Abrams reelected as minority leader, with some dissension in the ranks

[private]House Democrats reelected Rep. Stacey Abrams (D-Atlanta) to a fourth term as House minority leader, but there was clearly some dissatisfaction among her caucus colleagues at the party’s lagging position in the Legislature.

There will also be some new faces among the caucus leadership.

In the race for caucus chair, Rep. Stacey Evans (D-Smyrna) defeated Rep. Billy Mitchell (D-Stone Mountain), who was trying to move up from the vice chair’s position.

Evans, an attorney who’s starting her fourth term in the House, is considered one of the party’s rising stars and a possible candidate for statewide office at some point.

Rep. Bob Trammell (D-Luthersville), a young attorney who just won a second term in the House, was elected vice chair over Rep. Erica Thomas (D-Austell) to replace Mitchell.

Abrams fended off a challenge for the top job from Rep. Winfred Dukes (D-Albany), who had said in a letter to caucus members:

These past six years have been rough to say the least. This week’s election results demonstrated the culmination of an ongoing lack of transparency, diversity and inclusion — these elements are essential in order to have a successful caucus. We suffered a loss and our losses were great. To put it any other way would be disingenuous.

Abrams has become a high-profile political figure in the national media during her tenure as the first black leader of Georgia House Democrats, but the party’s hold on House seats has declined slightly.

When Abrams’ first leadership term started in 2011, Democrats held 63 seats (and there was one independent, Rusty Kidd). After Republicans gerrymandered the House districts prior to the 2012 elections, the number of Democratic-held seats was reduced to 60 (plus Kidd, the independent).

The partisan balance remained the same after the 2014 elections, but Democrats did pick one seat in mid-term when Taylor Bennett won a special election in Brookhaven.

In the just-completed elections, Democrats ousted Republicans Mike Cheokas and Valerie Clark, but Bennett could not retain his seat. Republicans also picked up the independent seat left vacant by Kidd, leaving the lineup for the upcoming session at 118-62 in the Republicans’ favor.

“We spent $1 million to gain one seat,” Dukes said. “That is unacceptable.”

Rep. Carolyn Hugley (D-Columbus) retained her position as minority whip, although she was challenged by Rep. Karla Drenner (D-Avondale Estates).

Rep. Gloria Frazier was elected chief deputy whip. Rep. Pat Gardner (D-Atlanta) will continue as secretary and Rep. David Wilkerson (D-Austell) as treasurer.

© 2016 by The Georgia Report


Tags: Bob Trammell , Carolyn Hugley , House Democratic caucus , Stacey Abrams , Stacey Evans