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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.

Monday, October 30, 2006

In Key House Races, Democrats Run to the Right

From The New York Times:

In their push to win back control of the House, Democrats have turned to conservative and moderate candidates who fit the profiles of their districts more closely than the profile of the national party.

Collectively, the group could tilt the balance of power within the party, which has been struggling to define itself in recent elections. The candidates cover the spectrum on political issues; some are fiscally conservative and moderate or liberal on social issues, some are the reverse. They could influence negotiations with Republicans on a variety of issues, including Social Security and stem cell research.

There are two main groups of moderate Democrats in the House: the Blue Dog Coalition, a caucus of socially conservative and moderate members formed in 1994; and the New Democrat Coalition, a caucus of centrists formed in 1997. While there are differences between the two — the Blue Dogs tend to be more rural and Southern, with occasional alliances with Republicans, while the New Democrats are more suburban and wealthy and place a premium on party loyalty — there are members who belong to both. Both, of course, have a stake in helping the centrist candidates succeed.

The centrist movement was embodied by former President Bill Clinton, who rose to prominence through the Democratic Leadership Council, which embraced a so-called third way of politics and eschewed what it saw as outdated liberalism.

Yet since Mr. Clinton left office, Democrats have seemed to drift back in the direction of their liberal identity, nominating two presidential contenders who were seen as less committed to the moderate cause.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

History against the Big Guy in possible runoff

Dave Williams in The Gwinnette Daily Post writes:

With Gov. Sonny Perdue hovering around 50 percent in most recent polls and Mark Taylor in the low 30s, it appears the lieutenant governor’s best chance for an upset would be in a runoff.

Under Georgia law, candidates must receive at least 50 percent of the vote plus one to win. If the first-place candidate fails to reach that majority, the top two vote getters meet again in a runoff four weeks after Election Day.

At first glance, the possibility of a runoff has to be encouraging to a challenger who has been running about 20 points down since winning the Democratic nomination in the July 18 primary.

But a deeper look shows that a runoff campaign would be a steep uphill fight for Taylor or, for that matter, any Democrat in a similar position.

In 1992, the late Paul Coverdell, a Republican, defeated Democratic U.S. Sen. Wyche Fowler in a runoff after coming in second on Election Day. Fowler edged Coverdell in the general election 49 percent to 48 percent but was held below a majority because of the presence of a Libertarian candidate. But when they met again in a runoff, as the top two vote getters, Coverdell came out the winner with 51 percent of the vote to 49 percent for Fowler.

The key to Coverdell’s victory was that Republicans did a better job than Democrats of getting their voters back to the polls for the runoff.

The turnout fell in both cases, a natural consequence of holding an election at an odd time of the year with only one race on the ballot.

But the Republican dropoff was less. While Coverdell received 438,168 fewer votes in the runoff than the general election, Fowler lost 489,539, enough to give Coverdell the win.

If the people most likely to vote are those who are the most informed on the issues, a logical axiom, it would follow that the most informed tend to be the most highly educated.

And that’s where the demographic research consistently favors the GOP, particularly in a low-turnout election like a runoff.

“Republicans tend to be better educated and have higher incomes,’’ said Charles Bullock, a political science professor at the University of Georgia. “Those are two correlations for whether you vote under any circumstance.’’

Another factor that could affect the results of a Perdue-Taylor runoff is this year’s congressional elections.

Ironically, a takeover of the House or Senate by Democrats on Nov. 7 — which is being forecast in numerous polls — could help Georgia’s Republican governor a month later by energizing angry GOP loyalists.

In 1992, the Coverdell-Fowler runoff was the first chance for Republicans to extract a measure of revenge after Democrat Bill Clinton captured the White House. With only one race to focus on, Republican donors across the country poured money into the Coverdell campaign.

“Republicans had an extreme incentive to vote because they had just lost the presidency,’’ Bullock said. “We may see the same thing in 2006 if the Republicans lose Congress.’’

Readers will recall what InsiderAdvantage Georgia had to say about the matter of a gubernatorial runoff as reported in the following 9-16-06 post partially entitled "Taylor Campaign Employing Most Interesting General Election Strategy In Georgia History":

That would force the race into an unprecedented gubernatorial race runoff right in the middle of the chaos surrounding Thanksgiving and give the Taylor campaign a chance to see more affluent and mobile voters (many of whom vote Republican) caught up in holiday activities--thus providing Taylor a better chance at turning out his vote. As the source put it: "Just think, all of those local races with Republicans on the ballot would be gone...it would be nothing but an incumbent Governor who couldn't win it straight up..."

I think a runoff would favor Taylor more than Perdue, regardless of the fact that on November 7 the GOP will lose the U.S. House of Representatives. Rather than this latter factor boosting Republican morale, it will further dampen it. But would this put Taylor over the top in a runoff election? Probably not.

In his article Dave Williams notes that in 1992 the key to Coverdell’s victory over Fowler was that Republicans did a better job than Democrats of getting their voters back to the polls for the runoff.

He also notes that in 1992 the Coverdell-Fowler runoff was the first chance for Republicans to extract a measure of revenge after Democrat Bill Clinton captured the White House. With only one race to focus on, Republican donors across the country poured money into the Coverdell campaign.

What he does not note is that it was not only the country that voted for Clinton. Clinton also carried Georgia. Although I was among those who pulled the lever for Clinton, I also know that his carrying our State was something that truly burned up many who could not imagine this man being elected, much less carrying Georgia.

It was for this reason, something I sensed especially in South Georgia, that I thought it was a mistake for Clinton to come to Georgia for Fowler during the runoff election. For many, it was salt in the wound, and many of these went and voted in the runoff for Coverdale when but for Clinton's trip to Georgia, they either would not have voted or would have voted for Fowler.

This year the dog might have a shot

Michael Kinsley writes in The Washington Post:

One of the axioms of small-d democratic piety in this country is that you vote for the person and not the party. People just love to say, "I evaluate each candidate on his or her own merits" -- even when it's not true.

But this year does seem to be different. You hear people say . . . that they are voting for the party and not the person. The Republican candidate for the Senate or House may be saintlike in general, no worse than muddled on the war in Iraq and good on stem cell research. She may never even have met Jack Abramoff.

Meanwhile, the Democrat may be a grotesque hack just inches from indictment, whose views on Iraq are equally muddled with less excuse (since loyalty to the president is not a factor). Nevertheless, these New Yellow Dogs are voting for the Democrat, simply out of anger at or frustration with the Republican Party.

The term "yellow dog Democrats" used to mean someone who would vote for any Democrat over any Republican, even if the Democrat were a yellow dog. In recent decades there has been no such person, but this year the dog might have a shot.

Do you know what "drop-off" voters are?

"Drop-off" voters show up during general-election years but tend to skip nonpresidential contests.

From The Washington Post.

AJC endorses Taylor, noting: It's too bad Georgia's political system has not produced candidates for the state's highest position with more to offer.

The ajc writes:

In his four years as governor, Perdue has proved to be a competent manager, but he has a constrained concept of leadership. He has seemed almost complacent as governor, as if it were somehow inappropriate or unnecessary for Georgia's top leader to use his authority to push the state to improve itself.

Unfortunately, Taylor's inability to communicate [his] beliefs effectively in this campaign raises legitimate questions about how effective he would be as governor, dealing with a Republican Legislature. For whatever reason -- perhaps because of his poor showing so far in the polls, perhaps because of the hard battle he faced in his party's primary -- he has yet to find his footing in the fall campaign.

It's too bad Georgia's political system has not produced candidates for the state's highest position with more to offer. But in choosing between these two candidates, both of whom have little vision, Taylor is the better choice.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

GOP Retains Cash Edge Over Resurgent Democrats

From The Washington Post:

Democrats continued to raise large amounts of campaign cash this month, but not enough to erase the Republicans' multimillion-dollar lead.

According to the parties' latest financial disclosure statements, Democratic Party committees outraised the national GOP committees during the first 18 days of October. Riding a wave of optimism about the party's chances of gaining seats in the House and the Senate in the Nov. 7 midterm elections, the Democrats' national reelection committees collected $25.9 million in the period. The Republican committees raised $18.6 million in the same period.

Nevertheless, the Democrats' last-minute fundraising surge was not enough to overcome the GOP's earlier fundraising advantage. The three national Republican Party committees had $17 million more cash on hand than their Democratic counterparts as of Oct. 18, according to this week's financial reports.

What's more, Republican committees spent nearly twice as much on their toughest House races than Democratic committees did. The nonpartisan Campaign Finance Institute calculated that Republican committees spent $1 million on average to help each of the 35 GOP incumbents who are considered to be most in danger of losing reelection bids. Democratic committees spent an average of about $574,000 on behalf of each of the party's challengers in those races.

Democrats Get Late Donations From Business

From The New York Times:

Corporate America is already thinking beyond Election Day, increasing its share of last-minute donations to Democratic candidates and quietly devising strategies for how to work with Democrats if they win control of Congress.

The shift in political giving, for the first 18 days of October, has not been this pronounced in the final stages of a campaign since 1994, when Republicans swept control of the House for the first time in four decades.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Democrats Fear Disillusionment in Black Voters

From The New York Times:

For Democrats . . . in tight races, black voter turnout will be crucial on Election Day. But despite a generally buoyant Democratic Party nationally, there are worries among Democratic strategists in some states that blacks may not turn up at the polls in big enough numbers because of disillusionment over past shenanigans.

