Map of the New Georgia Campaign

Map of the New Georgia Campaign


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Map of the New Georgia Campaign

Clickable map showing the main battles of the New Georgia campaign, from the early landings on Rendova and close to Wickham Anchorage to the long struggle for Munda.


Australasia 1943: Operation Cartwheel

Their successes in New Guinea and Guadalcanal encouraged the Allies to push north through the Solomons. Meanwhile a second American force under the US Navy began a thrust into the Central Pacific by landing in the Gilbert Islands.

Main Events

21 Jun–25 Aug 1943 New Georgia Campaign▲

On 21 June US marines land near Segi Point, in Japanese-occupied New Georgia, and advance inland towards Viru Harbour, where they are reinforced by more marines on 30 June. At the same time other units land on the adjacent islands of Rendova and Vanganu. Though the landings are unopposed on land, Japanese aircraft harass them in multiple naval actions and resistance in the interior is fierce. It is not until late August that New Georgia is pacified. in wikipedia

4–16 Sep 1943 Landing at Lae▲

Australian troops from the 9th Division, supported by US naval forces from the VII Amphibious Force, land at two beaches to the east of Lae, in the Territory of New Guinea. The landing was conducted in conjunction with a US-Australian airborne landing at Nadzab, with the two forces converging to capture Lae from the Japanese on 16 September. in wikipedia

1 Nov 1943 Landings at Cape Torokina▲

Men of the 3rd US Marine Division land at Cape Torokina, on Bougainville Island in the Territory of New Guinea, under the direction of Rear Admiral Theodore Wilkinson. Unloading 14,000 troops in just eight hours, Wilkinson leaves the marines to overwhelm the Japanese defenders, who resist until they are all killed. in wikipedia

20–23 Nov 1943 Battle of Tarawa▲

In the first United States offensive in the Central Pacific region, 35,000 US troops, including 18,000 Marines, land on Tarawa Atoll in the Gilbert Islands, facing immediate serious opposition from the some 4,800 Japanese defenders (including laborers). The Japanese resist almost to the last man, with only 17 soldiers and 129 laborers captured. in wikipedia

15 Dec 1943–24 Feb 1944 Battle of Arawe▲

As part of Operation Cartwheel, US forces land at Arawe, in Japanese-occupied southwest New Britain in the Territory of New Guinea. The landing catches the Imperial Japanese Army by surprise and the Americans quickly secure a beachhead. In response, the Japanese mount a number of air raids on the invaders, while their army launching an unsuccessful counterattack in late December. The US respond with their own offensive in mid-January 1944, after which the Japanese decide to abandon Arawe and withdraw north. in wikipedia


Forgotten Fights: Assault on Munda Point, New Georgia, 1943

The US assault on Munda Point, New Georgia in July-August 1943 drove American soldiers and Marines to the limits of endurance—and merited three Medals of Honor.

The Japanese evacuation of Guadalcanal on the evening of February 7, 1943, marked the opening of a series of long, grueling campaigns in New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. As American and Australian forces under General Douglas MacArthur fought to drive the Japanese from New Guinea—truly a monumental task—the US Navy, Army, and Marines moved westward through the Solomons toward Bougainville, with the ultimate objective of neutralizing the vital Japanese base at Rabaul. A crucial step in that campaign would be the capture of the New Georgia island group. There, the most vital objective was the Japanese airbase at Munda Point on the main island’s southwest tip. Capturing it would put the still inexperienced Americans to a severe test.

Navajo Native American code talkers who served with the US Marines on New Georgia: left to right, Private First Class Edmond John of Shiprock, New Mexico Private First Class Wilsie H. Bitsie, Mexican Springs, New Mexico, and Private First Class Eugene R. Crawford of Chinle, Arizona. Courtesy National Archives.

