ATLANTA -- The Martin Luther King Jr. holiday is a multiracial celebration - and of late, has been a cautionary reminder for Georgia Republicans.
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"If we can just do things to get minorities involved in the party," said Leah LeVell, a college Republican based at Mercer University in Macon. She sees the state's solidly Republican leadership and sees a party that needs to broaden racially, or lose its majority.
"We have to do something about it now," LeVell said.
Census data in 2000 showed Georgia's nonwhite population at 37 percent. In 2010 it jumped to 44 percent -- with predictions of a nonwhite majority in Georgia in the next decade.
"The Republican party cannot survive as the party of just whites, for demographic reasons," said Andra Gillespie of Emory University. "And from a philosophical standpoint in a multicultural America, there really is no good way to present one party as being an all white party. It's just not great PR."
In late 2013, the Georgia GOP hired a director of minority outreach, whose job is to broaden the party's demographic appeal.
Georgia's top Republican didn't talk about politics during the King service. But Gov. Nathan Deal sent a message that can only help his party.
"I'm committed to finding an appropriate way to honor Dr. King on (Georgia's) Capitol hill," Deal said to applause.
Meantime, Democrats are hoping that the demographic ground in Georgia has already shifted -- giving them an opportunity to surprise the experts and elect statewide candidates this November.
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