With Friday’s deadline for candidate qualifying, the field is now officially set for this year’s elections, which will see Georgians casting ballots for local, state and national offices.
The high profile races in Georgia are those for governor and U.S. Senate. Voters will have the chance to decide if they are happy with the job being done by Nathan Deal at the state Capitol, while a new face will be sent to the senate to replace the retiring Saxby Chambliss.
This year’s elections have a few interesting subplots, one of which is the effort by Democrats to make the case that their party can again be viable at the state level. Democrats have at least one candidate for almost all of the statewide posts on the ballot and have a trio of “legacy” candidates whose last names reflect their ties to successful party leaders of the past – Nunn, Carter, Irvin.
Of course putting candidates on the ballot and actually getting them elected are two different things, and Georgia has not been kind to those wearing the Democrat label of late.
In fact, at the local level here in Forsyth County, Democrats failed to field any candidates for local office, guaranteeing that those positions will continue to be filled by Republicans.
For those with any sense of political history in Georgia, the current state of affairs is reminiscent of those days a few decades past when Democrats held every conceivable office and Republicans struggled to even find candidates to run. Times have certainly changed, though truth is for most local offices party affiliation doesn’t have a lot to do with the decisions elected officials are called upon to make on a regular basis.
Another interesting subplot to this year’s election is the new schedule for casting ballots. Instead of traipsing to the polls in the midst of vacation season in July, voters will be making their primary election choices in May. Candidates who win without a runoff in May and have competition for the general election in November may find the five months of campaigning between the two both taxing and expensive.
This year’s election also brings us the drama of the state school superintendent race. Incumbent John Barge has vacated the position in order to run for governor, and the open office has attracted a cornucopia of candidates all of whom feel they are qualified to lead the state’s schools. Some of those in the giant field of candidates have no experience in public education, and it will be interesting to see if the voters are comfortable with a top school official coming from another field of endeavor.
The official opening bell has rung, the candidates have tossed their hats into the ring and the slates are complete. Now the potential voters have the burden of becoming invested in the campaigns so that intelligent choices can be made.