The overall New Guinea-Solomons campaign was called Operation Cartwheel. The attack on the New Georgia island group, under the overall command of Admiral William F. “Bull” Halsey, was dubbed Operation Toenails. Capturing these dozen small islands was a complicated business, since they were separated by narrow channels where ships would be vulnerable to Japanese shore batteries, and surrounded by coral reefs and barrier islands. Halsey therefore decided to begin by launching operations against the smaller islands before landing soldiers and Marines on the main island of New Georgia for the primary effort to capture Munda Point. Once captured, that airfield could be turned to American use in order to support the further advance toward Bougainville and Rabaul.

Infantry of the 172nd Regiment advancing toward Munda Point, August 1943. Courtesy US Army.

The landings on the secondary islands began on June 30. The assault on mainland New Georgia began a few days later. The Marine 1st Raider Battalion, with two battalions from the US Army’s 37th Infantry Division, landed on the island’s northwestern shore on July 5, while the 43rd Infantry Division, with some small Marine elements, landed on the southern shore on July 2. These landings were successful, but the simultaneous drives inland quickly fell behind schedule thanks to rugged jungle terrain and savage Japanese resistance. Tropical heat, diseases, and exhaustion took their toll, along with seemingly endless enemy banzai attacks that left heaps of Japanese dead and the Americans tired and shaken.

As the days passed, the Japanese grew craftier at their nighttime attacks and worked deliberately, and with considerable success, to unnerve the Americans. An official report of one night attack against the 43rd Division’s 169th Infantry Regiment noted:

“when the Japanese made their presence known . . . or when the Americans thought there were Japanese within their bivouacs, there was a great deal of confusion, shooting, and stabbing."

"Some men knifed each other. Men threw grenades blindly in the dark. Some of the grenades hit trees, bounced back, and exploded among the Americans. Some soldiers fired round after round to little avail. In the morning no trace remained of the Japanese dead or wounded. But there were American casualties some had been stabbed to death, some wounded by knives. Many suffered grenade wounds, and 50 percent of these were caused by fragments from American grenades.” Combat fatigue soon became epidemic, and the advance on Munda Point bogged down.

General Oscar Griswold, commanding the US Army’s XIV Corps, arrived on New Georgia on July 11 and looked over the situation. “Things are going badly,” he reported, and the 43rd Division seemed ready to “fold up.” His reward for this report was appointment as commander of the campaign to capture Munda Point. Smartly, Griswold realized that his men would not be able to accomplish anything without two fundamentals: resupply, and rest. And that is what he devoted himself to providing over the next two weeks. Unfortunately, it also gave the three battalions of Japanese infantry protecting the road to Munda Point time to dig in even more deeply than they were already.

The new attack began on July 25, with the 43rd Division now receiving support from the 25th and 37th Divisions, as well as M5 Stuart tanks manned by US Marines, along with artillery, air strikes, and US Navy gunfire. But the Japanese, ensconced in bunkers made of coconut logs reinforced by thick coral, resisted fanatically. Their defense was skilled, too. American tanks unsupported by infantry were knocked out by the defenders, who also deployed snipers to pick off men bearing flamethrowers. The Japanese also infiltrated the American lines at night, sometimes recapturing bunkers and forcing the soldiers to drive them out all over again.

But the Americans, green and shaky when the campaign began, were becoming veterans too. Army infantry and Marine tankers learned to coordinate their operations effectively, and to support flamethrowers as they wiped out the enemy emplacements one at a time. They also coordinated more efficiently with mortars and artillery in identifying and pummeling the Japanese bunkers before taking them by direct assault. On July 29, the Japanese pulled back to their final defensive line before Munda Point.

The intensity of the fighting that followed, and the renewed grit and determination of the attackers, is reflected in three individual actions that earned Medals of Honor. On July 27, Private First Class Frank J. Petrarca of Cleveland, Ohio, of a medical detachment with the 37th Division, provided aid to several wounded soldiers under direct enemy fire, even sheltering them with his own body, until they were evacuated. Two days later, again under enemy fire, he rescued a sergeant who had been buried in his foxhole by an enemy mortar shell. Finally, on July 31, Petrarca went to the aid of a mortar casualty under direct Japanese fire and nearly got there before he was mortally injured by a shell fragment. His last gesture was to rise to his knees and shout defiance at the enemy.

