The State Democratic Party was in turmoil earlier this week when a top aide to Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed asked to see party ballots. Democrats held a special election in August in to replace previous state Party Chair, Mike Berlon, who resigned in June amid legal troubles.
Michael Sterling, an adviser to Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, wants to review the ballots of the special election. He says he’s not alone, but he says the request has nothing to do with Reed. Sterling and Reed, however, backed Porter’s opponent, former state Senator Doug Stoner.
When the vote took place, some members protested the rules. The party’s bylaws require a paper ballot and a roll call vote. In a departure from protocol, the candidates agreed to scrap the roll call if the party agreed to make the votes public. But Sterling says the party hasn’t released the votes yet.
“If you don’t follow the roll call vote as mandated by the bylaws and charter, and you set a different policy in place, it’s important to follow that process,” he said in an interview.
Porter says they just want a review of the roll call to see how people voted. He says “There’s not a dispute on the election. I want that clear.” He says “ We’re together. Kasim Reed and I are friends. We served together. I was on the City Hall steps when he announced to run for Mayor. “ Porter says Reed is supporting him, and former Senator Doug Stoner has agreed to help with fundraising.
The party has been struggling with fund-raising. At the end of June state Democrats had $15,000 in the bank. While that has grown to over $152,000, that is still a small sum to face the much better financed republicans, which hold all statewide offices.
Previous chair Mike Berlon focused on big fund-raising events. Porter says now they also will seek small donors as well as those large donors. He says Democrats also will target areas the party has let go for a long time.
Porter says “We’re going to put this back together. We’re going to put Humpty Dumpty back together here. And we’re going to develop a strong and focused democratic party that is going to be better for everyday Georgians.” He says they’ve started “Project Blue”, a fund-raising program targeting small donors. They have over 400 members so far, and are shooting for 2,000. He says that’s going to run the operation of the party and allow the bigger donors and the bigger events like Jefferson-Jackson Day to be able to target races, fund those and fund the staff that they need.
The national Democratic Party is interested in Georgia’s Senate race. National leaders have pushed Michelle Nunn to run for retiring republican Senator Saxby Chambliss’ seat. Porter is supporting Nunn for the democratic nomination. But two other democrats, Dr. Branko Radlovacki and former state Senator Steen Miles also are seeking the democratic nomination.
Porter says he believes Nunn has the best chance of winning. As for the other two democrats, he says “There’s a place for everyone”. Porter says “There are a lot of opportunities and a lot of seats where they can match talents and backgrounds with those seats. And we’ll be reviewing those and looking at that.” But Porter wasn’t willing to go as far as to say they should drop out of the race. “But certainly, anyone has the right to run for office. And if they do, that’s fine. That’s what the primary process is about. And you come through that stronger as a party and as a process.” he says.
You can hear GPB’s Ellen Reinhardt talking with Porter about the national party and the Governor’s race in our online extra.
Contributors: Jeanne Bonner