Mike Klein Online

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.

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

Michael Thurmond Prepares For His Biggest Political Challenge

Michael Thurmond will soon either make history, or perhaps see his political career wash away.

A source familiar with his plans says the Democratic Labor Department commissioner will enter the U.S. Senate race in an announcement expected  Wednesday.  Thurmond will be the favorite in the July primary against one political novice, setting up a November race against Republican incumbent Johnny Isakson.  Thurmond will spend the weekend at home in Athens discussing this with family.

Thurmond against Isakson for a U.S. Senate office could eclipse the state’s gubernatorial race in media attention, voter interest and potentially, millions of dollars raised and spent.  A victory over the popular and respected Isakson would make him an instant national political celebrity.  A source close to Isakson said Thurmond “would be swimming in a pool beyond his depth.”   Thurmond has run three successful statewide campaigns but nothing with the intensity, political knifing or media scrutiny of a United States Senate race. Continue reading

April 16, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

GOP Power Play, Obamacare, Space Taxis and Newt!

Friday morning’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution headline that screamed “Governor seeks a shake-up” was counter-punched by the next morning’s headline “Critics pound Perdue plan.”  The November headline should say “Voters KO GOP Power Grab Plan.”  This was a bad idea from the start.  And if it’s such a good idea now, why didn’t we hear about this until Sonny Perdue’s eighth year in office?

The basic plan goes like this: Perdue proposed that starting after 2014 elections the governor would appoint four currently elected officials: commissioners at labor, education and insurance, along with state superintendent of education.  This will ostensibly make for better, more efficient government and ensure that really good people hold those jobs. Continue reading

February 7, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Monday Live Blog: Georgia Jobs Conference

Final Version: 4:00 pm

The Georgia Department of Human Resources will utilize federal government stimulus funds to help Georgia employers fully fund new teen-aged hires during the June and July summer recess.  The announcement was made Monday by Human Resources commissioner B.J. Walker during the Georgia Department of Labor’s Georgia Jobs Summit at the Georgia Tech Hotel and Conference Center.

Labor commissioner Michael Thurmond announced his department will create Georgia Jump Start, a new focus on how to re-deploy existing resources without requiring legislative action.  The plan will be shared with Governor Sonny Perdue, Lt. Governor Casey Cagle, and the General Assembly.  Perdue and Cagle did not attend the conference. GDOL executives also pledged more help to small business.  Panelists repeatedly said strengthening Georgia education remains the key to economic success. Continue reading

January 17, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment