Your morning jolt: Four GOP candidates for governor on water, transportation and jobs

A quartet of Republican candidates for governor met with leading members of the Metro Atlanta Chamber on Tuesday.

The affair was private — no press allowed. Which means we didn’t know about it until the campaigns spilled the beans.

Karen Handel, John Oxendine, Eric Johnson and Nathan Deal were given 20-minute, individual grillings on state and local issues. Bill Nigut, the former Atlanta TV reporter, conducted the interrogations.

“Nobody left and there was standing room only,” said chamber President Sam Williams. Since we weren’t invited, it is Williams’ account of the interviews that will have to satisfy.

On the water wars: No one had a clear answer and deferred to Gov. Sonny Perdue’s task force on the issue, which is expected to deliver its recommendations by the end of the year.

“They were all sort of critical of the fact that nothing had been done up to now – that there was no fallback plan if the litigation had failed. That was a universal criticism,” Williams said.

On transportation: “Oxendine was probably the most outspoken, talking about his second Downtown Connector, as he called it. That got a few chuckles in the room,” Williams said.

But on a penny sales tax for traffic congestion and such, the candidates were split on whether such a tax should be levied statewide or by various regions – most particularly metro Atlanta.

Curiously, the two metro candidates – Handel and Oxendine – said they preferred statewide collection and distribution. The two non-metro candidates – Deal and Johnson – preferred the regional method.

“Nathan Deal said he was for something that would pass the voters, and that his view was, the only thing that voters would approve of right now would be in metro Atlanta,” Williams said.

On economic development: The candidates were heavily quizzed on why they thought Georgia has lost its luster as a site for corporate relocations to states like North Carolina.

Each candidate promised to emphasize development of bio-research. But each GOP candidate opposes embryonic stem cell research, and Nigut asked them how they reconcile that opposition with support for research.

Atlanta mayoral runoff candidates Mary Norwood and Kasim Reed meet with Metro Chamber leaders today. Next Tuesday, Democratic candidates will be questioned during a breakfast meeting — all behind closed doors.

On Tuesday, Johnny Isakson continued to lay the groundwork for the Republican response to the coming health care reform debate in the Senate.

“I don’t think in the end health care legislation is going to pass in any of the forms that are being debated now,” he told my AJC colleague Bob Keefe. “Whether it will pass in any form is the key question.”

Isakson said if Democratic leaders in the Senate incorporate some Republican proposals and find ways to cut costs out of the bill, it stands a chance.

Isakson said much the same thing to Denis O’Hayer with WABE (90.1FM). O’Hayer also focused on the 60 votes needed to control debate in the Senate, and a bit of history:

O’Hayer:Back when you were elected, of the issues of the time was how many votes it would take to cut off debate. The issue then was federal judges, and you were among those who said it should be easier to cut off debate. It should take fewer votes to do that. Do you feel differently about that now?

Isakson:First of all, let’s go back to exactly what was said. In fact, it was Georgia’s senator Zell Miller who proposed a sliding scale on votes on cloture …and that proposal made some sense – and ultimately was why the Gang of 14 came together, and we got an agreement to go ahead and have votes on presidential appointees to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Having a super-majority for cloture is very helpful to the minority, and it’s helpful to the process. Dilatory use of that becomes very frustrating, and that’s what was taking place on the judges. But the reason why I don’t think Harry Reid will go to the nuclear option of reconciliation is the same reason it didn’t happen on Supreme Court justices. It would change the [atmosphere] so dramatically, that it would cause the Senate to break apart and not be functional.

Atlanta mayoral runoff candidate Kasim Reed tweeted the following this morning:

Good morning! I have a big announcement coming shortly. Follow me on Twitter to be the 1st to hear! Happy Veterans Day!

One suspects the Lisa Borders endorsement is on its way.

While you ponder that, consider these items found while perusing this morning’s

  • Senators propose massive banking overhaul.
  • Case could decide whether Georgia can afford the death penalty.
  • Borders ‘75%’ sure who she will endorse.
  • Perdue visits troops in Iraq.
  • State has negative revenue from corporate income tax.
  • Tom Wassell, 84, WSB-TV anchor, dies.
  • Delta subsidiary pays $100,000 settlement for hiring discrimination.
  • Cobb approves water and sewer rate hike.
  • Chancellor asks band director to take ‘From Dixie With Love’ off Ole Miss play list.
  • Some opinion:

  • Cynthia Tucker on Obama’s duty to Muslim soldiers.
  • Show veterans respect — they earned it.
  • Atlanta’s colleges key to revitalization of its core.
  • And from beyond:

  • WP: Bill Clinton gives a health-care pep talk on Capitol Hill.
  • NYT: Blackwater said to pursue bribes to Iraq officials after the deaths of 17.
  • WSJ: Stalled in D.C., unions push issues in state capitals.
  • For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

    37 comments Add your comment


    November 11th, 2009
    9:57 am

    Sounds like business as usual from the GOP candidates for Governor.