“This notion that elections are stolen and that elections are rigged is so common in the public sphere that we’re having to go out of our way to counter them this year,” said Donna Brazile, a Democratic strategist.

This will be the first midterm election in which the Democratic Party is mobilizing teams of lawyers and poll watchers, to check for irregularities including suppression of the black vote, in at least a dozen of the closest districts, Ms. Brazile said.

Democrats’ worries are backed up by a Pew Research Center report that found that blacks were twice as likely now than they were in 2004 to say they had little or no confidence in the voting system, rising to 29 percent from 15 percent.

And more than three times as many blacks as whites — 29 percent versus 8 percent — say they do not believe that their vote will be accurately tallied.

Voting experts say the disillusionment is the cumulative effect of election problems in 2000 and 2004, and a reaction to new identification and voter registration laws.

Sen. Clinton is spending the most ever spent by a Senate candidate in such a short period even though most New Yorkers cannot even name her opponent

From The Hill:

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D) spent nearly $7 million from her Senate campaign account last month running for reelection in New York.

The figure ranks among the most ever spent by a Senate candidate in such a short period, and many New Yorkers cannot even name her opponent.

Clinton’s onslaught is drawing comparisons to George W. Bush’s 1998 gubernatorial race in Texas, when he outspent his opponent 4-to-1 and used his big victory as a springboard to the presidency.

An overwhelming win would help a Clinton presidential campaign, chiefly by allowing her to say she can appeal to independent and conservative voters. It would dampen criticism that she is too polarizing to win in the 2008 general election.

NRCC targets 33 districts, two in Georgia as we all know

From The Hill:

With Democratic momentum mounting and control of the House at stake, senior Republican strategists are urging donors to contribute to 33 GOP members and candidates who are “most in need of support right now.”

The National Republican Congressional Committee’s (NRCC) “Final Push List” consists of 29 Republican seats and only four Democratic seats, indicating that the GOP is playing defense.

The four Democrats that the NRCC is targeting in its Final Push are Reps. John Barrow (Ga.), Melissa Bean (Ill.), Leonard Boswell (Iowa), and Jim Marshall (Ga.). Independent political analysts say Republicans will be fortunate to win one of these races.

Only one candidate for governor is polling better than expected

From Creative Loafing:

[Libertarian candidate Garrett Michael Hayes'] own theory for his popularity boost is that, after years of government failures, Libertarian ideas finally are gaining traction. But he also acknowledges the most likely reason: The lack of popularity of Perdue and Taylor. Or, as veteran political analyst Bill Shipp puts it: "A lot of voters are disenchanted with the other two choices."

A recent Zogby poll pegged Hayes at 8.1 percent, and an Insider Advantage found his support at 9 percent. On Oct. 23, Strategic Vision, another Georgia pollster, placed him at 5 percent.

Political strategists are now suggesting that Taylor's only hope is to push Perdue into a runoff, which would reverse the race's momentum and invigorate Taylor's Democratic base.

Shipp figures that's not going to happen, because Hayes' numbers are likely to drop before the Nov. 7 election. For one thing, his policy proposals -- limiting government involvement in education to health and safety, for example -- are way out of the mainstream. For another, "he's not really a charismatic candidate," Shipp says. "And what experience does he have?"

There is an interesting movement afoot to get folks to vote Libertarian this year for governor. It just might gain traction.

Tom Crawford describes the recent gubernatorial debate at the Ga. National Fairgrounds in Perry

Tom Crawford of Capitol Impact writes:

This was old-style campaigning, where the candidates get out in public and fight and cuss at each other while the crowd whoops and hollers every time one of them draws blood. It was like the good old days when a Gene Talmadge would be accused of stealing and would roar back at his accuser, “Sure I stole - I stole for you!” There was no high-toned discussion of the issues at this particular event, but then, there haven’t really been any momentous issues overhanging this race anyway.

The cavernous meeting hall where they debated was filled with a lot of people in their 60s and 70s screaming at the top of their lungs and looking for someone to hit with a folding chair. Think of the typical crowd at a wrestling match or a taping of “The Jerry Springer Show” and multiply it by about 10.

There was a white-haired, elderly couple sitting in the second row who were wearing Perdue t-shirts and chatting amiably with the reporters covering the debate. Once the confrontation started, the wife, like a grandmotherly version of Bill O’Reilly, screamed “Shut up” whenever Taylor would ask Perdue about the $100,000 tax break. Her husband alternately booed and made rude noises. And they were one of the better-behaved couples there. This was such a hostile crowd, in fact, that when Taylor pointed to a disabled high school student named Xavier who was sitting in a wheelchair in the front row, the crowd booed Xavier.

If anyone emerged from the slugfest with any shred of dignity left, it was probably the Libertarian candidate for governor, Garrett Michael Hayes. “I’m a recovering alcoholic who comes from a family of hard drinkers,” Hayes remarked at one point. After sitting through that madhouse of a debate, everyone could have used a tall, cold drink.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Rising Radical Center

E.J. Dionne, Jr. writes in The Washington Post:

President Bush's six-year effort to create an enduring Republican majority based on a right-leaning coalition is on the verge of collapse. The way he tried to create it could have the unintended consequence of opening the way for an alternative majority.

This incipient Democratic alliance, while tilting slightly leftward, would plant its foundations firmly in the middle of the road, because its success depends on overwhelming support from moderate voters. That's why a Democratic victory in November -- defined as taking one or both houses of Congress -- would have effects far beyond a single election year.

The Democrats' dependence on moderate voters and moderate candidates belies Republican claims that a Democratic victory would bring radically liberal politics to Washington. In fact, the first imperative of Democratic congressional leaders, if their party is successful, will be finding policies, ideas and rhetoric to allow the party's progressives and moderates to get along and govern effectively together.

The strategy pursued by Bush and Karl Rove has frightened most of the political center into the arms of Democrats. Bush and Rove sought victory by building large turnouts among conservatives and cajoling just enough moderates the Republicans' way. But this approach created what may prove to be a fatal political disconnect: Adventurous policies designed to create enthusiasm on the right turned off a large number of less ideological voters.

The Democrats' lead in the polls can be thus explained by two factors: the energy of a passionate phalanx of voters desperate to use this election to rebuke Bush, and the disenchantment of moderates fed up with the failures of Bush's governing style and ideology, notably in Iraq.

A survey this month for National Public Radio in the 48 most-contested House districts makes clear that anti-Bush energy is this election's driving force. While only 22 percent of those surveyed by Public Opinion Strategies and Greenberg Quinlan Rosner strongly approved of Bush's performance in office, 44 percent strongly disapproved. This points to a huge enthusiasm deficit for the Republicans.

But the survey also showed that the Democrats' 51 to 40 percent lead in these competitive districts came not just from liberals but also from self-described moderates, who favored the Democrats by 59 percent to 34 percent. There are twice as many moderates as liberals in these key districts, so moderates are the linchpin of Democratic chances.

If a Democratic majority depends on moderate voters, it also depends on the victory of moderate candidates. In five of the seven races likely to decide control of the Senate, Democrats have nominated candidates who simply cannot be seen as conventional liberals.

That is certainly true of Harold Ford Jr. in Tennessee, Jon Tester in Montana, James Webb in Virginia and Claire McCaskill in Missouri. In Pennsylvania, Democrat Robert Casey is moderate or even moderately conservative on many social issues. In House races in more conservative states, Democrats have gone out of their way to find middle-of-the-road candidates.

But Democratic moderation this year carries a sharp edge of economic populism, and a consensus is already developing around health care, energy and corporate accountability. In one his advertisements, Montana's Tester marries fiscal conservatism with an anti-corporate appeal by promising to "stand up to oil company giveaways, no-bid contracts to Halliburton and billions in pork, including bridges to nowhere, all saddling our kids with more and more debt."

One of the Democrats' more conservative House challengers, Heath Shuler in North Carolina, declares that "it's not right when big insurance companies write health care laws and millions can't afford to see a doctor." In Michigan's 8th Congressional District, challenger Jim Marcinkowski's attacks on incumbent Republican Mike Rogers's ties to the energy and health care industries are a key part of his campaign. And Democrats of all stripes have become increasingly pointed in criticizing the president's Iraq policies.

There has long been talk about the rise of a "radical center," made up of voters essentially moderate in their philosophical leanings but radical in their disaffection with the status quo. This looks to be the year of the radical center. If it is, the Democrats will win. And if they win, their task will be to meet the aspirations of a diverse group of dissatisfied and disappointed Americans. Not an easy chore, but one that certainly beats being in the opposition.

Bulloch: “If Democrats are going to get elected . . . they’ve got to stake out the middle position, which is what traditional Southern Democrats did."

Today's New York Times, in an article entitled "Seats in Danger, Democrats Proclaim Their Conservatism," features the John Barrow vs. Max Burns and Jim Marshall vs. Mac Collins races. A sampling:

Charles S. Bullock, a professor of political science at the University of Georgia, said, “It’s a bit of a return to yesterday.”

Republicans at the beginning of the summer said they believed that they could take 10 Democratic seats. Now they say four.

