Former Atlanta mayor Andrew Young has endorsed Ken Hodges in the 2010 Democratic primary campaign for attorney general.
Young’s endorsement of the former Albany prosecutor is significant, because Young remains one of Georgia’s most influential Democrats, and because African-Americans could make up half of the electorate in July’s Democratic primary between Hodges and Rep. Rob Teilhet (D-Smyrna).
“It’s very important to me,” Hodges said Monday. “I’m very well known in southwest Georgia, but I’ve got to get my word out to 8 million people, several million voters and I need help doing that.”
Young’s stature will help.
“People trust him and hopefully trust his judgment,” he said.
In a statement, Young praised Hodges for “his commitment to equal rights and the fair application of justice during his years of service in Albany.”
Hodges, Young said, “developed successful diversionary programs that still today keep our at-risk young people in school and out of prison.”
Young’s endorsement is particularly key for Hodges as some still blame him for the failure to prosecute a white police officer who shot and killed an unarmed black motorist in Columbus. Hodges was appointed as a special prosecutor in the case of Kenneth Walker’s 2003 death. Walker, 39, was killed after the SUV he was riding in was pulled over. Walker was pulled out of the car and was shot.
The officer in the shooting, Deputy David Glisson, never faced trial after a grand jury refused to indict him.
But Hodges said Teilhet is generating criticism of him over the Walker case.
“My opponent, he can’t attack me on experience,” Hodges said. “So, he’s got to misrepresent and misconstrue other information in an effort to try and get people to look elsewhere.”
Teilhet declined to respond.
Walker, Hodges said, “should not have died that night. Of that, there is no question.”
But the case was not originally racially divisive. “There was no facts or circumstances that indicated in anyway that this was racially motivated or that the outcome was racially motivated by the grand jury.”
Still, he said the endorsement will help alleviate any legitimate concern.
“Ambassador Young’s endorsement of me and my candidacy is endorsing me collectively of everything I have done, including that,” Hodges said. “If he thought I did something wrong in that or anything else, he wouldn’t have endorsed me.”
Earlier this year, Teilhet received an endorsement from Sen. Emanuel Jones (D-Atlanta), chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus.