On Saturday, February 8, Brian Reese, a Democratic candidate for Georgia's First Congressional seat , visited Ware County and the city of Waycross for a “Meet and Greet” at 606 Ossie Davis Blvd. in an effort to meet local constituents and respond to their concerns on a variety of issues.
Even though Savannah is the First Congressional District's largest population center, Ware County is a rural area which has the seventh largest population center in the district and increased turnout from Democrats and open-minded independents in Ware could have an impact in either a close primary or general election in 2014.
The weekend event was hosted by Reverend Fer-Rell Malone from Waycross who is a senior pastor at Macedonia Baptist Church.
According to revised 2012 Census figures, Ware County has 35,821 people. And 23.5 percent of the population is under 18 years old. So there is approximately 28,000 in Ware County who are 18 and over or of voting age.
However, according to the Secretary of State, there are only 16,083 registered voters as of November 2013. Potentially, there are thousands of Ware County citizens--many in Waycross-- who are not registered.
For Reese or any Democrat to be successful in Ware County, voter participation is crucial, but especially in Democratic leaning precincts.
The city of Waycross has voted overwhelmingly for Democratic candidates over the years and in 2008, President Barack Obama had won Ware County's largest precinct (District 1).
This trend continued in 2012, but in the largest and most progressive precinct in Ware County, District 1 which boasts close to 4,000 registered voters, only 63 percent of the precinct voted.
The state average for voter participation in November 2012 was 72 percent.
In the larger Republican precincts such as Waycross' Exchange Club Building precinct, the participation rate was approximately ten percent more and slightly above the state average for 2012.
Scores of people came out for the Saturday event, so it provides hope for Reese that Ware County will be a competitive county in 2014.
The Democratic primary is scheduled for Tuesday, May 20.