The first big special election was a bit of a disappointment: Jon Ossoff was vying for a deep red victory as a sign that the Democratic blue wave was real. But with plenty of voting irregularities and a last minute Republican advertising blitz, Republican Karen Handel squeaked out the W. But that was a lifetime ago and after sweeping victories in NJ and VA, a Senate win in deep red Alabama and many more Democratic victories, the blue wave is threatening to become what Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell indicated he’d call a ‘category 5 hurricane.’
It’s true, a blue wave could flip control of the House of Representatives, but Majority 60 is calling for the storm McConnell fears: the one that takes the Senate and more importantly state legislatures around the country. That’s why we’re sitting down with candidates who are standing up and declaring for state office. In 2017, Christine Triebsch (Pronounced Tribb ish) ran in a special election in Georgia state senate District 32 in a VERY red district, at the same time the whole country was fixated on the Georgia 6 (Ossoff) race — the most expensive Congressional race in history. Unfortunately, both Ossoff and Triebsch lost by 7%. But given the last two elections saw the Republican run unopposed, it was a noble effort. Triebsch saw it as a moral victory and she is eager for Round 2.
For Triebsch, Trump’s taking the Republican nomination was a turning point. “Never had I ever considered running for office until October 2016. I watched the debate between then candidate Trump and Hillary Clinton. During the debate, Trump said he was going to instruct his attorney general to appoint a special prosecutor to look into Hillary and her private email server that she used while she was the Secretary of State.” For Christine, it wasn’t just a partisan reaction to one candidate threatening another, “As an attorney, I was both shocked and frightened. In America, we DO NOT threaten to jail our political opponents. This was a wake-up call for me. In addition to that, the ‘us vs. them’ mentality with the Press caused me concern as well. And, last but not least, the Republican nominee for president was on television deliberately mocking a reporter’s disability. I had to do something. So, I ran for office.”
Special elections in the South don’t tend to make headlines. Republicans usually only face the risk of a primary and other than in a few gerrymandered metro districts, are then guaranteed victory. Trump’s election “win” in 2016 changed everything. After what—in the South—was a very narrow loss, Triebsch has focused on regrouping. “After the special election loss in 2017, I was not sure how I would feel in 2018 when Kay Kirkpatrick [who won the 2016 special election] will be up for reelection.” During the special election race, Triebsch was using the opportunity to run in a special election to build the foundation for a prime time run. “I will tell you what I told every forum that I attended in 2017; I said, ‘[i]f I lose, I WILL run again.’ I was confident that I would run, even though I did not know how I would feel after assessing the situation of the loss. And honestly, it has been about nine months since the loss, and I AM SO EXCITED ABOUT running again. I formally qualified last month and I believe I have MORE passion and MORE motivation and I am MORE hopeful about my potential district in East Cobb County, Georgia. I want to be the voice of the voiceless in East Cobb County that has been GOP since 1995. It is time for a change and it is time for a moderate democrat to be elected.”
Reassembling her supporters will take some serious effort but Triebsch is ready to start that process. The Primary Election for the 32nd district of the state senate is May 22, 2018 and Triebsch is not taking anything for granted. But in 2017, she was proud to be supported by a prominent group that supports female candidates in the Peach State. “[In 2017, I was] endorsed by Georgia’s Win List under the leadership of its Executive Director Melita Easters. Georgia’s Win List helps recruit, train and support Democratic Women to serve as effective advocates regarding issues important to women and families. Their support, during the special election was an honor and it gave me confidence throughout the race.” Triebsch was also a big fan of the state Democratic Party. “The party provided significant help with fundraising including its own monetary support of my campaign.”
There is a lot to be excited about when it comes to 2018. As we’ve seen in Alabama—where there are more Democratic candidates running for office than ever before—and in Majority 60’s home state of Tennessee, nearly every office will be contested. The Republican’s donor class which benefited most from their tax cut bill, will be put to the test as grassroots funded Democratic campaigns are popping up everywhere. Triebsch says that will be a tremendous advantage in Georgia too.
“This race will be very different in that there are so many people running!” she says. “Last year, there were just two races in my area — the 6th Congressional District and the State Senate District 32 race. This year, there are so many races and so many women running. I am so happy that so many brave women, women like me who had no political experience, stepped up and ran for office. I am so happy about the fact that a number of races are contested, in other words, the voters have a choice. This is what democracy looks like — going to the polls and having a choice.”
Triebsch is urging Democrats to join forces. “I would like to see the candidates working together, if possible,” she explains. “I know that I have portions of seven (7) different State House Districts incorporated within State Senate District 32. There are candidates in each of those races that I would like to work with when canvassing and meeting the voters. I would call it voter efficiency.” Triebsch believes it’s important for voters to have an opportunity to do more than vote based on the letter next to candidates’ names. “I want the voters to be able to go down the entire ballot and know about the candidates. So when they vote for me, I want them to know the State House District Candidates as well.” Triebsch discovered something interesting and concerning, “[S]ometimes when people vote, they vote the top of the ballot and then they stop. I urge all voters to vote down the ENTIRE ballot!”
Why is it so important for Democrats to win seats in state elections like the Georgia State Senate? Triebsch is running to “Fully fund our public schools. Our children need the best education possible and that means money needs to remain in our public schools. Second, [we need] common sense gun regulation. We should never be talking about arming our teachers. All Georgians’ should have access to affordable healthcare. Medicaid should be expanded. Lastly, what is important to me is that we have compassion and empathy for people. Let’s lift people up. It is the right thing to do.”
The most important message that Christine Triebsch takes to the trail is: Run for something. “Republicans need to be opposed in EVERY race. They should not get a free ride, no matter how red the district. And, people need to remember, at the state and local level, EVERY VOTE COUNTS.”
Christine is a mother, wife, family law attorney and candidate for Georgia State Senate District 32. She received her law degree from John Marshall Law School, Atlanta in 1995. She and her husband, Kevin, moved to Cobb County 20 years ago. “It is where I wanted to start a family and a business,” she said. Christine opened her law practice in 2000 and has dedicated her career to helping children and families in crisis. “My practice allows me to see first-hand how the law directly impacts families,” she said. Her husband Kevin is a middle school teacher in the Cobb County School System, and their children Ethan (a senior) and Stella (a middle schooler) both attend public schools. “Being married to a teacher and having kids in public schools gives me an insider’s look at what makes Cobb County schools great,” she said. In addition to education, Christine is a champion of women’s issues and affordable quality healthcare. The Triebsch family is actively involved at St. James’ Episcopal Church in Marietta. Follow her on Twitter @ChristineForGA