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Cracker Squire


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Location: Douglas, Coffee Co., The Other Georgia, United States

Sid in his law office where he sits when meeting with clients. Observant eyes will notice the statuette of one of Sid's favorite Democrats.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Food for thought from my Yankee friend: Hillary can run - but she can't hide behind Bill.

Joan Vennochi of The Boston Globe writes:

BILL CLINTON searches for redemption. Hillary Clinton searches for cover.

Is this any way to run a presidential campaign?

The senator from New York, who is an expected presidential candidate in 2008, treated the Democratic Leadership Council in Denver this week to a recycled campaign slogan: ''It's the American dream, stupid,'' Hillary Clinton told the DLC - a twist on ''It's the economy, stupid,'' the famed, but now overexposed theme of Bill Clinton's first national campaign.

While Hillary Clinton channeled 1992, Bill Clinton was in Connecticut, trying to rescue Senator Joseph I. Lieberman from his channeling of George W. Bush. Lieberman is in a tough primary fight for his seat, mostly over his embrace of Bush's Iraq war policy. Clinton stumped for him, even though last November he told an Arab student audience that the US invasion of Iraq had been a ''big mistake.'' Granted, part of Hillary Clinton's 2008 strategy is to cultivate nostalgia for the years when White House scandal meant a president making love, not war. But war is what this country faces - the war begun with the US invasion of Iraq, and its outgrowth, the war that is now raging between Israel and Hezbollah, via Lebanon. A presidential candidate ignores reality at her peril, and that is what Clinton is trying to do.

Her take on the Lieberman race is another example of the robotic ''centrist'' calculation that is the hallmark of her current political identity. She supports the war, but questions the way it has been waged.

She backs Lieberman, but says she will support whichever Democrat wins the primary. Then, to help Lieberman gain momentum against challenger Ned Lamont, Bill Clinton hits the Connecticut campaign trail. Hillary keeps a safe distance away, talking domestic policy in Denver.

Enough with the triangulating. What worked in the last century doesn't necessarily work in this one.

In the past, Clinton ''triangulation'' meant positioning oneself between the Democrats and Republicans in Congress. Now, triangulation means positioning between the two wings of the Democratic Party - the antiwar left and the centrists who don't want Democrats to look ''too angry'' about dead soldiers in Iraq or a foreign policy in meltdown.

In a practical sense, triangulation for Hillary Clinton now means: hug the center. Then, if the center gets bumpy, speed-dial husband Bill to smooth things over.

On one hand, dispatching the former president as his wife's proxy makes political sense. A recent USA Today/Gallup poll shows that Americans view Bill Clinton more favorably than his wife. But, Hillary, not Bill, is the anticipated presidential candidate; she shouldn't be allowed to dodge her vote authorizing war with Iraq, nor her continuing support for it, give or take nitpicks with the Bush administration. If she supports Lieberman, why isn't she in Connecticut, backing up his battle for reelection?

Bill Clinton's motives are forever subject to analysis by political consultants and amateur shrinks: He wants to befriend rivals, from former President George H.W. Bush to Lieberman, who denounced Clinton's behavior with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. He is making up for past infidelities by helping Hillary wage her own campaign to be president. For that reason, he wants Lieberman to win the primary - because the voters' rejection of Lieberman over the Iraq war is not good news for his wife's political quest.

All that may be true; but none of it has anything to do with Hillary Clinton's pursuit of the presidency. Put me in the category of political observer who does not believe Bill Clinton's popularity translates into votes for his wife. Every time he surfaces, the differences in their political style become clearer. He triangulated with a wink and a smile.

She does it without finesse or subtlety.

Take that speech in Denver to the DLC.

Hillary Clinton and other centrist Democrats desperately want to talk about the middle class, not the Middle East. They prefer to talk about tax credits and government savings bonds, as if the American dream exists in isolation from the rest of the world and a region at war.

To play on that overused campaign theme once again: Bush made it about the war, stupid.

Democrats who support the Bush policy have to stand up and answer for it, just like Joe Lieberman is doing in Connecticut.

Hillary can run - but she can't hide behind Bill.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Johnson leads McKinney in recent poll

According to the ajc:

A new poll by InsiderAdvantage shows Johnson leading McKinney 46 percent to 21 percent, with one-third of voters undecided.

Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor to Mayor Andrew Young on Young's endorsement of McKinney: "Thanks Andy, my campaign needed that!"

According to the ajc, in endorsing U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney, former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young said:

"Congress needs controversy. The last thing we need in a democracy is people who don't think for themselves. ... I don't always agree with Cynthia McKinney, but I always agree with her right to express her opinions because that creates a dialogue that makes democracy work."

Is this an endorsement? If it is, it is one lame endorsement. In making it Young has strained his credibility and jeopardized his ability to continue meaningfully helping Mark Taylor in Taylor's quest for the governor's mansion.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Mark Taylor outpolled Gov. Roy Barnes in the 1998 primary

Bill Shipp writes:

In winning the 2006 nomination for governor, Mark Taylor outpolled Gov. Roy Barnes in the 1998 primary.

Taylor undoubtedly sees a favorable omen in that 60,000-vote margin over Barnes' showing. Barnes went on to win the 1998 election.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Matt Towery: The Public Thinks GOP Congress Is Fiddling While Rome Burns

Matt Towery writes in InsiderAdvantage Georgia:

Ronald Reagan Republican voters are speaking, and the GOP needs to start listening.

On July 18, former Christian Coalition executive director Ralph Reed was blown away by his more moderate opponent in the Georgia Republican primary race for lieutenant governor. Reed had hung his hat on a theme of "faith and family values."

Earlier this year, former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore banked on his reputation as the self-proclaimed "keeper of the Ten Commandments" to get elected governor. He was pummeled in the GOP primary.

In Florida, the man I call the South's most charismatic "movie-star metrosexual," Attorney General Charlie Crist, will likely defeat longtime GOP officeholder Tom Gallagher in their primary race to replace Jeb Bush as governor. ("Metrosexual" isn't a slur, or even a reference to sexuality. It's a trendy new fashion term.)