Two of those four seats are here in Georgia, a predominantly Republican state where redistricting has left two Democratic incumbents, [Representatuve John] Barrow and Representative Jim Marshall, unfamiliar to a big chunk of their new constituents.

“If Democrats are going to get elected in this district, they’ve got to stake out the middle position, which is what traditional Southern Democrats did,” Mr. Bullock said. “And when they did, they held the South.”

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Giant-Killer Lamont Stumbles - Democrat Will Need Republican Help to Unseat Lieberman

From The Washington Post:

Lamont's primary victory drew national attention, but momentum in the Senate race began to change that night. Lieberman used his concession speech to launch his independent campaign, with a fierce blast at the partisan gridlock that has gripped Washington and a vow to use the general election to reverse the outcome of that day's balloting.

Lamont appeared at his victory celebration flanked by Jesse L. Jackson and Al Sharpton. The two had helped by campaigning with him in black churches, but their presence on the stage reinforced Lamont's liberal credentials at a moment when many Democrats were urging him to broaden his appeal to the moderate and independent voters he would need in the general election.

Lieberman has been endorsed by some Republicans and will need GOP votes to win, but he has promised to caucus with the Democrats. On Monday he said he wants Democrats to take control of the Senate and House, though he had declined to answer a similar question over the weekend. "I'm a Democrat, and I hope they do it," he said by phone.

Change in this year's elections with respect to electing judges

For the first time, Supreme Court contests will be decided in November rather than during the July primaries, when typically only the most loyal voters turn out.

From The Macon Telegraph.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Are the Faithful Losing Faith? Two weeks till midterms, the NEWSWEEK poll shows Republicans in danger of losing a big chunk of their base.

From Newsweek:

If the elections for Congress were held today, according to the new NEWSWEEK poll, 60 percent of white Evangelicals would support the Republican candidate in their district, compared to just 31 percent who would back the Democrat. To the uninitiated, that may sound like heartening news for Republicans in the autumn of their discontent. But if you’re a pundit, a pol, or a preacher, you know better. White Evangelicals are a cornerstone of the GOP’s base; in 2004, exit polls found Republicans carried white Evangelicals 3 to 1 over Democrats, winning 74 percent of their votes. In turn, Evangelicals carried the GOP to victory. But with a little more than two weeks before the crucial midterms, the Republican base may be cracking.

If something doesn’t give—and quick—Republicans will view 2004 as the good ol’ days. Fifty-five percent of likely voters in the new NEWSWEEK poll say they would vote for the Democrat in their district if the election were held today, versus 37 percent who say they would vote for the Republican. That’s not surprising; the Democrats have been leading in the opinion polls for months. But the new poll suggests—from the leanings of bellwether voting blocs to voters’ priorities—that a possible Republican loss could turn into a rout.

Lawyers Who Know Them, Strongly Favor Hunstein Over Wiggins

From InsiderAdvantage Georgia:

[A poll of members of the State Bar of Georgia] reveals overwhelming support by lawyers, who say they know the candidates professionally, for Justice Carol Hunstein over challenger Mike Wiggins, a former Bush administration attorney.

Of the 4,500 bar members who answered the survey about Hunstein, 85 percent called her "well qualified."

Those 2,500 who replied that they knew Wiggins enough to have an opinion weren't so kind. Seventy percent categorized him as "not qualified."

Georgia State University law professor Neil Kinkopf suggest voters should rely heavily on the bar survey since learning about judicial candidates can be tough when they typically don't raise enough money for long TV campaigns.

"People who know the candidates are giving you some idea of their qualities, especially in a case of this sort where people don't have real access to the Supreme Court," he said.

Democrats Approach Nov. 7 With a Surge in Fundraising

From The Washington Post:

Democratic fundraising for the midterm elections is ending with a surge.

In September, the Democratic campaign committees for the House and the Senate outraised their counterpart Republican committees, reversing historical trends.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee raised $14.4 million and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee collected $13.6 million last month, they said. In contrast, the National Republican Congressional Committee raised $12 million and the National Republican Senatorial Committee collected $5.2 million.

Republican National Committee, however, continued to outpace the Democratic National Committee. In September, the RNC raised $13.1 million and reported total receipts of $14.3 million, while the DNC said it collected $5.6 million.

The GOP committees maintained an overall advantage of about $10 million in funds available to be spent. At the end of September, the Democratic committees had $67.3 million on hand; the Republican committees had $77.4 million.

It has not begun to be talked, but if the Democrats have a great year come November 7, I think there is a good possibility that the House and Senate leadership will successfully go after Dr. Dean.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Republican Woes Lead to Feuding by Conservatives

From The New York Times:

Tax-cutters are calling evangelicals bullies. Christian conservatives say Republicans in Congress have let them down. Hawks say President Bush is bungling the war in Iraq. And many conservatives blame Representative Mark Foley’s sexual messages to teenage pages.

With polls showing Republican control of Congress in jeopardy, conservative leaders are pointing fingers at one another in an increasingly testy circle of blame for potential Republican losses this fall.

Whether the election will bear out their pessimism remains to be seen, and the factors that contribute to an electoral defeat are often complex and even contradictory. But the post-mortem recriminations can influence politics and policy for years after the fact. After 1992, Republicans shunned tax increases. After 1994, Democrats avoided gun control and health care reform. And 2004 led some Democrats to start quoting Scripture and rethinking abortion rights, while others opened an intraparty debate about the national security that is not yet resolved.

Dick Armey: "The fact of the matter is, right now people are embarrassed by Republicans, and the economic base is still angry."

From The Washington Post:

A number of GOP operatives said privately yesterday that they now see minimum losses of perhaps 18 seats, with 25 to 30 a more likely outcome. Democrats need 15 to take control of the House.

A series of polls show that evangelical Christians, a key component of the GOP, are turning against the Republican Congress and are less likely to vote for GOP candidates this time around.

Former House majority leader Richard K. Armey -- one of the key architects of the GOP takeover in 1994 -- agreed that Republicans have ample reason to be concerned about fiscal conservatives sitting the election out. Armey said the GOP's plan to take advantage of low unemployment and a soaring stock market was destroyed by the Foley page scandal.

"The fact of the matter is, right now people are embarrassed by Republicans, and the economic base is still angry" because of high government spending over the past six years, Armey said. Consequently, he predicted, Democrats will take control of the House in three weeks.

Tom Crawford comments on status of Taylor campaign

Tom Crawford of Capitol Impact this week writes:

[Taylor] is trailing Perdue by more than 20 points in most independent polls, he has almost run out of money, and his campaign is collapsing because two key segments of the Democratic Party’s base - women and African-Americans - are lukewarm in their support.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Listen to him: Bill Clinton Urges Party to Seek GOP Voters, Independents

From The Washington Post:

Former president Bill Clinton urged Democratic activists on Saturday to spend the final weeks of the midterm-election campaign appealing to independent and disaffected Republican voters, saying the Bush administration and Congress have been captured by the GOP's most ideological extremists.

In a speech that was as much a tutorial as a political call to arms, Clinton said at a Democratic fundraising dinner that Democrats must respond to public dissatisfaction with a positive agenda of their own on national security, the economy, energy and health care.

"We've got to go out there and look for all the Republicans and all the independents who are troubled," he said. "They know something is wrong, and they want to change."

Clinton said Democrats should not blame the whole of the Republican Party for the problems of the country.

"The entire government of the United States -- the Congress, the White House and increasingly the courts -- for the last six years has been in the control not of the Republican Party but the most ideological, the most extreme, the most right-wing sliver of the Republican Party," Clinton said at the Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner, the Iowa Democratic Party's biggest annual fundraising event.

He said Republicans have three governing priorities: concentration of wealth among the nation's richest individuals and biggest corporations; unlimited and unaccountable executive power; and painting opponents of their agenda as morally and politically inferior.

While attacking the Republican record, Clinton stressed that Democrats "believe in evidence and argument, not assertion and attack."

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Savannah Morning News Endorses Justice Carol Hunstein

From The Savannah Morning News:

We encourage Georgians to keep Justice Carol Hunstein on the state Supreme Court when they go to the polls Nov. 7.

The Georgia Supreme Court is like a panel of seven teachers that spends most of its time grading homework. Their students? Judges in the state's lower courts whose actions are appealed and reviewed.

The justices who do this reviewing must know the law and apply it impartially, so that the powerful and the powerless enjoy an even playing field. They must be vigorous defenders of openness in the halls of government and in courtrooms, which keeps democracy healthy. They must possess a strong work ethic and have the courage of their convictions

Justice Carol Hunstein passes this test.

Friday, October 13, 2006

With the Foley scandal increasing the likelihood of a Democratic win in the House, Republicans are turning their attention - and money - to the Senate

From TIME:

With less than four weeks to go until the midterm elections, Republicans and Democrats are shifting focus to a battle for the Senate, as two months of bad news has forced national GOP strategists into an increasingly defensive stance. The Mark Foley scandal alone has tossed anywhere from two to six formerly safe Republican House seats into play and increased the likelihood of a Democratic takeover. That has allowed the Democrats to target Senate races with new funds, and forced Republicans to concentrate on defending their 10-seat majority there. "The Senate's a top priority, and you'll see a tremendous amount of resources garnered to protect the majority there," says one GOP strategist familiar with the party's planning. Says a Democratic strategist, "More attention than ever is being directed to the Senate races."

