Early voting surges in Georgia as Walker and Warnock make their final pitches to swing voters
By Matt Viser
The 2016 election season officially kicked off with Tuesday’s primaries, with voters in five states setting their primary and caucus vote agendas for their next four races. The Associated Press
ATLANTA — As the deadline approached in Georgia’s Democratic primary on March 15, the battle-tested incumbent senator was closing. She had all the resources of the national party machine and a national donor base, but she was running against eight candidates on both sides of the ideological and ideological divide.
She faced four candidates from the Green Party and one from the Libertarian Party. That meant she faced the same challenge the party faces most every four years when it has to choose a nominee from seven or more candidates. Would she choose a mainstream candidate, like herself, as had happened in four recent times when the Green Party chose the nominee?
Or would she follow the example of Georgia Republicans in 2012, when they chose a moderate-left candidate who then went on to win and flip control of the U.S. Senate, the biggest prize of their political careers?
While state Democrats had the edge against former Speaker of the House of Representatives and former gubernatorial candidate (and former Rep.) John Barrow — who the party has nicknamed “Barclay” or “the Bartender” — the Green Party fielded an impressive slate of candidates who would be the next generation of elected officials in Georgia.
Georgia Democrats had the advantage in the primary battle, but it was the Green Party’s strong showing that could set the tone for the fall.
“We are a national party now and this is a good example of that,” said Matt Hart, president of the state Democratic Party.
Indeed, the Green Party has become an influential voice in national politics, having run seven candidates in 2012, including a pair to fill the U.S. Senate seats vacated by Barbara Mikulski and the other seat held by then-Senator Saxby Chambliss.
“The Green Party has grown its voter base in the state exponentially in many ways,” said Hart. “It has become more of a voice for the people of Georgia.”
Backed into a corner
The contest in Georgia was one of the ugliest in the country, and the battle for the nomination was one of the