The able and likable Gallagher reportedly plans to intensify his own Ralph Reed-style campaign theme in an effort to overtake Crist, whom he trails in the polls. That will signal the beginning of the end of Gallagher's ultimate chances as well.

The list goes on.

All of this reflects a shift in sentiment among conservative voters.
Remember the "Reagan Democrats"? They threw Jimmy Carter out of the White House. It wasn't that they didn't believe he was a sincere Christian, or that he didn't have high moral character, as he often implied (when he wasn't openly proclaiming it).

It was because they saw him as unwilling to face reality. Carter had responded to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan by expressing shock and disappointment. But that's pretty much all he did.

His response to an energy crisis was to ask everyone to don sweaters and turn down their thermostats.

As interest rates rose and the economy sank, Carter offered little in the way of concrete policy to countervail these trends.

In response to his collective nonresponse, practical-minded Democrats abandoned Carter and helped propel Republican Reagan into the office.

Switch to the present. With less than four months until the general election, the GOP-led Congress has been "holding hearings" on illegal immigration; "looking at" tax reform. As far as actual votes on actual bills -- or constitutional amendments -- they have reserved that for measures to protect the American flag and ban gay marriage, which is already illegal most everywhere.

As well-intended as all this may be, most of it appears to most of the public as so much fiddling while Rome burns.

Every national poll shows that Americans by wide margins hold the Republican-controlled Congress in very low esteem. Even in the conservative Deep South, more poll respondents prefer that Democrats control the Congress than they do Republicans.

Conservatives, don't shoot the messenger -- me! -- because of these numbers.

Instead, take to your phones and computers, and into the streets if necessary. Demand that Republican leaders find the resolve to act tangibly about tangible issues that people care about.

Real conservatives don't want amnesty for illegal aliens. And they don't want to wait for this crucial legislation while congressional incumbents stall past the elections.

Most conservatives want a drastic change in the federal tax system -- not promises to study the issue until death do us part.

Bluntly, the Republican Party appears divorced from the real world and determined to try to win the game with trick plays.

I respect President Bush's personal conviction on embryonic stem-cell research. And I know that we probably get one-sided media coverage of the merits of this research from its advocates.

But politically, it seems nuts to me that Congress would reverse course and suddenly support additional research, knowing full well that President Bush would bring the lot of them negative headlines by vetoing their bill.

It was the first veto of his six years in office, and he exercised it against a position that 60-plus percent of Americans support! Talk about bad press.

Take it from me -- I've seen election years when flags, faith and "they are too liberal" can win races for Republicans. And these issues will always sell books and draw radio callers.

But I've also seen years when too much apple pie gave the public a stomachache.

I know the Democrats have poor policy alternatives, when they have them at all. But much of the public doesn't necessarily know that -- or even care.

We're getting down to the nitty-gritty in electoral politics. The Republicans are trying to hold on to Congress. If they want a lesson in how to blow it, they need only look at recent primary election results in key spots across the nation.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

8th District Congressman Jim Marshall appears to be in good shape.

From an email from Congressman Jim Marshall's campaign:

[T]he DCCC (Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee) conducted a poll in the 8th district and Jim is well ahead. According to the poll, Jim is leading by a margin of 53%-32% over Mac Collins. In addition, 50% of voters rated Jim favorably with only 7% rating him unfavorably -- a greater than 7-1 favorable/unfavorable ratio.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Moving on to November!

A July 19 email from Mark Taylor:

Dear Friends:

Yesterday, the voters spoke loud and clear: they are ready for a Governor who looks after every day Georgians, a Governor who has a record of working for them and a Governor who gets things done. I'm proud to say that we won in 70% of the counties across the state! I could not have done that without each and every one of you.

I want to thank everyone -- my family, friends and all of our supporters. I appreciate your faith in me. The donation of your time, your hard-earned money and resources touched my heart. I understand that you are the reason I am standing where I am today. In November, with some more hard work, we will stand in the Governor's office.

As Secretary Cox said so eloquently last night, the battle has ended. Today, the past is the past. It's time to move on to November with a unified voice. Remember, we share many beliefs:

We all agree healthcare must be made affordable for our families.

We agree we need to invest more in our schools and our teachers.

We agree government must work for every day Georgians.

And there is one thing that we all agree on that unites us. We all agree that Georgia needs a new Governor. The families of Georgia -- the hard working people of Georgia who want a better life for themselves and their children -- need a Governor who puts them first.

There is so much for us to do together as Georgians. But we have a lot of work to do to get there. No matter how tired we are. No matter how much we'd rather spend our time celebrating a hard-won victory, we are not stopping for one second. I hope I can count on you again. Volunteer. Spread the word. Visit our website often for campaign updates and other news. Most of all, give us your prayers as we work together for a government that puts you first.


Cathy Cox: “We move forward to November in a spirit of unity."

Cathy Cox in her concession speech:

“Tonight the battle has ended, the slings and arrows have ceased.”

“Tonight, a new season begins, a new nominee goes forward.”

“We move forward to November in a spirit of unity ... We can make sure Georgia’s brightest days are ahead.”

McKinney In Trouble

From InsiderAdvantage Georgia:

Cynthia McKinney is in trouble and her future, indeed, is in doubt after she was forced into a runoff Tuesday for her 4th District post – the one she lost to Denise Majette in 2002 and then regained in 2004 when Majette made a quixotic bid for the U.S. Senate.

“I think the McKinney camp got caught sleeping because they didn’t see the organized effort they saw with Majette,” said one Democratic activist with deep ties to the movers and shakers of urban politics. “They just didn’t see the temperature ... Voters got tired of Cynthia and her games. Finally, enough was enough.”

Another Democratic activist who is thoroughly familiar with DeKalb County politics said, “What you saw is, Hank has a base down there. He was an effective county commissioner in South DeKalb County ... I think she’s in trouble. The money’s going to pour in (for Johnson.)”

The outlook from both: "It's highly unlikely she will win the runoff. Johnson's supporters will more likely come out than Cynthia McKinney's supporters. People are more motivated when they are voting against someone than when they are voting for someone."