    No leadership on water, transportation or economic development.

    Sounds just like Sonny. A do-nothing Governor.

    Emory Texan

    November 11th, 2009
    10:02 am

    All of their solutions for attracting more business was bio-research? What?!?! The vast majority of corporate relocations have absolutely nothing to do with bio-research. The banks, manufacturers, consulting companies, utilities, etc do not care about what is going one with up and coming sciences when they relocate their HQs. If that was true, you’d see Boston and California still booming from new businesses, but that certainly is not the case. Businesses care about an educated workforce, low taxes, and a decent airport (doesn’t really matter how big once its international). I’m a Libertarian (meaning I should agree mostly with Repub candidates on economic issues) but from reading these GOP responses, I don’t really think any of them know what they are doing or how to fix these problems. They need to take a page from Barnes or Porter and focus on improving Georgia education, while figuring out how to use the current tax money we have more efficiently. I don’t think throwing money at the problem (what most candidates want to do when they say education needs to improve) is the answer, I think its time someone takes a bold step and implements a free-market education system in a few counties or even the whole state. Studies have shown that FME students are up to two grade levels ahead of their public education monopoly counterparts while spending less than HALF of the funds. This is across the same income range too. Just my two cents.

    Ga Values

    November 11th, 2009
    10:05 am

    These 4 make Sonny look good, hell they make Roy look good, something I never thought I’d say.

    I still can’t believe that Johnny Isakson (Socialist, Ga) wrote and got passed a $24 billion waste of taxpayer money. Since he thinks BIG GOVERNMENT is the answere, I guess the health bill is not BIG enough.

    Dont do it Lisa

    November 11th, 2009
    10:08 am

    If Borders endorses Reed the dye would have been cast. She will go down as a panderer. Remember Gloria Tinubu endorsed Marvin Arrington against Bill Campbell. It didn’t work, therefore it may all be for nothing.


    November 11th, 2009
    10:09 am

    Am I the only person out here who finds Kasim Reed difficult to relate to? I don’t see how a wealthy attorney, single and in his 40s, can truly understand the struggles of everyday working people. I am a college-educated single mother. I am blessed to have a job, but still find it difficult sometimes to juggle everything financially. I’m constantly worried that before long, I will no longer be able to afford to live in the city, and be forced out to Stockbridge, Clayton or worse.

    Don’t partners at Holland & Knight make about $1 million/year?

    I also think the Black community is in need of a better role model than Reed. Aren’t there any married, successful, Christian Black men in our city who are elected officials?

    I’m not comfortable with the idea of a Mayor who has never laid awake at night worrying about how he would afford day care, groceries and keeping a roof over his family’s head.


    November 11th, 2009
    10:17 am

    Congrats to Tom Graves for winning another straw poll last night – Walker County GOP Dinner.


    November 11th, 2009
    10:20 am

    Not sure Williams was right on the stem cell issue.


    November 11th, 2009
    10:28 am

    If Borders endorses Reed it says a lot of about Kasim’s superiority as a candidate over Mary Norwood. If you recall, Borders and Reed fought tooth and nail to be the mayor of this city while Mary had the luxury of sitting back and pandering. For Borders to endorse Reed would mean that she has a complete lack of faith in Mary’s abilities.


    November 11th, 2009
    10:28 am

    North Carolina has been rated “top business climate” five years in a row. This is from their governor Perdue’s website:

    “Business leaders know we are listening to them and working aggressively to meet their needs,” Perdue said. “Companies know that in North Carolina they will find top-quality talent, world-class infrastructure, a pro-business environment, and premier education institutions. North Carolina is simply a great place to do business.”

    We do have a pro-business environment, in terms of tax breaks. But the rest of those require big investments in education and infrastructure. Which our legislature thinks are “pork.” It’s not pork if it works, guys.


