Jessica Fore and Charlie Bailey joined the Oconee County Democrats in person for the party’s candidate forum on Thursday night before the June 21 primary runoff.
Kwanza Hall, who, like Bailey, is a candidate for the Democratic nomination for Lieutenant Governor, joined remotely via Zoom.
Dee Dawkins-Haigler and Bee Nguyen, candidates for the party’s nomination for Secretary of State, also checked in remotely.
Tabitha Johnson-Green, who is competing with Fore for the Party’s nomination in the U.S. 10th Congressional District, sent word before the meeting she would not be joining at all, after promising earlier to be a part of the program.
The candidates present were united in their desire to run against Republicans in the November elections, and very restrained and polite in their references to their Democratic opponents.
Even Fore, who noted that she was the only one of the two candidates present, called Johnson-Green “a nice lady” several times in the hour she responded to questions from the audience.
She also said she would work hard for Johnson-Green if Johnson-Green wins the nomination in the 18-county District on Tuesday.
Fore did mention how different the race was from the Republican runoff for the party’s nomination in the U.S. District 10 race, where Mike Collins and Vernon Jones are engaged in an aggressive campaign full of charges and counter-charges.
Going into the final day of early voting on Friday, only 1,534 of the County’s 29,155 active voters have cast a ballot in the runoff, with only 114 of them selecting the Democratic Ballot and the remaining 1,420 voting with the Republican Ballot.
The forum, with both a live and remote audience, lasted a little more than two hours, with the first hour devoted to Fore and Johnson-Green.
|Screen Shot Fore|
“We did just get word a little while ago that Tabitha Johnson-Green is not going to be able to make it,” Party Co-Chair Eric Gisler announced at the beginning of the meeting.
He said the first hour still would be given over to an introduction by Fore, questions submitted in advance and those submitted during the session in Zoom chat, and closing comments from Fore.
The second hour of the program focused on the contest between Dawkins-Haigler and Nguyen.
The final hour was turned over to Bailey and Hall.
Courtney Davis moderated the forum.
Fore said she was running “because we are at a moment in our national politics that transcends left versus right.”
“We are in an existential crisis for our country,” she continued. “We’re at a place where the Republicans on the other side in the Georgia 10 race, that are in the runoff, we’ve got Vernon Jones and Mike Collins, are running on their willingness to overturn elections that their side loses.”
“In order to stabilize our democracy,” she said, “In order to preserve the stability of our constitutional republic, we have got to elect people...that are going to uphold the rule of law, that are going to maintain voter rights, and that are going to ensure peaceful transfers of power.”
Fore told the audience that, with redistricting, the 10th Congressional District has gone from plus 28 percent Republican to plus 15 percent Republican.
She said she is the person who can get enough independents and even cross-over Republicans to make the race competitive.
“I believe this is not an unwinnable race,” she said.
Secretary Of State Race
Dawkins-Haigler and Nguyen took often similar positions in their comments and in their responses to questions.
|Screen Shot Dawkins-Haigler|
Nguyen said “In the past five years I have witnessed Georgia Republicans attack our fundamental right to vote and erode our democracy.”
“I recognize that there is nothing more pressing than protecting the future of our democracy and ensuring that we protect the freedom to vote for every eligible Georgian,” she said.
|Screen Shot Nguyen|
“What we have to do is continue to work with all of the elected officials that are in the General Assembly to make sure they understand the importance of the right to vote,” Dawkins-Haigler said.
“We have to have someone who has the political will and the stamina, education, knowledge and experience, all of the above, to be able to go against Brad Raffensperger,” she said, referring to the Republican incumbent who is the party nominee again this year.
Lieutenant Governor Race
Bailey and Hall different stylistically, in part because Bailey was present in the room and Hall was coming to the audience remotely.
|Screen Shot Bailey|
“I’m excited about you all and looking forward to connecting with you in person near term,” Hall said in his concluding comments.
“I’m looking to be the best Lieutenant Governor the state has ever had,” he added.
Bailey invoked the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy in his closing comments.
“We seemingly tolerate a rising level of violence. One that ignores our common humanity and claims of civilization alike,” he said, saying things had not changed sufficiently in the 54 years since the death of these two leaders.
The state, in 2020 elected a Democratic president and “two great United States Senators, so you all know our story can change,” he added.
“What I asked you to do, is do it again,” he said. “Stand with us in this election, and I promise you this. You will never have to apologize. And you will all know my friend Charlie, he fights for us.”
Democratic Candidates On Ballot
Johnson-Green, a nurse from Washington County, was the top vote getter in the 18-county 10th District and in Oconee County on May 24, with 42.0 percent of the vote and 36.9 percent of the vote respectively.
|Screen Shot Hall|
Johnson-Green was the nominee in the old 10th Congressional District in 2018 and 2020, losing to Republican Jody Hice both times.
Fore, who is a realtor and worship leader from Athens, received 19.2 percent of the vote in the state and 28.7 percent of the vote in Oconee County in the May 24 election.
Dawkins-Haigler, a minister from Lithonia, received 18.7 percent of the vote across the state and 13.9 percent in Oconee County in the Secretary of State race.
Nguyen, received 44.3 percent of the vote in the state and 61.1 percent in Oconee County. Nguyen is a non-profit executive in Atlanta.
Bailey received 17.6 percent of the vote in the state and 31.8 percent in Oconee County in the Lieutenant Governor race, while Hall received 30.1 percent in the state and 16.1 percent in Oconee County.
Charlie Bailey is an attorney from Atlanta. Hall is a businessman from Atlanta.
Democrats also will decide on candidates for Insurance Commissioner and for Labor Commissioner in the runoff.
Raphael Baker and Janice Laws Robinson are the Insurance Commissioner candidates, and William Boddie Jr., and Nicole Horn are the candidates for Labor Commissioner.
Voters who participated in a party primary on May 24 must use that same party’s ballot if they vote in the June 21 runoff.
Only 1,449 of the 12,215 Oconee County voters in the May 24 election used a Democratic ballot, with 10,677 using the Republican ballot, and 89 using the nonpartisan ballot.
The 16,940 registered voters who didn’t cast a ballot on May 24 plus the 89 who used the nonpartisan ballot can vote in either party’s primary in the June 21 runoff.
Those who opt for the Republican ballot will decide on the party’s nominee for Post 3 on the Board of Education.
Ryan Hammock, a banker, and Julie Mauck, a realtor, are seeking the Republican party’s nomination for Post 3 on the Oconee County Board of Education.
The final day of early voting will be from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. tomorrow at the Oconee County Office of Elections and Registration, 10 Court Street, across from the Courthouse in downtown Watkinsville.
I recorded video from Zoom and lent Gisler a camera and tripod so he could recode the session from the auditorium of the Chamber of Commerce at 55 Nancy Drive in Watkinsville.
The first video below is the one recorded by Gisler.
The second video is the one I recorded by Zoom.
It is easier to hear the live speakers on the first video and the remote speakers on the second.
Davis introduced Fore at 7:40 in the first video below.
The program involving the Secretary of State candidates begins at 58:43 in the video.
The program involving the Lieutenant Governor candidates begins at 1:32:41 in the video.