The ‘Racist Rule’ That Georgia Dems Must Beat to Win Runoffs

The ‘Racist Rule’ That Georgia Dems Must Beat to Win Runoffs

With all eyes on Georgia to decide control of the Senate, and with it, the potential for progressive legislation, there is one person who qualifies as an oracle. Or as he puts it, “I’m the poster boy for runoffs in Georgia and Republican chicanery.”

Former Senator Wyche Fowler, an Atlanta liberal, lost his seat in 1992 when he fell just shy of the 50 percent Georgia law requires to avoid a runoff. A relic of segregation, the runoff is designed to limit the power of the Black vote. “It was a racist rule,” Fowler told the Daily Beast.

White statewide turnout guarantees which candidate would cross the 50 percent threshold, and it was a failsafe system 28 years ago when Fowler ran against Republican Paul Coverdell. But there’s been an 18-point shift in Georgia’s demographics since Fowler’s narrow loss. “Democrats’ chances for these runoffs are much better than they were when I ran. I got 39 percent of the white vote and 93 percent of the Black vote in an electorate that was 82 percent white, which translated into a losing 49.4 percent of the vote—14,990 votes,” ending his political career after five terms in the House and a single Senate term.

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