Roy Barnes to join 2010 race for governor

Roy Barnes will announce today that he intends to become the first former Georgia governor in a half-century to reclaim the office after being turned out by voters.

The announcement is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. at the Marietta Conference Center. Barnes, we’re told, will delay the actual start of his campaign until July, in order to wrap up some trial work and finish up as chairman of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

Former Gov. Roy Barnes/Rich Addicks,

Former Gov. Roy Barnes/Rich Addicks,

Barnes, 61, enters a field already occupied by three Democrats — Attorney General Thurbert Baker, House Minority Leader DuBose Porter, and David Poythress, former commander of the Georgia National Guard.

Six Republicans are in the contest.

Despite a huge financial advantage, Barnes was defeated in 2002 by Sonny Perdue, an upstart Republican state senator from middle Georgia. Both chambers of the Legislature quickly shifted to GOP hands, removing Democrats from control of the state Capitol for the first time since the mid-19th century.

Barnes settled into a law practice in new offices off the Marietta Square, and eschewed any suggestion of a return to the political field. A spokesman for the state GOP called Barnes “about as popular as Michael Moore in a VFW hall.”

But Republican infighting in the Capitol and inaction on a number of issues — transportation at the top of the list — created an opening for a return, and starting late last year, Barnes began indicating a change of heart.

“Yes, I’ve had a lot of the business folks come out here. Sometimes they just show up. And basically, what they say is, ‘Listen, you need to try this again, ‘” Barnes said from his law office in December.

In a series of speeches and appearances earlier this year, Barnes struck a populist tone, condemning the grasp of special interests on legislation passing through the Legislature.

For the last several weeks, the former governor had kept even close friends guessing. Word leaked that fund-raisers, pollsters and strategists — those who would be involved in the nuts-and-bolts of a campaign — had been interviewed. But even close friends said they were unsure of his path.

The former governor dropped a large hint at a party fund-raiser in May, when he assessed other Democrats already in the race:

“There’s a verse in the Old Testament that says the people perish where there is no vision. And I’m looking for vision. And in that category, I haven’t seen it yet. It’s not that they’re not good folks. It’s just — listen, we can do better.”

Polling in anticipation of a Barnes return indicates the former governor becomes the immediate favorite in the primary, though he also carries the burdens that caused voters to reject his bid for a second term — teachers who resented his attack on a tenure system, Confederate enthusiasts angered by his hauling down the ’56 state flag, and residents found themselves the path of a now- defunct Northern Arc.

But Barnes also brings to the race a well-known name that resonates with many voters, including African-Americans, an ability to raise cash, and — perhaps most important in a down economy — the ability to invest substantial dollars in his own campaign.

Barnes’ entry into the race is also likely to help fill out down-ballot contests. No Democrat has yet to enter the race for lieutenant governor. State Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond, a Barnes ally, has been mentioned as a possibility.

But to return to the Governor’s Mansion, Barnes will first have to win a primary. His fellow candidates have promised he’ll get no cake-walk — and have recommended that he remain an elder statesman for the party.

At that Democratic fund-raiser back in May, Porter, the House minority leader and newspaper publisher from Dublin, said Georgia hasn’t changed that much since 2002.

“You know, I appreciate Roy,” he said. “But, you know, the problems he had before are still there. As I travel the state, I’ve supported education, I’ve supported teachers, I’ve supported smaller classrooms. The things that were out there for him before are still there.”

Many governors, with their terms constitutionally limited, have attempted gubernatorial comebacks — E.D. Rivers, Marvin Griffin, Ellis Arnall, Carl Sanders, and Lester Maddox included.

But the last ex-governor to win re-election after being ousted by voters was Gene Talmadge — the namesake of Roy Eugene Barnes.

Talmadge was elected to two, two-year terms in the 1930s, and then a third term in 1940. But he lost a primary fight in 1942, the result of a backlash that came from his interference in the state university system.

Talmadge won re-election in 1946, but died before taking office.

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

176 comments Add your comment

Graham Balch

June 3rd, 2009
12:27 am

I am a teacher and let me tell you what I think of Barnes entering the race: fantastic! Each year, each week, each day that we do not make significant reform in Georgia’s education is another year/week/day in which the disgraceful achievement gap exists and that Georgia’s education lags that of other states. We have bright students in Georgia – let us give them a bright future. Good luck Governor Barnes – there are many high performing teachers who support you.

[...] Jim Galloway has the news — and some spot-on analysis: Roy Barnes will announce today that he intends to become the first former Georgia governor in a half-century to reclaim the office after being turned out by voters. [...]

