On Sunday, I received the sad news that General David Poythress had passed away. I had the honor of working with General Poythress, his wife Elizabeth, and several other wonderful people on his 2010 primary campaign for Governor of Georgia. I can say of General Poythress the highest praise I know to give a man, and that is to say that he was a good and honest man. I know his wife Elizabeth and his family will miss him dearly.

I first met David Poythress on a winter morning in 2008 at the Silver Skillet. By that point, he had served as Georgia’s Deputy Commissioner of Revenue, Secretary of State, Commissioner of Labor and as the Adjutant General of the Georgia National Guard. In 1998, he had run for Governor in the Democratic primary and lost to Roy Barnes. On that morning in the winter of 2008, Gen. Poythress, having recently finished his time as Adjutant General, was looking to take one more shot at Governor in 2010. His career had already been accomplished — yet, here he was at the Silver Skillet, asking a younger version of me, having just finished my time as Communications Director for Georgia Students for Barack Obama and various other smaller political roles prior to that, for advice on how campaigns had changed in the previous decade. He truly understood leadership, making tough decisions and knowing the burden of doing so — but yet, he always sought advice and counsel because he knew that true leadership involved making the most informed decision possible.

I worked for David Poythress for nearly the next two years, until the 2010 campaign fell short in the primary, again to Roy Barnes. That election cycle was a meaningful one for me… I got married, I bought my first house and I lost my dad among many other things. David and Elizabeth were there, they were kind and understanding. I will always value and appreciate my time with the General, as I know anyone who had the pleasure of knowing him will.

He was a good and honest man and he is already missed.

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Nope, I’m not talking about PEOTUS and how he got elected. I’m talking about the ludicrous number of  Democrats seeking election in the Georgia 6th Congressional District.

I simply can’t find one historical fact based data point to encourage a Democrat to run in this special election. The 6th is a R+ 14 district on a good day. What Democrat looks at the landscape of the 6th and says, oh yeah baby I got this? Let alone five four people*? I want what you’re smoking. Fourteen points, three counties, GOP controlled, isn’t even a hail Mary pass, it would take a miracle.

Please don’t apply Nov 2016 data to this race, it insults my intelligence, bigly.

Ok sure, I suppose I could look at it like “hey, the 6th has a bunch of Democrats willing to step up” but as we all know, I’m not that charitable. If all these motivated folks have been walking among us, why don’t I  know anything about them? Why am I digging 10 pages into a Google search to come up with one current factoid thats not a Instagram or LinkedIn account. Why haven’t any of them been visibly present at anything I’ve attended in the the last 6 cycles, seriously 12 years!  I reached out to every active progressive political group in metro Atlanta, Cobb and a handful in Dekalb, and apart from individuals who have met them, I can’t find any political community or organizational connection in the entirety of the 6th.

Now, before you all come at me with the “she’s effective, he’s experienced, he’s smart, he’s smart too, he’s well connected“, don’t. Seriously don’t. I’m sure they are all the wonderful things they claim to be on their websites and CV’s. Kind to children and animals, well educated, well intentioned,well connected- how loverly. I could find five four people who’d say the same about me, well maybe.

I’m not judging the humanity of these candidates, I’m questioning the reasoning and motivation to run. If they are running to raise some kind of specific issue in the 6th, thats terrific, but who the heck is going to hear it when 5 4 other people might be saying the same thing? A couple people I spoke with called it the “Trump Effect”, I don’t know what that is, but its unlikely to help you raise two million dollars and pick up 14 points. One or two Democrats running, of course this makes sense and creates the illusion that we’re competitive and willing to take the race and the issues of the 6th seriously, I’d have no problem with that.

At each one of these announcements, the media fails to point out that no Democratic Party of Georgia entity chartered by the DNC is allowed to endorse or visibly support one candidate over another. In other words, there is no smokey back room to chose the party candidate. The state party can’t do it nor can a county party. Individuals holding elected or appointed roles at the DPG may individually  support candidates with checks and lend their name to fundraisers but this should not be deemed a Party  “endorsement”. Anyone using their party role to support one Democrat over another, is running a big risk of losing said leadership role. Some of these people might look like the Democratic “leadership” but I’d check very closely. This is a fine line to walk, and given the number of candidates, it might cause some confusion.

We’ve had several recent examples of exactly what happens in a  special election, low turnout, poor media coverage, lack luster fundraising, shoddy campaigning and thats just the state “specials”. This is a Federal Election, with the myriad of Federal Election rules. Every progressive state PAC will have to tell them something along the lines of ” yeah, you seem nice but we can’t help you”.  Do I think a Federal PAC or interest group will put any serious muscle into helping these folks, no I do not. A fundraiser here and there, a epic ton of email, a well intentioned “endorsement”, a check, sure of course, that’s to be expected. But shoulder to grindstone commitment, nope.

Special Elections are not by definition anything like a regular election.  This special will have no partisan qualifying date, a no partisan primary, a slew of candidates on both sides. If you think regular elections have become WWE events, a special is more like mud wrestling a pig. Currently the election date is unknown making things even more chaotic. Half the conversations I’ve had with folks are just explaining the rules of a special election. Three minutes in I can already see them rolling their eyes checking out their own ass.

I will however make the offer to any of the candidates who might want to engage with my cranky crusty self, to email me at the Tip Line and I will endeavor to post updates, events, meet & greet here and at the various FB pages I have access to.

UPDATE: *One of the candidates has stepped back from the race. Bravo, I already like you more than everyone else.

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The Atlanta March for Social Justice & Women will be a peaceful demonstration of solidarity bringing together members of underrepresented communities, women, and their allies in Georgia and nationally. The march will be held in Atlanta on January 21, 2017 at 1:00 pm beginning at the Center for Civil and Human Rights and ending at the Georgia State Capitol.

All the info is here.

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We Were Made For These Times

An essay by Clarissa Pinkola Estes

My friends, do not lose heart. We were made for these times. I have heard from so many recently who are deeply and properly bewildered. They are concerned about the state of affairs in our world now. Ours is a time of almost daily astonishment and often righteous rage over the latest degradations of what matters most to civilized, visionary people.

You are right in your assessments. The lustre and hubris some have aspired to while endorsing acts so heinous against children, elders, everyday people, the poor, the unguarded, the helpless, is breathtaking. Yet, I urge you, ask you, gentle you, to please not spend your spirit dry by bewailing these difficult times. Especially do not lose hope. Most particularly because, the fact is that we were made for these times. Yes. For years, we have been learning, practicing, been in training for and just waiting to meet on this exact plain of engagement.

I grew up on the Great Lakes and recognize a seaworthy vessel when I see one. Regarding awakened souls, there have never been more able vessels in the waters than there are right now across the world. And they are fully provisioned and able to signal one another as never before in the history of humankind.

Look out over the prow; there are millions of boats of righteous souls on the waters with you. Even though your veneers may shiver from every wave in this stormy roil, I assure you that the long timbers composing your prow and rudder come from a greater forest. That long-grained lumber is known to withstand storms, to hold together, to hold its own, and to advance, regardless.

In any dark time, there is a tendency to veer toward fainting over how much is wrong or unmended in the world. Do not focus on that. There is a tendency, too, to fall into being weakened by dwelling on what is outside your reach, by what cannot yet be. Do not focus there. That is spending the wind without raising the sails.

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In keeping with the positive theme for 2017, Georgia’s WIN List offers seven solid suggestions for making a positive difference in 2017. New activists, start here. Older activists, this is as good a time as any to get back to the basics.

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