On July 29, Lieutenant Robert S. Scott of Washington, D.C., of the 43rd Division, led his platoon against an enemy-held hill and had nearly captured it when Japanese infantry counterattacked. Scott’s men fled, but he did not. Sheltering behind a tree stump with only his carbine and hand grenades, he fired round after round and tossed grenade after grenade among the attackers, despite a bullet through the hand and a severe head wound, until they fell back.

And on July 31, Private Rodger W. Young of Tiffin, Ohio, of the 37th Division, was wounded by a Japanese machine gun. Young, who had received severe sight and hearing damage from a high school sports injury but somehow nevertheless made it into the US Army, refused to flinch. His platoon began falling back, but Young, spotting the enemy emplacement, crawled toward it. He was wounded a second time, but kept approaching. Finally, he got close enough to hurl grenades at the Japanese machine-gunners and take them under direct fire from his carbine. He was able to inflict several enemy casualties, and give his comrades time to escape, before he was hit and killed. (Young would later become the subject of a popular song, “The Ballad of Rodger Young,” and be cited repeatedly by science fiction author Robert Heinlein.)

Acts of courage such as these characterized the advance of the now battle-tested Americans as they slowly closed the ring on Munda Point. On August 5, 1943, the soldiers and Marines overran the remaining Japanese defenders, and captured the airfield. Within two weeks it would again be operational, this time servicing US aircraft in the continuing, and ultimately victorious, campaign to capture the Solomons.


Atlanta Campaign

Barry L. Brown and Gordon R. Elwell, Crossroads of Conflict: A Guide to Civil War Sites in Georgia (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2010).

Albert Castel, Decision in the West: The Atlanta Campaign of 1864 (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1992).

Stephen Davis et al., Blue & Gray Magazine's History and Tour Guide of the Atlanta Campaign (Columbus, Ohio: The General's Books, 1996).

Frances H. Kennedy, ed., The Civil War Battlefield Guide, 2d ed. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1998).

Lee Kennett, Marching through Georgia: The Story of Soldiers and Civilians during Sherman's Campaign (New York: HarperCollins, 1995).

John F. Marszalek, Sherman: A Soldier's Passion for Order (Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press, 2007).

James Lee McDonough and James Pickett Jones, War So Terrible: Sherman and Atlanta (New York: Norton, 1987).

Richard M. McMurry, Atlanta 1864: Last Chance for the Confederacy (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2000).

Steven H. Newton, "Joe Johnston, 'Formidable Only in Flight?': Casualties, Attrition, and Morale in Georgia," North and South 3 (April 2000).

Craig L. Symonds, Joseph E. Johnston: A Civil War Biography, reprint ed. (New York: Norton, 1994).


Cherokee Indians

Tom Hatley, The Dividing Paths: Cherokees and South Carolinians through the Era of Revolution (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995).

William G. McLoughlin, Cherokee Renascence in the New Republic, reprint ed. (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1992).

James Mooney, James Mooney's History, Myths, and Sacred Formulas of the Cherokees (1900 reprint, Asheville, N.C.: Historical Images, 1992).

John Oliphant, Peace and War on the Anglo-Cherokee Frontier, 1756-1763 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2001).

Theda Perdue, Cherokee Women: Gender and Culture Change, 1700-1835 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1998).

Theda Perdue, Slavery and the Evolution of Cherokee Society, 1540-1866 (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1979).

Theda Perdue and Michael D. Green, The Cherokee Nation and the Trail of Tears (New York: Viking, 2007).

David S. Williams, From Mounds to Megachurches: Georgia's Religious Heritage (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2008).


Total War

Sherman’s “total war” in Georgia was brutal and destructive, but it did just what it was supposed to do: it hurt Southern morale, made it impossible for the Confederates to fight at full capacity and likely hastened the end of the war. “This Union and its Government must be sustained, at any and every cost,” explained one of Sherman’s subordinates. “To sustain it, we must war upon and destroy the organized rebel forces,–must cut off their supplies, destroy their communications𠉪nd produce among the people of Georgia a thorough conviction of the personal misery which attends war, and the utter helplessness and inability of their ‘rulers’ to protect them…If that terror and grief and even want shall help to paralyze their husbands and fathers who are fighting us…it is mercy in the end.”


