Every vote counts, so voter turnout and enthusiasm will determine who will be victorious on Nov. 2nd in the GA-171 House District race between former Camilla Republican mayor Jay Powell and first time candidate, Democrat James Timmons.
People have a choice between a friend of big business and corporate interests in Powell, who was recently selected by the Georgia Retailers Association as one of its Legislators of the Year or choose a legislator who will make education and jobs his top priority in Timmons, who had recently received an endorsement from the Georgia Association of Educators (GAE).
“I decided to run for public office due in part to the economic downturn that is wrecking havoc on the people in my local community. I believe this downturn can be attributed in part to bad legislative decisions that were passed by a misguided Republican leadership in Atlanta.”
The jobless rate continues to fluctuate around 10% in Mitchell and Colquitt counties and many state and local governments have resorted to cutting budgets that resort to furloughing teachers or firing teachers and cutting back on local services.
As Timmons visits areas of his two-county Georgia House district, he says education and jobs are two major issues that are a cause for concern.
“Everyone I talk to in Mitchell and Colquitt Counties are very supportive. This support comes from people of diverse backgrounds who believe in protecting our schools and creating jobs locally. They believe that affordable health care should be available for all citizens.”
There is a diverse population in Colquitt and Mitchell counties. Mitchell’s African-American population is 47% and the Latino population is approximately 3%.
In Colquitt County, whites comprise approximately 60% of the population. However, the city of Moultrie has an African-American majority and the Latino population in Colquitt County is 17% according to the latest Census figures.
Mitchell County has a larger progressive base than Colquitt. However, both counties voted for John McCain in 2008. McCain won Mitchell with 51% and Colquitt with 64% of the popular vote.
As of July 20th, in Mitchell County, there are 10, 985 registered voters and in Colquitt County, there are 9,931 registered voters. Cumulatively, Georgia’s House District 171 district has approximately 21,000 registered voters.
For Timmons, a strong turnout is needed in Mitchell County to beat the incumbent Jay Powell.
The four largest voting precincts in Mitchell County are Camilla-South, Camilla-North, Pelham and Baconton. Overall there are 11 voting precincts in Mitchell, but if Timmons wins them all it provides a pathway to victory on November 2nd.
However, Powell, the former conservative Camilla mayor is counting on a strong turnout in the Pelham and Mitchell County’s largest voting location, the Camilla-South precinct with approximately 3,000 registered voters.
In 2008, the Pelham voting location, the second largest precinct in Mitchell County was barely won by John McCain, winning 51 percent to Obama’s 49 percent. Currently, the Pelham voting precinct as of July 20th had a little over 2,700 registered voters.
In 2008, Camilla North, the third largest voting location in Mitchell County was won by President Barack Obama with 88% of the vote on Election Day. The Camilla-North voting precinct has approximately 1,700 voters as of July 20th.
The more conservative Camilla-South voting precinct still voted for Obama, but only 55% voted in favor of the current President of the United States.
The city of Baconton with its nearly 1,000 registered voters could tilt a close race in Mitchell County. In 2008, 48% voted for Barack Obama.
In Colquitt County, the two largest voting precincts are Moultrie and Shaw. The city of Moultrie is majority African-American; however the county tilts conservative even though over the years Colquitt had voted for Dixiecrat Richard Royal throughout the 1980’s, 1990’s and until 2008.
Timmons will have to appeal to independent voters in Colquitt to close the gap and it is not likely that the 17% Latino population will be a major factor in this election despite Georgia and national Republicans using the immigration issue as a wedge issue in political races.
The Shaw precinct in Colquitt has over 2,700 registered voters and is a predominately progressive district. In 2008, 82% of Shaw voted for Obama. The more conservative Moultrie voting location is the largest voting precinct in Colquitt County.
The Moultrie voting precinct has over 3,400 registered voters. Only 39% voted for Obama in 2008 on Election Day.
Georgia Democrats have a real opportunity to pick up a critical Georgia House District seat in November.
All politics are local and every vote counts. However, James Timmons is in a great position to turn GA-171 truly blue in 2010.