Monday, July 17, 2006

I will be voting for Cathy Cox and Jim Martin

In the days of ancient Greece, the Greek city-state Sparta, upon defeating another city-state, would reward those who had supported Sparta, exile those who had opposed it, and execute those who had remained neutral.

Tomorrow I will be voting for Cathy Cox for governor and Jim Martin for lieutenant governor.

Dr. Charles Bullock of the University of Georgia makes the following prediction in today's InsiderAdvantage Georgia:

Tuesday will likely prove frustrating for the impatient. If the polls are anywhere close to accurate, then several of the statewide contests will not be resolved. While Taylor has led Cox for several months now, he has not broken 50% in publicly released polls. The presence of two minor candidates may deny either of the major candidates a majority necessitating a runoff on August 8. Voters turned off by the vitriol of the Cox – Taylor feud and gays unhappy that neither of these candidates offered any comfort when Judge Constance Russell struck down the gay marriage ban may register their protest by voting for one of the minor candidates.

The Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor will likely extend into a runoff along with both parties’ nominations for secretary of state. The primary will likely serve as a semi-final for the four candidates for the GOP nomination to run against Tommy Irvin for Agriculture commissioner with the final being between two north Georgians – Athens’ Brian Kemp and Commerce’s Gary Black.

While major offices will await final decisions in August, the likely turnout for the finals will likely be substantially smaller than in the primary.

Hecht campaign denies involvement in robocall that Martin campaign denounces as 'last-minute dirty trick'

According to InsiderAdvantage Georgia:

Jim Martin’s campaign says it’s been hit with a “last-minute dirty trick” in the Democratic race for lieutenant governor, an automated call urging voters to support Martin ostensibly because he’s stood with the gay and lesbian community on gay marriage. The assertion is false, Martin’s campaign said.

“The call purports to be from our campaign, which it is not."

The call can be heard at this website.

Billy Horton, the Hecht campaign manager, said it is not a call from that campaign. “Why would I call somebody and urge them to vote for Jim Martin?”

Horton said anybody with some extra cash could pay for thousands of such calls because the rates are so low – sometimes under 5 cents per call. He said the Hecht campaign has other “robocalls” out, but that isn’t one of them.

Joseph Lowery Endorses Cathy Cox for Governor

This is according to a press release on Amy Morton's blog.

As noted in the press release, this personal endorsement by Lowery is both rare and last minute.

Andrew Young endorses Jim Martin for Lt. Gov.

According to the Savannah Morning News:

"No other candidate . . . has a record of leadership in support of children, seniors, and families or shares our values more than Jim Martin," Young said.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

The Albany Herald endorses Mark Taylor

Today The Albany Herald endorsed Mark Taylor for Governor.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Savannah Morning News Endorses Cox - "Cox Democrats' best hope"

The Savannah Morning News writes:

Although we are disappointed with the tone of the Democratic race for governor, we believe Cathy Cox rises above the mudslinging as the best choice for Democrats next Tuesday.

Ms. Cox, 47, has served two commendable terms as secretary of state, during which time she modernized the office and reformed Georgia's voting practices.

Ms. Cox's foresight and innovation were rewarded by voters in 2002 when she was re-elected with 60 percent of the vote, garnering the second-highest ballot count in the state. That's a testament to her abilities as well as her character - voters across the political spectrum were comfortable with her bipartisan style as well as her record. That should appeal to Democrats who must pick a candidate who can beat Gov. Perdue in November.

[E]ver since the Republican takeover of the Senate and the governorship in 2002, [Mark Taylor's powers as lieutenant governor] have been diminished. Many saw that as GOP payback for Mr. Taylor's sometimes strident partisanship when Republicans were in the minority - an aggressive style that he's employed against his Democratic opponent for governor.

Ms. Cox hasn't backed down; indeed, she shares responsibility for the escalating negativism. However, we believe her past accomplishments and proven appeal to a wide range of voters makes her the best Democrat to square off against Gov. Perdue in November.

Friday, July 14, 2006

"A somber note from a campaign." - You can say that again.

In an article entitled "A somber note from a campaign," ajc's Political Insider notes:

Jim Martin, one of five Democratic candidates for governor, is closing his campaign with the emotional grabber of the season. It’s a 30-second TV spot in which he recounts the 1980 kidnapping of his 8-year-old daughter, Becky.

She was walking the two blocks home from Morningside Elementary School in Atlanta, when a man pulled up to her and asked her for directions. The man grabbed her and drove off — but threw her out of the car shortly afterwards.

“I’ll never forget the way she trembled when she faced her kidnapper in court. That’s one reason I fought so hard for crime victims, and to lock up violent criminals,” Martin says to the camera.

The ad’s posted here at Martin’s web site.

Pelosi calls on Democrats to 'own' August message

From The Hill:

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has encouraged her colleagues to do more to help win the House in November, this time asking them to hold events over the August recess to trumpet their "New Direction for America" platform.

"Democrats have a strong and unified national message. As part of our national strategy, Democrats must own the message during August," she wrote Wednesday to all House Democrats.

The six-pronged "New Direction" agenda proposes providing affordable healthcare, lowering gas prices, raising the minimum wage, lowering the cost of college, preventing Social Security privatization and restoring fiscal responsibility.

"The New Direction for America agenda should be incorporated into your press releases, correspondence, newsletters, mailings, your Web page, Internet communications and blogs, as well as your floor comments and speeches elsewhere to help to send a clear and unified Democratic agenda," she wrote.

August is a crucial time for both parties to frame the political debate heading into the fall election season.

Georgia Equality endorses Jim Martin for Lieutenant Governor

This week Georgia Equality endorsed Jim Martin for Lieutenant Governor.

New poll shows Taylor leading Cox

On Friday afternoon the ajc reports:

Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor has continued to build his lead in the Democratic gubernatorial race, according to the latest tracking poll released this afternoon.

Taylor captured the support of 53 percent of 500 likely primary voters in a new poll by InsiderAdvantage, an independent Atlanta media and polling firm. Secretary of State Cathy Cox received 41 percent, and the rest were undecided.