Fact check: What the new Georgia elections law actually does

The new Georgia elections law signed by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp last week has prompted lawsuits from civil rights groups, a sharp denunciation from President Joe Biden, and calls for businesses to take action against the state.

Republican proponents of the law say the critics who accuse them of “voter suppression” are mischaracterizing both their intentions and key provisions of the law. They claim the law not only makes Georgia’s elections more secure but that it expands access to voting.

That’s highly misleading at best. As critics have correctly said, the law imposes significant new obstacles to voting. It also gives the Republican-controlled state government new power to assert control over the conduct of elections in Democratic counties.

The law does, however, contain some provisions that can be reasonably be described as pro-voting, and critics have not always described all of the text accurately.

Here is an explanation of some — though far from all — changes made by the 98-page law. Our research was assisted by the work of Georgia Public Broadcasting political reporter Stephen Fowler, who published a thorough explainer on Saturday.

Increased state power over counties

The new law removes the Georgia secretary of state as the chair of the state elections board. (Former President Donald Trump and other Republicans have attacked the current Republican secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, for refusing to accommodate Trump’s baseless claims about the 2020 election.) Instead, the law lets the state legislature — which has been under unified Republican control since 2005 — appoint a “nonpartisan” chair of the board.

And under the new law, if a majority of the five-member board decides that a county’s elections officials have been doing their job poorly, the board can suspend those officials and replace them with one person the board has hand-picked to serve as a temporary superintendent, with the same powers the officials had.

The new law allows the state board to sideline elections officials in up to four counties at a time. A majority of the board would have to decide that the officials demonstrated “nonfeasance, malfeasance, or gross negligence” in at least two elections over a two-year period, or that the county officials committed at least three violations of election law or board regulations in the last two general election cycles and had not “sufficiently remedied” these violations.

This provision is a concern to officials and activists in large Democratic-run counties like Atlanta’s Fulton County, whose elections administration has been attacked by former Trump and other Republicans.

Guaranteed — but also limited — drop boxes

The new law requires each Georgia county to have a minimum of one drop box for absentee ballots. In 2020, when drop boxes were used for the first time in Georgia, the boxes were authorized by special pandemic-related rules rather than by long-term legislation.

However, the new law also limits how many drop boxes each county can have, how many hours and days the boxes can be open, and where they can be located.

The law says that each county can’t have more than one drop box per early voting site or per 100,000 active registered voters, whichever number is smaller. This provision will dramatically reduce the number of drop boxes available in some large counties. Fulton County, for example, says it would go from 38 drop boxes in the November election to eight in the future.

In addition, the law says that drop boxes need to be located at elections offices or inside early voting locations. And it says the boxes can only be available during the hours that early voting is available. (If the governor declares an emergency, the boxes can be located outdoors.) In 2020, drop boxes could be located outside, available 24 hours a day, and open until the evening of Election Day.

Another early voting day in primaries and general elections

There was extensive media coverage of initial Republican proposals to eliminate or sharply reduce early voting on Sundays, when some Black churchgoers participate in “souls to the polls” voting drives. However, these proposals did not make it into the final bill Kemp signed — which actually ends up expanding early voting in many counties for primaries and general elections. Runoffs are a different story, which we’ll get to in a moment.

Under the weekend provisions of the previous law, counties had to open for early voting on only one Saturday during primaries and general elections, from 9 am to 4 pm Sundays were not mentioned. Under the new law, two Saturdays of early voting are mandatory — from 9 am to 5 pm at minimum and from 7 am to 7 pm if counties desire — and two Sundays are explicitly made optional.

The old law said early voting had to take place during “normal business hours” on weekdays, leaving counties to decide what counts as “normal.” The new law sets a specific time period, requiring early voting to be offered from 9 am to 5 pm. However, it also says that counties can open early voting as early as 7 am and end as late as 7 pm if they want to. In the 2020 general election, Fulton County, DeKalb County, Clayton County, and various other Democratic strongholds held their early voting hours between 7 am and after 7 pm, so they would not be forced into reductions.

