Democrats couldn't flip a seat, but could the GOP in 2018?

By Vlada Galan

The state of Georgia has maintained its "red" title for the over a decade. Home to 14 congressional districts, ten of which are Republican, it will be interesting to see if Democrats or Republicans will be making any strong plays to overturn Congressional seats in 2018.

Very few opportunities exist for Democrats to flip Georgia's strongly held Republican seats, which range from Republican +8 to Republican +31. The Sixth District special election demonstrated that Democrats could not flip a Republican seat in Georgia, even with over $30 million dollars. It is hard to imagine that the Democratic party and its donors will come together again to go after another seat in Georgia in the 2018 cycle. However, that does not mean that Georgia Republicans won't consider going after a Democratic seat.

Democrats, like Republicans, hold solid control over the majority of their seats, with one exception: the seat of Democratic Representative Sanford Bishop from Georgia’s Second Congressional District. The second congressional district is a Democratic + 6 district and is the only Democratic-controlled district that could even stand a chance of being turned red. 

For Republicans to have a real chance at taking Georgia’s Second District, they must have candidates that are willing to not only tackle red-meat Republican issues, but also gateway issues such as education and jobs to appeal to the community that the district represents. The Second Congressional District is the 9th poorest district in the country, with 28 percent of its residents living under the poverty line. Republicans must understand that, while people do vote on party lines, at the end of the day voters primarily want jobs. A Republican candidate must therefore provide a platform that tackles issues that may not necessarily be popular with traditional Republicans.

In particular, the Second Congressional District is one of the largest in Georgia in terms of geography, with strong agricultural roots. Farmers will play a key role in the election and perhaps stand the strongest chance of being won over by a Republican candidate. So who exactly is up for the task of running for the seat on the Republican side?

To date, no Republican candidate has announced a bid for the seat. However, two potential candidates have started to engage in “exploratory” campaign activities. 

The first of these two candidates is Baptist Pastor Herman West Jr., who serves a congregation in Sylvester just outside of the district lines. Herman West Jr. is the brother of controversial former Florida Congressman Allen West. Herman West has been in frequent talks with local GOP leaders and former Republican candidate Greg Duke about a possible run for the seat.

The second candidate is Bruce McPherson, a veteran who served 10 years as an Army Ranger and Green Beret. McPherson is a younger candidate with a different type of background, which Republicans have seen play well in elections all over the United States. McPherson is not wasting any time either, with a newly launched website and a list of prominent locals lining up behind him.

zpolitics caught up with McPherson to ask why he and his young family were considering the uphill battle run. 

“When 9/11 struck, I could not stand idly by when the country was in crisis. During my combat tours in Afghanistan I learned what it meant to fight for people had no voice and who only wanted a better future for their children," he said. "That's what I want to do for the people of Southwest Georgia. I cannot stand idly by while I see my district and community in economic crisis.”

Herman West Jr. and Bruce McPherson bring significantly different backgrounds and experience to the race. But in order for candidates like Herman West Jr. and Bruce McPherson to have a chance, they will need to prove their viability to stand up against the incumbent. First and foremost, they must raise significant money the next 6 months to first go against each other in the Republican Primary, which will likely be held in May 2018. Then, the victor must be prepared for an expensive and hard-fought general election. If the candidate that makes it through the primary can come within a 4-5-point margin of Representative Bishop, the race will attract significant interest from national Republicans.

It may seem like a long shot today, but the next six months will yield a clear picture of which Republican is likely to generate sufficient enthusiasm to have a shot at un-seating the long-serving Democrat.

Vlada Galan is an international political consultant helping conservative politicians get elected throughout the world. A native of Odessa, Ukraine Vlada currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia where she has worked on several state wide races. Vlada may be contacted at VladaGalan@gmail.com.

 

Christy Riggins