Rural Georgia Democrats Form Caucus

With Republicans taking Georgia's governor's seat and both majorities in the chambers of the Legislature last election, Democratic lawmakers from rural Georgia have formed their own caucus in the state's General Assembly.

The caucus is not a new idea. It was done in the 1970s to enable rural Democrats to focus on agricultural issues. But today's caucus is different because it was built on concerns that urban Democrats have become too liberal and lost touch with the needs of rural constituents.

"We are not the Democrats of the national party. We tend to be more conservative in our views on all of our issues," said Georgia state Rep. Gerald Greene (search), who has represented District 134's eight counties for 22 years.

"We are just trying to put back what a true Democrat believes and the ideology that we have had in the past," Greene added.

One of those issues that separate party members is gay marriage (search), which has widened the growing gap between liberal Democrats in Atlanta and their more conservative counterparts in Georgia's countryside. Nearly half of Georgia's 81 Democratic House members are expected to join the caucus, which some analysts say is a final effort for them to save the party.

"If you can convince some of these rural Democrats to stay Democrats and then they can form a caucus, then they can actually be the swing vote on some issues and have some power," said WDUN-550 radio talk-show host Martha Zoller.

But other observers say by caucusing, rural Democrats run the risk of becoming virtually indistinguishable from Republicans.

"If that helps them with voters at home to differentiate themselves from the more radical elements of the Democratic Party, then they have accomplished something in the sense that they have saved their skin. Have they helped their party? I don't think so," said political commentator Dick Williams.

State Rep. Bob Holmes (search), who represents Atlanta, said instead of a separate caucus, his party must unify if Democrats ever hope to take back Georgia's House, Senate and governor's office.

"You work from within. You try to build it up," Holmes said. "You sit down and you say, 'This is what we need to do.' You don't go out and support the enemy. I am from West Virginia where we call people 'traitors' who do that to their party."

Holmes said his party should not become what he calls "Republican-Lite."

FOX News' Jonathan Serrie contributed to this report.