Somebody pick up the phone and call Fox. We’ve got a reality show brewing.
Late last month, DuBose Porter, a Dublin newspaper publisher and Democratic candidate for governor, couldn’t make it to a small-business forum in Atlanta. So his wife of 26 years subbed for him.
Carol Porter did well, as anyone who has watched the YouTube video will attest. So well that the couple is considering whether she should enter the 2010 campaign as a candidate for lieutenant governor. The husband and wife would run as a ticket.
“Over the last several weeks, there’s been a viral movement that has taken on a life of its own,” said DuBose Porter, the House minority leader. “There truly is no one more qualified or who knows the issues better. She’s an awesome person. She’d make an awesome candidate.”
With a general election only nine months away, Democrats have yet to field a single candidate for lieutenant governor. (State Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond is often mentioned as a possibility, but has yet to make a decision.) Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, the Republican incumbent, has no primary opposition.
“Thoughtful consideration is going into it,” said Carol Porter, general manager of the family’s small newspaper chain. “Quite frankly, I’m just not sure that Casey needs a cakewalk.”
The Porter campaign — the gubernatorial one — is asking supporters if they’re open to the idea.
The partnership would be unique in Georgia politics. Candidates for governor and lieutenant governor, regardless of party, do not endorse each other, much less share the same bed. Or, for that matter, the same children — four grown sons, in this case. Media attention would be significant.
The public is familiar with spouses acting as behind-the-scenes strategists. Witness the recently dissolved partnership between Mark and Jenny Sanford in South Carolina. But a candidate’s spouse in search of her own votes is a plot line that many voters might judge worth following.
The only Southern precedent even slightly comparable might be Lurleen Wallace’s decision to run for governor of Alabama in 1966 — as a surrogate for her term-limited husband, George Wallace.
But Carol Porter can’t be termed a sock puppet. “I don’t believe that would fit,” she said. “I feel very comfortable with the issues. I have a fairly clear vision, as does DuBose, about what the problems are and what the solutions are.”
With her husband in the state Capitol much of the time, Carol Porter is the business side of the family equation. She’s the one on the board of the local Chamber of Commerce.
Her husband was born in Dublin, but her background is slightly more eclectic. The daughter of a Wrightsville, Ga., doctor, she went to boarding school at Woodward Academy in College Park. She graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in psychology. She dabbles in folk art.
Many Democrats are baffled by the possibility of a husband-and-wife strategy. Others dismiss it as a publicity stunt that smacks of desperation.
Former Gov. Roy Barnes has dominated every statewide poll among Georgia Democrats, and DuBose Porter ranked fourth among five Democrats in fund-raising last year — behind Barnes, Attorney General Thurbert Baker and former National Guard commander David Poythress.
Both Porters argue that, in a one-two campaign, they would complement each other’s fund-raising efforts, not dilute them.
But the advantage may be this: With or without money, Carol Porter’s entry into the lieutenant governor’s contest would immediately raise her profile — and, through a shared story line, that of her husband.
In essence, the Porters could double their message at a very low cost. Those who know her would agree that Carol Porter’s speeches often have more edge than those of her husband. She would be the voice that says the things that he can’t.
“I’m a fiery, passionate person who truly cares, and I would like to see the children of this state get a great education. Because I think corruption is what’s holding us back,” Carol Porter said. “If we could just not run it on campaign donors — for once. If we could just do what’s right, just one good time, and get it all running and turn the economy around and educate the children. Georgia’s such a great spot. It has everything — except leadership.”
There is, of course, the matter of what would happen should they both win — first in July, then in November. But that’s an entirely different story line.
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