Today's Political Insider cautions that we are in the early innings, and thus don't count Taylor out.
[I]t's far too early to offer Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor a premature burial.
Taylor is a Democratic candidate for governor. He was first in the '06 race to challenge Sonny Perdue, but has lately been eclipsed by Secretary of State Cathy Cox — another Democrat who's done well in fund-raising and in recent polls.
In those polls, Cox has exhibited strong support among African-American voters, tapping into what many presumed to be Taylor's strength.
Nearly everyone will agree that the increasingly middle-class nature of Georgia's black vote has made it harder to fathom. Even while the white Republican vote is drifting toward a church-network discipline, the black Democrat vote is moving away from that model.
Persuasion has become harder. Loss of control of the state Capitol has shifted the power of patronage to the GOP side.
Then there's been the death of former Atlanta mayor Maynard Jackson in 2003, and the recent conviction of former state Sen. Charles Walker of Augusta. Both were accomplished organizers of the African-American vote.
That said, Taylor is a fine student of the black interests in Georgia, as good as any white politician in the state.
In fact, we've picked up some interesting movement in Taylor's campaign — small stuff, but it's all small in August. On Friday, state Sen. Ed Harbison, former chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus, hosted an event for Taylor in Columbus.
Former Atlanta mayor Andrew Young and Senate Minority Leader Robert Brown of Macon were detected making phone calls for Taylor downstate last week, drumming up attendance by black pastors and ministers at another event.
Brown is at least Walker's equal in terms of organization, and is almost certainly the better chess player. He's shown no tendency to be blinded by self-interest.
Brown was crucial to Jim Marshall's congressional victories in '02 and '04. Brown acknowledges that black elected officials will split over Cox and Taylor, but says Taylor's rural network is in good shape.
Things are less clear in metro Atlanta, Brown said — but Taylor's latest financial disclosure provides some clues. Hank Aaron is on Taylor's list of givers, which means Taylor might well have the support of Aaron's brother-in-law, too — U.S. Rep. David Scott of Atlanta.
U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney, whose strength lies in south DeKalb County, has also tipped her hand in Taylor's direction.
Look for Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin to stay neutral, at least for now. At first, that may not sound good for Taylor. But if Cox's strategy is to feminize next year's race, the sidelining of the most popular black woman in Georgia isn't such a bad thing.