Archive for April, 2009

David Shafer on the LG race, and Eric Tanenblatt comes out (surprise!) for Karen Handel

With Eric Johnson of Savannah moving up to the Republican race for governor, that leaves his Senate colleague David Shafer of Duluth as the only announced candidate for lieutenant governor — aside from incumbent Casey Cagle, who is now recuperating from back surgery.

What is expected from Shafer, a friend and ally of Cagle? He sent this in an e-mail today:

“I made the decision to run for Lieutenant Governor because it was an open seat. Obviously, the dynamics of the race have changed. We are continuing to consider our options. I should have a decision and announcement this week,” he said.

Shafer met with Cagle face-to-face over the weekend. And, we hear from other sources, so did Johnson.

Shafer still has options. A raftful of other constitutional will be open in 2010. But his operating deadline may be a Senate Republican caucus meeting called for Wednesday to discuss the suddenly unsettled political climate. Word has been issued that no candidates for lieutenant governor …

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The myth of the 15,000

The crowd outside the state Capitol at the Atlanta tea party. Kimberly Smith/ksmith@ajc.com

The crowd outside the state Capitol at the Atlanta tea party. Kimberly Smith/ksmith@ajc.com

Since April 15, when Sean Hannity and the tea party gathered at the state Capitol, a myth has been forming.

Hannity and FoxNews assured us there were 15,000 to 20,000 anti-tax protestors within view of their lenses that night.

The Journal-Constitution said “thousands” and let it go at that. But other news organizations picked up the estimate of 15,000, perhaps thinking they were erring on the conservative side. Google shows 12,500 hits for the word combination of “15,000” plus “Atlanta” plus “tea party.”

The number has acquired accuracy simply through repetition, which makes it something to be addressed.

Since the ‘60s, when demonstrations erupted in full flower, news organizations have been loathe to get bogged down in crowd counts.

Whether members of the left, right or angry center, those in the crowd always insist their numbers feel greater. And they probably do.

But mathematics …

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Yet another shoe could drop in GOP race for governor

So you think that Eric Johnson is the last name in the Republican field for governor?

Think again.

We’re talking to people close to U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal , who represents the 9th Congressional District up in north Georgia. They’ve told us that he, too, may enter the race.

There’s a meeting of Georgia’s team of House Republicans this afternoon to discuss the matter. Deal’s timetable calls for a decision by week’s end.

Deal’s 12 years in the state Senate have been followed by 17 years in Congress. He was often mentioned as gubernatorial material back in the run-up to 2002.

At least one other congressman, Lynn Westmoreland, has looked at the race and passed. Jack Kingston of Savannah has also been mentioned, but is almost certainly off the list — now that his friend Johnson is in the mix.

This situation is getting suprisingly fluid.

Two things pop out when considering Deal’s name. First, the fact that he represents North Georgia is kind of a bookend to Johnson’s Savannah roots. …

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Eric Johnson makes it official: He’s moving up to governor’s race

Here’s the press release just handed out, which includes some very interesting names of supporters:

ATLANTA, GA- State Senator Eric Johnson of Savannah announced today that he will seek the Republican nomination for Governor in 2010. Johnson intends to file paperwork for his candidacy tomorrow.

“As I traveled the state campaigning and visiting with Georgians from all walks of life, I was thrilled to see the support and encouragement we received in every corner of this state,” said Johnson. “Georgians recognize that we need a steady, tested, and experienced leader to address the challenges we face as a state and to build on the progress we’ve made under Republican leadership. My vision for our future focuses on how we can create new 21st Century jobs, reform education to improve student achievement, and ensure effective and ethical government. Effective leadership is about trust. I hope to earn the trust of the Georgians and the opportunity to serve as their …

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Your morning jolt: The fifth GOP candidate for governor

Much happening today:

— We have it on good authority that Eric Johnson, the Republican state senator from Savannah, will announce this morning that he’s running for governor.

Johnson is currently a candidate for lieutenant governor — a race that now includes Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle in it. At a press conference nearly two weeks ago, the lieutenant governor said back surgery, scheduled for today, had forced his withdrawal from the top-tier race.

Johnson’s entry into the race brings the number of GOP candidates back to five.