Eric P.

June 3rd, 2009
12:41 am

Couldn’t agree more, Graham. Roy understands and genuinely seeks to help. Needs to lay off the dictatorial tone, but easily outclasses any candidate on either side.

ATL Scouser

June 3rd, 2009
12:44 am

YES! YES! YES! Finally someone with reason, vision, and sanity enters the race for governor. We’ve had to endure the worst of reactionary politics on both sides of the aisle for the past eight years. This ugly side of politics of Georgia has always been here since Day 1, but Barnes was able to muddle through that BS and provide rational and thoughtful leadership during his days in office.

There’s a lot of unfinished business from his first term–namely and primarily improving our transportation infrastructure. Good luck, Mr. Barnes! You have one Georgia voter here (and maybe even a campaign volunteer) rooting you on whole-heartedly!

2010 Barnes Gov.!

June 3rd, 2009
1:14 am

Wonderful! Gov. Barnes is an honorable man who has distinguished himself by making difficult, but accurate choices for the direction of our state in the face of intense political pressure. Georgia needs a visionary like him to guide us through the economic perils we currently face so that we can continue to be a beacon of light for the region and the nation. Happy Days are Here Again!


June 3rd, 2009
1:15 am

You need to look what DuBose Porter has done. He is head and shoulders above Roy in education. DuBose won in a republican strong hold Dublin, with 75% of the vote. That number is strong my friend. This man hunts, believes in people owning guns, huge Christian, believes in education, he is a true southern Democrat!

AstroTurfing For Barnes

June 3rd, 2009
1:18 am

As ATL Scouser, Eric P., and Graham Bach all said I think Barnes is GREAT. He is a man of the people who understands how to WALK SOFTLY and CARRY A BIG STICK. And as the writer points out he shares a name with someone who sorta did this before. I’d die to vote for Barnes everyday.

PaidToPostComments #674

June 3rd, 2009
1:18 am

Wow! You guys posted this impressive set of polished prose within a half hour of it being posted! It took me that long just to read the article, but I guess thats why I don’t get paid as much to post comments.


June 3rd, 2009
1:18 am

One could not by intentional design come up with a worse group than the miserable, do-nothing, corrupt and intellectually-bankrupt individuals that presently control the Gold Dome. Our horrible 10-year experiment with the neo-cons has set the State of Georgia back 2 decades and must come to an end. The voters need to wake up and throw the bums out, one vote at a time. There is not a single area in which the neo-cons have advanced the interests of children and the working men and women in this state; our public education system is in shambles and moving backwards, there is absolutely no leadership in place to address our transportation or water problems, and no one, but no one, in the Republican party really gives a damn. To the contrary, they seem intent on destroying public education and doing everything possible to protect the interests and profits of insurance companies, utilities and whoever else will throw millions of dollars at their campaigns, all the while pandering to the religious right and the other anti-intellectuals, who value their own self righteousness over everything else. Roy Barnes is an honorable man, with the character and intellect deeply needed to fill the void of leadership that is holding this state back and slowly turning it into one of the worst places to live in the union. I only hope that the voters will listen and think before they once again are taken in by the shallow and useless dogma of the Republican right. Good luck to all of us.

Kris in Loganville

June 3rd, 2009
1:23 am

This is VERY welcome news in my household! I had hoped Roy would run against Saxby Chambliss last year but after he declined, I held out the hope that he would go for the governor’s office in 2010. Great! We need his experience, his wisdom, and his knack for dealing with issues from a very humane and concerned standpoint. The Republicans have a lot to worry about now because Roy is the only Democrat in Georgia at this time who has broad support from Georgians of every background. Let’s hope he takes it all next year.

Go Roy!

Georgia Teacher

June 3rd, 2009
1:51 am

Hey, Gun, I see that you did everyone one of the previous posts. Scary days are here again! Yes scary days are here again! Ole Roy Eugene is here again! Yes scary days are here again!

Roy actually thinks that the problem is teaching standards, not behavior standards. It’s the discipline, Governor!

Eric P.

June 3rd, 2009
1:56 am

Not getting paid, just believe in the man.

DeKalb Teacher

June 3rd, 2009
1:56 am

Perhaps if Roy gets elected, he can give Crawford Lewis some do-flunky job at the Capitol and give the DeKalb County Schools some hope. We hope. Crawford Lewis is a terrible superintendent.

DeKalb Teacher

June 3rd, 2009
1:57 am

No, G Man, you blog for free. OCD.

