive running a slate of statewide candidates when you only have $30 thousand in the bank." she says.

Gillespie says this is a chance for the party to rebuild. She says the next leader of the party will have to focus on fundraising.

She says democrats are going to have to look for young rising stars who can afford to lose a race or two. Gillespie says many established democrats will be unlikely to run for the U.S. Senate race in 2018 because a loss would hurt their political careers. She says Michelle Nunn would be a good candidate for Senate. Gillespie says Nunn has a strong family name as the niece of former Senator Sam Nunn. But she doesn't have much political experience. Gillespie says even if Nunn were to lose the Senate race, it would increase her name recognition statewide and that would help her in the future.

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