My AJC colleagues James Salzer and Jim Tharpe have produced this weekender:
More than six years after Gov. Roy Barnes’ defeat signaled the death of Democratic dominance at the statehouse, the 61-year-old Marietta lawyer appears primed for a comeback.
He’s making the rounds of speaking circuits, venting populist outrage over the perceived wrongs of the Republican-controlled Capitol. He’s been in touch with old political allies about the 2010 governor’s race, and he’s answered endless inquiries from the media wanting to know whether he, indeed, is going to run.
But his potential candidacy raises questions: Is the polarizing politician whose crushing defeat in 2002 ushered in the first Republican administration since Reconstruction the man to bring Democrats back? And is a state that has become used to electing Republicans open to change?
Backers argue that Barnes wouldn’t get into the race to succeed Gov. Sonny Perdue, the man who beat him in 2002, if he didn’t think the answer to the last question was yes. But he’s not ready to publicly commit just yet.
“I’ve never had trouble making decisions, but this is a tough one,” Barnes said during an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I’m satisfied with where I’m at, but not where the state is.”
House Majority Leader Jerry Keen (R-St. Simons Island), who considered running for governor in 2010 but decided against it, said Republicans should take the possibility of a Barnes candidacy seriously. “He’s shown he can raise money; he’s campaigned statewide and won. Those two things make you fairly credible.”
So here are two questions: Should Barnes attempt a comeback? And if he does, who’s the best Republican match against him?
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