Budih soetadi

June 3rd, 2009
2:03 am

good luck Mr.Barnes, hopefully you are gonna win to become a governor as democratic party …and i hope sonny perdue will lose. hate and racist in his soul and i believed he will lose.

Sam Wetherson

June 3rd, 2009
2:20 am

If those uneducated confederate flag loving citizens of Georgia wouldn’t have been so upset about the flag Georgia would not be in the shape it is today.


June 3rd, 2009
2:34 am

maybe roy barnes gets it this time. he will not rely solely on pollsters, tv media and snot nose kids thinking they know how to run a campaign. georgia democratic candidates sorely needs leadership since their party chair can’t seem to figure out what leadership means. if roy wants to win he’ll have to realize who the base of the party really is and reach out with all his resources. Otherwise, we’re back to 2002.


June 3rd, 2009
2:34 am


Michael in Decatur

June 3rd, 2009
3:17 am

Get ready for that Northern Arc Task Force to rev up their engines again, turning urban planning into an emotional “how-can-you-do-this-in-my-backyard” issue. If we’d have built that road back when we had the chance countless lives could have been saved, pollution would have decreased and Georgia would be in better economic shape than it is today. But no, the NIMBY special interest group outsmarted us all…..this will be an interesting election…

bubbies mommy

June 3rd, 2009
4:08 am

Run, Roy Run! We need you….remember the errors of the past, move beyond them, come back stronger and wiser…you will succeed!

[...] Barnes is in. [...]


June 3rd, 2009
4:54 am

This is good news and if Roy can tone down his smart-ass, arrogant streak and get himself elected, he can do us a wonderful job. We need to get Georgia moving again and out of the quagmire Sonny, Romeo, and Cagle have us in. What a disgraceful performance.


June 3rd, 2009
5:13 am

It will be interesting to see what Roy’s education platform will be. I truly believe that he angered a huge contingency of teachers in this state and this is a group (along with their families and friends) that gets out and votes and that is why he lost to Sonny. Roy, choose your words and campaign promises wisely. We will give you a second chance but we have not forgotten your previous actions and you know, actions speak louder than words.


June 3rd, 2009
5:24 am

My shattered nerves, this is going to be fun. Two big time primaries ( if the other Democrats stay in ) and an old fashion horse race of a general election. Can Michael Thurmond for LG be far behind???


June 3rd, 2009
5:25 am

From someone who works in the industry the ox regulates, thank god! Get ‘em Roy

[...] According to AJC’s Jim Galloway, Barnes chose option B. Tags: Roy BarnesPosted in 2010 Campaigns, Editorial [...]


June 3rd, 2009
5:29 am

I would never vote for a scalawag as Governor. He proved his dishonesty with the ‘56 flag. And I intend to help him stay retired.


June 3rd, 2009
5:35 am

I will vote for any Democrat other than Barnes for Governor. The Republicans and Sonny Perdue have not governed the State in the best interests of the people. They have governed it so they could best line their pockets. We do need change in the Legislature and Governor’s office. But Barnes is not the answer.


June 3rd, 2009
6:14 am

Just what Georgia needs. An administration of bottom-feeding societal leaching trial lawyers.
Crooks rejoice!

Billy Bearden

June 3rd, 2009
6:31 am

Ga education dropped from 49th to 50th under King Rat. Northern Arc padded his cronies wallets. The Mercedes plant was a HUGE FRIGGIN LIE. Rat King redistricting, gerrymandering, and strong arm tactics were the norm. His terrible treatment of teachers. Ethics? NOT! The universe’s most hideous ugly nasty flag that lasted all of 110 weeks – that only 212,000 people out of 8,000,000 wanted.

Just say NO to the deposed King Rat Barnes.

[...] Roy Barnes to join 2010 race for governor [...]

Bitter EX democrackkk

June 3rd, 2009
6:43 am

He’s WAY too old and tired…AND Georgia student have a VERY bright future with the Lootery behind their college tuition…duh..AND he’s a friggin democrakkk, a MEMBER of the ORIGINAL ‘party’ of SLAVERY! NO to ALL democrackkks everywhere, they have RUINED Amerikkka!

American worker

June 3rd, 2009
7:04 am

Fool me once, your fault… We won’t be fooled again.



June 3rd, 2009
7:15 am

DemoRats in the state banking on a “has been loser.” North Fulton is alive and well in terms of great schools & low crime. This is a Republican strong hold where Roy is not welcomed.

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Jim Galloway broke the story at [...]


June 3rd, 2009
7:44 am

Still a teacher, still haven’t forgotten! No way in HELL you’ll get my vote. BACK TO THE ROCK YOU CLIMBED FROM UNDER KING RAT!


