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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Run, Michelle, Run

No, not Michelle Obama. Michelle Nunn, head of the Points of Light Foundation and daughter former Senator Sam Nunn. She should run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by retiring Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss.
Many Georgians believe Nunn would be a strong Democratic candidate. As Greg Bluestein and Daniel Malloy report in the Atlanta Constitution, commenting on the recent decision of Rep. John Barrow not to run for the Democratic senatorial nomination:

Barrow’s decision opens the door for Michelle Nunn, the daughter of former senator Sam Nunn and head of the volunteer service organization Points of Light. She didn’t return a call seeking comment, but supporters had urged her to run regardless of Barrow’s decision. Her refusal to step aside – setting up a potentially contentious primary — was a factor in Barrow deciding not to run.

Malloy and Bluestein quote former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin on the possibility of Nunn’s candidacy, noting that she has “an excellent reputation among women — and not just among liberals.” Nunn is also well-liked by African Americans, partly as a result of her stewardship of Hands on Atlanta, which served thousands of disadvantaged citizens in the Atlanta area.
Having recently heard Michelle Nunn address the Coretta Scott King birthday commemoration, I can report that she is an excellent speaker. Whip-smart (Phi Beta Kappa, Harvard M.A), Nunn is also savvy about mobilizing youth, which she did exceptionally well at Hands on Atlanta.
She would likely do well with political centrists and perhaps even some conservatives by having the Nunn name, especially if her highly popular father accompanies/introduces her to key forums.
With the current Republican field seeking the GOP nomination to replace Chambliss, Nunn could face a divided opposition. The Republican field is not very impressive, to put it generously. Indeed there is a possibility they could nominate Rep. Paul Broun, arguably one of the most irrational right-wingers in congress.
There are a few other Democrats considering a run for the Senate seat being vacated by Chambliss. Yet, none can match Michelle Nunn’s potential to energize women, youth, African Americans and progressives, while also getting a healthy percentage of political moderates. If she runs, the Republicans could lose this seat and the U.S. Senate could gain a member who actually knows how to inspire citizens to serve their country.

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