Forsyth County resident and former state Senate candidate Daniel Blackman recently finished second in a campaign to head the Democratic Party of Georgia but is feeling good about the party’s chances in the 2020 election.
At a party meeting last weekend in Atlanta, Blackman lost to state Sen. Nikema Williams in a vote to be the state party’s next chair, but Blackman said he is looking to the future, not the past.
“I think the biggest takeaway for me is there is a tremendous opportunity for Democrats going forth in the state,” Blackman said. “There’s still somewhat of a divide throughout in the state and in the rural areas. Most of my votes came from outside metro Atlanta, so I think the biggest thing I learned is there is a big opportunity for Democrats who are serious about winning to reach out of the metro Atlanta region.”
Blackman said his focus has been increasing the party’s presence outside the metro Atlanta area and pointed out that about 200 of the party’s approximately 420 state committee members did not attend the meeting, many of which are from more rural areas.
“We’ve got to do a better job of connecting that,” Blackman said. “I learned from a lot of people that while they were frustrated, they just did not know if that particular election was in their best interest. A lot of folks in different parts of the state have organized, and the state party is growing.”
With the 2020 election looming and rumors already starting for the party’s next gubernatorial candidate in 2022, Blackman said the party is looking at strategies moving ahead.
“Democrats haven’t won since 2002, so I think everybody’s trying to find that secret sauce of what works,” he said. “For me, the main thing I learned is a lot of people around the state that want to be engaged, they want to be a part of the conversation and, quite frankly, they want to feel like their voices are going to be heard in 2020.”
When asked how he thought the party was set up for the upcoming elections, Blackman said that would be clearer after former gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams delivers the Democratic response to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address.
Blackman said he had some concerns that so much of the state’s focus last year was on Abrams that it overshadowed smaller races but said if the response goes well, he said he foresees Democratic presidential candidates coming to Georgia, which could include stops in Forsyth County.
“It’s no secret that Stacey is not only one of the most prominent Democratic figures in the country, she just happens to be one of the most prominent, if not the most prominent, in the state of Georgia,” Blackman said. “I think for 2020, we’re going to have to be able to see the entirety of Georgia. If we make the mistake of rallying around just one individual, I think that would be a big challenge for us.”