On Saturday, February 15, Brian Reese, a Democratic candidate for the First Congressional District continued his tour with a visit to the second largest population center after Savannah in the district -- Glynn County and its largest city, Brunswick.
The progressive Democrat met potential voters at Brunswick's St. Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church which is located at 2101 Albany Street.
Reese had officially announced his intentions of running publicly back on February 6 and has attempted to become more familiar with communities outside of Chatham-Savannah, Reese's hometown.
For Reese or any Democrat to do well, being electorally competitive in Glynn County is a must.
Is the electoral gap between Republicans and Democrats insurmountable? No, however there is a persistent inequality/wealth gap and one indicator is seen in the Census stats between Brunswick, St. Simons and Glynn County overall.
Approximately a quarter of Glynn's population reside within the city limits of Brunswick. According to the most recent Census, thirty-seven percent of the city lives below the poverty line. The state average is 17 percent. However, more affluent cities such as St. Simons has a poverty rate of only four percent.
Conservative Republicans and Tea Party supporters have had carte blanche in local elections and has impacted the success of Republican candidates and/or incumbents in previous congressional and presidential elections.
Brunswick is closer to the Florida state line than it is to Savannah and Reese will have to find a way to connect with Glynn voters, especially in predominately Democratic precincts.
President Barack Obama only won thirty-six percent of the vote in Glynn County in November 2012. However, a closer look at the precincts numbers show that all the Democrat-leaning precincts had participation rates on average of ten or more percentage points less than Republican precincts.
The average voter participation rate for 2012 was 72 percent. The following is a look at the various Brunswick-based, Democratic-leaning precincts and the voter participation rates from November 2012.
65% BALLARD COMPLEX
69% NORTHSIDE CHURCH
64% ABUNDANT LIFE
70% COLLEGE PLACE A
64% COLLEGE PLACE B
65% HOWARD COFFIN
60% BURROUGHS MOLETTE
61% SELDEN PARK
On a side note, according to 2012 Census estimates, there are approximately 81,000 people that live in Glynn County. About a quarter of the population is under 18 years old. So there are approximately 60,000 people who are at least 18 years old or of voting age.
According to the Secretary of State website, as of November 2013, there are approximately 43,000 registered voters who are considered 'active'.
When Glynn Democrats don't participate in the voting process, it has an impact. Right now, there are close to 20,000 people who are not registered.
Typically, Republican candidates have won by an average of 10,000 votes in Glynn and in a close race, it can have an impact, especially if Reese wins the Democratic stronghold Chatham-Savannah in either a primary or general election.
Reese made a formal statement about his visit to Brunswick on Saturday, February 15:
..."I want to thank everyone who spent part of their Saturday at St Andrews Church in Brunswick. We had an informed group of voters, straight-forward questions, and I’m confident in saying, straight-forward answers.
The election of a Congressperson is a serious endeavor. Both voters and observers deserve well thought out answers. I’m confident that my message of “building the future” came across loud and clear.
I’m especially grateful to the members of the Brunswick and Glynn County communities who came prepared to ask tough questions, and hope their take-away was positive. Just like last week in Waycross, Ware County, today’s meeting is a great demonstration of participative democracy in action..."