(WASHINGTON) — When you see the words “Jimmy Carter’s grandson” these days, it’s probably best to check which one.
In this case, it’s Jason Carter, 38, grandson of former President Jimmy Carter, and the newly-minted Democratic candidate for governor of Georgia.
There’s also James Carter IV, who rose to prominence last year for unearthing the now-infamous “47 percent” video of the Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney. That became a turning point in the 2008 presidential race.
Blood is blood, but Jason isn’t eager to praise the bit of political opposition research that helped to sink the Romney campaign. This is, after all, Georgia — a place once regarded as the heart of the South and now very much a red state.
“James is my cousin. I love him. He’s a lot more partisan than me,” Jason told ABC News in an interview Thursday. “Two of my best friends are Republicans.”
Later Thursday on MSNBC, he voiced a similar line about the former president: “He’s my grandfather, I love him. We don’t agree on everything.”
Asked by ABC News whether his grandfather has offered any advice, Jason hesitated.
“I mean, he gives me … yes,” he offered reluctantly.
Pressed for more details, he added: “The advice he’s given me is if you work as hard as you can, if you always tell the truth, you’ll be fine.”
Jason seems to have learned his talking points well. The furor over the Affordable Care Act website’s botched rollout and dropped plans has consumed Washington, but he cautiously keeps his distance.
“Anybody who looks at the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare or whatever you want to call it, has to recognize that it’s a mess,” Jason said.
“Again, Obamacare right now is a mess, no doubt about it,” he said a second time. “It’s a mess. We have to do something.”
Right now, it’s hard out there for a red-state Democrat, especially if they’re trying to unseat a Republican incumbent, and even more so now that the Affordable Care Act’s disastrous rollout has created more headaches than they’d like to count.
With Carter’s announcement last week that he’d seek a promotion from the Georgia State Senate to the governor’s mansion, he joins a cadre of political legacies seeking to tap into the instant name recognition afforded to them by their parents or grandparents in 2014 elections.
It also helps that his path is nearly identical to one blazed by his grandfather, who also ran for governor from the state senate. He happened to also become president, but no one’s keeping score.
Carter is young, but he’s regarded as a skillful politician with a bright future ahead, recruited by national party officials as their best chance to take back a red state.
A few weeks ago, the path to victory for him and others like him would have been seemingly blazed by the government shutdown, which temporarily left national Republicans dazed by the flack.
The message for him was, and to some extent still is, about tying Gov. Nathan Deal to a larger ideological stubbornness of the national Republican Party.
But given the troubles of Carter’s own political party, he’ll be spending as much time making sure he doesn’t get mired in Washington Democrats’ health care mess.
“I think that people over estimate how partisan people are. This is not a Republican state, it’s a conservative state. But 10 years ago there were Democrats elected all over the place,” Jason said. “And the people of Georgia are independent minded and want to see solutions to their problems and right now they’re not getting that.”
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