If you’re running for district attorney in the Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit, qualifying as a Republican makes the most sense.
In fact, not doing so would be foolhardy. In the 2016 presidential general election, for example, 6-out-of-the-8 counties in the circuit voted strongly for Donald Trump. The Democratic candidate – Hillary Clinton – received 37.5 percent of the vote in the eight-county circuit.
This year’s candidates – Wright Barksdale and Carl Cansino – each is running as a Republican. No candidate qualified on the Democratic side, which means that the next district attorney will be decided in the June 9 Republican primary.
This situation shows how the system is far from perfect. For any local Democrat wishing to play a part in choosing the next district attorney, a Republican ballot must be chosen during the upcoming primary election. This, however, means that Democrats would forgo their opportunity to vote for any Democrats in the primary, including a 7-person pool of United States Senate candidates, as well as a pair of Democratic state representative candidates.
Although judges’ elections are non-partisan and candidates do not have to declare a political party, district attorney elections in Georgia are partisan, for whatever reasons. The circuit’s current district attorney – Stephen Bradley – ran as a Republican in 2016 and won an uncontested election. This year, Bradley is running for a Superior Court judge opening, which is non-partisan, meaning that Bradley no longer has to carry an “R” or a “D” beside his name.
Here is a look at the number of registered voters in each of the eight counties, as of May 1, as well as their total percentage of the vote within the circuit:
• Baldwin – 25,323 (23.1 percent)
• Greene – 13,365 (12.2 percent)
• Hancock – 5,867 (5.3 percent)
• Jasper – 13,365 (9.1 percent)
• Jones – 19,524 (17.8 percent)
• Morgan – 14,264 (13 percent)
• Putnam – 15,013 (13.7 percent)
• Wilkinson – 6,405 (5.8 percent)