In what it is privately calling it's "firewall" strategy, the Republican National Committee has recently spent close to $4 million in three crucial Senate races — Ohio, Missouri and Tennessee — in the hope of holding Democratic gains to a maximum of five seats. No new RNC money has gone to House races during that time. Meanwhile, the Democratic National Committee last week decided to pour an additional $5 million into Senate races, compared with roughly $2 million in new get-out-the-vote funds being funneled through the House-focused Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. "There is a real sense that retaking the Senate is within our grasp," says Stacie Paxton, spokeswoman for the DNC.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

InsiderAdvantage Georgia reports on the ribbon cutting of the new Capitol museum exhibit

From InsiderAdvantage Georgia:

The war is still on between Democrats Cathy Cox and Mark Taylor, as InsiderAdvantage CEO Matt Towery reported a few weeks ago when he also suggested that Cox, who lost to Taylor in a brutal primary, was edging closer to the GOP side of the aisle.

She didn’t go so far as to say she was changing parties Thursday in a joint appearance with Gov. Sonny Perdue to cut the ribbon on a new Capitol museum exhibit on faith and Georgia’s social structure. In fact, she said she’s remaining a Democrat. “My daddy was a Democrat and I’ll be a Democrat.”

But it also was her first major public appearance since the primary last summer and it just happened to be with Republican Perdue, not Taylor - the man who beat her for the right to carry the Democratic banner into next month’s election. (Cox said Taylor and the entire Legislature had been invited to the event. He did not appear. Neither did any legislators that we saw.)

Towery wrote several weeks ago: "We knew that the rift between Taylor and Cox was irreparable” and he went on to say that without Cox’s support, Taylor faces seemingly insurmountable odds.

Cox supporters will remember the attack ads from the Cox-Taylor primary campaign along with the lawsuit that was filed against her former press secretary, Peter Jackson, that was only resolved weeks after the election and then only with intervention from former President Jimmy Carter. And even after the settlement was announced, it was clear from their public statements the two Democrats were still very much at war.

Cox was asked point-blank what observers should make of her joining Perdue for the event. She was careful to avoid the obvious political implications.

“I’m still Secretary of State until the first of the year. I’m simply doing my job today,” she said, further explaining she had hoped to unveil it in the spring while she was still a candidate for governor but couldn’t get the OK from the Legislative Services Committee.

Who will she vote for next month?

“We’re here to talk about history not about politics.”

Any plans to appear with Taylor before the election?

“We’re kind of taking it as it comes. I’ve got a lot of things on my calendar. I’m trying to help candidates as much as I can with my schedule so we certainly will continue to look at opportunities.”

Which candidates?

“I’ve appeared and participated in some receptions for legislative candidates around the state and will continue to do that as I’m invited and have the time on my calendar.”

And Perdue’s take on the symbolism of the event?

“This is the people’s house. It’s all the peoples’ house. We stand together here as a Democrat and Republican doing the peoples business in a way that I think they’d be pleased.”

The exhibit is on the fourth floor of the Capitol on the House side. It cites the contributions various faith communities have made to Georgia and includes a Bible opened to Exodus 20 – the Ten Commandments.

(1) Shucks!! Former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner Won't Run for Presidency in '08 & (2) What a difference one and 1/2 years can make in Georgia

The Washington Post has an article today explaining the reasons Warner has decided not to run for President in 2008. Basically, he wants to spend more time with his family (he has been been highly successful at fundraising, topping most of the other Democratic hopefuls except Sen. Clinton, although the article does point out that "[t]he biggest challenge in a presidential bid, his advisers have said, would have been selling his moderate, bipartisan message to a Democratic primary audience, especially at a time when the party is hungry for partisan success").

Things sure can change here in Georgia in a year and a half. On March 15, 2005, I had a post that wrote about the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner and was partly entitled "The Dawning of a New Day for the Democratic Party of Georgia." The post began:

"What a great day March 15, 2005 was in the life of the Democratic Party of Georgia ("DPG"). You could just feel it, sense it and hear it all around!"

My post reviewed the remarks by Gov. Warner who was the keynote speaker as follows:

Now to the message we heard that night by Virginia Governor Mark Warner, and was it ever a message!

Gov. Warner noted that when he ran for governor of Virginia in 2001, Virginia had not voted Democratic since 1964, and had not had a Democrat governor elected in 10 years.

Warner said the reasons he ran, in addition to cleaning up the mess the Republicans had made in Richmond just as they have made a mess in Atlanta, were to:

• Show it is OK to like country music and be a Democrat;

• Show it is OK to own a gun and be a Democrat; and

• Show it is OK to be a NASCAR fan and be a Democrat.

Warner stressed that we must reject the approach of writing off the South. To return to power, Democrats must be competitive in every state.Gov. Warner said he believes strongly that to capture the White House:

(1) Democrats must appeal to moderate Republicans and rural America; and

(2) Democrats must be fiscally responsible, and become the party known for being fiscally conservative. For him, being fiscally conservative means someone who pays his bills and meets his commitments.

In connection with being fiscally conservative, Gov. Warner noted that ours is going to be the first generation ever to leave our children worse off than we were, and this is just wrong.

He says that the Republican administration under Bush has told America that it can wage war and cut taxes for the affluent at the same time.

To retake the White House, Warner says Democrats must reach out to folks who have not voted Democratic in years.

He noted that moderate Republicans are an endangered species.

Moderate Republicans don't like:

• The debt that Bush has given us in lieu of the surplus former President Clinton left;

• The mean streak that the GOP is identified with in persons such as Ralph Reed and Rep. Tom DeLay; and

• A party commited to winning at any cost, as typified by Senator Chambliss' attack against former Sen. Max Cleland.

Gov. Warner noted that in days gone by, folks who are now moderate Republicans would have been conservative Democrats. Our challenge is to get these moderate Republicans to vote Democratic.

And we must win back rural America.

The Governor noted that Democrats have been misrepresented on:

• Accepting values and personal responsibilities;

• Having respect for the Second Amendment; and

• Having a litmus test for abortion and guns.

As a party we must do more than just be against things. We must be for things! Things we must be for include:

• A Party that is for a strong military and presence in the world.

• A Party that is for an aggressive and engaged foreign policy and enlists the cooperation of our allies. (On this point, the Governor noted that in the last presidential we lost a great opportunity in not asking Americans to be willing to be willing to experience some personal sacrifice versus willing to go into debt and still reduce taxes.)

• A Party that honors and rewards work.

• A Party that is an advocate for innovation.

• A Party that is recognized for racial reconciliation across the United States with black, Hispanics and other minorities.

• A Party that is for reforming things.

• A Party that wants to balance the budget and meet its responsibilities.

• A Party that continues to remember the role that faith and religion and values play in our lives.

Gov. Warner concluded by saying he was encouraged at the present, not discouraged. If it can and did happen in Virginia, we can do it in Georgia and other southern states.

And more than anything, he noted in closing, the challenge we face is the challenge to once again lead; stand up and lead.

Needless to say, the crowd in unison stood up, and as one who was there and did that, I can tell you, we are ready, ready to stand up and lead. Bring 2006 on Bubba Perdue; bring it on Ralph Reed; bring it on Philistines; bring it on. We are ready, willing and able -- and cannot wait -- to once again lead.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Georgia's courts aren't for rent

An editorial by Tom Barton from The Savannah Morning News:

A wise old lawyer once told me that it's better to know the judge than to know the law. That's something they don't teach in law school.

Or business school, apparently.

But things have changed dramatically, judging from this year's only competitive race for a seat on the Georgia Supreme Court.

Normally, these down-ballot races for the state's appellate courts generate the same level of interest and excitement as worm racing or the latest news about Eva Gabor (still dead). And that's too bad.

The 12 jurists on the Georgia Court of Appeals and the seven justices on the Supreme Court interpret laws that the legislature approves and governor signs. They make sure that trial judges follow correct procedure in criminal and civil cases. Members of the high court also discipline lawyers who lose their ethics - or their pants - in their dealings with clients.

But this election year, there's a lot more tenderness in this rarefied, stuffy courtroom air. As in legal tenderness.

A group that calls itself the Safety and Prosperity Coalition has raised a boatload of money (around $300,000) to knock Justice Carol Hunstein from her perch on the judicial hierarchy after 14 years of service. Big contributions ($50,000 each) have come from DaimlerChrysler, Georgia Hospital Association and Independent Agents of Georgia Political Action Committee, with the Georgia Medical PAC kicking in 100 grand. Even the Coca-Cola Bottlers Association ponied up $25,000.

Meanwhile, a group that wants to keep Hunstein on the state's payroll has raised a bigger boatload of money (around $700,000), largely from individuals. That means more than $1 million likely will be spent on a race that used to attract pocket change.

Should the average Georgian care that the bucks are being tossed around like Paris Hilton's underdrawers at a Hollywood night club? Absolutely. Otherwise, they could wind up with the best judicial system that money can buy, which works best for those with the fattest wallets.

I don't have a problem with contested judicial races. Or even campaign contributions, as long as it gets reported. Making incumbent judges come down from the bench and mix it up with the common people (and no, local bar associations don't count) helps deter "robe-itis" - an affliction that can make a jurist behave like a spoiled rock star or your average British royal.

But voters must do their part. They must weigh records and qualifications.