    November 11th, 2009
    10:31 am

    Norwood can’t get the endorsement of any elected official with credibility. Ralph Long (who isn’t even experienced enough to comment on such a serious race) and Able Mable (who oddly showed up on Mary’s last financial disclosure) do little to boost Mary.

    Johnny Buck

    November 11th, 2009
    10:32 am

    One thing is clear…Mary Norwood does not have the respect of her colleagues.


    November 11th, 2009
    10:38 am


    Exactly what experience is adequate (under your “wise” judgment) for any person, elected official or not, to have an opinion on the Mayor’s race? Living, working and raising a family in Atlanta don’t count as adequate experience?

    Remember, Chief Pennington was considered “experienced”, and we can see how far that got us. Besides, Kasim Reed has only lived in Atlanta a little over a year. He would have been better off running for Mayor of Chattahoochee Hill Country.


    November 11th, 2009
    10:41 am

    What worries me about Mary Norwood is that she hasn’t taken any tough stances in the City Council and hasn’t been very effective. Spending taxpayer money to pander at community meetings around the city doesn’t make you a leader, especially when you fail to stand up for what’s right, regardless of what constituency you might offend.


    November 11th, 2009
    10:42 am

    What matters more – shady politicians who have been paid off or threatened or the voters of this City who are tierd of the same old B.S. for the last 30 years. Bring on the vote! Mary Norwood all the way!

    Zen Zach

    November 11th, 2009
    10:46 am

    Mary Norwood goes to the bottom of the barrel to get her endorsements – Ralph Long, Glenn Thomas and Able Mable… all clowns. When will Mary learn that buying chicken dinners at the Beautiful and buying crooked quasi-politicians won’t win this race.

    State Employees Against Oxendine

    November 11th, 2009
    10:47 am

    If you are a state employee with a family to take care of and don’t see how that’s possible working until 7 pm at night, then you and your family should not vote for John Oxendine. He is proposing to make state employees work until 7 pm for no good reason. His proposal is disruptive to state business and hurts state employees and their families.


    November 11th, 2009
    10:54 am

    Once a penal colony, always a penal colony.

    Concerned Citizen

    November 11th, 2009
    10:56 am

    Wow! Borders is endorsing Reed. That’s BIG! Sounds like Atlanta’s elected officials are hesitant to support a candidate who can’t remember if she voted for Bush and refuses to say whether she voted for Reagan. For me, it’s not about party affiliation, but more so about being genuine. Mary, just be honest!


    November 11th, 2009
    11:09 am

    The Emory Texan makes me proud to be an Emory alum. Unfortunately, Georgians have always preferred anti-intellectuals as their elected officials. It won’t change in next year’s governor’s race. Smart people like us Emory types or even Roy Barnes and Dubose Porter have to work extra hard to sound dumb , but it will get you elected. Pandering to the lowest-common-denominator is the name of the game.

    Tom B.

    November 11th, 2009
    11:18 am

    Karen Handel + no college education = not qualified to be Governor (or for that matter Secretary of State)
    Karen Handel + no children = out of touch with Georgia’s very traditional family values
    Karen Handel + Georgia resident for little more than a decade if that = not Georgian enough


    November 11th, 2009
    11:21 am

    Tom B. = Clueless


    November 11th, 2009
    11:31 am

    What an insulting post, Carol.

    But rest assured, you won’t have to work hard to “sound dumb.” Emory grads are always engaging in self-congratulatory discussions. You must not be convinced of the intellectual prowess you claim to possess if you have to try to boost your own self worth by putting down other people.

    Barack Obama is an “intellectual” and is responsible for putting the U.S. on a path to destruction:

    -10.2% unemployment. Highest in 26 years.
    -Highest budget deficit of any nation ever.
    -Accumulated U.S. debt first 230 years = $11 trillion. Next 10 years = $22 billion.
    -Health “plan” that will ration care, break fragile economy.
    -Cap and tax bill adds $3,000 in expenses to avg. U.S. family.
    -First case of successful domestic terrorism since 9/11.

    Conceit is a weird disease. It makes everyone sick except the one that has it.

    Morehouse Guy

    November 11th, 2009
    11:35 am

    @ Natasha: Do men have to be married to be role models? Senator Reed is a Christian (he attends Cascade United Methodist if I’m not mistaken). He’s been a successful attorney in the City and an 11-year veteran of the state legislature, but because he’s single he somehow can’t relate to you or somehow he’s not a role model? If you have a son, would you be ashamed of him if he turned out to be someone like Senator Reed?

