Beskin, APS Liaison, Running against State Sen. Stoner

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(APN) ATLANTA — Beth Beskin, a Buckhead attorney who previously ran against State Sen. Horacena Tate (D-Atlanta) in the 2010 General Election, and who was appointed by Gov. Nathan Deal as one of his two liaisons to Atlanta Public Schools during the AdvancED/SACS CASI accreditation crisis, is running for a newly redistricted State Senate District 6 seat, Atlanta Progressive News has learned.

Beskin announced her 2012 candidacy in a September 21 email sent to her “core supporters.”

“Thanks to all of our hard work in my Senate campaign last year, the Georgia legislature heard loud and clear that Buckhead and ‘ITP’ Atlanta need and want a senator,” Beskin wrote.

“I am thrilled that parts of Buckhead and Sandy Springs, including my precinct that votes at Morris Brandon Elementary are now in Senate District 6, which includes part of Cobb County,” Beskin wrote.

“The district is 58% Republican and will very likely send a Republican senator to the state senate in 2012 to represent Buckhead and in-town Atlanta for the first time in a decade,” Beskin wrote. [The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Political Insider blog wrote the new district is 55% Republican.]

State Senate District 6 is currently represented by a moderate Democrat, State Sen. Doug Stoner (D-Smyrna), who currently serves as Chairman of the Democratic Caucus.

When asked in a 2006 interview at an East Cobb Democratic Alliance forum, as to whether he’d consider himself progressive on a scale from 1 to 10, where 10 meant very progressive, he said “1.”

Stoner would still live in the new District 6–which includes Smyrna and Vinings–and would likely face the Republican nominee in the 2012 General Election.

Stoner told the Marietta Daily Journal that his current district, prior to redistricting, “has a slight Democratic majority at 52 percent, although he’s won over the years at a range of 56 to 61 percent, meaning he can pull votes from independents and Republicans.” He said he “attributed the change Republicans have proposed for his district to an attempt by Republicans to hold a supermajority.”

Earlier this year, John Fredericks, former publisher of The Beacon newspaper and consultant for the Beskin 2010 campaign, told APN that the Republican leadership had determined that a Republican could not win in the current State Senate District 38, a long narrow District covering much of the west side of Atlanta.

Therefore, Fredericks told Atlanta Progressive News, the leadership had set out to create a new District which would include Buckhead and areas north, which would be more winnable for a Republican.

Governor Nathan Deal also appointed Beskin as one of his liaisons to APS as a reward for Beskin running in such a difficult race against Tate.

Last year, Beskin told APN she considered herself a progressive Republican.

She supports equal rights for homosexuals, is concerned about the environment, and said in 2010 she wants to keep Fulton County together because “we’re all one family.”

But she’s also a staunch supporter of charter schools.

Reached by phone today, Beskin said that although the new district maps for the legislature have not been approved by the US Department of Justice as per the Voting Rights Act, that it was customary for candidates to already announce their candidacies for the new Districts as early as this point.

The new Districts may not get Justice Department approval until after the election is over, she noted.

Beskin had previously criticized Sen. Tate for not being very vocal or active, a criticism which was echoed by some Democrats regarding Tate as well.

Since then, Tate has become much more high-profile, appearing in several press conferences with State Sen. Vincent Fort, for example, including one challenging legislation which gave Gov. Deal the power to appoint new APS Board of Education Members.

Beskin told APN that she was happy that her campaign had pushed Tate to come out of her shell a bit.

Beskin is still serving as an APS liaison to Deal, and she will be meeting with AdvancED next week regarding APS’s bid to regain full accreditation. Beskin said she is confident APS has taken all steps to regain accreditation, including revising its Board policies regarding the election of a Board Chair.

Beskin said she believes the liaison role might end once APS regains full accreditation.

Meanwhile, she is already focusing on the 2012 election, which she believes will be a tight, expensive race, particularly in the Republican Primary.

With the re-drawing of legislative district maps to create more Republicans districts overall in both the State House and State Senate that include part of Fulton County, if approved, the maps will likely create an environment in 2013 and 2014 where the creation of Milton County would be on the agenda.

Beskin told APN she believes it is important for this particular District, whose Senator will participate in the Fulton County delegation, to live in the City of Atlanta and in Fulton County.

“I have proven that I can get votes across all demographics; in my 2010 senate race I got more votes in every Republican precinct in our then-district 38 than every other Republican in a contested race with one exception: U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson got 11 more votes than did I at Northwest Presbyterian Church, which is understandable in that his niece lives in the neighborhood,” Beskin wrote in her email announcement.

“I proved that I can raise money, that I don’t run a deficit campaign, that I campaign tirelessly and that I motivate others to get involved,” Beskin wrote.

“By this e-mail to my core supporters, I declare my candidacy for Georgia Senate District 6. I will work hard over the next 14 months to earn the right to be your senator,” Beskin wrote.

“This race is going to be very expensive; pundits are already projecting that it will be the most expensive race in Georgia legislative history.”

Indeed, the AJC blog said it may eclipse a 2002 Republican Primary where each candidate spent one million dollars on the race. The blog also noted that Sen. Stoner told the AJC that he had been approached by Republicans with offers to join the Republican Party and that it was too early to comment on the offer.

Josh Belinfante, former Gov. Sonny Perdue’s legal counsel and former member of the State Ethics Commission, threw his hat into the ring for the State Senate District 6 Republican Primary two weeks ago.

(END / 2011)

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