Despite great excitement on the campaign trail and a famous political name, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jason Carter was unable to pull out a win. He lost decisively to Republican incumbent Nathan Deal on Nov 4.
Carter gave up his state Senate seat to run for Governor. Some expect he will run again in 2018 when experts predict the state will lean more Democratic.
And now weeks after losing, he sat down with GPB’s Jeanne Bonner to talk about his political future. Excerpts from that interview appear below. To hear the full conversation, click on the player on the left hand side of the page above the article.
GPB Jeanne Bonner: What do you think wound up being the central issues in the election?
State Senator Jason Carter: Well I think you saw a really robust discussion this year about education primarily and that’s going to continue to be I think appropriately the top priority in our state - to make sure we get our education system appropriately funded and then appropriately organized in order to be successful.
I think you saw ethics being at the forefront and again you’re going to see that in this upcoming legislative session being one of the top priorities in the state for the governor and the legislature.
You also saw a real robust discussion about what it takes to have a economy that works for everybody and that is utimately what we drove as a campaign and I’m proud and excited about the debate that we had over those issues.
GPB Jeanne Bonner: I’m sure that there are questions that you’re asking yourself, potentially decisions that you might be rethinking, even something along the lines of did you focus too much on education and not enough on the economy that kind of thing and if the answer is no because I see you shaking your head, what were the lessons learned?
State Senator Jason Carter: There’s a lot of things you can’t control. And a national wave election like this, there’s nothing that we could have done differenty. When folks stop me on the street and they say ‘hey man you did everything that you could' - and I think that’s true. There is some solace in that.
But looking back I think there are things that I’ve learned, number one: I wish I had started earlier because it just takes a lot of time to build a fundraising infrastructure, to build a statewide infrastructure and to develop the sort of human connection that you’re going to need to overcome the onslaught of television and the onslaught of everything else that comes in the course of the campaign and so building that human connection with people over time is crucially important.
GPB Jeanne Bonner: Ok so you need a lot of time - will four years be enough?
State Senator Jason Carter: I think you could certainly make a lot of progress and I think that you’ll see that. You’ll see that one of the things we all want to do for the benefit of the state and of our public discourse is to have the Democratic party and others continue to build on the great progress that was made over the last year.
GPB Jeanne Bonner: Are you going to run in 2018?
State Senator Jason Carter: I don’t know. I really don’t know. You know right now I’m really enjoying being a father again. I’m really enjoying being a husband. We just got a new puppy.
I certainly wouldn’t rule it out. The issues are important; they matter to me.
This state matters to me. And I believe we have the ability to do a good job and so I certainly wouldn’t rule it out.
GPB Jeanne Bonner: Dubose Porter, the night of the election, obviously he’s the chairman of the Democractic party, he was crushed. And one of the things he said was ‘I’m sorry for the people who need healthcare options and now are not going to get them. I’m sorry for the people who need more education but they can’t afford it and they’re not going to get it.' Do you have some regrets along those lines?
State Senator Jason Carter: The thing I think about that makes me sad about this and disappointed is that there is 500,000 people who are not going to get healthcare because of this election. And that bothers me. But again, I undertook this responsibilty to go out and fight for those people. I did everything I could and I don’t think that I could have done anything more to have changed the outcome because of the national wave that existed.
But yeah does that bother me? Of course that bothers me. But I know that me and my campaign and the others did everything that we could to make sure that those folks got health insurance and we were unsuccessful and you know we’ll keep going.
GPB Jeanne Bonner: Thank you so much for being with us Senator Carter.
State Senator Jason Carter: Thank you so much for having me; it’s always good.