Shortened runoffs

The law significantly shrinks both the overall length of runoff campaigns and the early voting period for runoffs. (Some context: Democrats won both of the US Senate runoffs held in January 2021, which gave them control of the chamber.)

The new law sets the runoff election day four weeks after the general election, down from the previous nine weeks. The new law also eliminates two of the three weeks of early voting that used to be required in runoffs.

The new law says early voting has to occur at least from Monday to Friday in the week before the runoff election day. It also says the runoff early voting period has to start “as soon as possible,” so it’s possible that some counties will offer more than the single Monday-to-Friday period. But other counties might well not do so.

Big changes to absentee voting

The law makes a number of changes to absentee voting. Notably, it shortens the duration of the absentee voting period and changes the identification requirements for absentee voters.

Under the new law, absentee ballots are allowed to be sent out to voters 29 days before an election, down from the previous 49 days before an election. Voters are allowed to request an absentee ballot a maximum of 78 days before the election, down from 180 days. And the applications have to be received by elections officials no later than 11 days before the election, a reduction from the previous effective deadline of four days before the election.

State and local governments are now prohibited from sending out unsolicited absentee ballot applications. (Because of the pandemic, Raffensperger had applications sent out to all active registered voters for the June 2020 primary.) And third-party groups can face financial penalties if they mail applications to people who have already applied for a ballot.

The law also does away with the signature-matching system Georgia used to use to check the identities of absentee voters. Instead, voters will have to provide their Georgia driver’s license number, the number on their state identification card, or the last four digits of their Social Security number. If they don’t have any of that, they can provide one of several alternative forms of identification, such as a copy of a utility bill, bank statement or government check. Advocates of the change say that this identification system is more precise than subjective attempts to try to match handwriting, while critics note that the new requirements are disproportionately likely to burden Black voters.

A food and drink restriction

Another section of the law, which has generated criticism from Biden and others, limits how voters can be provided food and drink in the vicinity of a voting location.

The law makes it a misdemeanor for “any person” to give or offer “any money or gifts,” including “food and drink,” to any voter within a polling place, within 150 feet of the building housing a polling place, or “within 25 feet of any voter standing in line to vote at any polling place.”

This provision is located in the same paragraph as a provision banning campaign activity in these locations, but the provision doesn’t prohibit only people who are campaigning from giving out food and drink. It says “any person,” not just campaigners.

There is, however, one exception: poll officers are allowed to make available “self-service water from an unattended receptacle to an elector waiting in line to vote.” And it’s perhaps worth noting that there is not a prohibition on voters in line buying food and drink for themselves the provision is about other people providing “money or gifts” including food and drink.

Other provisions

Again, we can’t list every single provision of the dozens contained in the bill. But here are some others.

The law allows the attorney general to create a “hotline” for voters to report alleged voter intimidation and illegal election activities.

The law does not let counties use mobile voting facilities — like the two voting buses Fulton County used in 2020 — unless the governor declares an emergency, and only then to supplement the capacity of a particular polling place where the emergency occurred.

The law guarantees that any one Georgia voter can challenge an unlimited number of other individuals’ qualifications to vote.

The law says that anyone who shows up to vote in the right county but in the wrong precinct will not have their provisional ballot counted unless it is cast after 5 pm and the voter swears a statement that they cannot make it to the right precinct on time.

The law will require a ranked-choice ballot to be sent to military and overseas voters in primaries and general elections, along with a standard ballot. The ranked-choice ballot will be counted in the event of a runoff.

The law mandates that if precincts of a certain substantial size had lines of more than one hour in the previous general election, or did not complete voting by an hour after the official poll-closing time in that previous general election, county officials have to reduce the size of the precinct or get more poll workers, voting equipment or both for the next election.


