The ‘two Georgias’ clash again in GOP runoff

The Karen Handel-Nathan Deal GOP runoff offers many contrasts: female versus male, former county official versus ex-congressman.

Here’s a third contrast that should sound familiar to Georgians: urban versus rural.

A (very helpful) map of Tuesday’s primary election results on ajc.com shows some geographic patterns of support among the four leading Republican candidates for governor. Third-place Eric Johnson captured Southeast Georgia; tops for fourth-place John Oxendine were the sparsely populated counties below the gnat line.

Deal, as expected, was strong in the North Georgia counties he represented in Congress. But his support also forms a kind of exurban ring around metro Atlanta, loosely defined.

City strength

The counties won by Handel, on the other hand, represent the state’s urban and suburban areas.

Handel won the counties containing 16 of Georgia’s 20 largest cities by population, according to the latest Census estimates.

Besides metro Atlanta, Handel’s wins mostly form pockets around cities like Augusta, Columbus, Macon, Albany and Valdosta.

And that kind of pattern is largely reflective of the issues that the Handel and Deal campaigns have respectively pushed.

Deal has portrayed Handel as liberal on social issues such as gay rights and abortion, and that plays best in the areas where he’s strongest.

Those issues may also have an outsized impact in the runoff, when turnout for the Republican races could dip as low as the single digits and only the most hardcore members of the GOP base can be relied upon to show up.

That will be especially true if, as I expect, Johnson and Oxendine throw their support behind Deal. Had Deal captured just one-third of Johnson’s and Oxendine’s voters, he would have finished ahead of Handel.

For her part, Handel has hammered away at Deal on ethics, pointing repeatedly to an investigation into his use of congressional staff and resources to protect a contract he held with the state.

People everywhere care about honesty in government, but the ethics storyline probably plays best in markets with media outlets large enough to have reported on the Deal investigation.

Not to mention episodes like the fall of former House Speaker Glenn Richardson — which sparked Handel’s attack on “sex, lies and lobbyists” under the Gold Dome.

And in the days of media retrenchment, our reach doesn’t extend as far beyond the population centers as it once did.

How it might play out (or not)

An urban-rural split between Handel and Deal might not be very pronounced on issues like the economy, the size and role of state government, or water.

Both candidates are lukewarm, at best, on shaking up the education establishment by introducing school vouchers — an idea that’s more popular in more populated areas.

On transportation, Handel voices support for transit when she asks, “25 years from today, what will it look like if we haven’t embraced the 21st century in a bold way?” And Deal didn’t sound like an anti-transit ruralite when he told me, “We still have the problem of breaking people of the habit of wanting to get into their cars.”

With Roy Barnes now definitely waiting in the wings, Handel can’t afford to alienate the rural voters who twice delivered the state to Sonny Perdue. Likewise, Deal must run strong in metro Atlanta to have any shot against Barnes in November.

As each candidate looks for an advantage over the other, that’s something for both to keep in mind.

83 comments Add your comment

arnold

July 22nd, 2010
11:54 am

Ethics violations don’t seem to faze N. Georgia residents.

Jefferson

July 22nd, 2010
11:55 am

It will get personal and amusing, negative before it is over. The GOP would not have it any other way.

CrazyInGA

July 22nd, 2010
12:08 pm

Please, ethics viloations don’t faze the people in this country, state or probably the world. We have been taken over by liars and crooks since the beginning of time.

However, I’m putting my money on DEAL.

Drew

July 22nd, 2010
12:19 pm

Regardless, whoever wins this runoff will win the Governorship. The only chance the Democrats had was to nominate someone who could take the vast majority of the teachers. Barnes was the only option that wouldn’t do that, no matter how many pandering lies he tells during the campaign (that trick worked last time, but not again). With the teacher vote split, the Republicans will win.

Hillbilly Deluxe

July 22nd, 2010
12:24 pm

Ethics violations don’t seem to faze N. Georgia residents.

