Georgia Democrats can put another race in the potential win column. Denise Majette, former Congresswoman, and 2004 candidate for U.S. Senate announced that she is running for State Superintendent of Schools.
Now, the Democrats didn’t have a whole lot going for them in this race until today. We’re sure Carlotta Harrell is a nice lady and everything, but we weren’t sure that she had what it takes to run statewide. For what it’s worth, Denise Majette, we believe, does.
It takes experience. Majette knocked off Cynthia McKinney in the 2002 primary, no easy feat. In 2004, she took on Cliff Oxford, who while better funded, didn’t have the experience that Majette had, and beat him handily. In the general election, she held her own and did respectably against Johnny Isakson when Johnny was holding all the cards. What we’re saying, in a roundabout way is that Majette has been around the block a few times as far as elections go, and she’s a good campaigner who connects well with voters across the spectrum.
It also takes money. We’ll be the first to tell you that Majette’s fundraising for her Senate race was somewhat underwhelming, but we’d also tell you that it takes far less to run for State School Superintendent than it does to run for Senate. One advantage that Majette has over her primary opponent, and we believe over the incumbent as well, is an existing network of donors that can be persuaded to pony up again thanks to her previous runs for office. Granted that even with a tried and true donor, they’re usually going to shell out less dough for a State School Superintendent race than a Senate race, but the numbers are going to work out in Majette’s favor. Not to turn this into a big lecture on fundraising tactics, but the key concept is access. Majette has a bigger list of people who will take her call the first time than her opponent in the primary and, we would wager, her opponent in the general as well. So even if they donate less, we maintain that Majette has a better list.
So yes, we’re excited to see Majette in the race, but we can’t help but wonder about the politics side of it. You go from Judge to Congresswoman to candidate for US Senate to candidate for State School Superintendent. It seems like something of a demotion, and makes us wonder what’s going on. If you want our rampant speculation, here goes.
To use a sports analogy, this is a “rebuilding year” for Majette. It’s a winnable race for her, and one that proves that she can get elected statewide. If she wins here, especially by knocking off a Republican incumbent in a very red state, her political career is back on track. Perhaps she learned a lesson from another Georgia politician who gave up his State Senate seat to run for Governor and got trounced in the primary. Said politician could have given up and gone back to his lucrative law practice, but instead he ran again – this time for State Representative, a demotion, some folks said. A few years later, having been successfully elected and re-elected a few times, that politician became governor of Georgia. His name was Roy Barnes, and that’s where the parallel ends, unfortunately.
All we’re saying is there’s always room for a well-timed, well-planned comeback, and Denise Majette for State Superintendent of Schools has all the hallmarks of such a comeback.