Democrats in Forsyth County are looking to make the county a battleground in 2020, and this week, the local party hosted a Congressional candidate and possible Senate candidate.
On Tuesday evening, the Forsyth County Democratic Party hosted its monthly meeting at Jim ’N Nick’s Bar-B-Q, where speakers Nabliah Islam, who announced in February she would run for the District 7 U.S. House seat, and Teresa Tomlinson, who previously served as mayor of Columbus and is currently exploring a run for Senate, gave their thoughts on 2020.
“I love to see this big crowd in Forsyth County because you guys are about to be ground zero,” Tomlinson said. “I know you think you’re a 70-30 [Republican-Democrat] county, and by the numbers you are, but frankly, you’re about to be the county that tips this election for Georgia.”
Tomlinson said in recent elections in Georgia, while Democrats had done well in metropolitan areas, they could not overcome the popularity of Republicans in rural areas. Tomlinson wants to shrink those margins.
Going over some of her political positions, Tomlinson said she opposed plans to relocate illegal immigrants to “sanctuary cities,” called rumors that Democrats want to confiscate guns “just crazy talk” and said socialism has become a buzzword for the right.
“What you have is that the Republicans have taken our language and have said that we have to have absolute anarchy, government can’t be involved, there can’t be any regulation, there can be no framework, no stabilization factor in our society or community or else. If government is involved in any way whatsoever… then it is socialism,” Tomlinson said. “Let me tell you, Medicaid for all is not socialism.”
Before she spoke, Tomlinson was introduced by Daniel Blackman, a Forsyth County resident and former state Senate candidate who grew up in Columbus.
Blackman said the Columbus he grew up in the ’90s was a place “where crime was high, there were not a lot of opportunities, there was not economic development” but said going back in recent years, during Tomlinson’s term, he was impressed with the turnaround of the city.
“Under her leadership, Columbus became a top 25 city in the United States, it became one of the 100 most livable places in the country, and on top of all that, in the 2018 gubernatorial race, Teresa’s name was floated around not only because of her leadership but because of the confidence that people have in her, not only in Columbus but around the state,” said Blackman. “Today, I’m elated to know that she drove over two hours to be with us, but that shows the commitment that she has to wanting to be part of this conversation.”
Near the end of the meeting, Tomlinson said she is exploring running for the seat currently held by David Perdue but her decision was contingent on whether another prominent Democrat planned to run for the seat: Stacey Abrams.
“Stacey is considering that, and she will make a decision by April 30,” Tomlinson said. “Stacey and I have been in the trenches of Democratic politics in the state of Georgia for a very long time together. We have no intention of two women with statewide gravitas — as we feel we have — pitted up against each other. That is not going to happen, so if Stacey runs, I’ll write the first [donation] check and I’ll be there as a surrogate as I was last time she ran for governor making sure we elect a Democrat to that seat.”
During her portion of the meeting, Islam, a Georgia State University graduate who grew up in Gwinnett County, recounted growing up with Bangladeshi refugee parents who held jobs as file clerks, fast food workers and in warehouses.
“I’m running to be our voice. I’m running to be a voice for every family with their own unique Georgia story, a story of working too hard for too little, a story of how an education can provide a better chance for our families,” she said.
She said the president also influenced her decision to run.
“I’d be lying, folks, if I didn’t say I was at least, in part, running because of my core belief that Donald Trump is a profound threat to Georgia families, the American Dream, the very foundations of our democracy,” Islam said. “He vilifies immigrants on a daily basis, he bullies women, he mocks the disabled, he attacks our free press. He makes our politics so petty and so small, and I know we are better than Donald Trump.”
Asked about her stance on gun control, Islam said she was opposed to assault weapons but not other guns.
“I believe in people’s Second Amendment rights. I want to state, though, that I believe in having universal background checks to buy an assault weapon or any type of gun,” she said. “I believe in a ban on assault rifles. I don’t think any hunter worth their weight needs an assault weapon to go hunting.”