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Location

Georgia County

Medium

Full Text Available

Collection Name

Holding Institution

Black-and-white photographs of then New York governor Franklin D. Roosevelt's presidential campaign visit to Atlanta and Warm Springs in October 1932.

More About This Collection

Medium
black-and-white photographs
photographs
visual works

Creator
Belle Isle Family

Date of Original
1932-10-23/1932-10-24

Description
This collection consists of photographs of New York Governor Franklin Delano Roosevelt during a campaign visit to Atlanta and Warm Springs, Georgia in October 23rd and 24th, 1932. Alvin Belle Isle was Roosevelt's chauffeur in Atlanta and is pictured in several photographs. Other notable individuals pictured in these images are Eleanor Roosevelt, and her son and daughter, James and Anna Georgia Governor Richard Russell, and gubernatorial candidate Eugene Talmadge Georgia Senators John Cohen and Walter George Atlanta Mayor James Key, and also Atlanta attorney Hugh Howell, Sr. Some of the locations shown are Atlanta's Union Station, Municipal Auditorium, Girl's High School, and the Little White House in Warm Springs., The Belle Isle Family of Atlanta, Georgia consisted of Alvin Looney Belle Isle (1884-1950) and Agnes Nelson, who married on February 5, 1905. Alvin Belle Isle moved to Atlanta from Brooks, Georgia in 1909. He was an executive in the transportation business most of his adult life. He established and operated numerous companies, including the Black and White Cab Company, Belle Isle Car and Truck Rental Service, Belle Isle Motors, Belle Isle Tire and Accessories, and the Lincoln Cab Company. He was also chairman of the board of Yellow Cab Company in Atlanta and president of the Atlanta Baggage and Cab Company. He and his wife Agnes had five children: Evelyn, Margaret, Katherine, Alvin, Jr., and James.


Organizing Director

The New Georgia Project Organizing Director will drive the organization forward with extraordinary passion and focus toward a powerful vision of long-term structural change and ambitious annual campaign, policy, communications, electoral, membership and power-building goals.

Position Overview
New Georgia Project Action Fund (501(c)(4)) and New Georgia Project (501(c)(3)) are seeking an Organizing Director to drive our statewide programs that will build bold, progressive policy change at the local and state levels, defending against the right-wing agenda, and building power together with affiliates and individual membership. The Organizing Director will invest deeply in a team of talented staff and work with them to align issue campaigns, policy, movement politics, communications, power building, and leadership training. This is the dream job of someone who wants to be on the front line of the opposition to Trump and the right, in an organization deeply committed to building power at scale through organized people, money, and ideas. This position reports to the Executive Director, the Chief of Staff, and works in partnership with other senior staffers.

Job Responsibilities

  • Create razor-sharp campaigns. Use your deep campaign, and power analysis skills to help campaign directors and the policy director and their staff to create and execute campaigns. There should be clarity in the organization and across the network about who our targets are and how we’re going to win. This is about building a culture of campaigning that electrifies and focuses people.
  • Build independent political power. Together with our network and allies, we are building toward bold, progressive governing power in cities across Georgia. This focus should be baked into all of our programmatic work.
  • Hiring, managing, training and mentoring Organizers. Invest in staff and network leadership. Demonstrate how a team approach is the right way to realize our ambitious campaign goals. Use agitation and compassion to bring out the best in people. Build a following on the staff and in the network that you are in deep relationship with.
  • Assist in setting strategy and goals. Work closely with the Executive Director and senior staff to develop and articulate overall organizational strategy, goals, and plans.
  • Be a public leader. Manage a portfolio of external ally and donor relationships and represent the organization with a variety of audiences.
  • Build deep trust. Invest in relationships with staff in order to deeply understand their self-interest, including in-person time.
  • Be inclusive. Recognize and appreciate different ways of working and being.
  • Model our values and culture. Model optimism inside and outside the organization and reinforce our core values and culture. Model transparent and accountable decision- making, and build this culture on staff.
  • Be an innovator and prospector. Cast around for the next big issue, electoral strategy, power building plan, etc.
  • Performing other duties as assigned.