You obviously don’t know me, a North Georgian.

Churchill's MOM

July 22nd, 2010
12:27 pm

This is far better written & more interesting than the Lewis bit. I think that the election depends on who can spend the most money on TV. I read the Athens & Augusta paper every morning and they are simply not covering the race, Billy Morris owns both papers and I assume he was for Johnson but held his fire. All my friends will be voting Handel not because she is a woman but because Deal is so corrupt. If Deal gets the nomination, I’ll vote and work Mond.

Grand Forks

July 22nd, 2010
12:28 pm

“Deal has portrayed Handel as liberal on social issues such as gay rights and abortion, and that plays best in the areas where he’s strongest.”

Geez, does anyone on the right realize that abortion is going to remain legal until the SC overturns it and gay marriage is not going to be legal?

These non-issues are retarded.

Arrogant B@st@rd

July 22nd, 2010
12:31 pm

“People everywhere care about honesty in government, but the ethics storyline probably plays best in markets with media outlets large enough to have reported on the Deal investigation.”

HA! I trust this is total sarcasm. Notwithstanding that you have attempted to cover Dela’s “deals” at length on this very forum, right?

If the soft-on-crime Republicans in Georgia really did do more than pay lip service to corruption and fraud, Nathan “Crooked, but I personally profited” Deal would not even be in the United States Congress.

Churchill's MOM

July 22nd, 2010
12:31 pm

In the middle of this is some really interesting data on cost per vote in the primary..Ox really wasted a lot of money.

http://blogs.ajc.com/political-insider-jim-galloway/2010/07/22/your-morning-jolt-a-test-of-clout-for-georgia-right-to-life/#comments

Grand Forks

July 22nd, 2010
12:32 pm

“If the soft-on-crime Republicans in Georgia”

You don’t get out much, do you. Try going to states like Illinois where crime is out of control.

just peachy

July 22nd, 2010
12:55 pm

The problem is it’s not just lousy ethics it goes to show Deal used his influence in congress to influence a state contract to line his own pockets. It was a contract that should have been publicly bid instead was awarded to his company privately therefore stripping the opportunity to bid from companies in our state. He has NO interest in bringing jobs to GA. His interest lie in making more profit for himself. Frankly I don’t even see ambition from him to want to be the gonernor he just appears he wants to have another government offical job and needed to get out of congress before his investigation was covered anymore. so not impressed with Deal. My vote is for Karen Handel. She’ll attract companies to our state and bring back those companies in North GA that moved their businesses to TN by eliminating our state income tax and the energy tax. That alone is reason enough to vote for Karen Handel.

Kyle Wingfield

July 22nd, 2010
1:01 pm

Arrogant: The AJC did most of the heavy lifting on the Deal story, and while I personally haven’t devoted gigabyte upon gigabyte to it, I did suggest back in March that it would sink his candidacy. I turned out to be wrong about that…but I didn’t ignore it, as you seem to think.

washedup

July 22nd, 2010
1:06 pm

John Monds will get my vote. As a Libertarian, in past elections, I have mostly voted to keep someone “out” of office instead of voting someone “in”. My thinking was that since Libertarian candidates don’t usually fare too well in elections, instead of totally wasting my vote, I would either vote for a person who is as close to my views as possible, or I would vote against the person whose views were the most distasteful. But that’s getting harder and harder to do, seeing the direction of our country over the past thirty years or so. So, to heck with it, I may be wasting my vote again, but I’m voting my beliefs this time. Monds is a good candidate, so I feel good about it. My only deviation from this plan is if Herman Cain runs, as a Republican, for President in 2012. Then, I’ll vote GOP that one time.

Arrogant B@st@rd

July 22nd, 2010
1:15 pm

Mea culpa, Kyle.

But sinking his candidacy? Is that some sort of euphemism for decrying his sordid behavior?