And they must follow the money.

I'm not saying that the judiciary is for sale. A million dollars doesn't buy what it used to. But it might be enough to rent it out for special occasions.

The knock on Hunstein from the group supporting her challenger, attorney Mike Wiggins, is that she's too left, too soft on crime and too pro-plaintiff in liability cases. In the words of Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus, she "represents a significant threat to our state's prosperity."

I like Home Depot. I made three separate trips there Sunday while doing a plumbing project. But Marcus's words don't square with Hunstein's solid record. The Fulton Daily Report, a respected newspaper read by Georgia's lawyers, examined her votes in 99 close criminal cases since 1992. She sided with prosecutors in 64 cases, or two out of three times. So if she's got a bleeding heart, so does Judge Frankenstein.

Maybe Hunstein is a closet Pepsi drinker or buys her plumbing supplies at Lowe's. But appellate court judges aren't supposed to retry cases or rehear evidence. Their main job is to look for disorder in the court at the trial level.

Bernie and his pals should look at it this way: If they've got a problem with Georgia's courts, they can't fix it on the wholesale level. They've got to fix it on the retail level in every Superior Court and State Court in Georgia. It's sort of like the way Home Depot goes after Lowe's or Coke challenges Pepsi.

It's up to the voters, meanwhile, to make sure the courts stay on the level - or the fix may be in.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

GOP Officials Brace for Loss Of Seven to 30 House Seats

From The Washington Post:

Republican campaign officials said yesterday that they expect to lose at least seven House seats and as many as 30 in the Nov. 7 midterm elections, as a result of sustained violence in Iraq and the page scandal involving former GOP representative Mark Foley.

GOP officials are urging lawmakers to focus exclusively on local issues and leave it to party leaders to mitigate the Foley controversy by accusing Democrats of trying to politicize it. At the same time, the White House plans to amplify national security issues, especially the threat of terrorism, after North Korea's reported nuclear test, in hopes of shifting the debate away from casualties and controversy during the final month of the campaign. These efforts are aimed largely at prodding disaffected conservatives to vote for GOP candidates despite their unease.

Still, GOP leaders privately said that Democrats are edging much closer to locking down a majority of House seats because a small but significant number of conservatives are frustrated with Republican governance, while independent swing voters are turning against GOP candidates.

Unlike in most elections, when both parties defend several seats, Democrats are favored to win every seat they now occupy and are spending money to defend only a few. As a result, Democrats are not as vulnerable to the GOP's campaign finance advantage in the final weeks as they have been in past campaigns.

A Democratic takeover of the House is not a foregone conclusion, however. Because of congressional redistricting plans that gave huge advantages to incumbents, fewer than 50 of the 435 House seats are competitive. Democrats said internal polls show that the fallout from the Foley scandal is confined to half a dozen races. Moreover, House elections are traditionally shaped by local issues and personalities, and the closest races come down to which party can turn out its most loyal voters.

Washington Post-ABC News Poll Shows Strong Shift Of Support to Democrats

From The Washington Post:

Democrats have regained a commanding position going into the final weeks of the midterm-election campaigns, with support eroding for Republicans on Iraq, ethics and presidential leadership, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The poll measures broad public attitudes and cannot be translated into individual House districts, but it sketches an environment that is the most difficult the Republicans have faced since taking control of Congress in the 1994 elections. By a margin of 54 percent to 41 percent, registered voters said they plan to vote for the Democrat over the Republican in congressional elections next month.

Asked whether the war in Iraq has been worth fighting, 63 percent said no, the highest recorded during Bush's presidency. Fifty-one percent agreed with Bush's argument that Iraq is a front in the global campaign against terrorism, the lowest of his presidency. Fifty percent of those surveyed said that the country is safer today than it was before Sept. 11, 2001, but 42 percent, a new high, said the nation is now less safe.

Still, there is no significant support for withdrawing U.S. forces immediately. Half of those surveyed -- about the same percentage it has been throughout the year -- said they would like to see troop levels decrease. Despite the high number of casualties, only a fifth said they supported immediate withdrawal.

Congress has proved to be a disappointment to most Americans, with two in three saying they disapprove of its performance, the highest number in a Post-ABC News poll since November 1995.

As bad as these findings are, they are not as bad as they were in the months before Democrats lost control of Congress in 1994. Congressional approval hit 18 percent in October of that year.

On another measure, 60 percent of those surveyed in the new poll said they approve of the performance of their own House member. That compares with 49 percent in an October 1994 poll.

Even on terrorism, which Republicans hoped to turn into a powerful issue this fall, Democrats led in trustworthiness by six percentage points, reversing a seven-point deficit in September.

Some results of the latest New York Times/CBS News poll

From The New York Times:

[A]ccording to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll, [t]he number of Americans who approve of Mr. Bush’s handling of the campaign against terrorism dropped to 46 percent from 54 percent in the past two weeks, suggesting that he failed to gain any political lift from an orchestrated set of ceremonies marking the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. In addition, the poll shows that Americans are now evenly divided over which party they think can better handle terrorism, the first time in the Bush presidency that Democrats have matched Republicans on national security, despite a concerted White House effort to seize the advantage on the issue this month.

And Americans are more likely to say that Democrats, and not Republicans, share their moral values.

The poll describes what is by any measure a difficult political environment for the White House and Republican Congressional leaders. Still, it is a measure of national sentiment rather than the likely outcome in the approximately 40 House races and 8 Senate races that will determine which party controls Congress next January.

In many of the races where Republicans are in danger of losing seats, Democrats hold relatively slight leads, according to local polls and internal party polls. Republicans are counting on their strong voter turnout operation, and sizable financial advantage over Democrats, to compensate for the difficulties they face.

Mr. Bush’s job approval rating has slipped to 34 percent, from 37 percent in September.

[I]n a month in which Republicans have sought to discredit Democratic challengers as advocates of big spending and high taxes, 52 percent of respondents said that Democrats would make the right decisions on how to spend taxpayers’ money, while 29 percent said Republicans would.

The poll found that 47 percent of respondents believed that Democrats came closer to sharing their moral values, compared with 38 percent who said Republicans did. The Democratic standing in this area included some unlikely groups: 26 percent of conservatives and 43 percent of people who live in the South named Democrats as the party that came closer to sharing their values.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The faith-based machine that Ronald Reagan inspired and Karl Rove perfected

Howard Fineman writes in Newsweek:

Foley put new cracks in the notion of the GOP as a vessel of family virtue.

Among evangelicals, moral revulsion will yield electoral consequences: fewer and less eager volunteers, a lower turnout, especially if the hunkered-down House leadership is found to be covering up.

So the polls show. A Pew Foundation survey found an 8-percentage-point drop in Republican preference among "frequent churchgoers."

Long before the Foley e-mails surfaced, the gears were grinding in the faith-based machine that Ronald Reagan inspired and Karl Rove perfected. It has been 30 years since evangelical, "Bible-believing" Christians flocked into politics. Figures such as James Dobson of Focus on the Family and Charles Colson of the Prison Fellowship have enormous clout within the GOP; Rove is a phone pal of both. But a younger crop of grass-roots activists views the elders of the cultural right as accommodationists who have failed to press a social agenda aggressively, and who now balk at calling for the ouster of Speaker Denny Hastert. "They need to wake up!" said Jamie Johnson, a religious broadcaster in Iowa. "Heads have to roll! The older generation is satisfied with a seat at the table. We want to build a whole new table."

Some evangelicals want to broaden the movement's agenda—in ways that don't necessarily help the GOP cause. They still care about abortion and traditional marriage, of course, but are equally concerned about immigration (they want strict limits), federal spending (they view it as wildly out of control) and the war in Iraq (about which they are increasingly ambivalent). "We don't want to deal with 'hot button' issues only," said Hunter, who recently took command of the Christian Coalition, which, though enfeebled, still claims a mailing list of 2.5 million.

(1) 3 principles that defined conservatism: fiscal responsibility, national security and moral values & (2) Nothing to be gained by moderation

From TIME:

If you think politicians clinging to power isn't big news, then you may have forgotten the pure zeal of Gingrich's original revolutionaries. They swept into Washington on the single promise that they would change Capitol Hill. And for a time, they did. Vowing to finish what Ronald Reagan had started, they stood firm on the three principles that defined conservatism: fiscal responsibility, national security and moral values. Reagan, who had a few scandals in his day, didn't always follow his own rules. But his doctrine turned out to be a good set of talking points for winning elections in a closely divided country, and the takeover was completed with the inauguration of George W. Bush as President.

[P]art of an electoral strategy dating back to the 2000 election . . . suggested there was nothing to be gained by moderation. In a memo he wrote to Karl Rove, Bush pollster Matthew Dowd estimated that truly independent voters had fallen to a mere sliver of the electorate. There were, Dowd concluded, not enough percentage points in being "a uniter, not a divider." The key to winning in a polarized country was mobilizing the conservative base.

If I fold up my tent and leave, then where does that leave us? If the Democrats sweep, then we'd have no ability to fight back and get our message out

The following is a summary of this week's TIME magazine cover story from cnn.com:

Every revolution begins with the power of an idea and ends when the only idea left is power.

The epitaph for the movement that started when Newt Gingrich and his forces rose from the back bench of the House chamber in 1994 may well have been written last week.

