Thursday, February 15, 2018

Speaker Tells Oconee Democrats They Need To Reach Out To Others To Win Elections

***Urged Involvement In Local Races***

Democratic activist Daniel Blackman from Forsyth County told the gathering of Oconee County Democrats last month that he was really pleased to see so many people in the audience, but he said it wasn’t enough.

Blackman said there were not enough young people in the group.

And he challenged the 32 people who did attend to reach out to others outside “their comfort zone.”

“We have the numbers to win any seat,” he said. “The problem is we keep trying to do it with us.”

Blackman was the featured speaker at the January 16 meeting of Oconee County Democrats, held in the Chamber of Commerce auditorium at 55 Nancy Drive in Watkinsville.

The Democrats have booked former Congressman John Barrow, now running for Secretary of State, for their next meeting, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 20 at the same venue. Lisa Lott, running for Superior Court Judge, also will speak.

Blackman’s Bio

Blackman gained some attention nationally in 2016 when he challenged incumbent Republican Michael Williams in a race for State Senate District 27, which includes almost all of Forsyth County, north of Atlanta.

Daniel Blackman At Oconee Democrats

Blackman was the first African-American ever to run for office in the county.

Blackman got only 21.5 percent of the vote. In 2014, when he ran unsuccessfully for Public Service Commissioner, he had obtained 41.7 percent of the vote.

Blackman is the owner of Social Karma, a communication agency based in Cumming, has worked with the National Wildlife Federation and other environmental groups, and was director of the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign in Georgia.

Local Politics

Blackman was critical of the policies of President Donald Trump and Republicans nationally in his comments to the local Democrats, which lasted for nearly an hour and were inserted into the regular business meeting of the local Democrats.

His focus, however, was on Georgia politics.

Blackman urged the group to focus on candidates for the Oconee County Board of Commissioners and the Oconee County Board of Education as well as other local offices.

All Oconee County office holders at present are Republicans, but two posts on the Board of Commissioners and two posts on the Board of Education are up for election in November.

Chuck Horton, Post 2 Commissioner, told me in an email message on Feb. 3 that he intends to seek re-election, and The Oconee Enterprise carried a story with that announcement in its Feb. 8 edition.

Two Democrats now represent Oconee County in the Georgia General Assembly, Rep. Doborah Gonzalez from the 117th House District and Rep. Jonathan Wallace from the 119th House District.

Reaching Out

Blackman congratulated those in attendance for their involvement with the party, calling them “concerned” and “engaged.”

“I’m happy you’re voting. I want you to keep voting,” he said. “But the definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing over and over again and expecting to get a different result. So we’re doing something wrong, which is not effectively reaching as many people as possible outside our comfort zone.”

“It doesn’t mean we’re not registering voters,” he said. “It doesn’t mean we’re not knocking on doors. It doesn’t mean we’re not doing positive things.

“It means that we could be doing more to get people to come in,” he said.

Reach Out To Trump Voters

Blackman said he want to houses that had Trump signs in the front yard in his 2016 state Senate campaign, “asking people questions.”

He said he went to meetings to talk with people whose children where in rehabilitation for drug abuse. He went to gatherings of conservative religious groups.

“I was asking them, what it is that you want?” he said.

Blackman noted that his 21.5 percent vote was better than President Barack Obama’s in his re-election campaign in 2012 or in his 2008 election.

(According to official figures from the Georgia Secretary of State Office, Obama got 17.8 percent of the vote in Forsyth County in 2012 and 20.4 percent in 2008.)

“There is a large number of people whose issue may not be your issue,” Blackman said. “We’ve got to start crafting messages that are going to be sensitive to those communities.”

“If you are not talking about the things that are affecting these communities, you cannot expect them to come out in groves and vote,” he said.


I was not able to attend the meeting of the Oconee Democrats on Jan. 16, but Penny Mills did attend and recorded the video below.

Blackman began speaking at 27:10 in the video.

He touched on a wide range of state issues, including support for education, the environment, and for farmers.

He also criticized the Public Service Commission support for the nuclear power facility, Plant Vogtle, located in Burke County, near Waynesboro in southeastern Georgia.

Angela Eells, chair of the Oconee Democrats, presided at the meeting.

OCO: Oconee Democrats 1 16 18 from Lee Becker on Vimeo.

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