Throughout qualifying week, enthusiasm has been high inside the Gold Dome. However, among Democrats, there are a crop of candidates that are progressive, with diverse experiences, hoping to effect change in the Legislature.

For the first time, there will be three Latinx Democrats running for state office during the 2022 midterm elections.

If elected, Jason Esteves would become the first Afro-Latino in the Georgia State Senate; Michelle Schreiner would be the only Latina Georgia legislator; and Phil Olaleye will be the first Afro-Latino in the Georgia House of Representatives.

Currently, there are only three Hispanic legislators in Georgia, Rep. Pedro Marin, Sen. Jason Anivertarte, and Rep. Zulma Lopez and she will not be seeking re-election.

With a growing Latinx Georgia electorate, these aspiring lawmakers believe diversity in representation will ensure the growing immigrant and communities of color are heard and advocated for.

“Today with my team beside me, I qualified to run for Georgia’s 90th House District. For years, I’ve been at the Capitol, advocating for hardworking Georgians,” Schrenier said. “Now, I’m stepping up to continue the work as your next representative. With your support, we will fight for quality education, economic opportunities, and affordable healthcare for ALL Georgians. Let’s do this!”

Bee Nguyen set to run for Georgia Secretary of State

Lastly, current State Representative Bee Nguyen, D-Atlanta, is running for Secretary of State. It is expected she will face the winner of the Republican primary battle between incumbent Brad Raffensperger and U.S. Rep Jody Hice, who is stepping down from his 10th Congressional district seat after being endorsed by former President Donald J. Trump.

If elected, Nguyen would become the first person of Asian-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) descent to win statewide office. Nguyen says the safety and procurement of Georgia’s elections cannot be left to the trade winds of partisan politics.

Georgia State Representative Bee Nguyen, D-Atlanta, speaks from the Georgia State Capitol steps on Tuesday, March 8, 2022. Nguyen, along with a number of Democrats, are hoping to send a diverse coalition to the State House. (Photo: Kevin Lowery)

“Our current Secretary of State has said over and over again that we have had the most secure election,” Nguyen explained. “And now here he is; his top priorities are based on The Big Lie, his constitutional amendment that actually doesn’t do anything for voting rights. It’s already in state law saying that non citizens can’t vote. Non citizens are not voting. It’s already in state code. It’s already in our Constitution. And it further feels the idea that non citizens participated in previous elections.”

Each of the candidates expressed the current Republican Party is one of restrictions. Nguyen says the enthusiasm among Georgia Democrats belies the national agenda that says the Moderates and Progressives can’t find common ground on the issues.

“We elected Warner Robins first Black mayor (LaRhonda Patrick), we elected a young millennial Black mayor,” Nguyen said. “That is a fluke for us. We are going to continue to make ground in Georgia. We’re going to continue to win with Senator Warnock at the top of the ticket [along] with Stacey Abrams. The conditions are different in Georgia.”

Additional reporting by Itoro N. Umontuen/The Atlanta Voice