Out of office, still in politics | AJC.com

28
Jul

Out of office, still in politics | AJC.com

After he lost his comeback bid for governor in 2010, former Gov. Roy Barnes returned to his law practice just off the Marietta Square and spent more time with his cattle on his farm in Powder Springs.

The millionaire Democrat also stopped giving money to the Democratic Party of Georgia.

“I think the Democratic Party has to get its act together before I give to them again,” said Barnes last week from his office.

Last week, Michelle Nunn, daughter of former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn, announced her candidacy for her father’s old seat. She is also one of the hopefuls who has sought out Barnes, as did John Barrow, the Georgia congressman who

was the Democratic front runner until deciding not to run.

Nunn is, to Barnes’ experienced view, the right person at the right time to help start swinging the state blue again. Barnes’ stunning loss of the governor’s office in 2002 to former Gov. Sonny Perdue set the stage for a sweeping Republican takeover of Georgia. But a growing number of black and Hispanic voters in the state, coupled with some suburban whites again leaning Democratic, may set the stage for another upset, he said.

“She’s exactly what the Democrats need — a young white woman,” said Barnes, adding it will be a few years before a black Democrat can win statewide. “The Republicans think their problem is with Hispanic and black people. It’s not. It’s young white women and younger educated whites.”

Nunn would be an underdog against a Republican opponent but Barnes knows the tide of change can be sudden and cruel. “You can never tell when it’s time,” he said. “I know that firsthand.”

At a time when no Democrat holds statewide office, Barnes’ history and quiet activism makes him “the most significant behind-the-scenes Democrat in the state,” said David Worley, former chair of the state Democratic Party. “Roy is the only person from that last generation (of Democrats elected to high office) still working to hold things together.”

Also, since 2011, he has given as much as $100,000 to Better Georgia, a liberal-leaning organization that has continually tweaked Republican Gov. Nathan Deal, who bested Barnes in 2010. Barnes likens Better Georgia to a “guerrilla organization. They’ve taken a shoestring budget and built a really good opposition organization.

“It’s a great bang for the buck,” he said. “I give money to candidates and groups who are efficient.”

via Out of office, still in politics | AJC.com.

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