Scott Hogan, executive director of the Democratic Party of Georgia and a Biden campaign senior strategic advisor, said he moved to Georgia in 2019 because he saw an opportunity to flip the state from red to blue and change the national electorate. In the 2020 general election, he saw his hard work pay off as the majority of Georgia’s voters submitted ballots for President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and 16 key electoral votes were awarded to the Biden campaign.
Hogan grew up in Bloomington and attended Edgewood High School. He went to the University of Southern Indiana for his undergraduate degree and later attended IU for his graduate degree.
Following Election Day, Hogan's job continues as the two January runoff elections, which will determine if the majority in the Senate is Democratic and Republican, inch closer.
“The moment has never been bigger,” Hogan said. “At no time in my lifetime has so much ridden on one election.”
Hogan said although he and the rest of the team are tired, they are still pushing to educate more people, make voting more accessible and campaign for the two Senate races.
Trav Robertson, chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party, said the runoff election is more about turnout than persuasion because there are many people that feel they have already fulfilled their civic duty during the original election and sometimes do not return to vote. However, Robertson said Hogan knows how to work during trying times and get people to turn out.
“They’re very fortunate that they’ve got Scott Hogan down there in Atlanta who’s an experienced hand in bringing order to the chaos,” Robertson said.
While the team and Hogan are experiencing some fatigue, Hogan said they are excited at the idea of sending Democrat Jon Ossoff and Democrat Raphael Warnock to the Senate.
“The opportunity to not only flip a state for the presidential but then potentially to positively move the U.S. Senate towards the Democrats is an honor,” Hogan said.
Hogan worked to get the majority of the voting population of Georgia, which had been red for the last six presidential elections, to vote for Biden and the other Democratic candidates. One of the key factors to flipping the state was combating voter suppression Hogan said.
He said one of his first roles when he stepped into the executive director position was building a voter protection team. This team worked to educate the general public on different ways they could vote, worked against legislation that would have limited access to ballots and fought for more early voting locations and extended voting hours.
The inadequate investment in polling locations, specifically in high-traffic areas and areas with a high density of people of color, is one of the biggest contributors to voter suppression in Georgia, Hogan said. Some lines for the 2020 primary election had about a nine-hour wait because of the lack of polling locations, he said.
In comparison to the 2016 election, there were 27 more early voting locations and voters had 1,210 more hours to cast their ballots in Fulton County, which is the county Atlanta is located, in the 2020 election according to data compiled by Hogan and his team. About 1,500 hours were added in Dekalb County, 1,320 in Gwinnett County and about 1,200 in Cobb County.
About 5 million Georgia residents voted in the 2020 general election, while about 4.1 million voted in the 2016 general election, according to the Washington Post. Hogan said he attributes this increase in voter turnout to the additional polling locations and hours.
In addition to making sure that people are able to vote, Hogan was also in charge of helping Democratic candidates campaign. This year, Hogan and the rest of the Democratic Party had to rely more on calls and virtual events than in-person ones because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"There’s no roadmap for what we've experienced over the last six to eight months,” he said. “It’s required so many people to rethink how we communicate and how to communicate and message effectively.”
However, communication is communication, whether that is in person or through different mediums such as Zoom, social media and phone calls, Hogan said. He also said because the Democratic Party has not been meeting in their office, more people have been able to get involved with the organization by working from home.
Hogan said he wanted to work in Georgia because the state had become more diverse in political representation and started to lean more toward liberal ideas. Hogan said Stacey Abrams’ gubernatorial campaign in 2018, although unsuccessful in obtaining the position, gave him hope for future Democratic candidates in Georgia.
“It became abundantly clear as I thought through this and had conversations with people before I said yes that we could flip the state,” he said. “We had a real opportunity to do something special.”
Hogan said he didn’t have to think much before he accepted the advisor position for the Biden campaign because he has a connection with Biden. Hogan’s first political work was done for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign in 2007 and 2008, so he said he feels as if Biden is a part of his political family.
“There was not really ever a decision to be made for me,” Hogan said.
Hogan was living in Missouri and working in finance when he first volunteered for the Obama campaign. He said he was inspired by Obama and how he seemed to stop the country from going in what Hogan saw as a bad direction. While he couldn’t quit his day job, he decided to volunteer in his free time.
After working in this space, he decided he wanted to study politics further and went to graduate school at IU’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs to earn a master’s degree in public affairs and public policy.
Hogan said he credits IU with changing the directory of his professional career.
“Going back to grad school allowed me to rethink my path and gave me the ability to search out a new option, something that I could commit myself to with respect to service,” he said.
Since graduating from IU, Hogan has worked with several campaigns including Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, the Everytown for Gun Safety campaign and a South Carolina gubernatorial campaign in 2018.
Robertson said Hogan stepped in as the campaign manager for the gubernatorial campaign in June, after they had already been through two campaign managers, and was able to help increase turnout at the election. Even though the Democratic Party did not have a strong gubernatorial candidate that year and lost that election, Robertson said Hogan also helped to protect the public image of Democratic candidates running in lower positions.
“He understands people,” Robertson said. “At the end of the day campaigns and politics are still about people and he understands that.”
Hogan said he enjoys working in electoral politics because he believes that if the right people are elected to government positions, those people can make change for the better. Hogan said there is a direct tie between electoral politics and important issues.
“This is where I have decided to kind of spend my time on how I can, not to be cliché, but change the world,” Hogan said.
This year especially, there were a lot of important issues at stake on the ballot including the COVID-19 pandemic and issues surrounding race and racism, Hogan said.
“The race for president was one where everything we cared about was on the ballot, regardless of which side you were on,” Hogan said. “Unequivocally, this was the most important election of my lifetime."