2 Georgia lawmakers endorse Booker’s White House bid

U.S. Sen. Cory Booker in Atlanta in August 2019. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

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U.S. Sen. Cory Booker in Atlanta in August 2019. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

U.S. Sen. Cory Booker picked up the endorsement Tuesday from two prominent Democratic lawmakers, giving the presidential hopeful his highest-profile supporters in Georgia so far.

State Sen. Lester Jackson of Savannah and state Rep. David Dreyer of Atlanta both said they backed Booker's bid for the White House in part because of his recently-unveiled plan to combat hate crimes, violence and the rise of white nationalism.

Jackson, the past chair of the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus, called the New Jersey Democrat the “antidote that America sorely needs at this point to help us recover from the negative effects of divisive rhetoric and action.”

"He's a unifier and is uniquely qualified to both bring in new voters and motivate those who stayed home in 2016," added Jackson, a dentist who is a former member of the Democratic National Committee.

Dreyer, an attorney elected in 2016, credited Booker with helping to build support for legislation that Gov. Brian Kemp signed into law this year that bans Georgia corrections officials from shackling pregnant inmates. The bill was modeled after federal legislation Booker co-sponsored.

“We are at a crucial inflection point in our country, and we urgently need a leader with both a deep moral conviction and a record of improving the lives of our brothers and sisters from every walk of life,” said Dreyer. “I believe Sen. Booker is that leader, and I am proud to enthusiastically endorse him.”

They are among only a small group of Georgia elected leaders who have picked sides in the race.

Georgia House Minority Leader Bob Trammell backed U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris. Former Vice President Joe Biden has picked up support from former U.S. Sen. Max Cleland and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. Pete Buttigieg has endorsements from Atlanta City Councilman Amir Farokhi and state Rep. Matthew Wilson.

But most other influential Democrats in Georgia are on the sidelines.

A recent Atlanta Journal-Constitution survey found that hardly any state elected officials, leading Democratic figures and grassroots activists have decided on a candidate yet. About one-sixth of small-dollar donors in Georgia have hedged their bets by giving to multiple contenders.

It's not for lack of attention. An AJC analysis shows that major candidates have already made about two dozen trips to Atlanta. Booker has visited Georgia three times since announcing his campaign, including a rally Friday after he spoke to black religious voters in Atlanta.

The pace of endorsements, though, is certain to quicken as the crowded field begins to narrow and Georgia Democrats face new pressure to pick a candidate before the March 24 presidential primary.

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