Either people will forcefully denounce the corruption in our government, or as is much too often the case, will ignore it altogether, if their guy has an R (or D as the case may be) behind his name.

Which explains how this fraud is even in the mix today.

And for what it’s worth, I’ll vote for Monds a swell.

innerjuju

July 22nd, 2010
1:37 pm

Why is it that the Georgia Republican Party can not find a candidate who has the resume and personal integrity to represent the republican ideals which I would sincerely like to vote for? Deal has an ethics issue, Handel was a most ineffective Secretary of State (despite her supporters claim otherwise. Anyone having to deal with the office knows better.) Handel shouldn’t garner votes for being a woman any more than Deal should for being a man. Gender shouldn’t come into play, the ability to do the job should. I can see why Gingrich supported Deal- they both have a slight problem with ethical behavior. I can see why Sarah Palin supported Handel- they both have a slight issue in job performance. (I still can’t see why endorsements should matter. Why should I care what a Governor who quit her job early has to say about who will be MY Governor?) The real losers in this election are the people of Georgia.

I think I may go over to the Libertarian website and read about this Monds you guys keep referring to. I sure can’t vote for either of the top vote-getters on either ticket.

Saul Good

July 22nd, 2010
1:39 pm

Ethics? If GA republicans cared about “ethics” they would have Impeached Sonny within his first year… sad how they forget about his “real estate deals” and the law passed so he could profit from them…

I’ve never seen a more sad bunch…there’s not one “ethical” person running on the right. Need I name the many “lies” from each? Yet GA will do what it always does… vote “right” for those who will “wrong” them.

Vote “republican” and you always vote against yourself and the wishes you have for your family.

They did such a GREAT job with their majority over the past 7 years….heck…why not continue down that path. Time for them to “stand up” and acknowledge that those hurting…came under their watch. Being the gluten’s they are for punishment…GA republicans will again elect a fool who talks about stimulating “big business”… but they have nothing to show that with that majority they had here… that it created the jobs they promised. No…it’s not the “national” recession that caused us as much harm…as the “build baby build” lobby they catered to… and STILL…THAT is the path they seek to “fix” all that was wrong.

GA: First in bank failures and always near LAST in education.

It’s those who went to the ^$#)#)( schools who now vote towards the right… you can’t “fix” what is broken when you don’t even realize the wreck you’re in.

midtownguy

July 22nd, 2010
1:43 pm

Sexism, like racism, still resides barely below the surface in all of the rural South. Deal will get the nomination by a landslide.

@@

July 22nd, 2010
1:50 pm

I find most politicians to be lukewarm during the campaign phase. Their hope is to get us to dip our toes in BEFORE they scald us.

Who know, if the fellas (Johnson & Oxendine) throw their support behind a likewise, women may “give ‘em what fur” and vote Handel.

I AM WOMAN….meow.

I wish we could do something about this perpetual campaign cycle we find ourselves in. It’s no wonder turnout is a disgrace.

Hillbilly Deluxe

July 22nd, 2010
1:54 pm

there’s not one “ethical” person running on the right

Or the left either, in the Governor’s race.

Grand Forks

July 22nd, 2010
2:03 pm

“they both have a slight issue in job performance.”

Yeah, Palin only had an 80% approval rating as governor.

Grand Forks

July 22nd, 2010
2:03 pm

“there’s not one “ethical” person running on the right.”

Please name ONE ethical person running on the left.

Joe in Decatur, GA

July 22nd, 2010
2:08 pm

Yes, Grand Forks, before Palin ran out on the job.

Wyld Byll Hyltnyr

July 22nd, 2010
2:08 pm

@@
1:50 pm

“I AM WOMAN….meow.”

You’re more than a woman to ol’ Wyld Byll.

Saul Good

July 22nd, 2010
2:12 pm

“Yeah, Palin only had an 80% approval rating as governor.”

SO…why did she QUIT?

