Stacey Evans, Democratic Representative from Smyrna to the Georgia House, told Oconee County Democrats not to criticize the voters for the defeat of Hillary Clinton and election of Donald Trump on Nov. 8 in Georgia.
The Democrats didn’t get out enough of their voters to win the election in Georgia and across the country, she said.
Evans said the Democratic Party is on the right side of issues facing Georgia and that she believes the party will have success in the state in the near future not only because of the changing demographics but also because issues the party champions have broad popular support.
Evans was speaking to a group of 30–all but four of them women–at the Oconee County Library in Watkinsville on Nov. 13, five days after Donald Trump swept to victory with the support of the majority of the voters in Oconee County and the state.
Evans told the group to start working harder at the local level to get Democrats elected to local and state offices.
“I think the worst thing we can do at this juncture is blame the voters and pretend like we know better than them,” Evans said. “We are responsible for selling our message and making folks realize why we have something better to offer.”
Evans said Democrats in the presidential election didn’t sell a message, instead “We just talked about why Trump was so bad.”
Evans said Democrats have a lot to be proud of and should have been able to create a message for their candidate.
“Democrats are the party that offered health care for all,” she said. “I’m proud that our party is the one that continues to fight in Georgia to expand Medicaid to the 600,000 uninsured Georgians.”
“It is our party that is more friendly to business,” she said. “We don’t talk about it.”
Evans said she understands that it is hard for people in strong Republican counties such as Oconee to realize that it is possible to increase the number of Democratic votes, but she believes it can be done.
And she said Democrats have to realize that change will come about at the state and federal level only as a result of change at the local level.
Working on a local race helps candidates higher up, Evans said. If a local candidate can turn out voters, those same voters often will vote for Democrats for state and federal offices, she said.
All Oconee County office holders are Republicans, and no Democrat ran for local office this year or four years ago.
The Cobb County representative said she believes the Democratic Party will have a chance to make significant strides in the 2018 election cycle, when there will be a swing against the party in power, and that the Party has a chance to win the governorship.
Evans said Democrats should not be focusing on the popular vote victory of Clinton and criticizing the victory by Trump in the Electoral College.
“We were never playing to win the popular vote. Trump wasn’t playing to win the popular vote,” Evans said. “We were all trying to win the Electoral College because that was the game.”
The latest count puts Clinton up by 1,677,041 votes nationally. That translates to 48.0 percent of the popular vote for Clinton vs. 46.7 percent for Trump.
Clinton got only 232 votes in the Electoral College to the projected 306 for Trump.
Evans grew up in Ringgold in northwest Georgia, the daughter of carpet mill workers.
She told the Oconee County gathering that she was able to attend college only because of the Hope Scholarship.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in economics and political science from the University of Georgia and then graduated from the University of Georgia School of Law.
Evans was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 2010 and has worked to restore HOPE funding for students in technical schools in the state.
The crowd attending the meeting at the Oconee County Library included young mothers with children in tow.
Ann Stoneburner from the Oconee Democrats introduced Evans.
The complete video of the presentation, including Evans’ responses to questions following her formal makes, is below.
The video is stored on the Candidate Forums, Political Meetings, Political Events Channel of the Vimeo site for Oconee County Observations.
Evans is second representative of the Georgia House who has spoken to Oconee Democrats in recent months.
Stacey Abrams, minority leader in the Georgia House of Representatives, spoke to the group in September.
The Oconee County Republican Party has not been programming speakers this year.