One Democrat’s unsuccessful bid for a comeback has paved the way for another Democrat to give politics one more try.
But while Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign came only eight years after she failed in a bid for the same office and less than four years after she left her last public office, secretary of state, former state Sen. Ron Slotin, 53, has been out of politics for more than 20 years, last appearing on a ballot when he lost a congressional primary to Cynthia McKinney.
But with his two children in high school and his memorable “Votin’ for Slotin” campaign slogan and bumper stickers ready to go, the native Jewish Atlantan and Sandy Springs resident has found a promising possibility for a return — with Clinton’s unintended help.
Clinton’s loss put Donald Trump in a position to pick a Cabinet, and he selected 6th District Congressman Tom Price (R-Roswell) for health and human services secretary. If the Senate confirms Price, as is still expected despite reports that he bought and sold stock in health care companies while in Congress, he’ll resign from the House, and a special election will be held to fill the seat.
After Trump’s electoral victory, Slotin said, he likely would have run against Price in 2018; Price’s pending resignation has just accelerated the process.
The fact that Clinton ran well and lost by only about 1 percent in the district, long a Republican bastion, also has given Slotin hope.
“I was waiting for the right time and the right opportunity, and this is it,” Slotin said.
His strategy is simple: All the candidates, regardless of party, will be on one ballot, so he’s hoping for several Republicans to split the conservative vote while he gains enough of the progressive and centrist vote to finish in the top two and make a runoff. Then, with the nation likely watching the outcome of one of the first congressional races since November, he wins the runoff and sends Trump a message.
“The message is that a majority of voters want a fiscally smart, socially progressive agenda that represents the mainstream voters of America, and I will be that voice,” Slotin.
In an interview with the AJT in mid-December, Slotin said he will have an edge in name recognition not only because he served almost four years in the legislature and ran for Congress 20 years ago, but also because of his lifelong involvement in a Jewish community that is heavily concentrated in the 6th District.
The district runs from East Cobb in the west to Johns Creek and Suwanee in the east and from Brookhaven in the south to Milton in the north. Sandy Springs, Dunwoody, Roswell and Alpharetta are part of the 6th, which includes Congregation Or VeShalom, which Slotin attended when he was growing up, Temple Sinai, where his girlfriend is a member, and the Marcus Jewish Community Center, where he has coached basketball.
Slotin guessed that 70 percent of Jewish Atlanta is in the district, providing him a solid base of support. His involvement with the basketball boosters at Lassiter High School, where his children go, and with youth basketball in East Cobb helps expand his connections beyond the Jewish community, as does his career as a small-business owner in marketing and as chief marketing officer for an executive search firm.
Slotin said people will remember him for being accessible as a legislator, “the main criterion you want in an elected official,” and for being the hardest-working campaigner in the election.
But he said most of his votes will reflect his support for a progressive agenda with fiscal responsibility, a combination he said represents the district’s beliefs.
“There’s a whole host of issues where I see the government going the wrong direction, so this is what has spurred me to get involved and go into government again,” Slotin said.
Generally speaking, he said, those issues address the quality of life in the district or reflect a needed progressive agenda, if not both: a vision for transportation that relies on public transit instead of just building roads; support for public school systems and teachers against the push for vouchers and other school-choice initiatives; resistance to any weakening of protections for clean air and water and green spaces; and protection of the elderly, women’s reproductive rights and marriage equality, including opposition to any federal religious liberty legislation that, like proposals in Georgia, would legalize discrimination against LGBTQ people.
Education and transportation aren’t typically federal issues. But Slotin said someone in Congress could provide the leadership to pull state and local officials together to act on transportation and to ensure the Atlanta area maximizes its share of federal funding, and he vowed to fight any federal education policy changes that would undermine local school control.
On other issues, Slotin said he’s against raising taxes and opposes any tax cuts that would increase the budget deficit. He’s not committed to preserving the Affordable Care Act as it is but insists that any Republican overhaul of health care must maintain coverage for existing conditions and of children up to age 26 and must not raise costs for women or cut Planned Parenthood.
He thinks fears about border security are overblown, and he prefers a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants rather than a wall on the Mexican border. He expressed support for the Second Amendment but backs common-sense gun control measures such as background checks for buyers at gun shows.
Slotin also thinks concerns about government overregulation are overblown. As a small-business owner, “I never felt overregulated.”