    Please clarify this for me. Lisa is no longer married (and neither was Shirley), but their marital status had nothing to do with my view of their value as mayor/mayoral candidate.

    What does his compensation have to do with anything? He wasn’t always a partner at a large law firm, and he’s from a working class Atlanta family? Are we to penalize him for his professional accomplishments? Ms. Norwood is an accomplished businesswoman in her own right, and her husband is an well-to-do attorney in the City, how do you think she could better relate to you? Do you only vote for people in financial trouble? What kind of idiotic criteria is that? I doubt Barack Obama had any of these challenges you speak of, but you voted for him.

    These personal issues you bring up have absolutely nothing to do with anything, but unfortunately, there are thousands of Atlantans who consider the most irrelevant candidate characteristics when casting their votes. Vote for the candidate who has the best vision for the City. Vote for the candidate who instills a sense of confidence in their ability to lead and build consensus around the issues that matter most to you and your family. Race, marital status, economic standing and the like shouldn’t factor into our decision-making. I know it does for too many Atlanta voters, but it shouldn’t. Go with the candidate with the best record of service on behalf of the City.

    This stem cell nonsense is the kind of mindless pandering that could keep lucrative biotech jobs from coming to Georgia in the numbers they should. Why handicap yourself (by taking a whole subsector of biotech off of the table before entering office) in the biotech arms race?

    And is Williams suggesting that Governor Perdue didn’t fully involve the Metro Chamber in his economic development efforts? Big surprise there. When will the rest of this state allow the City of Atlanta to maximize its economic potential? I really wish Olens were in the governor’s race. As for as the GOP goes, he’s a good as it gets and he wouldn’t shortchange Atlanta (former chair of ARC and Metro Atlanta governmental executive who understands the value of the City of Atlanta). But an Olens administration following a Barnes administration wouldn’t be too bad.

    Psychic Rosa

    November 11th, 2009
    11:41 am

    December 3, 2009

    This will be very unfortunate.Atlantans will find themselves in worst conditions within 2years. Norwood will win by less than 1500 votes due to the extremely low turn out of residents in Atlanta. In particular African Americans. Lisa Borders Endorsement will have very little effect on Kasim Reeds Campaign.

    Fate can change only if residents of Atlanta can become motivated enough to vote as they did in the Presidental elections.


    November 11th, 2009
    11:46 am

    You (self-described, of course) intellectuals should check out this web site which lists famous people who never graduated from college.

    Snobbish hEmoryoid grads should never use a product created by a non-college graduate. Therefore, computers with the Windows or Apple operating systems are off-limits. This means you can no longer post idiotic blog entries.

    Sample List of Individuals Not Graduating from College:

    Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren, Zachary Taylor, Millard Fillmore, Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, Grover Cleveland, Harry S Truman, Mark Twain, William Faulkner, and Ernest Hemingway.


    November 11th, 2009
    12:16 pm

    @Morehouse Guy

    Don’t be duped by commenters with mysteriously ethnic names that bash Reed and other black leaders in the city. These are coward posters that cme here to spread lies and rumors instead of standing on their candidates’ strengths.

    It’s actually very transparent and desperate, but good luck trying to slow Reed down. 30points in 3 months is hard to beat.

    The Late Maynord Jackson

    November 11th, 2009
    12:28 pm

    It is good to see the BLACK community getting behind Kasim Reed. My FRIENDS and FAMILY’s future depends on Atlanta staying black and under control. That Pennington guy sure is doing a great job Reed sure can pick them. 8 more years, 8 more years.

    Emory Texan

    November 11th, 2009
    12:34 pm

    RGB, I understand your frustration but please realize that not all Emory grads are elitist intellectual types that talk down to others (Just most, haha). I actually did not enjoy most of my time at Emory for a few reasons, but primarily because the people had this attitude about them that they went to the “Harvard of the South” and others simply went to (insert name here). People from Texas have rarely even heard of Emory so I never developed that mindset, thankfully, and so I am just as disgusted by the condescension displayed by some Emory grads.

    That said, Carol, I do appreciate your support because I do believe firmly in what I said. This election, like most, has caused a lot of tension between my friends and I so I at least hope Georgia elects a strong candidate that makes it somewhat worthwhile. Right now, I don’t think the GOP offers any of those (and this is coming from a Ron Paul Republican/Libertarian).

