Georgia Democratic leaders brim with optimism at annual fundraising dinner

    Stacey Abrams speaks at the Democratic Party of Georgia's annual fundraiser at the Hyatt Regency in Atlanta Tuesday. Beau Evans/Georgia Recorder

    Hundreds of Georgia Democrats eyeing 2020 as the year when they might finally end the GOP’s grip on the levers of state government gathered for a dinner fundraiser in downtown Atlanta that reeled in more than $365,000 in donations.

    Democratic leaders and political pundits project Georgia to be a battleground state during the 2020 state and national elections. Democrats are working to seize control of the Georgia House of Representatives, wrest two U.S. Senate seats from Republican control and peel votes away from President Donald Trump.

    “We know that the future is right here in Georgia and the path to the White House runs through Georgia,” said state Sen. Nikema Williams of Atlanta, who chairs the Democratic Party of Georgia.

    The Georgia Republican Party held its annual fundraising gala earlier this month and raised $360,000. State Republican leaders are working to reclaim or protect state House districts where Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams fared well in her unsuccessful 2018 campaign for governor.

    “Providing the necessary resources to hold targeted seats and support our statewide candidates remains the top priority for both (GOP Chairman David Shafer) and the State Party,” said the party’s executive director, Stewart Bragg.

    Democrats need to flip 15 suburban Atlanta seats to claim a majority in the state’s 180-member House. Party leaders are homing in on several districts they deem vulnerable for Republicans after gaining 11 seats in the House during the 2018 midterm elections.

    All four Democratic candidates trying to secure their party’s nomination for a chance to unseat U.S. Sen. David Perdue attended Tuesday night’s fundraiser.

    Georgia is set to host the next Democratic presidential primary debate on Nov. 20.

    Abrams, who gave the keynote speech at Tuesday’s dinner, claimed the party’s 2018 midterm gains served as a wake-up call for Republicans, despite her own loss to Gov. Brian Kemp. Fresh off launching her new voter registration group, Fair Fight 2020, Abrams on Tuesday urged state Democrats to ride the momentum of 2018’s state House gains in next fall’s elections. She also reinforced efforts to make sure the 2020 Census counts as many Georgians as possible.

    “We are a purple state,” Abrams said. “No more of this deep-red stuff.”

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    Beau Evans
    Beau Evans has covered local and state government and breaking news in New Orleans and California. He’s reported on immigration issues, the threat of rising seas to coastal areas, public safety and hurricanes. At The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, Evans detailed the critical role government plays to ensure that people in a community have access to clean water and other public needs. In 2018, his investigative reporting revealed top officials at New Orleans’ cash-poor water utility dealt themselves huge raises, prompting several to resign. Evans’ prior reporting was in West Marin north of San Francisco for The Point Reyes Light. Evans is an Atlanta native who graduated with honors from The Lovett School and is an honors graduate of North Carolina’s Davidson College.