Experience
The ideal candidate should have the following experience and qualifications:

  • A minimum of 10 years’ experience working with community, labor, or electoral organizations where you had success in developing and winning campaigns. Similar level of experience supervising staff, with a strong track record of building teams and developing staff leadership.
  • Strong interpersonal and organizational communication skills.
  • Management training and experience.
  • Commitment to racial, gender and economic justice and their intersections, both inside and outside organizations.

Requirements

  • At least one cycle of field experience on issue or electoral campaigns, preferably one cycle managing staff
  • Ability to meet tight deadlines under pressure
  • Experience with Votebuilder
  • Willingness to work extensive hours, including nights and weekends
  • Strong interpersonal skills
  • Positive attitude and ability to motivate staff members
  • Ability to problem solve effectively and creatively
  • Valid Driver’s License and/or access to reliable transportation

Salary and Benefits: Salary is based on experience. You should put your desired range in your cover letter. Our competitive benefits package includes family, medical, dental, and vision insurance.

How to apply: Send cover letter, resume and salary requirements to [email protected] with “Organizing Director” in the subject line.

Position is open until filled. The New Georgia Project/New Georgia Project Action Fund is an Equal Employment Opportunity employer and actively recruits people of color, women, individuals with disabilities and members of the LGBTQ community.


How Democrats Found Thousands Of New Voters And Flipped Georgia's Senate Seats

People listen to the Rev. Raphael Warnock speak on Jan. 5 in Marietta, Ga. Warnock and fellow Democrat Jon Ossoff won the Georgia Senate runoffs on the strength of superior Democratic organizing around the state. Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images hide caption

People listen to the Rev. Raphael Warnock speak on Jan. 5 in Marietta, Ga. Warnock and fellow Democrat Jon Ossoff won the Georgia Senate runoffs on the strength of superior Democratic organizing around the state.

Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

It's been about a month since Democrats flipped Georgia's two Senate seats in high-profile January runoffs, sending Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff to Washington, D.C., and handing the party narrow control of the chamber.

One key to the stunning upsets were the roughly 225,000 new voters who didn't vote in November but turned out in January, a disproportionate number of whom were people of color.

"That's just the math," said Bernard Fraga, a political scientist at Emory University who has studied the turnout data.

"If it wasn't for the relatively high mobilization of African Americans and other nonwhite voters in Georgia, Ossoff would have lost. Warnock might have lost it would have gone to a recount. But Republicans would control the Senate," he said.

Politics

After Record 2020 Turnout, State Republicans Weigh Making It Harder To Vote

The turnout numbers are the latest and highest-profile example of an organizing infrastructure Georgia Democrats have been building for years. And they beg the question: Can Democrats do it again? Democrats certainly think so. Republicans warn it's not a foregone conclusion.

"This wasn't by mistake," said Jeremy Halbert-Harris, coordinated campaign director for the Biden-Harris campaign in Georgia and a senior adviser to the runoff campaigns.

"Our organizing was sincere, and we will continue to organize in a very sincere and strategic manner," he said. "And this won't be the last you hear from Georgia."

"This isn't a strategy that succeeds in one or two election cycles," said Andra Gillespie, also a political scientist at Emory. "It's really important to note that Democrats have had their eye on catching up to and taking over and getting more votes than Republicans for the better part of a decade at this point. And it took a lot of planning."

Elections

'You Better Run': After Trump's False Attacks, Election Workers Faced Threats

Jonae Wartel, former director of the coordinated Democratic Senate runoff campaigns, said their organizing efforts were at the heart of the victories.

"We got to work, built on the foundation of the general election where we had turned the state blue for Joe Biden. We just continued to scale, and we built the largest organizing team in the state's history," she said. "We were able to make more than 25 million voter contact attempts just in the runoff election alone, including 1 million door knocks in the final four days of the election."

A blue state?

The strategy of Georgia Democrats has been grounded in the thesis that Georgia is a blue state its voter rolls just didn't properly reflect the population.