    The Late Maynord Jackson

    November 11th, 2009
    12:43 pm


    “I believe Jackson’s family only has one restaurant at the airport and the APS food service contract is managed by Sodhexo, an international food service company affiliated with Marriot Hotels, Jackmont is only a minority partner. Are you afraid to get up and compete for the business? Have you had issues getting in the procurement process in Atlanta? The feds rank it as one of the best programs in the country.”

    Can’t count very well can you. Please supply the source for your
    ” Have you had issues getting in the procurement process in Atlanta? The feds rank it as one of the best programs in the country.”

    Tea 4 2

    November 11th, 2009
    12:48 pm

    Metro Atlanta plunged in the 2009 Milken Institute’s annual rankings of best performing cities.

    Atlanta ranked 106th in the report, which shows what cities are doing better at creating and retaining jobs in a challenging economy. The city’s five-year (2003-2008) job growth ranked 63rd and its five-year (2002-2007) wages and salary growth ranked 110th.

    Atlanta was 59th overall in 2008.

    Savannah came in at 39th (up from 24th in 2008) and Augusta ranked 82nd (up from 121 in 2008).

    Coming in first place nationally was Austin, Texas. It was followed by Killeen-Temple-Fort Hood, Texas; Salt Lake City, Utah; McAllen-Edinburg-Mission,Texas; Houston; Durham, N.C.; Olympia, Wash; Huntsville, Ala.; Lafayette, La.; and Raleigh-Cary, N.C.

    Regional economic factors also strongly influenced the rankings this year, with the oil and gas sector, technology and alternative energy providing stability among metros in Texas, North Carolina, Washington and Louisiana, which also benefited from low dependence on housing/construction, Milken Institute said.


    November 11th, 2009
    12:51 pm

    Mary Norwood is a multi-millionaire. Her driving a buick in her commercial was a facade. She is attempting to deceive people into thinking she “understands” their day to day struggles; she has no idea.


    November 11th, 2009
    1:27 pm

    Reed is rich too, don’t pretend this race is about that.


    November 11th, 2009
    4:35 pm

    It appears that Carol has contracted uncharacteristic shyness.

    But if you do respond, please ignore everything else that I have written and favor us bloggers with a detailed description of an “intellectual politician.” That is, of course, the type of individual you long for–based on your derision of Georgian’s preference for “anti-intellectual” politicians.

    Here’s what I think Carol wants:

    1. No southern accent.
    2. Born outside the Southeastern U.S.
    3. A lawyer or someone with an unmarketable (liberal arts) college degree.
    4. Irreligious.
    5. “Progressive” (government is the higher power).
    6. Believes in lots of “funding” as in “we just need more funding.”
    7. Disdains traditional values (M/W marriage).
    8. Cherishes group values over individual values.
    9. Believes select groups are victims who require “assistance” [see "funding" above] in perpetuity.
    10. Attends brie & Chablis parties to support a “woman’s right to choose.”
    11. Anti-Second Amendment.
    12. Believes the military should be used for humanitarian purposes only (serving drinks in the Clinton White House).
    13. Wishes everyone a “happy holiday season” so as not to offend anyone.

    Happy Winter Solstice, my statist friend.


    November 11th, 2009
    8:47 pm

    rgb, laying this all on obama, you are one dumb xxx, cause the greedy folks on wall street aided and abetted by mostly republicans accelerated this mess. they also bought some dems too, but the only rule these folks know is the golden rule: he who has the gold rules and while most of the folks on wall street would be deemed intellectuals (something u rail against) , they are smart enough to influence extreme social conservatives to buy into their religion of the free return for them backing your socially regressive views..


    November 12th, 2009
    9:04 am

    Hey RGB — I think its time to take the Teabags off your face. They are disrupting what’s left of your ability to think.

    Jenny Hargreaves

    November 18th, 2009
    7:56 am

    I know that many parents have sponsored their graduate kids on intensive job search and interview technique programmes run by organisations such as – and the graduates have ended-up securing jobs at top companies

    [...] On Tuesday, Nov. 10, it invited the top four Republican candidates for governor — Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine, Secretary of State Karen Handel, former state Senator Eric Johnson of Savannah and U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal — at a session moderated by former WSB-TV reporter Bill Nigut. See recap of the session on AJC Political Insider. [...]