Cash, poker and the 2010 race for governor

At midnight on Friday, while you lay all snug in your bed, the state’s largest game of Texas hold ‘em began in earnest.

Eleven candidates for governor reported nearly $7.5 million raised in the last six months of 2009. The best cards of the evening were laid down by Democrat and former Gov. Roy Barnes, who reported an eye-popping $2.7 million in his attempt at a comeback.

On the Republican side, state Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine continued his domination. He’s has generated more than $1.5 million since June, more than twice as much as the next GOP candidate.

The poker comparison isn’t made lightly.

Many consider cash to be a crass measure of a sacred democratic process. But state-mandated contribution disclosures are very much like those first cards played face up in a game of chance.

They do not tell the whole story. But they begin to limit the possibilities. And the cards often say more than candidates would like — about friends who support them, and about their viability. For instance:

– Carl Camon, a Democratic candidate for governor, is a teacher and the eloquent mayor of Ray City, down near Valdosta. His campaign reports $12.84 in cash on hand. Consider his immediate future to be limited.

– Karen Handel, the former secretary of state and only woman in the contest, has become the most vociferous Republican critic of the culture of “sex, lies and lobbyists” at the state Capitol. She has raised $559,975 since June – coming in fourth behind Oxendine, former state senator Eric Johnson of Savannah, and U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal of Gainesville.

Because the Capitol is a prime source of campaign cash for the Republicans who rule it, Handel’s primary rivals are now likely to portray her condemnations as a case of sour grapes.

– Republicans of all stripes perhaps should worry about this tidbit: In the last half of 2009, led by Barnes, the five Democratic candidates for governor raised a total of $3.75 million – slightly more than the seven GOP candidates.

The January disclosures are of more immediate importance to Democrats than Republicans.

Despite the good showing, Democrats remain at a financial disadvantage in Georgia politics, and are eager to avoid a suicidal and expensive primary fight for governor, as happened in 2006 between Secretary of State Cathy Cox and Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor.

Barnes’ $2.7 million report has already set off a series of negotiations to winnow the field, likely to last until qualifying in April.

One target is House Democratic Leader DuBose Porter of Dublin, who came in fourth in the six-month fund-raising sweepstakes (or third, if you count unspent cash in the bank) – behind Barnes, Attorney General Thurbert Baker, and former National Guard commander David Poythress.

Here’s the line being used, by Barnes supporters and others, on the newspaper publisher:

Last year, enthralled by Barack Obama’s victory, Democrats were thinking in terms of a biracial ticket, with a white candidate for governor at the top, and an African-American running for lieutenant governor. Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond was often mentioned for the latter spot.

But Obama’s approval rating has dropped to 35 percent in Georgia. Moreover, Kasim Reed’s razor-thin victory in the Atlanta mayoral race may be a sign that – despite an African-American in the White House – lackluster black turnout may continue to be the rule in non-presidential years.

So a racially balanced ticket is now less important. And a South Georgia presence is more important – or so the argument goes.

“I’ve been quietly encouraging DuBose to run for the lieutenant governor’s position,” said state Sen. Emanuel Jones of DeKalb County, who is also chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus.

Baker, the African-American attorney general, is unlikely to drop his gubernatorial bid, Jones said.

We caught up with Porter on Saturday morning. He was the only major Democratic candidate to attend a breakfast meeting of the Georgia Black Chamber of Commerce in icy downtown Atlanta.

Porter says he likes his chances in the race for governor, and has no plans to switch contests. “I feel good where we are,” he said

But it’s the kind of talk that money can start.

Below is a summary chart of disclosures in the 2010 race for governor:


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31 comments Add your comment


January 9th, 2010
7:54 pm

Dubose Porter, David Poythress and Jeff Chapman seem to be the only honest folks running. I sure hope one of them wins. Otherwise Georgia will continue on it’s course to becoming another Russia-like third or forth world kleptocracy.


January 10th, 2010
5:36 am

Zeb, you forgot Austin Scott.

Bitter EX democrackkk

January 10th, 2010
6:57 am

Why in the world would Roy Barnes have such support? absolutely mindboggling…STRIVE to be SMARTER than the EVIL corrupt democrackkks WANT you to be…they ARE the original ‘party’ of SLAVERY!


