Athens attorney Deborah Gonzalez said last week she is ready to seek election as district attorney in November pending the outcome on her suit against Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to force the state to hold that election.
Gonzalez told Oconee County Democrats, meeting virtually last Thursday evening, that U.S. District Court Judge Mark Cohen in Atlanta has scheduled a hearing on her motion for a preliminary injunction against Kemp and Raffensperger for 10 a.m. on this coming Thursday via Zoom.
Gonzalez, who represented parts of Oconee County in the Georgia House of Representatives in 2018, had declared her intent to run as a Democrat in the party primary for district attorney originally scheduled for May 19 to replace retiring District Attorney Ken Mauldin.
When Mauldin unexpectedly resigned at the end of February, Gonzalez declared her intent to run in a special election in November to replace Mauldin.
That special election was dependent on Gov. Kemp appointing a district attorney by May 3 to fill out Mauldin's term, but Kemp still has not made an appointment.
Gonzalez and four other citizens filed a federal lawsuit on May 18 to force Kemp and Raffensberger to hold an election on Nov. 3 for district attorney for the Western Judicial Circuit made up of Oconee and Clarke counties.
Gonzalez was the featured speaker at the June virtual meeting of the Oconee County Democrats, and 28 participant links, some with more than one participant involved, were showing when Gonzalez spoke.
|Gonzalez On Zoom 5/18/2020|
Gonzalez used most of her time to discuss the suit she had filed and to provide an update on the hearing scheduled for Thursday for a request for a motion for a preliminary injunction to force an immediate response from Kemp and Raffensperger.
The lawsuit contends that a law passed by the Georgia General Assembly in 2018 “violates the United States Constitution and the Georgia Constitution” by allowing the governor to delay election of the district attorney until 2022.
Andrea Wellnitz, one of the founders of Oconee County Progressives, is one of the four additional plaintiffs. The other three are from Athens-Clarke County.
Kemp’s refusal to appoint a district attorney for Oconee and Clarke counties violated the rights of Gonzalez and the four other plaintiffs, the suit argued, and the remedy is to hold the special election on Nov. 3.
Gonzalez On Law
Gonzalez said the General Assembly devoted only 90 seconds to discussion of the bill in 2018 that gave the governor the right to delay appointment of a district attorney and postpone election of the eventual appointee until the following election cycle.
“That is the way these representatives and senators are discussing these laws that make these changes and basically disenfranchise millions of people,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez said the call for an election should be a nonpartisan issue.
In addition to Gonzalez, Brian Patterson, the chief assistant district attorney for the Western Judicial Circuit, also had declared his intent to compete in the primary for the Democratic nomination for district attorney.
No Republican had announced her or his intent to run, and Kemp’s decision allows him to appoint someone–most likely a Republican–who won’t face opposition until she or he has been in that job for almost two years.
Patterson currently is acting as district attorney.
Campaign On Hold
Gonzalez said her campaign is on hold while she awaits the decision of the Federal Court.
“There’s no volunteering at this stage,” she said. “We’re not like a campaign.
“If we get that injunction passed,” she said, “who knows, we may still have that election in November, and trust me, I will let everybody know, and we will definitely need a lot of volunteers at that time.”
In the meantime, those interested can contribute to the expenses of the legal action via a Political Action Committee named Justice Warriors PAC, Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez also encouraged participants in the meeting to spread the word about the lawsuit and to write to Gov. Kemp asking him to hold the election.
I recorded the video of the June 18 virtual meeting of the Oconee County Democratic Party via Zoom and have embedded that video below.
Gonzalez begins speaking just after her introduction at 12:15 in the video.