Archive for July, 2010

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 …

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Three Ga. reps join Tea Party Caucus; why not John Lewis?

Paul Broun, Phil Gingrey and Tom Price are among the 28 charter members of the Tea Party Caucus in the U.S. House. The caucus so far includes only Republicans, but its purpose may not be exactly what you think. Reports CNN:

“We decided to form a Tea Party caucus for one very important purpose: To listen to the concerns of the Tea Party,” said Rep. Michele Bachmann, at a news conference Wednesday morning following the first meeting of the caucus.

“We are not the mouthpiece of the Tea Party. We are not taking the Tea Party and controlling it from Washington DC. I am not the head of the Tea Party.”

“We are also not here to vouch for the Tea Party, or to vouch for any Tea Party organizations or vouch for any individual people or actions or billboards or signs or anything of the Tea Party. We are here to listen and to be a receptacle.”

Bachmann says she invited Speaker Nancy Pelosi to join the caucus. I won’t hold my breath for that to happen. But given the events this spring just …

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Make that Palin and Romney vs. Gingrich

Karen Handel, bound for the GOP gubernatorial runoff after finishing first in the primary last night, picked up another big endorsement today. CNN reports:

A day after advancing to Georgia’s Republican gubernatorial runoff as the favorite to win the nomination, Karen Handel picked up the support of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, CNN has learned.

“A successful businesswoman and public servant, Karen Handel’s blend of executive, political, and business experience is just what Georgia needs at this critical time,” Romney said in a statement Wednesday. “The leadership skills that she has honed in both the private and public sectors will enable her to make tough decisions and enact the reforms needed to get the economy back on track and foster job creation.”

Handel and Rep. Nathan Deal emerged from a four-way primary battle and will now face off in the Aug. 10 runoff. Handel was boosted in the primary by endorsements from Sarah Palin and Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer. Deal is …

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Tom Graves and the Handel-Deal GOP runoff

Tom Graves has Nathan Deal to thank for his seat in Congress. Deal might have Graves to thank if he ends up in the governor’s mansion.

That’s my first, early (very early) thought about the results of last night’s primary, in which Deal and Karen Handel advanced to a runoff for the GOP nomination.

A runoff is in no small part about motivation and turnout. Whose supporters will show up at the polls again, just three weeks after the last time and less than three months before the general election?

Both Handel and Deal have momentum on their side. For months, simply reaching the runoff — presumably against John Oxendine — was the goal. Now both of them have done that, riding a swell of support over the past couple of weeks.

Now that they’re there, the campaigns will be tempted to turn this into a referendum on whose mud, when slung, sticks the best. These people flat don’t like one another, and more negative campaigning is likely. But at this point, can either campaign effectively …

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Primary-night open thread: So, who wins?

Or, in races like the GOP contest for governor, merely survives until the next round?

Who will advance to the GOP runoff for governor? (Please choose two)

  • Karen Handel (215 Votes)
  • Nathan Deal (141 Votes)
  • John Oxendine (59 Votes)
  • Eric Johnson (20 Votes)

Total Voters: 246

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Will Roy Barnes win the Democratic nomination without a runoff?

  • Yes (192 Votes)
  • No (14 Votes)

Total Voters: 206

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The official polls have closed by now, and I’ll post updates as the results come in. But the two blog polls posted just to the left are opening now.

I’ll also begin the guessing with a hunch that Roy Barnes wins the Democratic gubernatorial nod outright tonight, and that Karen Handel and Nathan Deal advance to what will probably be a vicious GOP runoff.

Make sure to vote early in the two polls here — they’ll stop taking answers at 9 p.m., when the real results should start clearing up.

Comments on the other races are also welcome. There are some very …

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Jobless benefits — and deficits — to be extended

The Senate is expected today to approve another extension to unemployment benefits, and it’s a true Washington compromise: Democrats and Republicans each get some of what they want, and taxpayers get the bill.

Benefits will now run through November, at an additional cost of $34 billion. Democrats wanted a larger bill with other goodies, totaling $120 billion; Republicans wanted only to extend the jobless benefits, and to pay for it with unspent stimulus money or by canceling other expenditures.

