First, a history lesson. The Republican takeover of Georgia has been swift and decisive. Once one of the last bastions of the boll-weevil Democratic Party, the Georgia General Assembly, governorship, many U.S. House seats, and both Senate seats rested firmly in Democratic hands until the 21st century.
It was the 2002 general election that proved to be the coming-out party for Georgia Republicans.
In 2002, Republicans took over the Georgia Senate (albeit as a result of party defections). A powerful Democratic governor, Roy Barnes, known to some as King Roy and mentioned on short lists for both offices on the 2004 presidential ticket, was shocked by a former state senator and virtually unknown entity, Sonny Perdue. Then Republican Congressmen Saxby Chambliss sent first-term U.S. Senator and disabled Vietnam veteran Max Cleland packing.
If the 2002 election was the coming-out party, then the 2004 election solidified the GOP’s institutional control of Georgia. Democratic US Senator Zell Miller (yes, he was more conservative than some GOP senators, but he was still a Democrat) retired and was replaced by Republican U.S. Congressman Johnny Isakson. However, the most important Republican takeover was that of the state House of Representatives.
For years, the GOP has felt that it was under-represented in Georgia’s U.S. congressional delegation. In a state that voted overwhelmingly for George W. Bush twice, the congressional districts had been gerrymandered by the Democratic General Assembly to provide more Democratic seats that demographics realistically allotted.
Let’s backtrack just a little bit here to see how this affects Georgia's 12th Congressional District.
After the 2000 election, Georgia picked up two new Congressional seats. The 12th was drawn by the Democratic general assembly to grab the minority sections of Savannah and Chatham County; most of Augusta-Richmond County, excluding the wealthiest neighborhoods; and Athens-Clarke County, home of the University of Georgia and a liberal outpost in a conservative part of the state. In addition to these three urban areas, a large swath of rural Georgia, running from Savannah, up the South Carolina border to Augusta, and finally reaching to grab Athens-Clarke County completed the 12th. The district was drawn specifically to provide the Democrats with another seat.
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