The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Savannah Morning News endorses Hecht. Says Hecht has behaved himself. He has what?

The Savannah Morning News wrote its editorial endorsement of Greg Hecht for lieutenant governor a couple of days too soon, noting:

Ralph Reed and Casey Cagle shouldn't be running for Georgia's lieutenant governor. They should be running to the nearest car wash to hose off.

The two Republicans haven't just gone negative. At times, they've gone nuclear. By contrast, the Democrats who are running for this second-tier post, which is wide open because of Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor's decision to run for governor, have stuck to the issues and behaved themselves.

On the same day that this assessment comes out in the Savannah Morning News, the ajc's Political Insider has an article entitled "The real mud flies on Wednesday." This article contains links to two ads from the Hecht camp that the Political Insider introduces with the following comment:

While everyone’s been watching the mud fly in the Republican lieutenant governor’s race, what had seemed a relatively civil Democratic lieutenant governor’s race has erupted this week into a pretty nasty affair with two mail pieces from Greg Hecht’s campaign that are right up there with the other team in terms of negativity.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Politicians learn to use cheap cable TV ads

In 2004 Ben Smith of the ajc was transferred from the Atlanta bureau to reporting for Gwinnett County. I sure do miss his articles and reporting on statewide politics. He is one of the best as far as I am concerned.

The following are excerpts from an article by Ben in today's ajc:

An environmental group trying to block Wayne Hill's political comeback has bought 50 television ads attacking the former Gwinnett County Commission chairman.

The price: $882.

The ads, which debuted Wednesday on the 24-hour Fox News channel and five other networks, are all running on cable TV.

A decade ago, the political TV ad market belonged almost entirely to deep-pocketed statewide and federal campaigns that could afford the high cost of producing ads and buying time to air them.

But the growth of metro Atlanta's cable television market, where advertising rates are a fraction of those charged by Atlanta's major broadcast stations, has given local suburban candidates access to the most far-reaching medium American politics has ever known.

The list of local candidates running TV ads on cable includes [various candidates] according to records of ad purchases that television providers are required under federal law to make public.

"The low, low cost, in conjunction with the fact that you can now do professional quality editing of footage on a computer, has put television advertising within the reach of candidates who previously couldn't afford it," said Todd Rehm, a political consultant for the anti-Hill group, Georgia Conservation Voters Fund.

The ad is running on CNBC, the Weather Channel, the History Channel and the home and garden network HGTV, as well as on Fox News channel on cable TV, according to public records of the ad purchases. Each 30-second spot ranges from $9 on HGTV to $42 for a prime time broadcast on Fox News.

By comparison, prime time spots on WAGA, the local affiliate of Fox Broadcast Network, can cost up to $3,500 apiece depending on the program during which they are broadcast, according to public records kept by the station.

Cable advertising can be targeted to specific areas of metro Atlanta. Comcast, the largest cable service provider in metro Atlanta, has the region divided into zones, which run separate packages of television ads throughout he day. Roswell and Smyrna have their own zones. DeKalb County has two. Gwinnett has three labeled East, West and Northeast Gwinnett.

The variety of specialty cable networks enables campaigns to target specific voters.

"If your message is about the environment, you can buy ads on the Discovery Channel. If you're trying to reach older veterans who served in World War II, there's the History Channel," said Chris Werner, president of LUC Media Inc., a Marietta-based company that purchases advertising time for political campaigns across the country.

The disadvantages: Unlike broadcast stations, political campaigns buying cable TV time cannot choose the times their ads will run, such as during the evening news or during a popular TV show. Comcast says it sells ad time in four multihour blocks, and the ads may run at any point in that block of time.

But the overall appeal of cable television is growing, and advertisers are recognizing that trend, said Jack Wakshlag, chief research officer for Turner Broadcasting. "At the end of the day," Wakshlag said, "you can walk away from any broadcast station and spend money on ad-supported cable. And you'll have the same reach and something left in your pocket."

AJC endorses Mark Taylor for Governor

Excerpts from the ajc endorsement:

Two experienced, capable Georgia Democrats --- Secretary of State Cathy Cox and Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor --- are fighting for the chance to challenge Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue in the fall election. While their struggle has been bitter and difficult, and unnecessarily marred by negative advertising, it has also succeeded in identifying the better candidate between the two.

That person is Taylor.

His 20 years under the Gold Dome --- first as a state senator and later as lieutenant governor --- have prepared Taylor well for the political and policy challenges he would face as a Democratic governor trying to work with a state Legislature that will almost certainly be dominated by Republicans.

In particular, his experience of the last few years, as a Democrat presiding as lieutenant governor over a Republican state Senate, has been good training for what might lie ahead, maturing Taylor as a leader and schooling him in the art of tough compromise.

While Cox has also served in the Legislature, she has made her mark in Georgia politics as secretary of state. And while she has certainly been competent and at times progressive in that job, it is a post well removed from the difficult give-and-take of Capitol politics. Her knowledge of the challenges facing Georgia is thus less detailed than that of Taylor, and her political skills less well-honed.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Charles Bullock, political science professor at the University of Georgia, on Cox and Taylor

On Cathy Cox from The Georgia Times-Union by Walter Jones:

Some observers have described her campaign style the same way, too laid-back to score major victories.

That would be an unfair characterization, says Charles Bullock, political science professor at the University of Georgia. While she may be more consensus builder than confrontational by nature, she has accomplished much as secretary of state.

She modernized the office, putting most public activities on the Web to enhance convenience. She decentralized the operation by moving most of the professional licensing boards to Macon, housing them in the middle of the state and saving rent at the same time -- well ahead of other state agencies.

And her most visible accomplishment was the wholesale replacement of the state's voting apparatus with touch-screen computers, making Georgia the first state to do so.

Decisive yet collegial

Like other top election officials in other states, she squirmed as she watched the agonizing recount in Florida after the 2000 presidential election and its litany of voting errors. Unlike her colleagues, she took a gamble and made Georgia the leader in electronic voting.

"I didn't think she would have any trouble making a decision," Bullock said. "I think she might even be the kind of leader to anticipate a coming problem."

