Georgia – Tuesday’s primary elections brought swift justice to Republican Doug McKillip, a former Democratic leader who famously switched parties in an attempt to retain his seat.
“Neither party trusts Doug,” said Mike Berlon, Democratic Party of Georgia Chairman. “Both Democrats and Republicans knew he would lose in Athens the moment that he turned Republican. The only person who didn’t see it was Doug himself.”
Election analysis suggests that well over 1,000 Democrats crossed party lines to vote against McKillip in the Republican primary. The Democratic House Caucus and the State Party helped promote the effort, and progressive activists in Clarke County enthusiastically responded.
“We’d love to have a Democrat running in that race, but redistricting made the seat much more conservative,” Berlon acknowledged. “Instead, we focused our efforts on increasing Democratic turnout in a Republican primary, an extremely difficult thing to do.” Ironically, the effort’s success came from many of the same Democratic incumbents that McKillip had once helped to lead. “The Democratic House Caucus’ political efforts were extremely effective this cycle,” said Berlon.
McKillip’s 2010 party-switch came days after being elected to a leadership position by state house Democrats. His alleged conversion from Democrat to Republican in such a short time found the incumbent lacking support from both sides of the aisle. Even his signature legislation to restrict women’s reproductive rights was viewed as a transparent ploy to garner favor with his fellow incumbent Republicans.
“Politics is about principles. Folks have to trust that you share their values and their ideals,” concluded Berlon. “Few people believed that Doug shared any of that with his constituents. Instead they saw another politician shamelessly trying to hold onto power by saying whatever he thought Athens or Oconee County wanted to hear.”
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