Georgia Democrats had a mixed bag of results in the 2022 Midterm election cycle. Senator Warnock defeated Trump-favorite Herschel Walker in a close runoff margin, predominantly in the city areas of Georgia. But defeats for the Governor’s seat, Secretary of State’s office and Attorney General prove there is still a lot of work that needs to be done in our state for Democrats to gain a foothold politically.
In Senator Warnock’s tenure, the people across all of Georgia experienced a glimpse of a new way forward on child care, housing, the child tax credit and income support programs and are hoping for these things to continue in Warnock’s full term. Earlier this year, Community Change launched a deep, nationwide research project that found voters shared values of care, community and family, and racial justice. And our communities showed it with their votes.
We saw a surge in Black and brown voters thanks in part to grassroots organizations like Black Male Initiative Fund and We Vote We Win successfully reaching the people who are affected by the outcomes of these races. They met folks at concerts, barber shops, and front porches to have more than half a million conversations about the issues that moved them.
The Warnock race proved just how important this kind of organizing is to running a successful campaign. That’s why we must continue to encourage civic participation in all elections — not just Presidential elections. Organizing also has a great effect on legislative strategies and we insist that all people continue to advocate for the issues that mean something to them year-round. Showing up and testifying against or for bills can be just as influential as showing up to the polls. Although we may not have won every race, we can ensure that our voices are heard and our power does not end on election day.
And it’s clear we still have a lot to fight for. It is expected that with Brian Kemp, Chris Carr and Brad Raffensperger back in office, Democrats will have to fight harder against legislation that would hurt working families.
The secretary of state’s race was a very high-profile election in the state. In 2021, we saw that Trump targeted Raffensperger after the 2020 general election for failing to overturn election rules in Georgia. And although Raffensperger lost the support of many Republicans after the presidential defeat, he still managed to get re-elected into office. Republicans continued to push the false narrative of voter fraud in Georgia, while Bee Nguyen highlighted her work in the General Assembly to debunk false claims and stand up for voting rights. Ultimately, because of her loss, election integrity will remain a struggle.
The Governors election gained lots of local and national support, with organizations amplifying the Stacey Abrams campaign. Abrams successfully turned out Black and brown voters, but did not receive the support from white voters that she expected. Kemp maintained majority support in counties throughout the state, winning about three-fourths of the white vote, even with his harsh proposals against women’s rights, voters rights and gun safety. With Kemp back in office, this could mean limiting access to healthcare, the criminalization of voters, and guns getting in the hands of the wrong people.
This legislative cycle which began on January 9, 2023 will include many right-wing conservative bill proposals. Being that the Republicans gained control of the Georgia General Assembly, conservative legislators are likely to introduce measures aligned with right-wing views on policing that criminalize the poor without making us safer, and they’ll seek to undo recent reforms aimed at bail and sentencing reform and laws allowing for early release.
During the 2022 legislative session, we saw legislation pass that prohibited teachers from using books and language that highlighted black history in schools and we saw gerrymandered redistricting proposals so that some republican legislatures can maintain control in certain areas regardless of what voters want.
But, Democrats remain optimistic about expanding their majority in the United States Senate with the results of the December 6 runoff. While Republicans maintain control of the House, the Warnock win means Democrats will not have to worry about the horrors of the Senate Republican majority we’ve had in past years — or a razor-thin Democratic majority that lends itself to power plays by one or two members holding back transformational policies for working families.
This legislative session is a great opportunity where organizers and members of the community are able to speak directly to lawmakers. Organizations strongly encourage people who care about legislation to stay involved year-round and not just during an election cycle. There are many different ways to stay involved whether it is joining an organizing meeting, action, or other grassroots events in your community. Now is the time to keep pushing.