As Senate president pro tem, Johnson was the Republican leader of the Senate prior to Cagle’s 2006 election. His upgraded candidacy is likely to increase the focus on downstate issues as well as the topic of public school vouchers — his top issue during this past session.

Johnson also spurred legislation this past session to force the public disclosure of the names of state lawmakers who fail to pay their taxes.

— State Rep. Austin Scott of Tifton, who is often …

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Tire-kicking and the GOP race for governor

A political party’s field of candidates is much like the inkblot of a Rorschach test.

The blob that looks like an intimidating army to one soul might resemble a weak-kneed B-team when seen through the eyes of another. Appearances depend on the size of your own ambition and, quite possibly, the state of your wallet.

Casey Cagle left the Republican race for governor a tumultuous 12 days ago. Even as you read this on Monday morning, a surgeon’s scalpel could be hovering over the lieutenant governor’s spine, attempting to repair the degenerating discs that forced his withdrawal.

The GOP field now stands at four. Whether Cagle has left a hole in the ranks is the question that has dominated Republican discourse from here to Washington.

So far, three GOP stalwarts have stared at the inkblot — and have seen nothing in it for them.

Sam Olens, the Cobb County Commission chairman, House Speaker pro tem Mark Burkhalter, and U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland disappeared one after another last …

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Video: Think about privatizing MARTA, says Oxendine

Fox5 has been interviewing the Republican candidates for governor and posting the results.

So far, the most interesting has been a Paul Yates interview with state Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine, who raises the possibility of privatizing MARTA:

Says Oxendine:

“I think MARTA needs to be reworked. The jury’s still out on whether MARTA should be privatized, but I think it’s a very important question that we should be looking at.”

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

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Leo Frank and a slice of Barnes family history

Bill Nigut, the former newsman who now heads the Southeastern operations of the Anti-Defamation League, just issued an irresistible invitation.

The Thursday event at the Cobb Energy Peforming Arts Center is a first-ever screening of a PBS documentary about Leo Frank, the Jewish businessman who was arrested for murder, convicted and subsequently lynched by a socially prominent Marietta mob in August 1915.

The invitation includes the following paragraph:

The chairs for the event include former Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes, whose wife Marie is the granddaughter of one of the leaders of the lynch mob, and Sam Olens, the first Jewish chairman of the Cobb County Commission. The audience will also include other descendants of the hanging party as well as the family of Lucille Selig Frank, Leo Frank’s widow.

One would surmise that bow ties are the preferred attire.

Sid Cottingham, who operates the blog Cracker Squire down in south Georgia, notes a somewhat related topic addressed Friday

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Cagle to undergo surgery on Monday

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle’s office just announced that he’ll undergo surgery on Monday to address several degenerating disks on his upper spinal cord, a condition that last week forced his withdrawal from the Republican race for governor.

The surgery, which will occur at Emory University Hospital, comes at least a week earlier than Cagle had estimated.

In an interview last week, the lieutenant governor indicated that a bone graft was in the offing. Cagle’s withdrawal has sent tremors through Republican ranks, with various GOP figures examining the gap left by his departure from the 2010 race for governor. U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland this morning became the latest Republican to announce his disinterest in the contest.

If you’ve been in a cave, here’s a post to bring you up to speed on the medical details.

The Cagle press release was simple and brief:

Lt. Governor Casey Cagle will undergo surgery to correct a degenerative spinal and neck condition on Monday, April 27th. Cagle …

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Newt Gingrich: Cap-and-trade is ‘an energy tax’ and a job-killer

This just reported by the Associated Press out of Washington:

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich says a Democratic proposal to limit global warming pollution will “punish the American people” with higher energy costs and lost jobs.

Gingrich appeared before a House subcommittee writing a broad energy and climate bill aimed at cutting greenhouse gases by 80 percent by mid-century.

Gingrich, a leading Republican voice who has indicated he may seek the presidency in 2012, criticized the Democrats’ cap-and-trade climate proposal. He called it “an energy tax” that will increase Americans’ cost of living and kill jobs.

Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman of California accused Gingrich of trying to scare people into opposing action on climate change. Waxman argued the bill is designed to contain energy cost increases.

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