June 3rd, 2009
7:47 am

GO AWAY BARNES! You had your turn and were handily defeated in the end. Obviously the posters on this article have no memory of your first term as Gov. We don’t want GA to turn into a mirror image of a California with extremely high taxes services only for the poor, look at them now. I hope you are defeated in the primaries…

By the way, the only people who read this rag newspaper are Democrats so i am not supprised by all the positive comments.


June 3rd, 2009
7:58 am

Great! With Barnes running again it gives me another shot at voting for whoever opposes him.


June 3rd, 2009
8:03 am

This is great news ,anyone beside a republican who have no new ideas in dealling with this state many problem like educating our childrens .Mr Barn have my vote.

Get Real

June 3rd, 2009
8:04 am

Bobby @ 5:29, I think SONNY showed his dishonesty with the flag. He used it was a wedge issue to get your vote, and then left you in the cool Georgia breeze. At least Roy’s intentions on the flag were the truth, even if you disagree with them. Perdue just used it to get your vote.

2BT @ 7:44, what exactly has Sonny done for you lately? Oh yeah, cut education funds forcing districts to cut your salary. He would be the most qualified candidate in either party running and I’ll gladly support him. All he needs to do is say he will sign a bill making Sunday liquor sales legal and he’d have a leg up on these religious zealots.

The Rat is Back

June 3rd, 2009
8:05 am

It’ll be fun watching Roy lose this governor’s race like he has been losing all of his trials since he left office. Roy his a disgrace to Georgia and has no business running again. I’m glad to see the Rat has all his minions working early this morning posting on this blog but it doesn’t matter. Roy will lose this race like he lost the last one. It’ll be funny when he takes the Democratic talking points and starts bashing the rich and saying he will help the little people – remember you can find this website in the archives where the 25+ picture spread where he flaunts his new monstrosity of a home in Cobb. Vote Porter, he is the only sane choice for the Democrats next year, don’t let the rat come back to infest Georgia again.

Turd Furgeson

June 3rd, 2009
8:05 am

First of all Roy appears to be a male impersonating a female that is impersonating a male.
Second, the black cawcuss, no doubt, will be screaming for Ga’s first black govenor…even though they arent racist…tee hee.
Third, there remain too many hurt feeling from King Rat-Roys last debacle as gov…Roy-boy probably wont make the primarys.
Fourth, we needed the arc then and need it now.


June 3rd, 2009
8:06 am

No need for a King Rat repeat

Bring It On


June 3rd, 2009
8:11 am

It’s about time to have some common sense and backbone enter the race for the gov’s chair. The last 8 years under Perdumb has been abysmal for the state of Georgia. And with the both chambers being in the majority of the neonuts has made Georgia the laughingtock of the nation.

Graham Balch

June 3rd, 2009
8:14 am

Bill, to reply to your comment about Dubose Porter, I also like Dubose and have spoken to him about education.

To other posters, the vitriol in some of the posts do not contribute to democracy in our country. If you don’t like Barnes or Democrats there is no problem with that opinion because we are entitled to have different opinions in this country – it is what makes our nation a strong democracy. But, please look at the facts and please be professional. Education sank in Georgia because of the Republican Linda Schrenko, the State Superintendent of Education in Georgia from 1994 to 2002 who was convicted of embezzling our tax dollars. On November 10, 2004, Schrenko was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges stemming from her embezzlement of more than $600,000 in federal education funds and sentenced to eight years in prison.


June 3rd, 2009
8:16 am

THANK YOU ! Although this reminds me of Louisiana politics of old with Edwin Edwards re-entering the gov. race time after time. I like a risk taking politician. THANKS!

Fed Up

June 3rd, 2009
8:18 am

Go ahead, ruin the democratic party’s chance.

vince neil

June 3rd, 2009
8:21 am

a has been trail lawyer whose family has grown wealthy making sub-prime loans..another “man of the people” who thinks OHB has coat tails….not that the R side is any better….Who is John Galt?


June 3rd, 2009
8:21 am

You go Roy
Here is a guy who has a very succesful law practice and is willing to come back into Government where all you get is criticism. He was voted out because he had the guts to support the changing of the racist flag and to improve education. Teachers voted against him as a stupid protest vote because they never ever thought that the current gov with a 20 million dollar manna from heaven loan would win.(I am a former Republican because the GOP has not delivered)

He will get my vote and will make the Talmadge comeback.


June 3rd, 2009
8:23 am

I just have one thing to say …