It's one that Tharon Johnson, Democratic strategist and former senior adviser to the Biden-Harris campaign, has subscribed to: "If everyone who lived in the state and were registered at that time and now, and they all voted, I believed that Democrats will be victorious. What we've been working very hard on for the last few years is making sure that we expand that electorate."

Stacey Abrams, a former Democratic gubernatorial candidate, has become something of a national spokeswoman for the strategy.

Johnson said executing it has been a "collaborative" effort between different groups over the years, including the New Georgia Project, which was founded by Abrams in 2014, and later, Abrams' own campaign.

The New Georgia Project's stated goal has been to register and engage low-propensity young voters and voters of color, and it worked furiously during the runoffs as well.

"If you want to win, these are the folks that you need to talk to," said Nse Ufot, chief executive of the New Georgia Project. "These are the folks you need to inspire. And these are the folks who need to be a part of developing a governing agenda."

But during the runoffs, when unprecedented attention and money flowed into the state, the strategy got a turbocharge.

The New Georgia Project, for example, was able to capitalize on the attention and host dozens of virtual Zoom birthday parties for 18-year-olds, Ufot said. The group invited celebrities native to Georgia to those parties to "join in a conversation with young people about the importance of their voice and the importance of their vote in this moment."

That was on top of its large-scale voter engagement of 2 million door knocks, more than 7 million phone calls and more than 4 million texts.

Elections

Why Some Georgia Voters Split Their Ballots Between Democrats And Republicans

Another group, Battleground Georgia, looked to grow the electorate by specifically targeting 250,000 registered Black voters who didn't vote in November.

And it paid off, according to Johnson, who worked with the group during the runoffs. He said more than 100,000 of them turned out.

"We can't miss this moment. We were able to increase African American turnout in this state by 4 percentage points," he said. "We went from 27% in 2018, to 31% in the runoff in 2021. That just didn't happen overnight. This was an effort that has been going on for many, many years. And we didn't even see this type of turnout when former President Barack Obama was on the ticket in Georgia in 2008 or 2012."

"Still more Republicans"

But Republicans in Georgia have read the 2020 election results differently, many of them blaming the situation on former President Donald Trump's false election fraud claims.

"Republicans who firmly believed that the election was stolen and that if they went to vote, their vote wouldn't matter, stayed home," said Jason Shepherd, chair of the Cobb County Republican Party. "[That] cost us the election."

Elections

'A Hostage Situation Every Day': Strategists Blame Trump For Georgia Senate Losses

He highlighted that the one runoff Republican candidate distanced from the chaos in the White House actually won his race in January: Public Service Commissioner Bubba McDonald.

"The Democrats definitely expanded part of their base, but there are still more Republicans in the state. They just didn't show up," said Erick Erickson, a conservative radio show host and blogger based in Georgia.

He points to analysis that some Republican voters stayed home during the runoffs.

"[Democrats] deserve some credit for building up a base of Democratic voters and identifying new voters who would vote Democrat. It's what the Republicans used to do in Georgia," Erickson said. "Once they got the majority, they kind of abandoned that strategy."

But Gov. Brian Kemp, who is up for reelection next year, hopes to return to it.

He "definitely" thinks Republicans can learn from Democratic successes. "You know, one of the hardest things that I had to get across to people [during my election] in 2018 is that the race was going to be very close because a lot of people in certain parts of the state didn't believe that," he said.

In 2022, he said he's focused on two things, which echo what has become the Democratic playbook: "We've got to get more likeminded people registered and participating in the process and getting the vote out, making sure we're not leaving anybody at home," he said.

"But we also need to keep reaching out to a lot of the minority communities that are likeminded. They're small business owners like myself, they have strong family values, they want safe communities, and make sure that we are hearing their voices."

Gillespie at Emory argues Georgia will likely remain competitive, with no one in firm control.

"What that means is not that Democrats are going to sweep every office," she said. "Republicans are likely going to win some statewide offices, but we're still going to be looking at really narrow margins."

"Georgia isn't blue yet. Georgia is purple," she said. "Georgia is competitive, and we're likely going to see very close competitive elections going forward, until proven otherwise."


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