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DATE: March 18, 2014
Partisan redistricting maximizes the winning chances of one party over another, but creates an
interesting paradox: there are no additional ‘easy pickings’ for the party in control as it has already taken
the juiciest opportunities via redrawing district lines.
Based upon a detailed demographic and electoral analysis of all 56 State Senate districts and 180 State
House districts in the Georgia General Assembly, it is very unlikely that an incumbent democratic seat
will switch to republican (barring scandal, retirement, or unforeseen circumstances). The GOP
maximized its advantage in 2012.
However, there are several opportunities for democrats to wrest additional seats from the GOP.
The seven best opportunities for the democrats in the Georgia General Assembly are below, in order of
most likely to switch control:
1 – Rep. Gerald Greene (Cuthbert, HD 151)
Greene was elected as a democrat and switched parties following the 2010 election. This district
remains a democratic stronghold, however; it voted overwhelmingly for Barack Obama in 2012. Greene
has been unopposed since his party switch and is vulnerable to a compelling candidate in 2014, perhaps
Ezekial Holley, a Baptist minister.
2 – Rep. Mike Cheokas (Americus, HD 138)
Cheokas, also a party-switcher, won by just 200 votes over Kevin Brown in 2012. Brown is again going
after the seat. The lessons learned from the previous campaign might help Brown close the gap in 2014,
although Cheokas has over $100K in his re-election coffers. Finances might not matter in this case
however; the Democrat raised less than $1,000 in his nearly successful 2012 bid.
3 – Rep. Joyce Chandler (Snellville, HD 105)
Chandler narrowly missed defeat in 2012 from challenger Renita Hamilton. While Hamilton is running
again as the democratic opponent, she is facing a first-time candidate in her own primary, Tim Hur. The
winner of this primary is in good position to switch this seat in November’s general election.
4 – Sen. Jesse Stone ( Waynesboro, SD 23)
Stone won this seat after a bone-headed qualifying error left democrats without a candidate on the
ballot in 2010. After beating his opponent handily two years later, Stone is expected to resign for a
judgeship. This (presumably) open seat lies in a district with significant Democratic leanings. The
challenger, Diane Evans, was a relentless campaigner in a narrow special election runoff for a state
house seat only a few months ago.
5 – Sen. Fran Millar (Dunwoody, SD 40)
Millar has beaten democratic challengers soundly in prior elections, but changing demographics and
district lines have put this seat in jeopardy for republicans. With a GOP challenger in the primary and a
waiting democrat in November (either Benedict Truman or Tamara Johnson), this race could be the first
signal of the demographic shift predicted to enrich Georgia progressives in the future.
6 – Rep. Darlene Taylor (Thomasville, HD 173)
In 2010, Taylor beat her democratic opponent Haley Shank by 35 points. In 2012 against the same
opponent, her lead shrunk to 20 points. Our analysis indicates that this district is not as republican as it
may appear; based upon our studies, this lead would evaporate against a quality opponent. Taylor’s
November opponent is Keith Jenkins Sr.
7 – Sen. Hunter Hill (Smyrna, SD 6)
This first-term senator won an all-out brawl for the seat in 2012. While Hill raised a ton of money in the
contest, it’s no certainty that those funds would re-up for a 2014 campaign. The demographics of the
district indicate a republican-tilt, but these are middle-of-the-road conservatives that are open to a
moderate, progressive choice. His democratic opponent in November is Antron Johnson.