Georgia’s tumultuous 2022 primary season is in the books with the dust still settling. As an aisle-crossing Democrat who gets things done for my community, I am more than happy that incumbent Governor Brian Kemp’s high-profile win over challenger David Perdue is complete. Democrats can use the knowledge of Kemp’s win to either gain traction or repeat the same status quo messaging.
Kemp kept his platform centered around kitchen table issues, signing legislation into law to increase teacher wages, put money into constituents’ back pocket, and fund QBE, something we’ve (Democrats) wanted for quite awhile. In the end, Perdue’s culture war campaign fell flat with November midterms rapidly approaching, the Kemp campaign delivered a template to win in the Peach State. I believe it’s a blueprint that can at least help Georgia Democrats keep control in Washington.
In 2021, cost-cutting prescription drug pricing reform policies, like Medicare negotiation and capping out-of-pocket spending on commonly prescribed drugs, gained traction in Washington, but the legislation was ultimately bogged down by political bickering. Now, ahead of November’s midterms, Democratic candidates running in hotly contested races, like Senator Raphael Warnock, have the perfect chance to take a page out of Kemp’s campaign playbook by zeroing in on everyday issues like rising costs, affordable healthcare, and getting prescription drug pricing reform over the finish line, one of his first campaign priorities.
Georgians currently pay some of the highest out-of-pocket costs in the country for prescription drugs. Pharmaceutical companies are putting a heavy financial burden on hundreds of thousands of folks across our state and we need the full force of Democrats to push this forward! In addition to high drug prices, urban communities like the ones I represent also have a high burden of redlining that needs to be addressed at the state and federal levels. My constituents are asking all elected leaders to take action – earlier this year, over 92,000 Georgia residents signed onto a petition to Senators Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, urging them to pass legislation to lower the cost of prescription drugs. Signers include a voter who pays $5,000 per year for his medications and a woman who’s charged $200 every time she refills her glaucoma prescription.
Stories like those have put prescription drug prices at the front of Georgians’ minds. Polling has shown that 65% of voters believe that reducing the cost of prescription drugs should be Congress’ top health care concern, and proposals to cap out-of-pocket spending on common medications and giving Medicare the power to negotiate with drug companies for fair prices are some of the most popular policies polled in Georgia. As a healthcare provider, practicing in home health for over 20 years, I see the devastating impact of seniors deciding between a required medication, utilities, and food. It’s sickening how partisan politics helps political parties more than the people we represent.
These numbers are even higher among the key demographic groups that every Georgia politician needs to win over to run a successful midterm campaign. Older voters, for example, a constituency that makes up two-thirds of the electorate in Georgia and is large enough to be a deciding coalition, have been asking Congress to rein in skyrocketing prescription drug prices for years, and recent data shows that 90% of voters over the age of 50 support Medicare negotiation.
Right now, voters are sending a clear message to candidates in Georgia – waging a culture war or partisan antics without results isn’t the way to win a political campaign in the Peach State, and kitchen table issues are going to be front and center in voters’ minds in November. With the fate of the congressional majority hanging in the balance, Peach State Democrat leaders should take note with only a few months before Election Day, they need to show voters a deliverable.
I was pegged a Republican-voting Democrat, but each of my bipartisan votes meant money in my constituents’ pockets, free workforce development training for a high paying technology career, resources for children with disabilities, increased funds for technical colleges in Black communities, decreasing environmental hazards in rural and urban poor communities, upholding voters’ 14th Amendment rights (one person one vote) during Fulton County redistricting, and increasing access to Medicaid through express enrollment initiatives.
Let’s get over what we “think” is best, stop fighting amongst ourselves, use data, and start listening to voters that don’t have a kitchen table to eat at.
Georgia State Representative Mesha Mainor is a Doctoral Student, and represents District 56. The views and opinions are her own.