The Georgia General Assembly has a fresh new face coming to the Gold Dome January 2013. Michael Caldwell, Georgia House District 20's newest Representative-elect, is the youngest representative to ever be elected in the state of Georgia, clocking in at just 23 years of age.
After an unsuccessful 2010 primary campaign against sitting incumbent Charlice Byrd at age 20, Caldwell took another crack at candidacy in 2012. He won the republican primary against Byrd, despite being outspent $168,000.00 to his $24,000.00 (including his in-kind donations). He then won the November general election against Democrat Lillian Burnaman at a whopping 77%.
OK, the guy is young and won a red county in a red state. So what? What makes Caldwell truly unique is the way he ran his campaign. He refused all lobbyist dollars, advocated for consecutive term limits, and returned every red cent leftover from his campaign fundraising after the election. There are no war-chest campaign funds or lobbyist lining the pockets of this up-and-coming politician.
Even more remarkably, Caldwell has made himself more accessible than any other candidate in the state. On his website, Caldwell lists his personal cell phone number, e-mail address, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts. Further, he hosts a weekly "Coffee with District 20" meetup at a local coffee spot every Saturday morning to meet, hear concerns, and take direction from his constituents.
This past week, Caldwell returned, in checks proportional to the original contributions, the remaining $2,343.52 in his campaign fund. These funds can be tracked directly on his website, using his campaign finance tracker.
With his term limits legislation currently in legislative review for pre-filing, it's no doubt the Georgia General Assembly will have an interesting 2013 and 2014 legislative session with Michael Caldwell in the mix.