Have you noticed? The Gwinnett Republican Party has so far about vanished in the run-up to this political season. The once-strong and dominant party is having difficulty finding candidates to run for local political offices, that is, compared to the Gwinnett Democratic Party.

If anything, the Democrats are awash with candidates.

Actually, for some smart Republican who might aim for local offices, it’s a pretty good time to run. They probably won’t draw any opposition in the party primary, and can take on the Democrat for that post in the November election. That gives the Republican plenty of time to campaign, and possibly “upset” the Democrat. But so far, few Republicans have announced that they will run.

It appears many Democrats are chomping at the bit to run for office, and get elected this season. They feel this way because of the strong showing that Democrats scored in the two most recent General Elections in Gwinnett. You may remember that Hillary Clinton won Gwinnett in 2016 (52% of the vote), and Stacey Abrams took a whopping 67% in Gwinnett in her race for governor. Meanwhile, in 2018 several local Democrats beat their Republican opposition, so all this is why Gwinnett Democrats are so excited about their chances in 2020.

Will the 2020 local results be similar to the historic take-over in 1984 that the Republicans surprised most everyone (including themselves) when they swept every contended office? (The GOP won 17 of 17 offices that year, and ever since, Gwinnett has been seen as a heavily Republican county.)

Several Democrats feel their time is coming in 2020. Most of the candidates we have heard about running have been Democrats. Those running as Republican who have the best chance are those currently serving in some office, although any GOP candidate may be running scared this year.

Back in the old days when virtually the entire state was Democratically controlled, any race was usually decided in the Democratic primary. The General Election might field Republican candidates, but even most of those candidates realized their chance was slim to none. That’s the way it had always been in Georgia.

But beginning in the 1970s and 1980s, many of the people moving to Georgia from other parts of the country were not automatically Democrats. And slowly, particularly in the fast-growing parts of the state, especially Cobb and Gwinnett counties, many of those newcomers had grown up in either the Republican tradition, or at least in areas where there were real contests between the two parties.

Few realized until 1984 this movement of more conservative voters, and it came with a big boom! Surprised candidates in both parties saw the Republican majority in Gwinnett. And in the years that followed, other parts of Georgia came into the Republican fold, thanks in no small part to the election of Ronald Reagan as president.

That made it easier for what was once called the “wool hat boys” from rural Georgia to question the Georgia Democrats as never before. And by 2002, Georgians were surprised again when that Democratic of all bastions, the Georgia General Assembly, somehow got away from the Democrats. Since then, Georgia has pretty much been a majority “red” state. Though the Democrats have always put up opposition, that party has seen few rich and robust chances in winning many seats in recent days.

But in Gwinnett, Democrats may run strong this year.

By qualifying time March 6, Republicans may find slim pickings in Gwinnett.

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Elliott Brack is editor and publisher of GwinnettForum. He can be reached at elliott@brack.net.

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