January 10th, 2010
8:16 am

The Ox (Commissioner Oxedine) made a very positive impression with me at the HB615 Hearing (the gun bill). He attended the hearing and waited outside the packed hearing room with nearly 100 of us. He was wearing an orange “Gun Save Lives” button. I breifly spoke with him and he impressed me that he is the real deal when it comes to our freedoms (gun rights, freedom of speech, 4th Amendment, etc.). I’m convinced he will be a protector of the Bill of Rights, all of 10 of them. That is important especially with so many Republicans willing to quash those rights with Campaign Finance Reform and thier opposition to reform of Georgia’s gun laws.

PS = I found out later that he squeezed into the hearing wearing the button and positioned himself where the anti-gun folks could see him. Bravo!

Toby Cash

January 10th, 2010
8:23 am

Puleeeeze, no more Democrats..Please, please, please.


January 10th, 2010
8:23 am

Surely we learned our lesson about Roy Barnes. Why would the people of Georgia take a chance on that arrogant lawyer again?
He is liberal democrat. Most of us already have our fill of a liberal democrat in Washington…we don’t want one in the Governor’s mansion. We especially don’t want a “stealth” liberal who works hard to tell us he is not what he has been.

Road Scholar

January 10th, 2010
8:49 am

The only two candidates that are talking issues are Barnes and Handel. Other than reaching into your pockets for donations, what are the others talking about?

Rob Vinson

January 10th, 2010
8:56 am

Anyone would be better than “brother Sonny.” I’ll be happy when he goes back to Houston County. The Ox is probably going to win the republican primary and Barnes will probably win the democratic one. It will be interesting to see how it all shakes out. I think Barnes will win it.


January 10th, 2010
8:56 am

Roy Barnes is by far the smartest of the group. The Ox will say and do anything to get elected…would not trust him with my $$!! Roy is not the lib demo that he is portrayed to be. Sure, he IS a politician but ALL of these guys are THAT…he is just smarter than the others and I trust him…I hope he wins!! Leave the Ox in the ditch!!!

Sick of Republicans

January 10th, 2010
8:59 am

I wouldn’t vote for a Republican even if they appeared to be the best candidate. W and Cheney soured me on all of them and proved there isn’t a one of them that care about the little guy. And Karen Handel couldn’t handle (no pun intended) the Secretary of State office and was a lousy Fulton County Commissioner, so no way could she handle (no pun intended) the Governor’s office; Oxendine is so wedded to the insurance companies that he would bow to them even if they were wrong. Let’s get some good Libertarians in there. Bob Barr?

Turn Coat

January 10th, 2010
9:29 am

As a life long Republican, I am getting behind Roy. I was overjoyed when Sonny beat Roy thinking it would usher in a new era of applying basic principles of business and free enterprise that have made this country great. Instead, Sonny became a perverse parody of Al Sharpton preying on the ignorant rural areas with his Anti-Atlanta policies which Democratic legislators have been using for decades. Everyone knows that Atlanta is the golden goose and if it prospers, so does the rest of the state. Four land highways on south Georgia will not attract economic development but it is rather good pork. Then Sonny decides to show his feminine side and appoints two macho men haters in Karen Handel and Gina Abrams whom management style is that everyone whom works for me is a idiot and corrupt except for me. I am sorry, but i missed that chapter in business school. Sonny has been a complete failure. I know he is still popular in rural Georgia and i cannot wait until he gets back there so he can go hunting and fishing. Roy is make things happen, some good, some bad, but mostly good – Go Roy

Road Scholar

January 10th, 2010
9:55 am

Turn Coat: Well said!

Hurting in West Georgia

January 10th, 2010
10:16 am

Dear John Oxendine have you given back the campaign funds you got from SEUS Insurance while many injured Georgia Workers are being screwed out of there weekley checks and medical benefits just remember we are voters also

Bludgeon & Skewer

January 10th, 2010
10:27 am

Greetings All,

It’s head scratching time over here at the secret underground Libertarian Command Center (LCC) as we review the funding numbers of our democrat and republican brothers and sisters currently running for the #1 head knocker job here in Georgia. We were absolutely convinced that Nathan Deal would be the dominant republican candidate last summer because of his DC funding connections from all those years of service on the Hill, but with a couple a missteps and some good old home grown cronyism, maybe it’s time to rethink that. We’re pleased that King Roy is leading the democrat pack, we really want him heading up the left side of the ticket in November, but only after thoroughly bloody and very expensive primary fight with Thurbert Baker. It’s odd to see that Libertarian John Monds wasn’t even included in this article as a candidate, try not to let be shocked when you see his name on the ballot this fall. He’ll be there along with whichever republican survives the primary and good ol’ King Roy.

Will Democrats Vote At All

January 10th, 2010
11:00 am

With Jane Kidd and the rest of the State democratic staff–they have single handedly dragged down the State Party to nothing. No candidates, no money, no visibility (except for what they raise to line their pockets). Candidates that have no chance in hell to win like Dubose Porter who supports Jane Kidd because she supports him (what a nice relationship) should immediately drop out of the race. Carl Camon should run for State School Superintendent since he is an educator. But that is also a far fetched idea as well. He only has $13.00. That won’t even buy him five yard signs. These folks that jump out their and know right away they don’t have a stones throw chance of winning will drag the Party down even more. Jane, strap on some balls and get these people out of the race now. And, please Senator Jones, Dubose Porter does not need to run for any statewide position including Lt. Governor. He was ineffective in the legislature as minority leader.

Sick of Republicans, Are that shallow?

January 10th, 2010
11:15 am

People who pull the one party ticket is ais a major problem in this country.
You should always vote for the best candidate not for the party. If you can
not vote for the best candidate then please just don’t ever vote again.

There are plenty of Dems and Repubs in office that I would love to see get
voted out but we have those asinine straight ticket clowns running up to the
polls so the circus can stay in town.
God save us!


January 10th, 2010
12:13 pm

Please Georgia, Anybody but Oxendine.

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January 10th, 2010
12:53 pm

Does the Ox man still have blue lights on his car?

He should have been arrested for it.

This man is a joke.


January 10th, 2010
12:53 pm

Politics in Georgia; a joke especially during the last 7 years. What has really been accomplished in the last 7 years?

No Ethics

January 10th, 2010
12:55 pm

King Rat
Roy Barnes
Why would anyone support this jerk.
I’m sure the teachers and flag nuts will support him. ;)

James R.

January 10th, 2010
12:56 pm

The two biggest crooks are leading with the $
Roy Barnes and John Oxendine should NEVER be trusted!

Democratic Hacks

January 10th, 2010
1:00 pm

I see this site has been invaded by the Democrat Hacks that support King Roy.
Any postings you see on this site in support of Roy was posted by one of his staff.

Roy Barnes

January 10th, 2010
1:08 pm

I think Roy is the best candidate.
I think he should be made King of Georgia.
I eliminated tenure for newly hired teachers.
I changed our State Flag.
I am the man!


January 10th, 2010
1:34 pm

Please…anyone except King Roy or the Ox Man!


January 11th, 2010
3:10 am

I have been watching this race closely…and no not a Roy staffer, but to be honest no one else in the race has the experience to lead Georgia out of this dismal situation. I was not a fan…and too rejoiced the day Sonny got elected…but would welcome Roy back with open arms. I have never voted for a D for Governor. But I’d say the more, um, grounded and rational folks in the state realize that the GOP is damaged to it’s core.


January 11th, 2010
9:03 am

All you republican voters, what have they done for you the last 7 years?


January 11th, 2010
9:58 am

The Ox just wants his fancy car and blue light back.

Emory Texan

January 11th, 2010
10:17 am

The responses on here from both sides are funny. Any Democrat that questions Republican accomplishments has a great point. Republicans questioning Dems also have a good point. The leadership on both sides has failed up to this point, IMO. It comes from a culture of corruption that exists among all politicians across almost all levels. The people that are supposed to act as role models for our youth while defending our way of life and prosperity instead care only about themselves and their political careers.


January 11th, 2010
10:48 am

Thurbert Baker should go to Lt. Governor, DuBose Porter to Secretary of State, David Poythress to the U.S. Senate, Carl Camon to State School Superintendent. Roy at Governor. That’ll solve all the democrat’s problems

Bobby Anthony

January 11th, 2010
4:55 pm

Roy can raise all of the money he wants but the teachers in Georgia will defeat him again.