Her leadership style could be particularly well suited, he said, to a governor faced with two legislative chambers controlled by the opposing party. Neither Perdue, the first Republican governor in 135 years, nor any of her Democratic predecessors were equally hobbled.

"A more collegial approach might be more successful," Bullock said.

And on Mark Taylor from The Georgia Times-Union by Walter Jones:

His approach also has created some enemies. One is Perdue.

Perdue switched parties before the 1998 election when Taylor became lieutenant governor and got the ability to assign senators to committees. To punish Perdue for abandoning the Democrats, Taylor essentially left Perdue powerless.

When Perdue complained, Taylor famously replied to reporters, "cry me a river."

Other Republicans felt similar animosity.

"Mark carries some baggage from his first term as lieutenant governor where he clashed openly and repeatedly with the Republicans," said Charles Bullock, a political science professor at the University of Georgia.

Anticipating trouble

As governor, he's likely to be faced with two legislative chambers run by Republicans, the first time any modern Democrat has grappled with such a divided government.

"My guess is that [early clash] would probably have an influence from those senators who remember," Bullock said.

Bullock said Taylor tempered his confrontational approach somewhat in recent years. But with other key constitutional offices also held by Republicans, such as school superintendent, insurance commissioner and whatever the GOP might pick up this fall, Taylor won't have the kind of power his predecessors had.

"I would think because of his history, Mark Taylor could expect more contentiousness," Bullock said.

Shipp: Primary will reveal the future for Georgia Democratic Party

Bill Shipp writes:

Does gender trump the race card in a Democratic primary for governor?

Or is winning the African-American voting bloc the most important element in a successful quest for the Democratic nomination?

We may know the answers to those questions in a week. The primary - a likely barometer of the long-term fate of the Democratic Party - is Tuesday.

Republicans also are engaged in a pivotal primary battle with long-term implications. We're coming to that, but first, the Democratic wars:

Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor leads Secretary of State Cathy Cox by about 2-to-1 among all black voters, according to a reliable but confidential poll.

However, Cox runs away with the votes of women - black and white - by a margin of at least 6 percentage points, the same poll indicates.

Here's the knotty problem facing both candidates: More than half the voters in the Democratic primary are certain to be black. That means Taylor has a lock on the nomination, right? Not necessarily. Consider this: More than half the voters in the Democratic primary are certain to be women. So that gives the edge to Cox, right? Well, in that case ...

Put away your calculator. Unless you know a good psychic who is also a math professor, understanding the true meaning of the black-white ratio or the gender factor won't be easy until the votes are counted. Even then you may remain befuddled. Your conclusion might simply be that reliable polling is not as reliable as it used to be.

One thing is certain, however. The contest between Cox and Taylor has turned into a first-rate fireworks exhibition. The fight may revive the state Democratic Party. Taylor has run an effective campaign from day one. Cox started slowly but has surged as primary day nears.

Regardless of partisan feelings, Georgia citizens are served best by strong competing political parties.

Sure, the advertising has been mean and negative. Some TV spots on both sides border on outright character assassination.

Yet the flame-thrower advertising ought to hearten Democrats. The hard (and expensive) licks mean party stalwarts still believe the Democratic nomination for governor is an attractive prize, even against a seemingly strong Republican incumbent. We won't know whether the battling Democrats' enthusiasm was worth it until the November general election.

The Cox-Taylor fight is either the start of a brighter chapter for Democrats, or it is the beginning of the end for the once all-dominant state party. The size of the July turnout for Democrats will signal the party's direction. Two years ago, barely 500,000 ballots were cast in an eight-candidate Democratic primary for an open U.S. Senate seat.

OK, so you're a white male Georgian, and you don't much care what the Democrats are up to? You're not alone. In fact, your peers comprise a plurality of the adult population.

You don't have to sit out the summer in boredom. The Republican primary for lieutenant governor is as fierce as the Democrats' gubernatorial fight. The questions it raises are just as perplexing.

State Sen. Casey Cagle of Gainesville and his Republican organizational allies are trying to block former state GOP chairman Ralph Reed from starting his elective career as Georgia's lieutenant governor. Did we forget to mention that Cagle also wants to be lieutenant governor?

Noted as the bankers' best friend in the state Senate, Cagle has much of the corporate community on his side. Reed, the wunderkind of the Christian Coalition, is depending on a great tide of religious conservatives to carry him into office.

Jack Abramoff, a former Washington lobbyist habitually depicted in a black hat and trench coat, may be the decisive factor. The reputation of corrupt influence-peddler Abramoff, who helped Reed rake in millions from Indian casino interests, has been used to try to smudge RR's scrubbed image.

Though he has been mentioned frequently as an associate of prison-bound Abramoff, Reed has not been accused of any wrongdoing. He also freely admits he was once a close bud of Abramoff - just as he was of Zell Miller, Pat Robertson and Jack Kemp.

Even if Reed misspent part of his youth with the wrong crowd, the Abramoff connection may be a bit too murky to decipher for most Georgia voters, including your humble correspondent. However, the Cagle-Reed bout may tell us who really rules the Georgia GOP - the clerical collars or the corporate suits.

Footnote: Don't be surprised to see an unusually large voter turnout in the Republican primary, though the marquee race involves a relatively minor office (lieutenant governor). Many independent voters and traditional Democrats are taking Republican absentee ballots, probably to vote against Reed.

AJC endorses Jim Martin for Lt. Gov.

From the ajc:

Martin's long history in Georgia government, his realistic approach on key issues and the clear respect he enjoys from both Democrats and Republicans would serve voters best. He spent 18 years in the state House, and also directed the troubled Department of Human Resources for Democratic Gov. Roy Barnes and for a time under current Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue. For those reasons, Martin appears the strongest candidate.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Thomasville Times-Enterprise endorses Mark Taylor and Jim Martin

These endorsements appear in Saturday's issue of the Thomasville Times-Enterprise.

Report: Taylor has financial edge over Cox

Larry Peterson of the Savannah Morning News writes:

Democratic candidate for governor Mark Taylor entered the final weeks of the primary election campaign with a big financial advantage over Cathy Cox.