On conservative commentator Laura Ingraham's show, the longest-serving Republican House speaker in history explained why he would not resign despite a sex scandal that has produced a hail of questions about his failure to stop one of his members from cyberstalking teenage congressional pages.

"If I fold up my tent and leave," Dennis Hastert told her, "then where does that leave us? If the Democrats sweep, then we'd have no ability to fight back and get our message out."

That may have been the most damning admission yet in the unfolding scandal surrounding Florida Congressman Mark Foley: Holding on to power has become not just the means but also the end for the onetime reformers who unseated the calcified Democratic majority that had ruled the House for 40 years.

But after controlling both houses of Congress for most of President Bush's six years in office, the GOP has a governing record that has dismayed those who fantasized about what Newt Gingrich and his band of rebels might accomplish.

To win votes back home, lawmakers in session have been spending like sailors on leave, producing the biggest budget deficits in history. The party's approach to national security has taken the country into a war that most Americans now believe was a mistake and that the government's own intelligence experts say has shaped "a new generation of terrorist leaders and operatives."

The current crisis arrived with a sex scandal that has muddied one of the GOP's few remaining patches of moral high ground -- their defense of family values and personal accountability.

Though Hastert and other Republican leaders say they heard last fall about the "over-friendly" approaches of a not-so-secretly gay congressman to a 16-year-old former page, they insist they never imagined anything like the more graphic instant messages that subsequently came to light.

But shouldn't they have gotten chills at learning that a 52-year-old man had sent a teenager a creepy e-mail asking for a "pic of you"? Certainly, the page understood what the emails meant, which is why he forwarded it in August 2005 to the office of Louisiana Congressman Rodney Alexander, who had sponsored him for the page program.

"This freaked me out," the teenager wrote. "Sick sick sick sick sick sick sick sick sick sick sick sick sick."

The House response -- John Shimkus, the Illinois congressman who oversees the page program, appears to have done nothing more than give Foley a private warning; he wasn't even stripped of his co-chairmanship of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children -- suggests that Republican leaders were motivated more by fear of electoral fallout than by concern for the young pages in their care.

And if they were worried the revelation would hurt their chances of holding onto the House, they turned out to be right. In the latest TIME poll, nearly 80 percent of respondents said they were aware of the scandal, and two-thirds of them were convinced that Republican leaders had tried to cover it up.

Among the registered voters who were polled, 54 percent said they would be more likely to vote for the Democratic candidate for Congress, compared with 39 percent who favored the Republican.

Hastert's job seems secure for the moment, barring any big new revelations, in part because the House Speaker is not merely a party leader but a role established under the Constitution. It would be difficult to replace him without summoning Congress back into town from the campaign trail. Nor would an ugly fight over who would succeed him be good for the party's prospects in November.

Meanwhile, GOP leaders are so desperate to find someone else to blame that they have been reduced -- with no indication that they see the irony -- to blaming a vast left-wing conspiracy.

"The people who want to see this thing blow up," Hastert told the Chicago Tribune, "are ABC News and a lot of Democratic operatives, people funded by George Soros," the liberal financier who has become a bogeyman of the right. Hastert went on to suggest, without producing any proof, that the revelation was the work of Bill Clinton's operatives.

For full story, see TIME.

Shipp: Justice may be up for sale in elections

Bill Shipp writes:

In a normal Georgia election year, Supreme Court Justice Carol Hunstein might be spending her spare time working on an inspirational autobiography, but this is not a routine election year. Hunstein has been singled out for defeat. And she is embroiled in a fierce contest against an ex-official of the federal Homeland Security Administration.

One can understand why former Bush administration lawyer Mike Wiggins would seek new career opportunities outside Washington, but taking on Hunstein seems an awfully tough place to start. Hunstein's life story reads like an Oprah Winfrey special. Try this passage from her campaign Web site:

"Born into humble circumstances, Carol contracted polio when she was 2, survived her first bout of bone cancer at age 4, and lost her mother at age 11. Her adolescent years were marked by frequent hospitalizations for cancer. Carol's father discouraged his six children from pursuing an education beyond high school. She married at 17, became a mother at 19, and was abandoned by her husband by age 22. That same year, Carol lost a leg to cancer and was told by doctors she had only a year to live.

"Struggling to find work to support herself and her son, Carol soon realized the value of an education. She went to college on a state vocational rehabilitation scholarship and to law school on the Social Security benefits she received after her former husband died. There were times when Carol could not afford to eat. ..."

She went on to become the first woman elected to the DeKalb County Superior Court bench. Fourteen years ago, then-Gov. Zell Miller named her to the Georgia Supreme Court. Honored repeatedly for her good works, Hunstein's peers give her good marks for high intelligence and an unmatched work ethic.

Now, however, leaders of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce have chosen to make her a target for toppling Nov. 7. They say she is an "anti-business" judge, though her record (and the names of some of her backers) suggests that, if anything, she's a bit too cozy with big business.

The re-election - or defeat - of Hunstein could shape legal issues in Georgia far more profoundly than the recent debate over the constitutional amendment on gay marriage and civil unions.

Wiggins says he is running to establish more "balance" on the Georgia Supreme Court. "Some on the current Supreme Court do not reflect the conservative judicial philosophy the vast majority of our citizens embrace," he says.

The Georgia Chamber of Commerce earlier circulated a memo criticizing the opinions of Hunstein and two other justices up for re-election, Hugh Thompson and George Carley. Only Hunstein drew an opponent.

Sources say Gov. Sonny Perdue actively sought a candidate to run against Hunstein. Those approached included Public Service Commissioner Bobby Baker and Fulton Superior Court Judge Craig Schwall. Both declined. Then along came Wiggins. His major supporters include Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus and Republican Congressman Lynn Westmoreland.

Hunstein has her heavyweight supporters too, including Miller and Atlanta attorney Oscar Persons, a longtime influential Republican.

Persons says of Wiggins: "When he talks about ideology, it seems to me that he wants to be an activist judge."

Other Hunstein supporters include former Attorney General Mike Bowers and former Gov. Roy Barnes. Those strange political bedfellows co-chaired a fundraiser for her in Atlanta on Sept. 20. Then, on Oct. 4, big-time banker Jim Blanchard and international insurance mogul Dan Amos hosted an event in Hunstein's honor.

Despite the all-star cast of backers, Hunstein is far from a cinch to win re-election. Insiders say Hunstein's opponents already are putting out rumors she is Jewish, which she is not, and that she is gay, which she also is not. (There's nothing like a high-road, issues-only judicial campaign.)

More importantly, Hunstein's opponents have set up the Safety and Prosperity Coalition to funnel legally unlimited sums into attack ads.

The insertion of that cash into the contest could make the race as expensive as any in Georgia history for a judicial seat. It also could set a precedent for judicial politics in the Peach State. Future races for appellate posts may turn into dollar-sodden brawls between candidates sponsored by the trial bar and those backed by insurance companies. Such scenarios already are played out in Alabama and Texas. The results have not been pretty. They leave the impression important judicial decisions have a "for sale" sign attached.

How the Democrats Can Step Up

By David Ignatius from The Washington Post:

It's too late for the Democrats to forge coherent positions on Iraq or tax policy before the November elections. But fortune has presented them with a mission that can be summed up in a simple sentence: They must be the party of accountability and reform.

The pollsters report that nearly two-thirds of the country now believes that America is heading in the wrong direction. The events of the past several weeks offer a devastating argument for the Democrats of why that is so. With the Republicans in control of the executive and legislative branches, arrogance has become a way of life. In a series of widely disparate cases -- from ignoring the ethics problems of former House majority leader Tom DeLay to refusing recommendations to fire Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to covering up the egregious conduct of Rep. Mark Foley -- the Republican leadership's instinct has been political self-protection rather than accountability and effective government.

The Democrats are talking about a culture of corruption in Washington, but what are they going to do about it? That's the question Democrats should address over the next month if they want a mandate for change. If they win the House of Representatives, will the Democrats embark on a two-year binge of investigations and score-settling? Or will they get serious about solving the country's problems?

The challenge for the Democrats, if they do triumph in November, will be to break out of the partisan straitjacket that constricts American politics. That has been the real inner demon of the Republicans -- they appeared to care more about their party and its prerogatives than about the country's welfare. The Democrats, in recent years, have drunk deep from that same poisoned chalice, and they need to stop.

The Democrats' first priority next year should be ethics reforms that address the gross misconduct that surfaced in the DeLay and Jack Abramoff scandals. They should start by seeking GOP co-sponsorship for new legislation on lobbying and campaign finance. The Republicans will try to paint Democrats in the next Congress as liberal fanatics bent on revenge. The Democrats should answer with a spirit of bipartisanship -- an offer to work with the Republicans on effective oversight of the executive branch and congressional reform. If a Democratic victory in November becomes an exercise in "payback," the public rightly will be angry.

To see how far the Republicans have strayed from accountability, it's useful to recall their response to the DeLay scandal. At every opportunity, they tried to evade, obstruct and bully. When the House ethics committee admonished DeLay in late 2004 for ethics violations, the GOP leaders stonewalled. First they changed the Republican caucus rules so that DeLay could remain as leader even if he was later indicted. The leaders were forced to back down on that one, but they then fired the conscientious Rep. Joel Hefley as chairman of the ethics committee and purged two other Republican members and several staffers. The effect was to gut the committee, which didn't function at all during 2005.

