“I want to welcome everybody to the second term of the 44th President, and I want to welcome everybody to the beginning of campaign 2014,” Cobb Democratic Committee Chair Melissa Pike said to cheers from the audience of 60 people at 3 Amigos Mexican restaurant on Whitlock Avenue.
Former U.S. Rep. Buddy Darden noted that President Barack Obama had won seven of 12 voting precincts during Tuesday’s election in the city of Marietta.
“It was a glorious day,” Darden said. “I understand Mitt Romney didn’t even have a concession speech ready. We’ve got to build on what we’ve done. We’ve got to make Cobb County and the state of Georgia in tune with the rest of this great nation of ours.”
Former Cobb Democratic Chair Bill Waldrop blasted the commentators on Fox News.
“That Sean Hannity, he said, ‘We’re gonna win in a landslide.’ It didn’t happen,” Waldrop said. “And what was that fellow, ‘Froffenheimer?’ Goes around in that wheel cart he’s got, talking nasty about all of us … When I ran for office 18 years ago, I was stunned that the so-called Christian Coalition went around in our churches talking nasty about all of us, saying awful things about us. I’ve seen the conduct of the John Birch Society all these years and I have to tell you there isn’t a minute’s difference between the Tea Party, the John Birch Society and the Christian Coalition. They’re all the same bunch. Here in Georgia, we’re going to have to do something about ‘em.”
But with the Democrats, who already don’t have a county or statewide elected official, losing incumbents in state Sen. Doug Stoner of Smyrna and school board member Alison Bartlett of west Cobb after their districts were reapportioned; Pike said the party still has work to do. That means developing candidates well in advance.
“We cannot have candidates coming up in May, right before qualifying and deciding that they want to run,” Pike said. “This is something that takes a minimum of 24 months to build up. If you know somebody who you think would be qualified to run, we have a commitment to have their back and to develop them so that they know exactly what they’re getting into, start the fundraising effort early and start getting their face and their name out there so that that’s not an uphill climb come next election.”
Jeff Kazanow, who lost to U.S. Rep. Tom Price (R-Roswell), took the opportunity Saturday to announce he would challenge Price again in 2014. Kazanow said he had learned lessons from the loss and planned to build a ground strategy to get voters to the polls in east Cobb and north Fulton and DeKalb counties.
Pike said that the 35 percent of the vote Kazanow picked up on Tuesday was the highest percentage from a Democrat in the 6th Congressional District in over 15 years.
Others on hand Saturday included state Rep. Horacena Tate of Atlanta, as well as Patrick Thompson, who lost Tuesday to U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Marietta); Bill Bolton, who lost to state Rep. Sam Teasley (R-Marietta) and Kevin “Big Kev” Westphal, who fell to state Rep. John Carson (R-northeast Cobb).
Westphal also hinted at another run.
“I need to run some numbers, but it’s entirely possible,” he said. “Let’s try to do some work and rebuild our party from the ground up.”
Another issue Democrats will have to deal with is improving minority turnout. Don. E. Wilson, the Democratic Party of Georgia’s 11th Congressional District chairman, said that, despite Obama at the top of the ballot, only 21 percent of eligible black Georgia residents voted in the presidential election.
“Unfortunately, certain pockets were underperforming in Atlanta, in Fulton and parts of Cobb and DeKalb,” he said.