Jonesboro resident Christopher Deraney announces his candidacy to run for state House District 78, which includes parts of Clayton and Henry counties, during a party at his home Saturday. (Staff Photo: Curt Yeomans)
JONESBORO — Christopher Deraney knows it’s not easy to run as a Republican in a state House of Representatives district that lies partially in Democrat territory.
It’s not often that a Republican even runs for an office that represents part of Clayton County, but Deraney believes he has a message that will boost his chances. The 32-year old Jonesboro resident announced his candidacy for state House District 78 Saturday during a party at his Lake Spivey-area home.
Deraney, a former opera singer, pledged to run on a platform of openness and inclusion, regardless of race, beliefs or socio-economic status.
“Our message is an all-encompassing message,” said Deraney. “It’s one that invites people in, be inclusive and not block anybody out. I think if we really start engaging our citizens in a more positive way, that is the message that is going to resonate.”
The district includes southeast Clayton County and parts of Republican-leaning Henry County. Portions of Jonesboro and Stockbridge and all of Lovejoy are in the district.
Parts of Deraney’s message aren’t typical for a Republican, and he acknowledges that fact. Some of the people he said should be reached out to are lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgendered individuals who are not usually embraced by the Republican party.
But Deraney’s candidacy announcement wasn’t the typical political coming out party. From the beginning, it oozed a feeling of reaching out and inclusion when he was introduced by Young Democrats of Atlanta President T.J. Copeland, an old classmate and friend of Deraney.
Copeland said voters shouldn’t confine themselves to one political party when trying to find a candidate to rally behind, and expressed his belief that Deraney would do a good job in the legislature.
“The biggest thing is finding individuals that represent the state of Georgia and represent your ideology, and not just sticking to one particular person in a party, or one particular party,” said Copeland.
“It’s about finding out who that person is and what they will represent when they go to represent you down at the Capital or in D.C., and I honestly cannot think of one individual in this district that will do a better job than Chris,” Copeland added.
Copeland also implored attendees to give money to Deraney’s campaign, explaining it could cost the candidate as much as $40,000 to run what is expected to be a campaign against incumbent Rep. Demetrius Douglas (D-Stockbridge).
Deraney said to spur economic development in District 78 in part by Clayton County’s budding film industry and the proximity to the new Pinewood Studios being built in Fayette County. He also said the district needs to attract businesses that demand a higher skill set than is required of workers.
But while some Deraney’s platform was more broad than a traditional Republican platform in terms of the groups to whom he is reaching out, he did espouse traditional conservative themes of smaller and less intrusive government as well.
“Keep it simple, keep it small, let the states speak for themselves and, above all, support individual liberty and the Constitution of the United States of America,” said Deraney to the applause of supporters. “I truly believe, as was the mission of our founding fathers, that the government should be limited to the protection of its people, and to the maintenance of our liberties.”
Deraney has launched his campaign website at www.christopherjderaney.com/.
Although Deraney has announced his candidacy to run as a Republican for the house seat, qualifying is still months away. Due to a federal court decision to set Georgia primaries for federal seats in May, there is uncertainty about when state and local primaries will be held.
State officials and local elections offices are expected to push legislators to move the primaries for state and local offices to May as well because it would be costly to conduct two sets of primaries a couple of months apart. That would put qualifying for state house seats in March.
However, it’s not clear that legislators will abide by the anticipated request, so qualifying could be held in May, with a primary in July.