How $1B could bridge the political divide in Georgia

Earlier this year, the Democratic National Committee overwhelmingly voted to reshape its party’s Presidential Preference Primary to favor states that more closely resembled the diversity of America and the Democratic Party. 

That vote, taken in February, would put Georgia at No. 4 in Democrats’ Primary schedule, on Feb. 13. It would follow South Carolina on Feb. 3 and New Hampshire and Nevada on Feb. 6.

But even though the vote was overwhelming, more needs to be done, including in the Peach State. 

In Georgia, that hurdle means convincing Republicans to go along with the plan, since the GOP controls the state — in the Legislature, Governor’s office and Secretary of State’s office. 

That may seem like a hard sell, and it may well be. But as NBC New reports, the prospect of becoming an early Primary state comes with a lot of dollar signs — $1.12 billion of them to be exact, according to estimates. 

NBC News based its finding on a report from Tom Smith, an economist at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School. The 26-page report, commissioned by Democrats it’s worth noting, estimates a 12-candidate field would bring $220 million through a variety of sources such as direct spending from campaigns, PAC spending, staff member salaries, travel and more. 

“It’s hard to overstate what a game changer the influx of over $9 million that Athens stands to gain from an earlier Primary would be for the business community,” Athens Chamber of Commerce CEO David Bradley told NBC News, citing the report’s estimated spending for the college city northeast of Atlanta. “The flurry of campaign visits will bring a rush of spending and attention to the Main Street businesses that are the heart of Athens’ local economy.”

Those impacts may be hard to resist, even for Republicans looking for ways to thwart Democrats’ plans wherever they may find them.

And it’s not just the dollars and cents that make sense. Ancillary benefits are also possible through campaign promises. 

Being an early Primary state means lots of candidate visits. And those candidates make promises. In 2020, voters in states like Pennsylvania where factory jobs were drying up heard a lot about how to make those families whole again. 

Campaign promises were on full display in the case of Iowa, where now President Joe Biden made good on promises to corn farmers — not to mention motorists concerned with high gas prices — by issuing a waiver permitting the sale of higher-ethanol gasoline. 

That could translate for potential big wins in the state if a candidate makes a pledge, wins the nomination and, eventually, the White House. Georgia could benefit on things like its massive port in Savannah, or though relaxed trade policies for its sizable agriculture industry. Financial tech firms, which have become prevalent in Atlanta, could also stand to benefit. 

While it’s hard to see Republicans doing Democrats any favors in the state — especially after Biden became the first Democratic candidate for President to win the state in 2020, the first since 1992. 

But Democrats are motivated, and they’re prepared to make the case to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who has said he doesn’t mind moving the Primary, just not until 2028.

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