On Wednesday, February 5, Savannah's Brian Reese told Southeast Georgia's WSAV-TV that he intends to run for the Democratic nomination of the First Congressional District.
"I believe this district is very much in play for the Democratic Party. I believe that we can bring change, a different perspective, we can collaborate. We can reach across the aisles. We can do things differently to move the first district forward and Georgia forward," Reese said.
A confident Reese is running to replace one of the Congress' most conservative Republican members and one of its chief obstructionists --the outgoing Jack Kingston.
Reese's announcement came after the 2012 Democratic nominee Lesli Messinger decided to withdraw her name from the race, but Messinger wholeheartedly supports and endorses Reese and his efforts to claim the seat.
However, Republicans have been able to hold onto southeastern Georgia's congressional seat for two decades and thus far five Republicans-- State Sen. Buddy Carter, Darwin Carter, State Sen. Jeff Chapman, Bob Johnson, and John McCallum--have announced their intentions to capture the Republican nomination and open seat left by Kingston.
If Democrats are going to entertain the prospect of winning the House of Representatives in an effort to move forward with President Barack Obama's domestic agenda, Democrats must be able to win the increasingly diverse First Congressional District.
The largest population center of the First Congressional District is Chatham County and Georgia's fourth largest city, Savannah.
For most of Jack Kingston's two decade tenure, the conservative Republican benefited via redistricting with a divided Chatham, but things have changed since the last Census and now all of Chatham County rests in the First Congressional District.
One of Reese's biggest challenges is to turn Chatham and Liberty counties more 'blue'. In past years, lower turnout in predominately Democratic precincts in Chatham had provided conservatives an easier avenue to win in congressional elections.
In 2012, President Barack Obama won Chatham with nearly 57 percent of the vote, However, among the eighty Chatham precincts, the lowest participation rates had come from majority Democratic, majority black precincts.
Republicans are hoping to see the trend of lower turnout manifest itself in 2014, but Reese and his campaign can do something in the coming months to reverse this and encourage people to come out and vote in this mid-term election.
The average voter participation rate in Georgia for November 2012 was 72 percent. The following are just a few of the precincts--according to the Secretary of State-- that had among the lowest participation in Savannah.
62% Blackshear Comm Ctr
59% W. W. Law Center
54% Williams Court Apts
64% Rose of Sharon
58% Senior Citizens Cent
61% Elks Lodge
52% Bull Street Baptist
Reese, 42, is a managing partner with UPS and has also been a minister for 20 years—currently serving at Family Nation Church in Savannah. Reese graduated from H.V. Jenkins High School and Savannah State University with a major in Political Science.
Every vote counts, but a renewed focus on registration will be needed as we head into 2014.
Majority-minority cities such as Folkston, Brunswick, Darien, Waycross and other coastal cities such as Kingsland and St. Marys will play an important role in whether a Democrat will be representing southeast Georgia for the first time in decades.
Reese has begun to travel across the First Congressional District in an effort to meet people and discuss issues. Recently, Reese had visited Brunswick, St. Marys and Waycross.
The Democratic primary is scheduled for Tuesday, May 20.