Reports on file with the State Ethics Commission showed that, as of June 30, Taylor, the lieutenant governor, had $1.12 million on hand. Cox, the secretary of state, reported having $560,379.

The reports also show how Taylor appears to have gained the upper hand in the advertising battle over the previous three months.

Taylor reported spending almost $4.4 million, much of it for television related outlays; Cox, a little more than $3.7 million.

During the same period, the candidates reported raising almost identical amounts of electioneering cash, with Taylor raking in $1,286,830 and Cox, $1,286,321.

But Taylor, who started his campaign sooner, has raised nearly $6.9 million overall, compared to a little more than $5.6 million for Cox.

Just keeping even with Cox in the last quarter represented a turnaround for Taylor.

In the last six months of 2005, Cox collected almost $2 million, compared to a little more than $1 million for Taylor.

Monday, July 10, 2006

InsiderAdvantage Georgia latest poll has Taylor pulling ahead

From the ajc's Political Insider:

Just to review, here’s Insider Advantage’s latest numbers on the Democratic governor’s race:

— Mark Taylor stands at 49 percent, up two points from a week ago.

— Cathy Cox remains at 41 percent, with no change from a week ago. She and Taylor are splitting the female vote down the middle, which could spell trouble for her.

That also has implications in the Republican race for lieutenant governor: [which the poll has Cagle at 37 percent and Reed at 37 percent] You have to wonder whether this race hinges on suburban women who have decided to give up on the Cox-Taylor race, and will stick with a Republican ballot.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Base closures in Georgia a boon to Fort Bragg, N.C.

From an AP article in the ajc:

Army Forces Command and the Army Reserve Command, both now in Georgia but being moved to North Carolina by the Base Closure and Realignment Commission, are expected to create an off-base business and building boom worth millions, perhaps billions of dollars.

Paul Dordal, a retired Air Force general and executive director of the BRAC Regional Task Force, said . . . community leaders in Georgia estimated a loss of $700 million a year in economic benefits without Forces Command, which makes contracts for more than $1.1 billion annually.

Don't forget tonight's Dem Lieutenant Governor debate on Georgia Public Broadcasting at 7:00

Georgia Public Broadcasting will present coverage of the Atlanta Press Club political debate series:

Sunday, July 9 (Live)
7 PM - Lieutenant Governor - Democrat

(Lt. Governor Republican Candidates debate will follow at 8 PM.)

The Macon Telegraph picks Cathy Cox for the Democratic primary

Excerpts from The Macon Telegraph endorsement of Cathy Cox:

Leave aside the various "charges" their attack ads have made against each other, and the missteps into the muck that their campaigns have made. What does each candidate bring to the voters for positive consideration?

Useful experience and numerous good ideas obscured by the mudslinging, as it happens.

On balance, we endorse Cathy Cox on the basis of her past efforts on behalf of consumers and voters and her potential to move Georgia government into new directions.

Creative Loafing: 'Big Guy' the better primary campaigner; Cox would be the better governor

In endorsing Cathy Cox for governor, Creative Loafing writes:

We thought Secretary of State Cathy Cox was going to be a great candidate for governor. We thought she had the political skills to run a respectable, issues-based campaign. We thought she could dodge Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor's negative campaigning.

We were wrong.

Cox spent most of June getting her butt kicked. Her clumsy, often contradictory responses to media questions created real doubt about whether she has the political savvy to navigate a Republican-controlled Legislature. Her inability to stay on message, and her failure to paint a clear vision of the future left many presumed Cox supporters wondering, "Is this it?"

The most harmful Cox campaign fiasco started in May when a Fulton County Superior Court overturned the state's gay marriage ban. After criticizing the proposed same-sex marriage amendment two years ago, Cox rushed this year to announce her opposition to gay marriage. Then, she supported Gov. Sonny Perdue's call for a special session of the Legislature to draft a new amendment. Then, Cox said she regretted her campaign's response to the court's ruling. Then, she went on a CL radio show and said she thought the state was ready for gay partner rights. Finally, her campaign announced she was opposed to civil unions.

By the time she was done, Cox had lost the support of much of the gay community and the endorsement of the state's largest gay rights group, Georgia Equality (which opted not to endorse either gubernatorial candidate). She's now earned a reputation as a "flip-flopper," a label that helped doom John Kerry in his bid for president in 2004.

Of course, gay marriage was just the tip of the iceberg. In an age when TV ads are everything, Cox's commercials have gotten lukewarm reviews. Equally important, she's been easily distracted, spending more time responding to the Taylor campaign than talking about her own issues.

Speaking of Cox's issues, do you know what they are? You're not alone. Cox's website says she's dedicated to passing new ethics legislation, improving schools via private-public partnerships and making health care affordable. But newspaper headlines have been more concerned with Cox's confusing views on gay rights, the lawsuit Taylor filed against the secretary of state's office seeking documents pertaining to an anti-fraud ad campaign, and other politicking.

Cox has proposed a handful of specific programs -- offering incentives for Georgians to put aside money for retirement and developing a biofuels program for the state. But none have captured the public's imagination nor have they been able to cut through coverage of her campaign's missteps.

We thought we knew what we were getting with Cox: an effective manager and an engaging speaker with a progressive social platform. Now we don't know what to think. Her campaign has been that bad.

Which brings us to Mark Taylor. The Big Guy. With Taylor, we think we know exactly what we're getting. He's an old-school Southern politician, out shaking hands and kissing babies, always smiling. Taylor will stand up for Democratic values, because he values party loyalty -- and power -- above all else. He'll navigate the stormy waters of a Republican-controlled General Assembly because he's a skilled politician.

Taylor's commercials have been clever and issue-based. He's criticized Cox for a long-ago legislative vote against removing the tax on groceries and for an alleged personal vote (which Cox disputes) against creating the lottery that funds HOPE scholarships. He's proposed PeachKids, which would provide health insurance for every Georgia child, and Georgia Rx, which would entitle elderly and uninsured state residents to discounts on prescription drugs. And Taylor has secured the endorsement of the teacher's union, a ripe plum.

