Most of the attention paid to Georgia’s soon-to-be-open U.S. Senate seat has gone to possible Republican candidates — including Congressman Paul Broun, who today became the first to file paperwork to run. But the race may be the best chance Georgia Democrats have at winning a statewide election in 2014, so who might run for their nomination?
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has said he isn’t running. Congressman John Barrow has been more coy, but his hints suggest he is reluctant to give it a shot.
With all that in mind, I was intrigued by a poll tweeted a short while ago by the AJC’s Washington correspondent, Daniel Malloy. Pollster Fred Hicks surveyed 1,411 Democratic voters statewide Feb. 1-2. Here’s what he found:
Undecided: 21.5 percent
Congressman Sanford Bishop: 16.3 percent
Former Attorney General Thurbert Baker: 15.4 percent
Former Secretary of State Cathy Cox: 15.0 percent
Former Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond: 12.6 percent
Someone else: 8.8 percent
Former DeKalb CEO Vernon Jones: 5.7 percent
Former Dougherty County DA (and 2010 attorney general nominee) Ken Hodges: 3.1 percent
2010 lieutenant governor nominee Carol Porter: 1.5 percent
It’s not surprising to see “Undecided” leading the pack so early. But it’s hard to imagine any of these candidates doing particularly well next year. Bishop nearly lost re-election in 2010 before being drawn a much more friendly map and cruising last year, but there’s nothing to suggest he’d do well enough in South Georgia with the kind of voters Democrats need to flip that he could actually win statewide.
Baker lost badly to Roy Barnes in the 2010 gubernatorial primary. Thurmond got just 39 percent against Johnny Isakson in that year’s Senate race. Porter won just 42 percent of the vote against Casey Cagle. Hodges, in the best statewide showing by a Democrat in 2010, tallied just 43.6 percent against Sam Olens.
A name I’ve heard come up during the past couple of weeks — in a purely speculative way — is that of Cox, who left politics after her ‘06 gubernatorial primary loss to Mark Taylor and is president of Young Harris College. Against the right Republican (which is to say, the wrong one in the GOP’s eyes), after a particularly nasty primary, she might be able to … keep it close. If she’s even interested in running. Which strikes me as unlikely.
What do y’all think? Do any of the possible candidates — or anyone else you might name — stand a chance next year?
– By Kyle Wingfield