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GOP Gains Ga. State Senate Seat

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JaNice Van Ness (The Georgia Republican Party)

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Thursday, 17 Dec 2015 08:51 AM Current | Bio | Archive

Republican JaNice Van Ness won a special election for the Georgia state Senate on Dec. 1. What's remarkable is the district is heavily Democratic and gave Barack Obama 72 percent of its vote in 2012.

Speculation was rampant that Democrats may not have the hold they used to.

Coming in a district that is also roughly 56 percent black, the win of Rockdale County Commissioner Van Ness (who is white) was not only surprising but unique and even historic.

“If there is any national message here, I hope it will be that if people educate themselves on the issues, you can achieve change — and every vote counts,” said Van Ness, who won by a mere 84 votes out of more than 7,400 cast.

On Wednesday, two days after she was sworn in as the second woman Republican in the 56-member Senate (which Republicans control with 39 seats to 17 held by Democrats), Van Ness explained to me how she pulled off what several Peach State pols are calling “the upset of the decade.”

Recalling how Republican Gov. Nathan Deal named Democratic State Sen. Ron Ramsey as a judge on the Traffic Court in DeKalb County, Van Ness (who was formerly Rockdale County GOP chairman) told me how she believed “if ever we had an chance to elect a conservative [to the Senate], it was in a special election. I also felt my involvement in the community with a diverse group of people would provide the outreach we needed to win.”

A small business owner and member of the Rockdale Baptist Church, Van Ness is unabashedly pro-life, pro-traditional marriage, and pro-Second Amendment.

“And, as a 25-year member of our local Chamber of Commerce, I stressed how the unaffordable Affordable Care Act [the official name for Obamacare] was putting some serious challenges to the work of small business owners like me,” she added.

Her opponent, State Rep. Tonya Anderson, was, like outgoing Sen. Ramsey, a Democrat and black. Anderson’s issue stands were almost the polar opposite of conservative opponent Van Ness. Where Anderson wanted to increase the state minimum wage from its present $15-an-hour, Van Ness argued that such an increase would be a major blow to small businesses trying to create jobs and provide health care for employees.

In terms of education, there was a major twist in the issue in the Van Ness-Anderson race. As the Republican explained to me, “My opponent said she was for local control of schools, which is normally the position I would take. But in [Atlanta-based] DeKalb County, which makes up part of our district, there are 26 failing high schools.

“Under those circumstances, I stated that there are some good measures in the legislation proposed by the governor that would provide greater opportunity for children to have an alternative to the failing schools.

"The legislation will be on the 2016 ballot for voters to decide the direction that failing schools will take in the future. I also mentioned that for every day that a child sits in a failing school, it could be one day closer to leading a nonproductive life that will not allow them to reach economic prosperity for their family. It resonated.”

The candidacy of JaNice Van Ness and the prospects of others attracted some national Republicans. The Republican State Leadership Committee weighed in strongly for her.

“JaNice Van Ness’ special election win this month was the embodiment of the RSLC’s philosophy that a candidate makes a district competitive, not the other way around,” RSLC spokesperson Ellie Wallace told me, “Her victory in a district President Obama carried with 72 per cent of the vote proves that the candidate who shows voters the right ideas with the right experience to move that district in the right direction is the one who will prevail.”

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.
 

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Republican JaNice Van Ness won a special election for the Georgia state Senate on Dec. 1. What's remarkable is the district is heavily Democratic and gave Barack Obama 72 percent of its vote in 2012.
janice, van ness, georgia, gop
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2015-51-17
Thursday, 17 Dec 2015 08:51 AM
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