This is part 1 of a 3 part series.
There are some people who have been mentioned for the 2014 Senate race that just shouldn’t be mentioned. Unless they make major efforts to fix major defects, these are the folks who just shouldn’t consider running in 2014.
Of all of the rumored and potential candidates, only two rise to the level of “HELL NO.” One of those people is former PSC Candidate Steve Oppenheimer.
For one, we’re not particularly convinced he is a real Democrat. In 2012, Oppenheimer made contributions to a Republican Congressman in Georgia who faced Democratic opposition, that’s a big problem for us.
But, even assuming he is the most true blue Democrat out there, we cannot fathom a situation in which Steve Oppenheimer would be considered a good candidate for public office, much less one as high-profile as Georgia’s open Senate seat. When he ran for PSC in 2012, he under-performed President Obama by over 200,000 votes.
But why might he have done that? Well, for one, Steve Oppenheimer lacks the charm a candidate for US Senate needs. We saw him at a number of events, awkwardly interacting with attendees, and charming nobody. This is certainly not to say that every political candidate must be a charmer of Clintonian proportions, but Oppenheimer just doesn’t even have the minimum amount that is a prerequisite for seeking office. To make matters worse, we saw him at multiple events, and he couldn’t even deliver a basic two minute stump speech without forgetting entire sections and, in the process, putting audiences to sleep.
Steve Oppenheimer is not a bad person. But without the training necessary to correct certain issues, he’s just an abjectly terrible political candidate. In 2014, we need someone with fundraising potential, incredible charm, and most of all, systemic faith that he or she can and will do what is necessary to win. Steve Oppenheimer could not be farther from that sort of person.
Remember when we said there were two candidates so incredibly unpalatable that our heads would explode if either one of them ran for the Senate seat? The first, of course, was Steve Oppenheimer. The second is Michael Thurmond.
Before we tear into Mr. Thurmond, let us say something. Michael Thurmond was a great Labor Commissioner, and is a great Democrat. He’s just an awful candidate.
We don’t know what happened in 2010, the year when Thurmond made an ill-fated race for Senate against Isakson. Sure, it was not a good year for the Party, but Thurmond somehow made it seem much much worse. For one, he had no campaign to speak of. Nada. We never saw him, had no idea what he was doing and pretty much everyone wondered if he had dropped out. And what little campaign he had royally screwed up in every way possible. Beyond his egregious logo, and the fact that his campaign bought hundreds of car flags (most of which remained at the DPG, unused), he didn’t really do much. And that, my friends, is the problem.
Michael Thurmond had the chance to run a decent race in 2010. It was really the first time he ever had to “run” statewide. And he blew it, hard. He could not raise money, his “staff” basically did not exist, and what few resources he had were squandered in SWAG befitting of a UGA tailgate. In short, it was a disaster, and barring a statement that everything he did in 2010 was some sort of commedia dell’arte farce, he shouldn’t be given the chance to screw up again in 2014.
Oh, yeah, and he’s got enough baggage to make Delta blush.
SENATOR JASON CARTER / MAYOR KASIM REED / REP. SCOTT HOLCOMB
We LOVE these three gentlemen, but we’d love to see the three of them anchor a 2016 / 2018 team of Georgia Democrats. Lets face it, 2014 is going to be a tough year, but one opening we have is the US Senate seat. The state-wide constitutional offices will be almost impossible to win, so why sacrifice all of our up and coming stars? Thus our reasoning to pick the best possible candidate for 2014 for US Senate (note the important language, not “the best candidate for US Senate” but “the best candidate for 2014 for US Senate”), while allowing our bench to get ready for 2016 and 2018.
Senator Carter is one of the up and coming stars of our party. He has the potential to one day be our Governor or Senator and we yearn for that day. However; that day is not today. For Senator Carter to run in 2014, he’d have to give up his State Senate seat. A potential loss would leave him without a position and without a media platform. The risk is just too much. 2018 is his time.
Mayor Reed is, just like Senator Carter, one of our favorites. However, the 2014 Senate race just isn’t for him. Barring him being appointed to Transportation Secretary, we’d much rather see him run for Senator Isakson’s seat in 2016 rather than risk it in 2014. And of course, Mayor Reed would be an absolute lock for any of Atlanta’s Congressional seats (you don’t have to be a resident of one to run in one) so if Congressmen Lewis, Scott or Johnson ever move on out, Mayor Reed could easily slide into their place. As has been pointed out, he wouldn’t have to resign as Mayor of Atlanta to run in 2014. But does he not announce for Senate until December, just after being re-elected Mayor? Or does he run for Mayor in 2013 while saying he’s running for Senate in 2014 too? It’s just too much risk.
Rep. Holcomb has run state-wide before, and certainly knows what it takes. However; if he runs in 2014, there’s a 95% chance Democrats would lose his seat in the State House. Given the inability of our House Caucus to do the simplest of functions, we have no confidence they would be able to find a replacement for him and even if they did, they lack the professional staff or resources to be of much assistance. We would love to see Rep. Holcomb wait until 2018 as well and possibly make another run at Secretary of State or consider Lieutenant Governor or Labor Commissioner.
As Democrats, we have to start planning for the future in Georgia. As much as everyone wants to say “Oh, in 2018 we’ll have a majority of the State House” and yada yada — we’ve got to have candidates, we’ve got to have training, we’ve got to have the party infrastructure that we currently lack. We certainly hope these three gentlemen wait and help build the organization necessary for a blue Georgia.