Even after the Abramoff influence-peddling investigation brought a string of indictments, the GOP-controlled Congress failed to pass lobbying reforms. "These are the worst congressional scandals in three decades, and Congress has done absolutely nothing about it," argues Fred Wertheimer, president of the campaign watchdog group Democracy 21.

The case of Rumsfeld partakes of the same circle-the-wagons spirit that has sapped the GOP. Rumsfeld should have resigned after the Abu Ghraib scandal in mid-2004. (Imagine what that signal of accountability might have done to help America's image.) But by early this year, it was obvious even to those in the Bush White House that Rumsfeld had to go. They were moving to ease him out this spring when a parade of retired generals called publicly for his resignation. I'm told that the White House, fearful of being seen as caving in to pressure, backed off at that point and left Rumsfeld in place.

And now we have the Foley scandal, which, even by Washington standards, is a remarkable piece of hypocrisy and cronyism. For at least a year senior House Republicans knew or should have known that Foley had inappropriate communications with House pages. They did nothing -- and the only possible explanation is that they were afraid of political damage. Indeed, they allowed Foley to remain co-chairman of the House caucus on missing and exploited children until the day his revolting messages were disclosed.

The Democrats will benefit from the GOP meltdown to the extent that they offer the country a genuine alternative: In place of scandal, reform; in place of partisanship, cooperation; in place of arrogance, accountability.

Democrats Aim to Regain Edge In Getting Voters to the Polls

From The Washington Post:

It may seem like a distant memory now, but Democrats not so long ago dominated the battle between the parties to get their voters to the polls.

Over the past half-dozen years, Republicans reinvented the system, using sophisticated computer modeling and vast amounts of consumer data. In 2002 and 2004, they demonstrated their newfound superiority -- to the dismay of Democratic Party officials and their allies.

Campaigns and candidates once used blunt instruments to mobilize voters, targeting geographic areas where there were concentrations of Democratic or Republican voters. Those techniques remain an essential part of the turnout wars that can decide a close election, which is why campaigns, political parties and their ideological allies will put legions of volunteers on the streets in the final days before Nov. 7.

Increasingly, however, campaigns have begun identifying potential voters literally one by one, even if they live in areas dominated by the opposition party. Using surveys and modeling and consumer and political data, the parties convert the electorate into subgroups that turnout specialists call by names like "Flag and Family Republicans," "Education-Focused Democrats" and "Older Suburban Newshounds."

This is known as microtargeting, and it turns traditional political mobilizing on its head by giving campaigns the opportunity to create virtual precincts of voters and poach on the opponent's turf.

With the click of a mouse, a Democratic campaign operative can call up a list (and accompanying map) identifying by name and address voters who may live in a Republican precinct or county but who, by virtue of ideology, party identification, religion, favorite drink or television show, or make of car, are more likely to vote Democratic.

The Republicans have attracted attention to their microtargeting skills by emphasizing the importance of consumer information in predicting voting patterns -- Republicans prefer bourbon, for instance, while Democrats prefer gin. Such lifestyle information is most helpful in tailoring messages for voters, though other information such as party identification or frequency of church attendance remains a more reliable predictor of how someone is likely to vote.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

A Political Limbo -- How low can the Republicans go?

From Newsweek:

Come hell or high water-ran the conventional wisdom-Republicans could rely on two issues to win elections: the war on terror and values. Then came Mark Foley. The drip-drip-drip of scandal surrounding the former Congressman from Florida, which became a deluge this week, now threatens to sink Republican hopes of keeping control of Congress, says the NEWSWEEK poll out today [October 7].

And that was the good news for the GOP. More worrisome still, the Foley fiasco is jeopardizing the party’s monopoly on faith and power. For the first time since 2001, the NEWSWEEK poll shows that more Americans trust the Democrats than the GOP on moral values and the war on terror. Fully 53 percent of Americans want the Democrats to win control of Congress next month, including 10 percent of Republicans, compared to just 35 percent who want the GOP to retain power. If the election were held today, 51 percent of likely voters would vote for the Democrat in their district versus 39 percent who would vote for the Republican. And while the race is closer among male voters (46 percent for the Democrats vs. 42 percent for the Republicans), the Democrats lead among women voters 56 to 34 percent.

The pace of the news on the Foley scandal is making it difficult for Republicans to stop their slide. On Thursday, House Speaker Dennis Hastert declared that mistakes were made in handling the Foley case and that he would remain in his post to make sure the misdeeds were thoroughly investigated. Almost immediately, ABC News reported that three more former pages had come forward to say that they had received suggestive e-mails and instant messages from Foley. And just as Republicans were attempting to form a united front to paint the timing of the Foley revelations as Democratic dirty tricks-What did Nancy Pelosi know and when did she know it?-the Republicans got a fratricidal shot out of the dark-on Iraq. Virginia Republican Sen. John Warner declared that the United States had 90 days to quell the violence in Iraq, or risk losing the war. To top it off, on Friday an aide to Karl Rove resigned over the Jack Abramoff influence-peddling and corruption scandal.

Meanwhile, the president’s approval rating has fallen to a new all-time low for the Newsweek poll: 33 percent, down from an already anemic 36 percent in August. Only 25 percent of Americans are satisfied with the direction of the country, while 67 percent say they are not. Foley’s disgrace certainly plays a role in Republican unpopularity: 27 percent of registered voters say the scandal and how the Republican leadership in the House handled it makes them less likely to vote for a Republican Congressional candidate; but 65 percent say it won’t make much difference in determining how they vote. And Americans are equally divided over whether or not Speaker Hastert should resign over mishandling the situation (43 percent say he should, but 36 percent say he shouldn’t).

The scandal’s more significant impact seems to be a widening of the yawning credibility gap developing between the President, his party and the nation. While 52 percent of Americans believe Hastert was aware of Foley’s actions and tried to cover them up, it’s part of a larger loss of faith in Republican leadership, thanks mostly to the war in Iraq. For instance, for the first time in the NEWSWEEK poll, a majority of Americans now believe the Bush administration knowingly misled the American people in building its case for war against Saddam Hussein: 58 percent vs. 36 percent who believe it didn’t. And pessimism over Iraq is at record highs on every score: nearly two in three Americans, 64 percent, believe the United States is losing ground there; 66 percent say the war has not made America safer from terrorism (just 29 percent believe it has); and 53 percent believe it was a mistake to go to war at all, again the first time the NEWSWEEK poll has registered a majority in that camp.

As a result, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s approval rating has fallen to just 30 percent, and more Americans believe he should resign than remain, 48 percent vs. 37 percent. And while a plurality of Americans approve of the job Condoleezza Rice is doing as Secretary of State, 48 percent vs. 32 percent who disapprove, on the heels of Bob Woodward’s bestselling critique of the Bush administration, “State of Denial,” a solid majority, 58 percent, believe Rice did not pay as much attention as she should have been expected to pay to the domestic terror threat posed by al Qaeda before 9/11. (Only 22 percent believe she did.)

Democrats now outdistance Republicans on every single issue that could decide voters’ choices come Nov. 7. In addition to winning—for the first time in the NEWSWEEK poll—on the question of which party is more trusted to fight the war on terror (44 to 37 percent) and moral values (42 percent to 36 percent), the Democrats now inspire more trust than the GOP on handling Iraq (47 to 34); the economy (53 to 31); health care (57 to 24); federal spending and the deficit (53 to 29); gas and oil prices (56 to 23); and immigration (43 to 34).

And even if the Republicans manage to bail out their ship before the midterms, they’ll have a hard time matching their one-time strengths to voters’ priorities. A third of registered voters, 33 percent, say the single most important issue that will decide their vote will be Iraq; compare to 20 percent who say the economy and only 12 percent who say terrorism, which ties with health care.

The Foley furor is sapping the enthusiasm of a group essential to Republican victories in 2002 and 2004: religious conservatives

From The New York Times:

At least five more Republican Congressional seats are now in serious contention, analysts said Friday, an unwelcome development for Republicans as they begin to confront a political environment further darkened for them by the Congressional page scandal.

The fury over sexually charged messages sent to male teenage pages by Representative Mark Foley of Florida is undercutting Republican support among elderly voters, suburbanites and women, analysts from both parties said.

More immediately — and more alarmingly for Republican strategists who have looked to the party’s powerful voter turnout operation to save the party this year — there are signs that the furor is sapping the enthusiasm of a group essential to Republican victories in 2002 and 2004: religious conservatives.

Friday, October 06, 2006

TIME Poll: The Foley Scandal Is Hurting the G.O.P. -- Two-thirds of those aware of the scandal believe Republican leaders attempted a cover-up

From TIME:

Two-thirds of Americans aware of the lurid e-mails sent to congressional pages by a G.O.P congressman believe Republican leaders tried to cover up the scandal — and one quarter of them say the affair makes them less likely to vote for Republican candidates in their districts come November. Those are among the findings of a new TIME poll conducted this week among 1,002 randomly-selected voting-age Americans.

GOP's Hold on Evangelicals Weakening -- Party's Showing in Midterm Elections May Be Hurt as Polls Indicate Support Dropping in Base

From The Washington Post:

In 2004, white evangelical or born-again Christians made up a quarter of the electorate, and 78 percent of them voted Republican, according to exit polls. But some pollsters believe that evangelical support for the GOP peaked two years ago and that what has been called the "God gap" in politics is shrinking.

