Mike Klein Online

Georgia Republicans Finish the Drill; Trauma Care Amendment Loses

This article was published by StatehouseNewsOnline.Com and Watchdog.Org.

Georgia voters provided Republicans arguably their greatest statewide victory ever Tuesday as the GOP administered a whipping to Democrats like nothing they had seen, literally, since Reconstruction after the Civil War.  This was the political equivalent of what football coaches preach:  Finish the Drill!

Republicans won every state constitutional office starting with Governor.  Retired nine-term congressman Nathan Deal ended Democratic former Governor Roy Barnes’ comeback bid by 53% to 43%.  Georgia requires a majority margin to win.  Georgia sent Republican U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson back to Washington by an even wider margin, 58% to 39%.

That was just the beginning of a great night for Republicans, a fright night for Democrats.

Republicans retained seven Congressional seats and took one from Democrats.  Former GOP state legislator Austin Scott defeated four-term Democrat Jim Marshall 53% to 47% in central Georgia’s 8th Congressional district.  Republicans will hold both Senate seats and eight of the state’s 13 House seats in the next Congress.

Republicans seized three state executive offices from Democrats:  attorney general, agriculture commissioner and labor commissioner.  The GOP retained lieutenant governor, secretary of state, insurance commissioner, state school superintendent and public service commissioner.

As Wednesday dawned over Georgia, Democrats could only wonder, what now?

Historians will consider whether Tuesday was more significant than eight years ago when Sonny Perdue became Georgia’s first Republican governor in 130 years.  Democrats held many state offices after 2002 and 2006 elections.  Now the GOP will hold every state government office for the next four years.  The party retained state Senate and House majorities.

The evening began with many predictions Deal and Barnes would face a gubernatorial run-off on Tuesday November 30.  Analysts predicted African-American support would break to Barnes and Libertarian candidate John Monds would take votes from Deal.  Barnes did carry the African-American vote but Monds could not get over 4% and Barnes conceded just before midnight.

Deal told supporters, “Georgia has placed its faith in the Republican Party and we are not going to let them down.” Barnes quoted the Apostle Paul, “I have fought the good fight.   I have run the good race.  I have finished the course.  I have kept the faith and so have you.”

An amendment to fund trauma care with a special $10 tax that would be added to annual vehicle registration was defeated 53% to 47%.   This high-profile measure was supported by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and the state’s major medical organizations.  A major final weekend media blitz was not enough to save it from voters who rejected the new tax.

Mike Klein is Editor at the Georgia Public Policy Foundation.

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November 3, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Georgia Palette Likely To Become Redder; Deal – Barnes No Sure Thing

This Georgia election preview was written for the Franklin Center for Government.

Georgia’s political palette will likely become deeper Red after next Tuesday, but whether that includes the Republican Party winning its third consecutive Governor’s Office election is uncertain.

Two national organizations released polls this week that show Republican Nathan Deal up 10% over Democrat Roy Barnes but should those vote projections become vote percentages, they would not be enough to avert a late November run-off on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.

The Rasmussen Reports 2010 Gubernatorial Scorecard and SurveyUSA produced identical results with Deal leading Barnes 49% to 39%.  A majority vote – 50% plus one vote — is required to win statewide office in Georgia.  Deal is a retired nine-term congressmen and Barnes served one term as Governor from 1999 to 2003 after eleven terms as a state senator or representative.

Rasmussen moved Georgia from “Leans GOP” to “Solid GOP” after a Sunday, October 24 telephone poll of 750 likely voters statewide.   Libertarian Party candidate John Monds received 5%.  The remainder indicated preference for another candidate or said they are undecided.

The SurveyUSA sample was larger, 1,100 persons interviewed by telephone over four days, Thursday, October 21 through Sunday, October 24.   The SurveyUSA outcome was identical to Rasmussen, 49% for Deal and 39% for Barnes, but Libertarian candidate Monds polled 8%.  Some analysts believe the likelihood of a November 30 gubernatorial run-off would increase if the Monds vote exceeds 5%.

The Deal campaign strategy has been to criticize nearly everything about the first Barnes administration.  It has tried to portray Barnes as an over-the-top President Barack Obama style liberal Democrat.   The Barnes strategy has been to question Deal’s personal and business ethics.  Lately, Barnes has attacked Deal for his position on a Georgia rape shield law during Deal’s tenure in the state Senate.

Down the ballot, Republicans are poised to turn an already Red state an even deeper shade of Red.   U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson is heavily favored over Democrat Michael Thurmond whose candidacy has not generated traction.  SurveyUSA shows Isakson ahead by 24% and Rasmussen has Isakson ahead by 15%. The incumbent Isakson raised some $9.1 million and Thurmond raised less than $300,000.

Republicans currently hold seven of the state’s 13 congressional seats.  Three Republican incumbents are unopposed and Republicans are favored to retain the other four seats.  Two incumbent Democrats are also in the GOP sights, Jim Marshall in central Georgia and Sanford Bishop in southwest Georgia.

The 62-year-old Marshall is running an 8th Congressional District toss-up race against 40-year-old Republican state legislator Austin Scott.  Marshall is a four-term economic conservative who supports extension of the George W. Bush tax cuts.  The former Macon mayor also has strong military credentials and he has been a strong advocate for Robins Air Force Base but all of that aside, Marshall might be swept away by anti-Democrat, anti-incumbent sentiment.

Republicans also believe they can prevail in southwest Georgia’s 2nd Congressional District where state legislator Mike Keown will try to unseat nine-term Democrat Bishop.   The congressman might be hurt by recent reports that Bishop steered congressional caucus scholarship money to his own family.

Republicans will continue to hold solid state Senate and House voting majorities after next Tuesday.   The party fielded strong candidates in eight other contested statewide office races.  Democratic incumbents are not seeking re-election in three of those eight races.

Much less certain is how Georgia voters will respond to a ballot measure that would fund statewide trauma care expansion by imposing a new $10 annual fee on nearly all privately owned vehicles.

The business community, the hospital industry and a wide range of Republican and Democratic leaders support the new fee.  But some recent sentiment suggests voters are not much interested in new fees and taxes, even though large sections of Georgia have little or no available trauma health care.  Business leaders launched Yes2SaveLives.Com to support the trauma care measure.

Mike Klein is Editor at the Georgia Public Policy Foundation.

October 26, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment