Every ten years armies of people counters descend into neighborhoods big and small to conduct the decennial United States Census. The process is not just important, but critically important, as the Constitution stipulates that every ten years the States are apportioned representation. The Census affects more than that, though, as all our offices in Georgia that represent a “district” will face some form of “reapportionment”. Long lines of case law bear this out, and in late 2021, the Georgia General Assembly will meet in special session to redraw those boundaries according to the principle of One Person, One Vote.

Redistricting, though, is inherently a political exercise. While the politics of redistricting can certainly make for entertaining theatre, the uncertainty around how the U.S. Census will show the population changes in Georgia make the exercise difficult to plan your campaign for 2022. If you’re thinking, “I want to run for State House next year. I am ready to go!”, you could be drawn out of your current district (and targeted incumbent) into another district with an incumbent you’d likely not challenge. This same rationale goes for any seat that represents a district, as representation on any governing board must adhere to the principle of OPOV. This puts a tremendous amount of pressure on potential candidates, and even incumbents, to be prepared.

Georgians who plan on running for office should be ready for fights that we haven’t seen in this State for a long time. Georgia is clearly attracting more people, many of whom come with their more moderate political values than once deep red Georgia was known for. The explosive growth of the Atlanta metro region means that legislative districts will shuffle between metro counties. There also exists a distinct possibility that districts from rural areas of the State that have seen stagnant populations, or even declines, and will move north towards the population center. Any candidate unprepared for the wide degree of change in Georgia is ill-prepared to run for office in 2022.

The time to orient your (potential) campaign towards victory is now. In many cases, even just plotting out the potential opportunities and threats will leave you lightyears in front of potential opponents who failed to consider the ramifications of a changing political landscape. Given that new districts will be drawn, incumbents will have sizable populations of voters that have not heard from their representatives before. This levels the playing field for those that have a game plan.

2022 promises to be an exciting political cycle for a raft of reasons. Don’t let that excitement overwhelm you in looking at the real opportunities to bring change. Plan now. Develop your “what ifs.” Prepare for all possibilities. Victory depends on it.