Those “pesky” lawsuits? Oh yeah… now THAT’s what you want from a true “leader”…one who backs down when called out… better to quit and run. Selling books written by another you meet with a handful of times is a MUCH better option for the people who voted for her.

If she ever runs…she’ll never live it down… what will she do when the going gets tough in DC? Quit again? Just like each 13th grade level college she attended? Quitting is GOOD… QUITTING shows “strength”…. sad that my father never taught me that…that when things get to be too much…simple quit.

80% huh?

Know what?

SHow me those numbers…because you simple made them up.

Thanks for playing.

try again.

luangtom

July 22nd, 2010
2:39 pm

This is not a rural versus urban contest. It is a clash of personalities. Deal, the Congressional member come home to run for Governor and Handel, the local government electee running for higher stakes. If one is to vote on attitude and standards, then I have to withhold any support for Handel. She exhibited a “holier than thou” attitude employing it to avoid debates under the guise of high moral standards due to Ray McBerry being onstage. Hogwash. If she carried herself to the governorship and she displayed such attitude and arrogance she would never accomplish a thing while in office. If she deemed another state’s governor as being under her moral-barometer how would water issues be discussed? How would she deal with the politicians in Washington, DC and the CEO’s of big-business that we so desperately need to come to GA? No, her attitude keeps her from getting my family’s votes. And, why did see avoid next-day interviews on the air live? She was given a great opportunity to voice her ideals and stands to those that did not vote for her. Yet, she chose to not get free air-time and allowed Deal to get before the public the very next day after the Primary. Nope, not who we should have in the governor’s chair.

Gerald West

July 22nd, 2010
2:45 pm

Let’s see now: Georgia needs more and better jobs, better highways and trains, better education, more tourists, more water reservoirs, new flood control projects, more prisons, less crime , less drug addition, etc.

What are the hot issues for Handel and Deal? Denying gays their rights, persecuting immigrants, and undermining public education by giving school vouchers to parents who want to enroll their children in “Christian” schools that’ll keep them ignorant of science, sex, and civility.

What’s the contrast between the two Republicans in the run-off? Kyle’s got it right: gender, and rural vs. urban pandering. What do they have in common? Total avoidance of relevant issues.

My God! Doesn’t anybody realize that we have wandered far off the path to a secure and prosperous future? We need solutions and direction from our elected leaders, not pandering to the prejudice and ignorance of yokels and old-fogies.

Mark

July 22nd, 2010
2:49 pm

I am a social conservative and I am voting for Karen Handel!

Nathan Deal is a corrupt politician and will say / do anything to get elected. There is only one true conservative in this race and it is Karen Handel.

Hillbilly Deluxe

July 22nd, 2010
2:57 pm

Kyle,

You might find this interesting. It touches on the “Two Georgias” concept. It’s not the focus of the column but it’s a short column.

A key issue in that election year was claims that there were two unequal Georgias,…………I didn’t find two Georgias. I found SEVEN distinct Georgias..

http://www.gainesvilletimes.com/section/24/article/35160/

Libertarian

July 22nd, 2010
2:59 pm

Has either Oxendine or Johnson said why they are supporting Deal?

Grand Forks

July 22nd, 2010
3:05 pm

“Yes, Grand Forks, before Palin ran out on the job.’

As opposed to Obama running out on his?

Kyle Wingfield

July 22nd, 2010
3:06 pm

Hillbilly: That is interesting, though I wish he had explained which seven he found.

Libertarian: Let me be clear: I EXPECT them to do that, but it hasn’t actually happened — unless I’ve missed something in the past couple of hours.

Williebkind

July 22nd, 2010
3:07 pm

I am sending funds to Handel. I want her elected.

Grand Forks

July 22nd, 2010
3:08 pm

“Those “pesky” lawsuits?”

And every single one of them, so far, has been dismissed in court.

“SHow me those numbers…because you simple made them up. ”

SURE!

