High-level Georgia Democrats greeted U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris with praise when she visited the state in March and rallied at Morehouse College. But they stopped short of endorsing her candidacy for president. For a number of reasons, Georgia Democrats are primarily in a wait-and-see mode at this stage of the 2020 race for the White House. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Georgia’s top House Democrat picks Harris in 2020 race

Georgia House Minority Leader Bob Trammell endorsed U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris’ presidential campaign on Friday, making him one of the most prominent state Democrats to pick a side in the crowded 2020 race. 

Trammell, one of the few House Democrats in Georgia to represent a rural district, called Harris someone who “understands the Constitution and respects the rule of law” and praised her background as a prosecutor and California’s attorney general.

“It is dangerous when elected officials don’t have a healthy respect for the rule of law, and that’s exactly what we’re seeing in Washington today,” said Trammell, who has led House Democrats since Stacey Abrams stepped down to run for governor. 

“Her strong background in law enforcement makes Kamala the perfect candidate to prosecute the case against four more years of Trump.”

2/26/19 - Atlanta - Rep. Robert Trammell, D - Luthersville, minority leader, speaks against the bill in favor of a hand marked ballot. The Georgia House passed a bill Tuesday to buy a new $150 million election system that includes a paper ballot printed with a ballot marking device. But opponents to the bill, including many Democrats, say it would still leave Georgia's elections vulnerable to hacking and tampering. Bob Andres / bandres@ajc.com
Photo: bandres@ajc.com

Trammell was joined Friday by Everton Blair, a Gwinnett school board member seen as a rising star in metro Atlanta politics. Blair said he was drawn to Harris’ “deep commitment to education and unwavering investment in our young people.” 

“After the disastrous leadership of Betsy DeVos, education must be a top priority for the next president, and Harris is the one who can get that done,” Blair said.

They are among only a small group of Georgia elected leaders who have picked sides in the race, though several influential local Democrats heaped praise on Harris after her first debate performance.

Former Vice President Joe Biden has picked up support of a few high-profile state officials, including former U.S. Sen. Max Cleland. State Rep. Erick Allen backed Harris a few months ago, and 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 in the sprawling field yet. 

It’s not for lack of attention. An AJC analysis shows that major candidates have already made more than a dozen trips to Atlanta. Harris swung by two famous Atlanta institutions in March during her first campaign stop in Georgia. 

The pace of endorsements, though, could soon quicken as Georgia Democrats face new pressure to pick a candidate before the March 24 presidential primary. 

Trammell, who represents a rural Luthersville-based district that Donald Trump won, was picked by fellow House Democrats to lead the caucus in 2017 and is leading the party’s push retake control of the chamber next year.

Blair, 27, became the youngest person and first African-American elected to the Gwinnett school board when he took office in January. The Harvard University graduate recently returned to his other alma mater, Shiloh High School, to pay the balance of graduating seniors’ student fees.  

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About the Author

Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
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