Instead, we get the $34 billion bill, but no canceled spending elsewhere.

Democrats will claim victory over GOP “obstructionism.” Republicans may try to promote the fact that they at least prevented Dems from spending almost $90 billion of borrowed money, which is nearly one-tenth of a $1 trillion deficit.

But the award for chutzpah goes to Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, who told the New York Times, “To govern is to choose, and this is a clear choice: You either support …

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In a themeless election, let’s hear more from Handel, Johnson

WARNER ROBINS, Ga.–The good people of Houston County didn’t get to see two of the four leading GOP candidates for governor in a debate here Thursday night. But they did get to see the two best.

One of them, Karen Handel, is the surest bet right now to win a spot Tuesday in a runoff for the Republican nomination. The other, Eric Johnson, is the least likely survivor of a group that includes Nathan Deal and John Oxendine.

But after splitting time last week with Deal, Handel and Johnson, I came away thinking that the latter two are the ones I’d like hear more from. (The Oxendine campaign didn’t answer queries about its schedule, which, as far as I can tell, has been pretty skimpy lately.)

There’s a lot of similarity in what these three say about issues. That may be because, in a tight race, no one wants to make any sudden moves. It might also be because voters still don’t seem to have tuned in yet. What follows, then, are my impressions of them.

Deal is a likable man — …

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An indictment of Oxendine by his would-be successor

Two days on the campaign trail ended for me last night in Warner Robins at a debate for Republican state-wide candidates. Karen Handel and Eric Johnson were the only GOP gubernatorial candidates to show up for the debate. But perhaps the most interesting thing uttered about their race was said by someone seeking a different office.

Seth Harp, a longtime state legislator, was one of three candidates for insurance commissioner who appeared. When asked why he wanted the job, he said it’s because “the present commissioner has used his office as a fund-raising mechanism for his campaign for governor” and that “many, many people have been shaken down.”

The “present commissioner” is, of course, John Oxendine.

Harp was giving voice to rumors that a number of people, including journalists, have been trying to pin down for months. As far as I know, he’s the only public figure to make those claims in a public forum.

When I approached Harp afterward, he wouldn’t name Oxendine’s accusers. …

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Want to raise taxes? Do these things, then we’ll talk

A “cancer” that, absent preventive action, “will destroy the country from within.” That’s how the wise men tasked with cutting our debt and deficit commission describe America’s fiscal future.

That depiction comes as no surprise to those Americans who have turned our public borrowing into one of the year’s top political issues. But it can’t hurt to have a committee appointed by President Barack Obama reiterate the painful truth.

But setting the table, so to speak, for a frank discussion about the national debt is all the commission members can do. Only Congress and the president can actually make budget law to alleviate the problem.

So, it’s important that the issue is framed appropriately. Conservatives were skeptical about this blue-ribbon panel because it’s likely to be a.) a fig leaf for inaction; or b.) political cover for something Democrats want to do anyway — raise taxes.

To that end, it was somewhat heartening to hear one of the co-chairs, former …

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Bush’s deficits vs. Obama’s deficits, in one graph

If you only look at one graph today, let it be this one from economics blogger Keith Hennessey:

Budget deficits under Bush and Obama

I have commented before about the difference between George W. Bush’s deficits — which Barack Obama recently described as a “a decade of spiraling deficits — and Obama’s own actual and projected deficits. The difference is one of magnitude and, as the graph linked above clearly illustrates, one of direction.

With the exception of 2009, every single projected budget deficit in a two-term Obama presidency would be higher than every single actual budget deficit in Bush’s two terms. And even in 2009, Obama managed to take the 8.3 percent deficit he inherited and ratchet it up by another 1.6 percentage points.

As Hennessey explains in his own post:

This graph does not show “a decade of spiraling deficits.” It instead shows eight years of deficits averaging 2.0 percent of GDP, followed by a horrible ninth year as the markets collapsed and the economy plunged into recession. … Even 2008’s …

Continue reading Bush’s deficits vs. Obama’s deficits, in one graph »