On Thursday, August 14, House District 173 candidate Keith Jenkins, spoke with volunteers and staff in preparation for his "District In A Day" campaign kickoff which will begin in two days on Saturday, August 16. The event will span across the district's three counties and its largest cities--Thomasville, Cairo and Bainbridge.
The Thomas County native --originally from nearby Boston, Goergia-- calls the city of Thomasville home, but hopes he can make a little bit of history and become the first African-American to represent his district in the Georgia General Assembly. In recent election cycles, Republicans have dominated much of rural South Georgia and Jenkins looks to join Valdosta's Dexter Sharper (House District 177) as the only rural Democrats representing South Georgia outside of only Albany and Savannah.
Jenkins has been active in meeting people across his three-county district and has been eager to shake many hands and explain to constituents who he is and what he would like to accomplish in the Georgia General Assembly.
Jenkins has worked with the Thomas County Public Schools and public education is important to him and had said the following on his website: "We must preserve quality public school education with innovations to increase productivity while fostering a properly funded environment of success, teamwork and ingenuity. Our country is strongest when our children are happy, healthy and well-educated. A second rate education system is not an option. Georgia needs to focus on it's own greatest infrastructional resource - it's future - the children of the Peach State."
On his website, he explains why he wanted to run for political office. Jenkins said the following: "It has a lot to do with the way I was raised. There was a sense of community and everyone had a hand in each other's successes. If my neighbor was doing fine, we were doing fine. But when they were not, we had to help get them back to a place of doing fine. Today, people all around us are doing horribly and only a small group is doing fine."
Jenkins, a former Operation Desert Storm in the U.S. Army, will face Republican incumbent Darlene Taylor this November. Taylor has been a reliable conservative who has voted to cut public education and has been against federal initiatives such as President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act.
In the Atlanta Journal Constitution back in January , a poll results suggest six of ten Georgians are in favor of Medicaid expansion.
However, Republican Governor Nathan Deal and Georgia Republicans have resisted in expanding Medicaid and opt to do nothing on the state level.
Deal has continued to keep the stance that the Peach State cannot afford to expand Medicaid, despite the federal government would pay 100 percent of the cost for three years and 90 percent permanently after three years.
Jenkins' campaign position on improving health care is that "Medicaid expansion would encompass those individuals who live below the poverty line and provide access to affordable healthcare coverage. Georgia currently contributes monetarily to expand Medicaid in other states but the current administration has rejected it for our people."
If elected, Jenkins has said the following would be issues that are important to him.
Local Business Growth
Job Training / Vocational
Jenkins district has a minority population of approximately forty percent, so it will be crucial for the Democrat to get a strong turnout and also encourage people who hadn't participated in voting to do so this November.
Thomas County is a very important and winnable county, but three of the five largest individual precincts are located outside of Thomas County -- in the cities of Bainbridge and Cairo which both have majority-African-American populations.
The BAINBRIDGE-COLISEUM precinct located in Decatur County is the single largest individual precinct in HOUSE DISTRICT 173 with approximately 4500 registered voters according to November 2013 figures from the Secretary of State.
This Bainbridge-based precinct generally votes Republican, but there is a large number of progressive Democrats, especially African-Americans in this precinct. President Obama received 38 percent of the vote. If Democratic turnout is higher in this precinct, then the chances for a progressive Democrat goes up exponentially.
Another precinct which is noteworthy and important is Decatur County's ATTAPULGUS precinct.This precinct has approximately 1500 registered voters. ATTAPULGUS is a majority-black city and precinct in which BARACK OBAMA won 69 percent of the vote back in 2012.
In Grady County, the city of CAIRO has two major precincts-- one is called CAIRO 4th and the other is Cairo 5th. Cairo 4th is a a majority-black precinct will approximately 2,000 voters and 82 percent of this precinct voted for BARACK OBAMA. Cairo 5th is a more diverse precinct with more conservative white voters, however if black Democratic turnout is higherthen Jenkins could that precinct as well. Obama had won 42 percent of (Cairo 5th).
However, the pathway for a Jenkins win starts in Thomas County.
The following is a list of some of the Thomasville-based precincts and the percentages to the right is the number who voted for BARACK OBAMA in November 2012.
SCOTT precinct (30%)
DOUGLASS precinct (85%)
REMINGTON ESC precinct (36%)
HARPER precinct (78%)
RESOURCE CENTER precinct (94%)