More on Senate District 43 and the Democrats failure to hold Ramsey’s seat

As Jon Richards summarized earlier, Janice Frey Van Ness, a Republican, defeated Tonya Anderson, a Democrat and a House member who resigned her seat to run for the Senate seat. The special election was necessitated by the resignation of Ron Ramsey, who was appointed to the judiciary by Governor Deal.

Why is this so surprising? Because this district goes for Dems 75/25. Ramsey got 80% of the vote the last time he was opposed. It has a BVAP of 67%. This is not a race Democrats should lose.

But lose they did. Here’s a picture of the winner with a horse:


This victory will be short-lived for Republicans, but its lessons for Democrats shouldn’t be. Special elections are low turnout and they require real campaigns even in cases where the psychodemographics imply a cakewalk. The campaign disclosures will be enlightening to see how these candidates spent their money, but the early lesson is clear: you can’t just show up.

Update: Anderson was the former Mayor of Lithonia and took only 68 votes from that precinct. That says it all right there.




  1. Mrs. Adam Kornstein says:

    I’ve gleaned from various FB posts that Ms. Anderson lost the Rockdale vote and votes in Newton and Dekalb were unable to cover it (obviously)

    No doubt the ridiculous initial field pretty much screamed that their wasn’t a consensus candidate from the Democratic side, division from your own party is, well, very disappointing.

    The real winner last night, Rep. Doreen Carter.

  2. northside101 says:

    In the 2012 presidential election, about 73,000 votes were cast in the district. Yesterday, about 7,600.

    This is more shocking than Taylor Bennett’s victory in HD 80 last summer (Brookhaven/Sandy Springs). Yes, HD 80 usually votes Republican, but it was not nearly as Republican as SD 43 is Democratic. In HD 80, for instance, David Perdue won just 52% of the vote last year. Michelle Nunn in contrast won 71% in SD 43.

    Of course there is lots of evidence to show why Democrats hate runoffs….as former Senator Wyche Fowler could tell you from his 1992 loss to Paul Coverdell (in which Fowler led in Round 1 but lost in Round 2), or David Burgess to Chuck Eaton (PSC) about a decade or so ago. In 2008, Saxby Chambliss was thrown into a runoff by Democrat Jim Martin; Chambliss led by 3 points in Round 1 but won by a crushing 15 points in Round 2.

    Look forward to hearing Dubose Porter’s comments today….

    • What if I told you that SD 43 is greater than 2:1 African American/White on a total registration basis, but among 65+ whites actually outnumber blacks?

      And that on a 55+ basis it’s about even. Still shocked?

  3. northside101 says:

    Chris, yep—still shocked!

    The upset last night would be akin to, say, a Democrat winning a State House seat in East Cobb, North Fulton or in the Augusta area’s Columbia County. We’re talking about a district that was over 60% black in voter registration in last year’s general election. When was the last time a Republican in either the Georgia House or Senate held a 60%+ black district (in voter registration)? We’re talking about a district that voted Democratic in every statewide election in 2014 where a Democrat was on the ballot—even the ones where Democrats statewide got blown out. We’re talking about a district that includes most of Rockdale County, which transformed rapidly from a Republican to a Democratic stronghold in little over 10 years. (Rockdale County voted 58% for Obama in 2012—63% if you include just the portion within SD 43 and leave out the portion in SD 17).

    I can only think of 2 Republican legislators who have won majority-black districts in the last 15 years. First was Randy Hall in 2002, when he defeated very narrowly the legally embattled Senator Charles Walker in Augusta, in a district which back then had a bare majority of registered black voters. (Court-ordered redistricting put Hall in another Senate district in 2004 and he lost to Democrat J.B. Powell). Rep. Gerald Greene of southwest Georgia represents a majority-black district, but he was elected originally as a Democrat over 30 years ago and doubtless holds the district in part because of seniority.

    Looks like the DeKalb portion of the district had a very low turnout, disproportionately low compared to its share of the district population, while Rockdale’s turnout was disproportionately high.

  4. illume says:

    I’d appreciate knowing the point of posting a photo of Senator Van Ness with a horse. I’m truly curious because it seems nonsensical and completely irrelevant to the very important issue of the future of Senate District 43. If your audience wants to know more about JaNice, let me put my two cents in:

    Congratulation to JaNice Van Ness (, a senator we can be confident in and proud of as our representative in the Gold Dome! JaNice follows the rules and ran a very ethical campaign. Integrity and honesty are rare qualities to find in most people these days, and virtually nonexistent in politicians. Forget about the issues with red vs. blue; think about the qualities you try to instill in your children and the values you try to live by every day. Regardless of your party affiliation, remember that JaNice is someone we can trust, a person who will treat each of us as one of her own and work hard to improve the quality of life for every member of her district. She included her personal cell number on every mailer, every push card, and every electronic communication sent out during her campaign. She wants to know what you think and what you want for Georgia Senate District 43. Her work has just begun, and I am confident she is ready for the task!

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