Opinion: 2018 is a big political year. Count on us to guide you through it.

If you follow politics, then you know that 2018 is a pivotal, potentially historic election cycle in Georgia.

Consider the stakes.

We will elect a new governor to replace the term-limited Nathan Deal, along with seven other statewide executive offices.

Every seat in the Georgia General Assembly is on the ballot. That means 56 state Senate seats and 180 seats in the Georgia House will be up for grabs.

All 14 of Georgia’s U.S. House Representatives will be on the ballot.

There are several story lines worth following to understand how the candidates are running, what issues they will choose to champion, what might determine your vote and what the political landscape might look like on Wednesday, Nov. 7 after every ballot has been counted.

You can count on The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s politics team to inform you on every aspect of these races. State government and politics Senior Editor Susan Potter leads a team of journalists who are indispensable to Georgia politics. Since our last big election, some roles have changed.

Lead political reporter Greg Bluestein and columnist Jim Galloway remain in their roles. As does D.C. Correspondent Tamar Hallerman. Those in new roles are Assistant Senior Editor James Salzer and State House reporters Mark Niesse and Maya Prabhu.

I confess to being a bit of a political junkie. Like you, I depend on these fine folks to get me fully educated before I contemplate my vote.

Among the issues I will be paying attention to are:

Man versus woman versus history. Both Democratic candidates for governor are women. The Republican candidates for governor are men. No matter who wins, gender will define the race for governor. The pull of history will hang over this race, as Georgia has never elected a woman as its governor. And we will learn something about whether women will view the race in terms of gender. Women are 1-2 in recent high-profile Georgia elections against male candidates. U.S. Senate candidate Michelle Nunn and Hilary Clinton both lost their races in Georgia. Karen Handel beat Jon Ossoff to win the Sixth Congressional District race last year.

Which wedge issue equals winning politics. The tragic Parkland, Florida school shootings, where 17 people were killed, created a heated national discussion over state and federal gun laws. It’s the wedge issue of the moment, so expect to see candidates in Georgia races to be asked about their position on guns. Besides guns, you’ll likely see more debate on the future of Obamacare and the fate of Confederate statues. These are issues where Democrats and Republicans sharply disagree, and under the right conditions they could sway an election.

The Trump effect. The story line that will garner the most attention nationally is whether state and congressional races across the country will be influenced by what voters think of President Donald Trump. Typically, the president’s party loses congressional seats during mid-term elections. It happened with former presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. But Republicans managed to gain seats in the 2002 midterms under President George W. Bush, defying the typical outcome. Can President Trump do the same? Many are betting against the president, citing a handful of recent special elections across the country in districts that Trump won in his 2016 victory that were won by Democrats. I’ll be looking for insight into whether the president can buck history.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Channel 2 Action News and News 95.5/AM 750 WSB are committed to being the go-to source for news and analysis about state politics. No other news organization commits more resources to providing quality coverage. Here are some of the things you can look during the upcoming primaries and during the November general election.

• Channel 2 Action News will host a series of debates on the race for governor.

• AJC and Channel 2 Action News will also provide a series of polls providing insight into what’s on the mind of voters, what issues might determine their votes and which candidates they favor leading up to Election Day.

• The AJC has partnered with the League of Women Voters to produce a voters guide that will appear in both digital and print.

• Unmatched political analysis from Jim Galloway, the dean of Georgia political reporters

• In-depth insight from WSB Radio’s Erick Erickson, who has interviewed each gubernatorial candidate. Access those interviews at http://feeds.wsbradio.com/TheErickEricksonShow

• The Jolt, a daily political digest composed by the AJC’s politics team and delivered to your email box.

As voters, we have plenty to do to educate ourselves before we head to the ballot box. Count on us to help you decide.

E-mail Deputy Managing Editor Leroy Chapman Jr. at Leroy.Chapman@AJC.com 

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