With a historically low number of seats in the Georgia House of Representatives, Democratic leaders acknowledge that they need to widen their base beyond African-Americans and white liberals in urban areas.
Yet when the Assembly convenes in January, the lower chamber’s minority party’s top leaders will all be black Democrats, as Rep. Virgil Fludd of Tyrone was elected caucus chairman Monday over Brian Thomas, a white Democrat from Lilburn who previously held the post.
”We have to reach out,” Fludd said. ”We do have to have honest conversations about race moving forward.”
Thomas said, ”I certainly don’t believe that we are headed to being a ‘black Democratic Party.’ I think everyone in our party and in our caucus understands there needs to be a diverse base of voters for us to move forward.”
The Republican leadership team, meanwhile, remains all-white. The GOP re-nominated David Ralston of Blue Ridge for another term as speaker. He will be elected when the entire body convenes.
Larry O’Neal was re-elected as majority leader without opposition. Republican Caucus Chairwoman Donna Sheldon of Dacula withstood a challenge from Delvis Dutton, a tea party conservative from Glennville.
The caucus is one seat shy of a two-thirds majority, enough to override vetoes from Gov. Nathan Deal or approve constitutional amendments without a single Democratic vote.
The GOP re-nominated David Ralston of Blue Ridge for another term as speaker. He will be elected when the entire body convenes. The GOP re-elected Larry O’Neal as majority leader without opposition. Republican Caucus Chairwoman Donna Sheldon of Dacula withstood a challenge from Delvis Dutton, a tea party conservative from Glennville.
From a policy perspective, there may be little consequence to any of those votes. But Fludd’s ascension underscores the increasing racial and demographic polarization of Georgia’s electorate.
The dynamic is accentuated by the legislative districts that the Republican majority redrew after the 2010 census, further confining Democrats to metropolitan Atlanta and other urban areas, many of them dominated by non-white voters.