THOMASVILLE — You can’t really call it a comeback — after all, prior to 2004, Democrats were the majority party in Georgia government for more than 134 years.

Even so, Democrats locally and statewide are eager to get back into the limelight in 2006, an election year for several state offices, including governor.

Thomas County Democratic Party chairman Terrence Samuel said the key to success in the upcoming elections will be organization.

“I think all politics are local. We’ve just got to get better organized, not just in Thomas County, but in every county,” Samuel said. “We can’t be successful at running a candidate unless we are organized in every county.”

Building Democratic membership and finding able candidates will also be important in the months leading up to Nov. 7.

“We can’t run candidates just for the sake of running them. We’ve got to run good, strong candidates that want to carry the message sent forth by the state party,” Samuel said. “We’ve got to make sure that message resonates within the people locally and around the state.”

Samuel said letting other people define the Democratic Party was a major problem in 2004 — a problem he hopes to correct.

“We’ve got to get back to connecting with the people and be better at defining the party ourselves. We need to make sure that when we present our message to the people, the message sticks. When a problem presents itself, we need to be there to tell people how we would solve it. People need to know where we stand on the issues,” he said.

Samuel also wants to make working with the Republican Party a priority. “We’re not going to win every single election. Of course, that’s what you set out to do, but in general both parties need to be a little bit better at working together,” he said. “I think people are turned off by ‘politics as usual.’ They would like to see whoever is elected spend that time working together.

“I think if you concentrate more on helping the people, then everything else takes care of itself.”

Samuel was elected chairman of the Thomas County Democratic Party in November 2005. He also serves as vice-chairman of the state’s Democratic Constituency Group.

Up for re-election this year, locally, will be House District 173 Rep. Mike Keown, House District 172 Rep. Gene Maddox and District 11 Sen John Bulloch, all Republicans. House District 174 Rep. Ellis Black and District 8 Sen. Tim Golden, both Democrats, are also up for re-election.

To contact reporter Brewer Turley, call (229) 226-2400, ext. 226.

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