Fellow Democrats at a recent state party meeting elected Elizabeth “Liz” Johnson of Bulloch County to represent Georgia on the Democratic National Committee.
Page Gleason resigned from one of the state’s six elected DNC seats earlier this year to become executive director of the Democratic Party of Georgia. So the election at the Dec. 3 meeting of the party’s state committee in Peachtree City was to fill the remainder of her term, explained Eric Gray, communications director for the state party.
With the state chair and vice chair holding automatic seats, Georgia has a total of eight representatives on the DNC. The committee oversees the party’s national operations, sets rules for primaries and caucuses and helps determine national political strategy.
“As I’ve been telling everybody that’s been congratulating me, this is about more than just me,” Johnson said. “It’s about all of us, and it’s exciting to bring a rural Georgia voice to the national Democratic Party.”
Johnson has served in local Democratic politics in various roles for about 16 years. She is currently first vice chair of the Bulloch County Democratic Party. In January she was elected the party’s 12th Congressional District chairperson, and she also serves as 12th Congressional District director for the Georgia Federation of Democratic Women.
Her previous roles included a term as co-chair of the county party and leadership of its “Get Out the Vote” Committee.
“With Liz’s long history in Democratic politics here in Georgia, she’s going to be an excellent voice to go up there and advocate for our values, and that’s important because we’ve got Democrats of all different heights and colors and shapes, and it’s good to have good, solid Georgia representation there,” Gray said.
As a DNC member in 2012, Johnson will be an automatic delegate to the national convention in Charlotte, N.C., in September. She, among about 50 Georgians after county parties name their delegates, Gray explained, will have a vote for the presidential nominee. Of course, that vote will be a formality because President Obama is the only contender.
Otherwise, Johnson said, she has been advised to expect a national committee meeting about once a quarter, requiring some travel.
Professionally, Johnson has worked almost 39 years in the insurance industry, first in administration and later in sales. About a month ago, she took a new job in sales and leasing at Franklin Chevrolet in Statesboro. Personally, she and her husband have seven children as a blended family and now nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
In civic life, she is beginning a second three-year term on the board of Statesboro Regional Library and was previously active in volunteer work with the Statesboro Noon Lions Club and Habitat for Humanity.
Johnson was one of five candidates, all women, who vied for the DNC seat at the Peachtree City meeting, which Gray said was attended by about 170 people. In a process that Gray compared to the TV show “Survivor,” each round of voting eliminated only the bottom vote-getter as long as no candidate received more than 50 percent of the votes. It took four rounds for Johnson to emerge the victor, outpolling Laverne Gaskins, from the Valdosta area, in the final round.
“It was exciting and there were some incredible women, so I felt honored just to be one of the candidates,” Johnson said.
Because the special election was to a partial term, Johnson will have to stand for election again at a state party meeting in August if she wants a full, four-year term on the DNC.
The state committee also adopted its 2012 platform at the Dec. 3 meeting. Saying she is focusing on learning her new role, Johnson declined to discuss the platform at this time.
“My focus is to keep our rural, suburban and urban party members informed and united,” she said.