WARNER ROBINS, Ga. -- After Republicans swept every statewide office in last year's elections, Georgia Democrats have chosen new leaders to chart the party's future.
The state Democratic Party selected Mike Berlon as chairman on Saturday at a meeting in Warner Robins. Berlon, the outgoing Democratic Party chairman in Gwinnett County, faced Darryl Hicks, the party's nominee for labor commissioner.
The two men were vying to replace Chairwoman Jane Kidd, a former state legislator from Athens who decided to step down after a four-year term.
Berlon is president of the Georgia Association of Democratic County Chairs. Hicks served as chief of staff to the chairman of the Fulton County Commission.
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Other winners in Saturday's election included Nikema Williams as first vice chair, Miguel Camacho as vice chair for candidate recruitment, R.J. Hadley as vice chair for county parties and Russell Edwards as treasurer.
"We've got a lot of growth to do over the next couple of years and these are the people who are prepared to do it," said state party spokesman Eric Gray. "This was the first step toward Democrats reclaiming Georgia."
After ruling Georgia politics for generations, Democrats in the state now find themselves in exile, and GOP gains have continued even after the Nov. 2 elections.
Nine Democratic state legislators switched parties to become Republicans, adding to already comfortable GOP margins in the House and the Senate.
The Republican takeover in Georgia began in 2002 when Sonny Perdue became the state's first GOP governor since Reconstruction.
Democrats are expected to face fundraising challenges and they will need to recruit a new crop of candidates.