A nationwide poll of 1,500 registered voters released yesterday by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center found that 57 percent of white evangelicals are inclined to vote for Republican congressional candidates in the midterm elections, a 21-point drop in support among this critical part of the GOP base.

Even before the Foley scandal, the portion of white evangelicals with a "favorable" impression of the Republican Party had fallen sharply this year, from 63 percent to 54 percent, according to Pew polls.

In the latest survey, taken in the last 10 days of September and the first four days of October, the percentage of evangelicals who think that Republicans govern "in a more honest and ethical way" than Democrats has plunged to 42 percent, from 55 percent at the start of the year.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Heavyweights Weighing-in For Hunstein in Columbus

From InsiderAdvantage Georgia:

Some heavyweights in the business and political community, led by Synovus Chairman Jim Blanchard and AFLAC Chairman Dan Amos, are weighing-in for Justice Carol Hunstein in her battle for re-election against challenger Mike Wiggins, who has his own roster of business and political supporters.

Blanchard and Amos are among the hosts for a fundraiser in Columbus on Wednesday that includes much of the city’s corporate and political elite.

[Wiggins'] supporters include some top business leaders whose stated goal is to ensure the courts don’t overturn Georgia’s tort reform law bit by bit. An independent 527 organization appears to be prepared to work on Wiggins’ behalf, and already has raised a quarter-million dollars. Too, Wiggins was the guest of honor at a fundraiser in Washington late last month hosted by former Independent Counsel Ken Starr and former Bush administration Solicitor General Ted Olsen.

Hunstein also is backed by two former Democratic governors, Zell Miller and Roy Barnes, and by former Georgia Attorney General Mike Bowers, a Republican. Wiggins has the support of the incumbent governor, Republican Sonny Perdue, and Home Depot founder Bernie Marcus has hosted a fundraiser for him.

After Hillary and Newt go public discussing health care reform, Newt is pushing ideas associated with the more liberal wing of politics

Last year we were all surprised to see Sen. Hillary Clinton and Newt Gingrich posing for photographs in the Capitol. We heard and read that they were working together on health care ideas.

Tom Crawford of Capitol Impact writes about some of the former Speaker's ideas on health reform:

Newt Gingrich has always been a politician full of big ideas and unbridled optimism, and he was dispensing plenty of both last month when he traveled back to the state he once represented in Congress to appear before a legislative study committee. State Sen. Judson Hill (R-Marietta) is chairing the panel that is looking into ways Georgia can “transform” a healthcare system that seems to get more expensive while providing insurance coverage to fewer people each year.

His main point was that big ideas are needed to bring the healthcare system under control and he is proposing ideas from all ends of the political spectrum. “Government tries to marginally change what it’s doing and get dramatically better results,” Gingrich said. “I don’t think that’s doable. Real change requires real change.” Newt’s big idea is the conservative policy proposal that all consumers be offered a health savings account (HSA) where they would invest some of their own money to help pay for medical treatment - thus giving them an incentive to shop around for the most cost-effective healthcare from doctors and hospitals.

But he’s also pushing ideas associated with the more liberal wing of politics, such as a requirement that all school children be weighed periodically to determine if they are overweight. (Democratic legislator Stephanie Stuckey Benfield introduced a bill to do the same thing a few years ago and quickly retreated when she ran into a storm of protest). “Every adolescent kid in this state should be weighed at least once a quarter,” Gingrich said. “If you can get them to eat less and exercise more, you’ll have fewer health problems when they’re adults. You should reinstate mandatory K–12 phys ed for everybody.”

Gingrich also favors a new-age kind of approach to medicine that emphasizes wellness, prevention and early detection of medical problems as opposed to the traditional method of treating people only after they fall ill. States can save more money on healthcare with an emphasis on prevention rather than treatment, he maintained. “You should focus first on good health and only second on the money,” Gingrich said. “If I can keep people healthy, they don’t need kidney dialysis. If they don’t need kidney dialysis, they don’t mind that you’re not paying for it.”

He also advocates the idea of bringing preventive healthcare to the people rather than expecting people to seek it out themselves. “If you want a black man to start checking his blood pressure, pay his barber,” Gingrich said. “They won’t come to you.”

Gingrich was supremely confident that if the state would only heed all of these big ideas, it would be able to do such things as “take 40 percent off the cost of drugs” and provide 100 percent of its citizens with health insurance coverage.

Everyone loves a compliment.

Yesterday I did the preceding post that had as its topic a Tom Crawford article posted on Doug Monroe's blog Peachtree Screed. As many of you know, Doug is a columnist with the Atlanta Magazine, and previously was with Creative Loafing and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Doug authored the following comment to my preceding post:

"Sid, one of the subjects at lunch was how much we enjoy your blog!"

The lunch Doug is referring to is something that I did not include in my post but where Doug reported in his Peachtree Screed post:

"Had lunch today with a bunch of friends, including political columnists Bill Shipp and Tom Crawford."

I really appreciate Doug pointing this out to me. As my readers know, Doug was in the presence of two of my favorites and without question Georgia's best of the best.

Of course Bill Shipp is Georgia's Dean of Politics and Journalism.

Tom Crawford, editor of the Capitolimpact.com news service, covers politics for Georgia Trend. For those of you who might not know, Capitol Impact is a subscription service taken by many state government officials. I have had more than one such official tell me that such official's daily routine begins by reading Capitol Impact.

Tom also often appears on The Georgia Gang when one of the regulars is not there.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Ouch!! -- Tom Crawford on "Uninspired Choices"

Today Doug Monroe points us to the following article by Tom Crawford of Capitol Impact from the Flagpole Magazine:

When you look at the ballot for this year’s race for governor, you almost find yourself wishing there was some way that both of the candidates could lose. Georgia is one of the fastest-growing states, with challenges that get bigger by the day: under-performing schools, overcrowded highways, shrinking water supplies, and a burgeoning population of undocumented immigrants. If you still believe, as some do, that these are the kinds of issues that should be thoughtfully addressed by those who aspire to lead our government, then you’re headed for a big disappointment as the weeks tick down before election day.

What are your choices here? You have a Republican incumbent, Gov. Sonny Perdue, who spent his first four years in office doing as little as possible in hopes that he wouldn’t make any voters angry. That turned out to be a smart strategy for Perdue, who went into the general election campaign with a healthy lead in the polls and enough money from corporate contributors to choke a South Georgia mule.

The drawback of being an inactive governor, however, is that the problems you ignore don’t go away. They just get worse. You also find yourself without much to talk about when you ask the voters for another term in office. Perdue’s record is so lackluster that he’s been reduced to holding news conferences to brag about the “fantastic” development that Georgia high school students skyrocketed all the way from 49th place to 46th place in the national ranking for SAT scores.

Perdue’s TV spots for the general election ask the rhetorical question, “Why would we ever want to go back?” That leaves unanswered the question of whether Georgia actually went forward during the last four years.

With Democratic Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor, you’ve got Tweedledum going against the Tweedledee of the Republican incumbent. One fat guy from the rural part of the state is running against a slightly less fat guy from the rural part of the state. Now there’s a choice that will inspire you to get up on election day and go to the polls.

Taylor has been tirelessly chanting the same mantra since he was first elected to Georgia’s second-highest office eight years ago: HOPE scholarships - good. PeachCare - good. Republicans who try to mess with them - bad. That’s pretty much the extent of any policy ideas he has for the future. No matter what else pops up on the political radar, you can count on Taylor to default to the same old talking points about HOPE and PeachCare. That would be an effective strategy if Taylor weighed 150 pounds less, was named Zell Miller, and was running in the 1990 governor’s race. But he’s not.

If you’re wondering which of these candidates is the best person for tackling the knotty issues facing our great state, it really doesn’t matter. You could vote for either one, or neither one, and the results would be pretty much the same.

If Perdue wins another term, which it seems he will do, it won’t make much difference. He achieves lame-duck status as soon as he takes the oath of office, while the politics of the next four years is dominated by Congressman Lynn Westmoreland, Speaker Glenn Richardson, and the likely lieutenant governor, Casey Cagle, fighting for position in the 2010 governor’s race. I suspect that Perdue wouldn’t mind that very much. He’s always seemed to be a politician who is happier when he’s pulling on football jerseys or donning motorcycle helmets for the TV cameras than when he has to do the icky stuff we call governing.

If Taylor somehow pulls off a miracle and wins on Nov. 7, so what? He will be a Democratic governor gridlocked by a conservative Republican legislature that won’t even bother to look at his policy proposals. Another four years down the drain.

Those are your options: a man with no vision versus a man with no future. You would think that Georgians deserved a better choice than this when they decide who will be the next governor. But then you remember that it was the voters who put these two guys on the ballot in the first place.

(1) Poll shows Cagle ahead of Martin & (2) "A somber note from a campaign." - You can say that again.

Today's ajc reports that a recent ajc poll reveals Sen. Casey Cagel with a 42% showing compared with 32% for Jim Martin.

It's time for Jim Martin to return to the "somber note" ad that was the subject of a 7-14-06 post. That post, entitled "'A somber note from a campaign.' - You can say that again," read:

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.