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What Democrats are doing to prep for busy election year
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Candidate for House District 103 Clifton Marshall speaks Monday, March 9, 2020, during the Hall County Democrats monthly meeting at the Gainesville Civic Center. - photo by Scott Rogers

Hall’s Democrats are preparing for a busy year.

Three Democrats are running for seats in Hall County’s delegation to the Georgia House of Representatives, plus both of Georgia’s U.S. Senate seats and the 9th District position in the U.S. House of Representatives, have drawn candidates with D’s next to their name.

Kim Copeland, chairman of the Hall County Democratic Party, said the party has been focusing on voter education and encouraging early voting. 

The Democrat group has been working with a nonpartisan group to register voters, with a focus on people whose registrations were purged from the voter rolls last year. 

“If they’re going to start the process to re-register, they need to start now,” Copeland said.

Local Democrats were also planning phone banks, both at the county level and through the state party, and planned to start canvassing door-to-door.

“In 2018, we knocked on about 10,000 doors in Hall County,” Copeland said on Monday. “This year, our goal is to knock on 20,000, and I think we’ll pass that easily.”

Voters will be able to hear from candidates at the “BlueFest” event May 3 at the Mulberry Creek Community Center in Flowery Branch.

The local party is not yet endorsing a candidate for president. When there is more than one Democrat in the race, it is against the party’s bylaws to pick a favorite, Copeland said.

“We’re not going to tell you who to vote for,” he said. “We absolutely want you to be passionate about your candidate.”

Democrats will be represented in several spots on the ballot this year. Three are running for the Georgia House of Representatives’ delegation from Hall — Pat Calmes for District 29, Leigh Miller for District 30 and Clifton Marshall for District 103 — all seats held by incumbent Republicans. Emory Turner plans to run as a write-in candidate for District 4 on the Hall County Board of Commissioners. Dee Daley will run for Georgia Senate District 50. Devin Pandy and Dan Wilson are running for the 9th District seat in the U.S. House. 

And both of Georgia’s U.S. Senate seats are up for a vote this year. One, held by Republican U.S. Sen. David Perdue, will be on the May 19 primary ballot. The other, held by Republican U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler, will only go up for a vote in November. Several Democrats are vying for each of those seats.

Copeland said all those open seats are an opportunity for Democrats, noting that Stacey Abrams, in her 2018 run for governor, lost by a slim margin. Abrams received about 1.4% fewer votes than Gov. Brian Kemp.

“In a presidential election year, Democrats do better, and there’s better turnout,” Copeland said. “We have a chance to not only put 16 electoral college votes to the Democratic column, but flip both U.S. Senate seats.”

The Hall County Democratic Party is joined in its efforts by the Young Democrats of Hall County. President Sherley Legerme said Monday the group plans to visit local high schools’ politics clubs to talk to them about voter registration and the elections. Schools are closed this week, with officials reevaluating by Thursday whether they should reopen.

“We talk about young people all the time and how powerful their voices are, and I think it’s really just a matter of showing in numbers, and that young folks really care about the topics that are at hand and listening to all the candidates,” Legerme said.

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Young Democrats President Sherley Legerme gives a report to Hall County Democrats during their monthly meeting Monday, March, 9, 2020, at the Gainesville Civic Center. - photo by Scott Rogers

Legerme said that when she was younger, politics seemed like “something that’s only for the grown-ups,” but she has gotten more involved and sees the importance of reaching out to younger voters.

“It’s about getting ourselves mobilized and making sure as many people are heard as possible,” she said.

And Will Rials, vice president of the Young Democrats, said Georgia is getting closer to turning blue.

“It’ll be very close. I think we are on the cusp of turning blue, whether that’s in this election, I can’t guarantee it,” Rials said.

Georgia’s changing population is changing the electorate, he said.

“As we see the demographic shifts that have occurred in this state in recent decades, we have larger minority populations here, and as that happens, those are demographics that lean Democrat historically,” Rials said.

What is important, Rials said, is not getting complacent.

“If there are issues you are passionate about, there are causes you’re passionate about, and if you’re dissatisfied with your current leadership, don’t sit on the sidelines,” he said. 

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Amy Collins, left, chats with Virginia Webb, Monday, March 9, 2020, during the Hall County Democrats monthly meeting at the Gainesville Civic Center. - photo by Scott Rogers
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