Many Surprises in Clayton County! Tracey Lawson-Graham Scores Big Victory! Jeff Turner Shocks the County! Sheriff Race Heads to a Run-off! Two Upsets in House Races!
Clayton County, Georgia has again richly earned its reputation for colorful and zestful politics. Jeff Turner, the fired Clayton County Police Chief, quietly put together a campaign in which he equaled the votes of two-term Commission Chairman, Eldrin Bell. This appeared to be a real shocker. Many well-seasoned political pundits of Clayton County did not see this coming. Eldrin Bell, who generally does quite well among white voters in the Clayton, principally because of his early opposition to former sheriff Victor Hill, seems to have lost ground among the white voters in Clayton County who apparently turned out in large numbers in the Clayton County Democratic Primary. There’s not much activity going on in the Republican Primary in Clayton County, and this group of voters who are quite seasoned to the rough and tumble of Clayton County politics chose to pick up a Democratic ballot rather than walk into the GOP Primary which has virtually nothing going on. When the numbers are counted, one will find that the white voters in Clayton County had a disproportionate impact among the voters. Roberta Abdul-Salaam’s 16% of the vote threw this Commission Chairman’s race into a run-off. Ms. Abdul-Salaam served several years in the George House of Representatives. Who will draw upon her support for the run-off? This remains to be seen.
Commission Chair Candidate Jeff Turner
Part of this disproportionate impact of white voters in the Clayton County Democratic Primary no doubt is attributed to these voters’ loyalty to Clayton County District Attorney, Tracey Lawson-Graham. Ms. Lawson-Graham, a white D. A. with a Duke University law degree and a sound pedigree from years working in the D. A.’s office as an Assistant, soundly defeated incumbent District Attorney Jewel Scott in 2008. Her equally solid defeat of former Clayton County Solicitor General, Leslie Miller-Terry, shows that she has drawing power among black voters as well as white voters. She was endorsed by current Clayton County Solicitor General Tasha Moseley who happens to be African-American. District Attorney Lawson-Graham appears to be quite deft and facile in her new arena of politics.
District Attorney Tracey Lawson-Graham
Kem Kimbrough, the incumbent sheriff, only drew 42% of the vote in his first bid for re-election. He was the top vote-getter, but garnered much less than he needed to win the Democratic Primary without a run-off. He will face his nemesis of 2008, the former controversial sheriff, Victor Hill. Victor Hill was indicted earlier this year by the Clayton County Grand Jury at the urging of District Attorney Lawson-Graham. This run-off for sheriff ought to prove to be a real show-down. Get your tickets early and bring your own popcorn!
Gail Hambrick garnered 75% of the vote in her re-election bid to the Clayton County Commission. Wole Ralph, however, was not quite so fortunate. Newcomer to politics, Shana Rooks captured 43% of the vote compared to Ralph’s 44%. Ralph had a year of controversial publicity in his personal life which could have led voters to switch their allegiances. Ronald Ringer pulled 13% of the vote in this race. His loyal supporters could prove instrumental in this Commission race.
There were two big upset in the Clayton County legislative delegation. Mike Glanton, who has served in the Georgia State House in another district, ran against one-term Yasmin Neal. He trounced incumbent Neal by 56% to 44%, although Representative Neal made some last ditch efforts, including a mailing with her picture with former President Bill Clinton and Georgia legislative leader Calvin Smiley. It appears that she did too little too late. Most observers contend that Mike Glanton simply outworked her.
J. B. Stanley (l), Dr. Glenn Dowell (c), and
Norreese Haynes (r) enjoying watching the returns.
The other upset involved life-time resident Glenn Baker getting defeated by a rather new resident of this area, Demetrius Douglas. This district juts from the Lake Spivey area into Henry County. Mr. Douglas, a former linebacker with the University of Georgia Bulldogs, resides right across the line in Henry County. When the precincts from Henry County came in, he beat Representative Baker three to one in these Henry County precincts which drew very few white voters because most white voters cast their ballots in the heavily-contested GOP Primary in this county.
Representative Darryl Jordan beat back the efforts of the former chairman of the Clayton County Democratic Party, Kevin Thomas. Mr. Thomas appeared to be heavily financed but Representative Jordan sent out some very effective mailings and continued to stationed his beautiful signs throughout the district. Both side had many supporters holding up signs on the sides of the road for several weeks. This was a very hotly-contested race, and Representative Jordan is headed back down to the Capitol for his seventh term with a 56% to 44% victory.
Dr. John Trotter (l) and Norreese Haynes (r)
celebrating victory with Rep. Darryl Jordan (c).
Newcomer Valencia Stovall defeated Charles Davis %6% to 44% in the House seat vacated by Roberta Abdul-Salaam. Ms. Stovall may have profited by having the same first name as State Senator Valencia Seay whose Senate district covers this area and who once held this House seat herself at one time.
Sandra Scott proves that her victories in past were not flukes when she won a seat on the Clayton County Board of Education and her victory to the State House in 2010. This Fannie Lou Hamer of Clayton County who is unafraid to speak her mind apparently has a strong following in the Northeast portion of Clayton County. She beat back two challengers and won again without a run-off, garnering an impressive 57% of the vote.
The battle of the two Gails continues to rage in State Senate District 44. Each Gail has won the seat on a number of occasions. Gail Davenport once held the seat and was defeated by Gail Buckner. Gail Buckner relinquished the seat to run for Georgia Secretary of State. Gail Davenport took back the seat, only to be challenged by Mike Glanton in 2010. Davenport beat Glanton fairly easily but is in a run for her money with Gail Buckner back in the race. This race which sometimes appears to be confusing to the voters because of the same first names is headed for a run-off. Davenport earned 48% to Bucker’s 42%, with Marcus Davis being the spoiler with 9% of the voter. This Senate district reach well into DeKalb County.
What will happen next? What are the three main things in politics? Money, money, and money. Money is indeed the mother’s milk of politics. But, the money among the big mules who have consistently hung around Clayton County politics for years – principally the land developers – appears to have dried up. Indeed, it now seems to be a valley of dry bones. The ones who will win the run-off obviously are the ones who have the message which resonates the most with the potential voters and who can get these voters to the polls. Money pays for the mailings and the postage, the robo-calls, the new signs, the cable ads, etc. These things do not come free. Someone has to pay for them. Who can secure the gas for the tanks? The tanks are quite menacing, provided that they have gas in their tanks. General Patton could have relieved Bastogne much earlier had his tanks had the gas. Who can effectively beg the best? In politics, you have to beg for money. It’s a rich man’s/woman’s game. Sooner or later, a politician realizes this, even on the local level.
Eldrin has the contacts. Can he get them to cough up more money? Can Jeff work off the excitement of his phenomenal and surprising showing? Can Gail Davenport convince her black voters to come back out and not be confused for whom to vote? Can Gail Buckner convince her white voters to come back out in disproportionate numbers? Obviously, race will be a mitigating factor in this race, despite protestations to the contrary. Let’s all be adults about this. Who will get the lion share of the black vote in the Commission Chairman’s race? It appears that both Eldrin and Jeff did very well among the white voters. Both have strong support among white voters. Will Roberta make a difference? Finally, can Victor get the black voters to turn out in huge numbers to support him? When Kem beat him in 2008, Victor lost nearly all of the 37% white voters in the Primary but his percentage among the black voters was over 75% but he still barely lost the race because of the white turnout. It’s going to be a turnout game. Who can make it happen? It’s show time, baby, it’s show time!