File photo: Cobb District Attorney Vic Reynolds was elected in 2012. He was tapped to lead GBI this week.

Photo: � 2019 Cox Media Group.
Photo: � 2019 Cox Media Group.

Cobb DA’s departure could widen door for Democrats in 2020

Cobb County Democrats already had their sights set on the district attorney’s office when Gov. Brian Kemp announced Friday he was tapping Cobb DA Vic Reynolds to lead the Georgia Bureau of Investigation

But the departure of Reynolds, a Republican who would have been a formidable incumbent in 2020, could help Democrats capture the position in a county where they’ve already gained significant ground in recent years.

"We feel good about being able to win countywide in many of these races in 2020,” said Michael Owens, chair of the Cobb County Democratic Committee.

Kemp will presumably appoint another Republican to replace Reynolds in the short term, but that person will have less than two years to solidify support before the election.

Owens said he wasn’t surprised Kemp tapped Reynolds, given the DA’s early support for the governor and their mutual emphasis on what Owens described as a "manufactured crisis of gang activity.”

"There is very little if any data to support that," Owens said. "It's political rhetoric in order to be able to win a seat." 

The AJC’s Jim Galloway has discussed the problems with trying to quantify Georgia’s gang activity.

Owens said Democrats are still in the process of identifying potential candidates. He said his party is eager to address racial profiling among law enforcement, police shootings and going after white collar crime as aggressively as crimes committed by working class people.

Democrats also want to expand the accountability courts and pretrial diversion programs, some of which started under Reynolds. 

"Our priority is making sure that we are getting the right people off the streets for the right reasons and not for partisan reasons," Owens said.

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