If there's one thing this political season has demonstrated, it's that when it comes to campaigning, Taylor trumps Cox any day. So why not endorse Taylor?

One reason is that we believe Taylor's negative, partisan style isn't good for Georgia. He wields power with a temperamental shortsightedness that breeds enemies. That's what happened when he built a close allegiance with corrupt Sen. Charles Walker and drove then-Democratic Sen. Sonny Perdue into the hands of the Republican Party. Such a screw-unto-others governing philosophy hardly establishes Democrats as the principled alternative to Republican abuses of power.

We still believe that, once the campaign is over and the smoke clears, Cox will be the best person to lead the state of Georgia. She ran the secretary of state's office effectively and efficiently. She has demonstrated a commitment to reforming the state government and pushing for ethics reform. And she has a genuineness that is rare in politics, and that is even more noticeable when she's standing in a room next to the polished and borderline smarmy Taylor.

Being governor is about more than just getting elected. It's about representing the people. And we think Cathy Cox is the best person for the job. All the same, here's hoping that she learns a few campaign tricks between now and November.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Macon Telegraph endorses Hecht for lieutenant governor

According to The Macon Telegraph:

The voter wouldn't go wrong with either [Jim Martin or Greg Hecht], but we believe Hecht is the better of the two for the job.We endorse Greg Hecht for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor.

Gay marriage ruling may calm state's politics

From an editorial in The Athens Banner-Herald:

With the amendment now firmly back in place, and the prospect of a continuing legal battle thoroughly dismissed, the people of Georgia won't be subjected to politicians' pandering on the issue of gay marriage as they seek election - or re-election - to the host of state legislative and executive offices on the ballot for later this month and in November's general election.

The ruling means Georgians won't have to suffer through hearing stump speeches and viewing television, radio and newspaper advertising campaigns filled with words like "activist judges," "agendas" and other pointless ranting from candidates.

In fact, the ruling virtually will force this year's crop of political candidates to now focus their campaigns on issues of real importance, such as the education of this state's children. In the days and weeks ahead, it will be interesting to see how many of those candidates are up to the challenge of talking seriously about serious subjects, rather than relying on charged rhetoric to energize voters.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Barnes Endorses Martin In Dem Race For Lt. Gov.

Former Gov. Roy Barnes endorses Jim Martin in the Democratic race for lieutenant governor in new radio ads being aired by the Martin campaign.

Thank God for and God Bless the Democratic Party

In November 2004 I voted "no" on the state constitutional amendment concerning gay marriage that I considered to be gay bashing.

That summer on my website I wrote:

For a Republican to admit that he or she is only a "M" for moderate, then such Republican is considered by other party faithfuls as being no better than a Democrat, and as such is anti-family and has abandoned family values.

Thus with today's Georgia GOP, to really be a "good" and faithful Republican true to the Party's tenets, you must wholeheartedly believe in the politicization of social issues that are none of your business -- and despite America's general acceptance of divergent opinions and appreciation of the right to agree to disagree -- you must reject the idea that a matter such as abortion is a personal and private matter (and for some, also involves views that are religious rather than being not purely political).

And if you dare fail this GOP litmus test, you've got it, obviously you're anti-family and have no family values.

And if you also -- God forbid -- believe something as radical as judging others not on the content and qualify of their character, but rather on their sexual orientation and choice of lifestyles, then you must be a nonbeliever and -- you guessed it -- have to be a Democrat.

Our Party as the Party of the People follows the advice of the Greatest Teacher of all times who teaches in Matthew 7:1 "Judge not, that ye not be judged."

I say to heck with you GOP-Pharisee Holier Than Thou types, and I say thank God for and God Bless the Democratic Party.

Today Jim Galloway in an article in the ajc entitled "Gay group says it won't push for GOP defection" writes:

The largest gay rights organization in Georgia wants to put the kibosh on talk of a mass defection to this month's Republican primary to protest a lack of support among top Democrats.

But Georgia Equality, an advocate for same-sex marriage, could recommend today that gay men and lesbians skip over the two Democratic candidates for governor, Cathy Cox and Mark Taylor --- and focus on lesser, down-ballot contests.

"Hopefully, this will send some message not just to Cathy and Mark, but to the party as a whole," said Chuck Bowen, Georgia Equality's executive director. He said the organization's board of directors is scheduled to debate the issue today.

Gay rights activists in Atlanta have accused Cox of shifting her position on gay marriage and related issues, and have withdrawn their fund-raising support. Taylor opposes gay marriage.

I am a State Committee Member of the Democratic Party of Georgia, and speaking for myself, I hope Georgia Equality will reconsider trying to send a message to Cathy Cox, Mark Taylor and "the party as a whole" by recommending that the gay community abstain from voting for either one of our two leading Democratic candidates.

In a 6-15-06 post I wrote:

"Prior to the week of qualifying, Cathy Cox's campaign had the momentum in the Democratic primary race. Since then, one misstep after another has left her campaign on the defensive and resulted in some of her initial support moving either to the undecided column or over to Taylor."

Obviously one of such missteps was her ill-advised and poorly timed decision to jump into the same-sex marriage debate, and this unfortunate and foolish move on her part has been a costly mistake indeed that gained her nothing positive from persons otherwise inclined to vote for her. Personally I think her true opinion on the matter was that expressed in 2004, but this is for her to say and not me. Also, I think this misstep on her part cost her the endorsement of Mayor Shirley Franklin.

And Mark Taylor is entitled to his opinion regardless of whether it is something with which we agree.

I certainly realize that there are many with strong feelings about this that are different from my own. I also realize that even though I have many friends and acquaintances who are gay, I am not able to completely stand in the shoes of those in gay community because my own sexual orientation is different.

All of the foregoing notwithstanding, with today's decision by the Georgia Supreme Court holding that Georgia's amendment banning gay marriage is constitutional, it is time to put this issue to rest and move on.

