AJC's PI wins Headline of the Month award: If Ralph can't be downed by a Republican sling, the jawbone of an ass becomes the weapon of choice.
I believe the editors write those for the hard copy -- this is the way most newspapers operate I am told -- and Baxter & Galloway get to pen the captions on the online edition.
Regardless, the caption in the online edition on the column about the lieutenant governor's race is truly priceless. It provides and the article reads as follows:
If Ralph can't be downed by a Republican sling, the jawbone of an ass becomes the weapon of choice
It's no surprise that the Ralph Reed juggernaut is changing the shape of Republican politics in Georgia.
Already Reed's campaign for lieutenant governor is sucking up most of the air in those rooms where the GOP elite gather to chart out their ambitions for the next decade.
But the prospect of Reed as lieutenant governor in '06, and perhaps something beyond that, has also pumped some life into moribund Democrats.
Since the Republican takeover of the Senate, the office of lieutenant governor — in constitutional terms, the president of the Senate — has been stripped of all influence.
Yes, Democratic incumbent Mark Taylor has produced a list of accomplishments after each session — largely through his use of the bully pulpit and a cagey selection of issues. (This year, Taylor focused on benefits for National Guard reservists.)
But $85,000 a year, a rapidly shrinking staff, and the prospect of slow suffocation by a Republican-controlled chamber is no recommendation.
While Reed has set the Republican field roiling — one candidate has already dropped out — only a single Democrat has signed up for the lieutenant governor's race.
That's Greg Hecht, a former state senator from Clayton County.
This could change soon. The contest has suddenly acquired cachet. Not the office, but the race.
More than a few Democrats, we hear, have come to realize the potential value of being known as the guy who knocked off Ralph Reed.
[The last paragraph is the gospel; it is what I think exactly. And doable; a big time you bet.]
It's a platform from which to launch a second career. Certainly, there'd be no lack of money.
Names we've heard include:
— House Minority Leader DuBose Porter of Dublin;
— Tim Golden of Valdosta, a Sam Nunn protege and chairman of the Senate Democratic caucus;
— State Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond;
— and U.S. Rep. Jim Marshall of Macon.
Of the four, Marshall's name is the most intriguing. He's got a military record that would give him the gravitas needed in a Reed match-up. And his central Georgia district would provide a crucial anchor in a statewide race.
Notice that two names are absent from this list. One belongs to Secretary of State Cathy Cox, who is still on track to launch her campaign for governor — against Taylor — this month.
Max Cleland is the other. The former U.S. senator, defeated in 2002, has been repeatedly mentioned as a possible candidate for lieutenant governor.
But cooler heads have prevailed.
As popular as he remains in many quarters of Georgia, Cleland was so tightly identified with the Kerry campaign that any match-up with Reed would become an unproductive replay of the '04 presidential race.
[No question, you got that right brother, the last paragraph that is.]