She took office on December 4, 2006, and for most of her term was very popular with Alaska voters. Polls taken in 2007 showed her with 93% and 89% popularity among all voters,[87] which led some media outlets to call her “the most popular governor in America.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarah_Palin#Public_image

Jefferson

July 22nd, 2010
3:09 pm

there’s not one “ethical” person running on the right.”

Please name ONE ethical person running on the left.

This would be an example of a defense mechanism, this article is about the GOP. Simple vote for Karen because Sara said so.

Grand Forks

July 22nd, 2010
3:10 pm

“This would be an example of a defense mechanism, this article is about the GOP. Simple vote for Karen because Sara said so.”

Pot meet kettle, Jefferson. How’s life in the apartment up on the east side?

Mark

July 22nd, 2010
3:13 pm

@ Jefferson… It has nothing to do with Sarah Palin but it has everything to do with what is right for Georgia.

Karen Handel is the clear choice!

songbird

July 22nd, 2010
3:14 pm

GF – Obama hasn’t quit his job when the going get tough now has he. Also, Palin’s approval rating was down to 54% positive in May 2009. It had been steadily dropping over time just like Obama’s. Who knows where it would have ended up had she not cut and run.

Jefferson

July 22nd, 2010
3:14 pm

Simply predictable.

songbird

July 22nd, 2010
3:15 pm

Got tough. sorry for the typo since I know the first comment you will make is about my grammar.

songbird

July 22nd, 2010
3:17 pm

GF the numbers you’re quoting from wikipedia are from early in her term, not what they were when she left. Nice job trying to hide the truth. typical.

Grand Forks

July 22nd, 2010
3:20 pm

songbird

You missed the point. What’s her face asked me to produce numbers that showed Palin ever had an 80% approval rating. So what if her numbers went down to 54%? 54% is still higher than anyone in congress or in the White House.

“Nice job trying to hide the truth. typical.”

I posted the entire Wiki info on Palin. Not sure where you came up with “hiding the truth.”

Typical left winger.

Grand Forks

July 22nd, 2010
3:21 pm

“Obama hasn’t quit his job when the going get tough now has he.”

songbird, work on your grammar. I have no idea what that run-on sentence means.

Grand Forks

July 22nd, 2010
3:21 pm

“Simply predictable.”

Describes left wingers to a T.

@@

July 22nd, 2010
3:21 pm

You’re more than a woman to ol’ Wyld Byll.

Awwwww shucks! And when was the last time I told you, you are Wyld, Byll???

Grrrrrrrrrr

Hillbilly:

Thanks for the link on the 7 Distinct Georgias. A River Runs Through Us, eh?

I YIKE IT! I’m gonna be checkin’ it out.

Jefferson

July 22nd, 2010
3:23 pm

Reel em’ in boys !!!

First Sergeant

July 22nd, 2010
3:26 pm

Grand Forks

July 22nd, 2010
2:03 pm
“they both have a slight issue in job performance.”

Yeah, Palin only had an 80% approval rating as governor.

You liar!

Grand Forks

July 22nd, 2010
3:26 pm

“You liar!”

First Sergeant gives stupid a whole new meaning.

Grand Forks

July 22nd, 2010
3:27 pm

First Sergeant, just for you, ma’am.

She took office on December 4, 2006, and for most of her term was very popular with Alaska voters. Polls taken in 2007 showed her with 93% and 89% popularity among all voters,[87] which led some media outlets to call her “the most popular governor in America.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarah_Palin#Public_image

Grand Forks

July 22nd, 2010
3:29 pm

The Most Popular Governor
Alaska’s Sarah Palin is the GOP’s newest star.

July 16, 2007, Vol. 12, No. 41

She is now the most popular governor in America, with an approval rating in the 90s, and probably the most popular public official in any state.

http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/013/851orcjq.asp

Horrible Horrace

July 22nd, 2010
3:33 pm

Love Handels is a little overweight for my liking hence I will be voting for Deal…