I hope that all Democrats -- straight, gay and otherwise -- will join me in pulling the lever for one of our leading two Democratic candidates for governor. The election for governor this year is one of the most important our party will have for a long time to come. Any message some might attempt to send by not voting Democratic or not voting for one of the two top candidates in this race will represent a situation where the cure is worst than the disease.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Dionne: Illinois senator has changed the tenor of discourse on religion

From The Athens Banner-Herald:

Many Democrats discovered God in the 2004 exit polls.

Specifically, they looked at the importance of religious voters to President Bush's majority and decided: We need some of those folks. Off Democrats went to their Bibles, finding every verse they could - there are many - describing the imperative to help the poor, battle injustice and set the oppressed free.

Now human beings often find God in unexpected places, so why shouldn't the exit polls be this era's answer to the burning bush? And a lot of Democrats insist, fairly, that they were people of faith long before the results of 2004 were tabulated.

Yet there is often a terrible awkwardness among Democratic politicians when their talk turns to God, partly because they also know how important secular voters are to their coalition. When it comes to God, it's hard to triangulate.

So when a religious Democrat speaks seriously about the relationship of faith to politics, the understandable temptation is to see him as counting not his blessings but his votes. Thus did the Associated Press headline its early stories about Barack Obama's speech to religious progressives last week: "Obama: Democrats Must Court Evangelicals."

Well, yes, Obama, the senator from Illinois who causes all kind of Democrats to swoon, did indeed criticize "liberals who dismiss religion in the public square as inherently irrational or intolerant." But a purely electoral reading of Obama's speech to the Call to Renewal conference here misses the point of what be the most important pronouncement by a Democrat on faith and politics since John F. Kennedy's Houston speech in 1960 declaring his independence from the Vatican. (You can decide on Obama's speech yourself: The text can be found at www.obama.senate.gov/speech.)

Here's what stands out. First, Obama offers the first faith testimony I have heard from any politician that speaks honestly about the uncertainties of belief. "Faith doesn't mean that you don't have doubts," Obama declared. "You need to come to church in the first place precisely because you are first of this world, not apart from it."

In an interview a day after the speech, Obama didn't back away. "By definition, faith admits doubt," he said. "Otherwise, it isn't faith. ... If we don't sometimes feel hopeless, then we're really insulating ourselves from the world around us."

On the matter of church-state separation, Obama doesn't propose some contrived balancing act but embraces religion's need for independence from government. In a direct challenge to "conservative leaders," he argued that "they need to understand the critical role that the separation of church and state has played in preserving not only our democracy, but the robustness of our religious practice."

"Folks tend to forget," he continued, "that during our founding, it wasn't the atheists or the civil libertarians who were the most effective champions of the First Amendment" but "persecuted minorities" such as Baptists "who didn't want the established churches to impose their views."

Like most liberals who are religious, Obama finds a powerful demand for social justice embedded in the great faith traditions. He took a swipe at those who would repeal the estate tax, saying this entailed "a trillion dollars being taken out of social programs to go to a handful of folks who don't need and weren't even asking for it."

But he insisted that social improvement also requires individual transformation. When a gang member "shoots indiscriminately into a crowd ... there's a hole in that young man's heart - a hole that the government alone cannot fix." Contraception can reduce teen pregnancy rates, but so can "faith and guidance" which "help fortify a young woman's sense of self, a young man's sense of responsibility and a sense of reverence that all young people should have for the act of sexual intimacy."

And if you think this sounds preachy, Obama has an answer: "Our fear of getting 'preachy' may also lead us to discount the role that values and culture play in some of our most urgent social problems."

Obama's talk will inevitably be read as a road map for Democrats struggling to speak authentically to people of faith. It's certainly that, but it would be better read as a suggestion that both parties begin to think differently about the power of faith.

"No matter how religious they may or may not be," Obama said, "people are tired of seeing faith used as a tool of attack. They don't want faith used to belittle or to divide. They're tired of hearing folks deliver more screed than sermon."

I think I hear some rousing "Amens!" out there - from Republicans no less than from Democrats.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Polls show Cox on Taylor's heels

According to the ajc:

An InsiderAdvantage/Majority Opinion poll released Monday has Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor ahead of Secretary of State Cathy Cox, 47 percent to 41 percent, with 12 percent undecided.

The poll of 500 likely Democratic voters was taken June 28-30, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points.

An InsiderAdvantage poll conducted in mid-June had Taylor up 45 percent to 33 percent, with 22 percent undecided.

For the comparable results of the Strategic Vision poll published last Wednesday, scroll down two posts (or see this post).

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Democrats Look Beyond City Limits - Candidates Turn New Attention To Rural Voters

According to The Washington Post:

The wooing of rural voters is essential to Democrats' hopes for taking back the Senate this November, party strategists say. Rural voters wield real electoral power in Missouri, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Montana, Tennessee, Virginia and Arizona -- all of which are being targeted this fall by Democrats.

Sen. Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.), chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said the Bush administration's economic policies have created an opening for his party to argue that rural voters have a self-interest in backing Democrats. "The way to get in is not to try to avoid being who we are, but put far greater emphasis on the issues of common ground and talk to people in a language that they speak," he said.

The raw numbers are daunting. Exit polling in the 2004 presidential race showed Bush carrying rural areas 57 percent to 42 percent over Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.). Similar margins have fueled Republican victories on the state and local levels, where candidates have repeatedly used social issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage to advantage over Democrats.

But developments over the past year, such as higher gas prices and increased health-care costs, have created a sense of pessimism among rural Americans, according to more recent focus groups conducted by Agne in places such as Little Rock and Golden, Colo. While Iraq remains the dominant issue for this voting bloc, it is the "growing economic pressures facing these voters that really caused fireworks," [pollster Karl] Agne said.

James G. Gimpel, a professor of government at the University of Maryland, said that while recent Republican struggles have narrowed the partisan gap among rural voters, the perceived liberalism of national Democrats makes any wholesale shift among this group unlikely.

"If you don't prime rural voters on the issues that they care about, a lot of them will go your way because they are Democrats," Gimpel said. "If you remind them of how conservative they are and how liberal the national Democratic party is, those Democrats would say they will vote for the man, not the party."