Usually primary challenges are not worth blogging about, but there are a couple of incumbent Democrats in Cobb County who face formidable challenges. In HD 33 incumbent Don Wix faces former Cobb Democratic Party Chair David Wilkerson and over in HD 39 Alisha Thomas Morgan faces former Cobb School Board member Betty Gray.
These are two seats that are so Democratic that the Republicans are not even bothering to field candidates, so I think the people of the districts will benefit from the competition. I know that is unpopular to say in some Georgia Democratic circles, so feel free to send me some hate mail! From a political junkies standpoint these races have the makings for some great political theater. Alisha Thomas Morgan’s husband David defeated Betty Gray in the 2008 Democratic primary for Cobb School Board, so this state house race is already personal. I think Morgan will win, but I would not be shocked if Gray got 35-40% of the vote. Gray has a decent amount of community support and with Mableton’s own Roy Barnes on the ballot I suspect a good number of old school Mableton folks who usually skip the primary will come out on July 20. I could see Gray picking up those voters and bringing out some of her own. With that said, people should not underestimate Alisha Thomas Morgan.
Alisha has done some things that are controversial in Georgia Democratic circles such as calling Ed “Microchip” Setzler “a great educational leader,” and taking $4600 from that bigot Eric Johnson in exchange for pushing his voucher legislation. Alisha, however, remains popular with the people that count the most, her constituents. Mableton is unincorporated, but Alisha is the defacto mayor of Mableton. Moreover, Betty Gray is not exactly a progressive Democrat. While on school board she voted to put the “Evolution Disclaimer” in Cobb science books. Any candidate that believes it is possible that dinosaurs were chasing people around ancient Mesopotamia 6000 years ago gives me pause. I am also pretty sure she does not know what LGBT means.
While I think Morgan will defeat Gray I think David Wilkerson is going to defeat Don Wix in the primary over in HD 33. There has been a ridiculous narrative floating around that David cannot beat Don because he is in leadership. Don just about lost his Democratic primary in 2008 to an underfunded college student-Michael Smith- who had never run for public office. Don outspent Michael Smith like 100 to 1 and barely squeaked out a victory. Wix received 1508 votes-53%- to Smiths 1342-47%- and much of that margin can be attributed to the 355 Republicans who crossed party lines to cast votes for party switcher Woody Thompson’s Cobb County Commission run. On the other hand, David Wilkerson will have a mail campaign, and he has been canvassing the district for months and hitting the community events and forums hard for over a year. Moreover, David is a good family man and he has children in public school. He has been active in the community and his children’s schools long before challenging Don Wix.
The bottom line is Don Wix just about lost to a college student with no money, so it is a fact that he cannot hold this seat much longer. David Wilkerson understood this and he thought why not me. Also, if you think Don is a reliable progressive vote ask Planned Parenthood, and anyone who cares about LGBT rights in Georgia. Don was the right Democrat for HD 33 in 1998, but David is a better fit in 2010. Hats off to Don, but it is time for a change.