For the first time in recent memory, four congressional seats in Georgia are open at the same time, providing ample opportunity for the Peach State’s farm team of up-and-coming state legislators to unleash their ambitions.
Republicans have been lining up for a chance at the three open House seats and one open Senate seat, knowing that an opportunity like this won’t come around again for another decade.
“In metro Atlanta, there really hasn’t been an open congressional seat. ... You have to go back several years,” said Bryan Tyson, an election law attorney in Georgia. “Many people are thinking, ‘This is my one shot. Whoever wins this seat will be there for the next 10 to 15 years.’ So that’s coloring some of the ambitions happening here.”
Democrats, however, have been more reluctant to throw their hats into the open races, likely because they know they’ll face more favorable odds for victory a few cycles down the line.
While Georgia’s last round of redistricting made seats safer for Republican candidates, the state’s changing demographics could make 2016, 2018 and 2020 better bets for Democrats than this midterm cycle.
“2018 is the time frame when Democratic chances tend to get a lot better, or possibly 2016 with the presidential-election year,” said Tim Alborg, a Democratic consultant with the Atlanta-based firm Landslyde.
Republicans at the Ready
Republican state legislators have piled onto the open House seat races left by Republican Reps. Paul Broun, Phil Gingrey and Jack Kingston, who are running for the state’s first open Senate seat in a decade.
Gingrey’s district has thus far garnered the most interest, with four Republicans announcing their candidacies. They are:
• Former Rep. Bob Barr, a former federal prosecutor who served for eight years in the House.
• State Sen. Barry Loudermilk, a libertarian-leaning legislator from the Floyd County area.
• State House Majority Whip Edward Lindsey.
• Tricia Pridemore, a businesswoman who recently left a position in Gov. Nathan Deal’s administration.
Kingston’s 1st District seat has drawn three Republican hopefuls:
• State Sen. Buddy Carter, who hails from the Savannah area.
• Darwin Carter, a businessman and former member of President Ronald Reagan’s administration.
• David Schwarz, a former senior staffer for Kingston and current Republican consultant.
In Broun’s 10th District, state Rep. Donna Sheldon, the GOP caucus chairwoman, and Jody Hice, a radio host and Southern Baptist pastor, have announced their intentions to run.
Other potential candidates in that race include former state Rep. John Lunsford and Watkinsville City Councilmember Brian Brodrick.
Brodrick “is very strategic and may not take a shot at it this time but will definitely be in the mix in the future,” said Keisha Vaughan, communications director of GOPAC, a Republican organization that trains state and local politicians for higher office.
While many Republicans are looking to run this cycle, there are others still biding their time.
One is state Senate Majority Leader Ronnie Chance, who would likely run for Rep. Lynn Westmoreland’s seat when he decides to step aside.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.