The lessons that Tuesday night might hold for Georgia aren’t exact.
We have no Arlen Specter-like party-switcher. No Blanche Lincoln-like challenge to an incumbent in either party.
But the lessons do exist:
LESSON NO. 1: The victory of tea-party favorite Rand Paul over hand-picked GOP establishment favorite Trey Grayson in the Kentucky race for U.S. Senate doesn’t bode well for former state senator Lee Hawkins of Gainesville.
In the special election to replace Nathan Deal in Congress, Hawkins faces a June 8 runoff with fellow Republican and former lawmaker Tom Graves of Ranger, who is backed by FreedomWorks, a financer of the tea party movement, and the conservative Washington group Club for Growth.
Hawkins in no way can be described as hand-picked by any GOP establishment, but he is running as a more traditional Republican with strong business ties.
LESSON NO. 2: Perhaps the happiest man in Georgia today is Rob Woodall, former chief of staff to U.S. Rep. John Linder and now a Republican candidate to replace his former boss.
With anti-incumbent fever plaguing both parties, many have cast doubt on the possibility that such a transition was possible.
But Pennsylvania’s 12th District congressional race dashed that presumption Tuesday, with voters electing Mark Critz, former aide to the late Democratic congressman John Murtha, over Republican businessman Tim Burns.
Just in time. Woodall has a Saturday afternoon fund-raiser that features Linder.
LESSON NO. 3: The same race may also hold lessons for Georgia Democrats who will have to walk a tightrope when it comes to President Barack Obama.
Tuesday’s results revealed a possible tool-kit for navigating the year’s challenging political climate.
In a closely watched Pennsylvania congressional race to replace the late Democratic Rep. John Murtha, the Democratic candidate, Mark Critz, successfully wooed conservative voters in his party by opposing Mr. Obama’s health-care law, and by opposing abortion rights and gun control.
Mr. Critz defeated a Republican in a Johnstown-area district that had voted for Republican presidential candidate John McCain in 2008.
Yes, that galloping figure you may have seen on Saturday in the 2010 Turtle Crawl Sprint on Jekyll Island was indeed Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, who finished his first triathalon – just a little more than a year after the back/neck surgery that forced him out of this year’s Republican contest for governor.
Running under his given name, Lowell Cagle of Gainesville, 44, No. 534, finished 92nd in the men’s division, out of 132. Swimming was the strongest portion of his ordeal, according to the stats.
Cagle’s spokeswoman directed us to these quotes from Cagle, shortly before his 2009 surgery:
“There are times when you are injured, that you don’t have the ability to get back on the field immediately,” Cagle said. “You’ve got to get yourself back in shape, because this is a contact sport. If anybody doesn’t believe it, they ain’t been around enough.”
Cagle’s Democratic opponents include Carol Porter of Dublin, wife of gubernatorial candidate DuBose Porter.
Fox5’s investigative reporter Dale Russell this week had a piece on corporate identity theft – focusing on the easily penetrated business registration system operated by Secretary of State Brian Kemp.
Kemp admitted the glitch, which had apparently existed since the days of Cathy Cox, and Russell didn’t broadcast his report until it had been addressed:
All of that to say that, on the Galloway household answering machine on Tuesday was this robo-call message:
“Attention. This is a Georgia voter action alert. Secretary of State Brian Kemp has allowed, through mismanagement, a security breach at the corporation division where your identity can be stolen. Investigative reporter Dale Russell of Fox5 aired this story last night.
“If you or anyone you know owns a small business, check your business records immediately to make sure your business has not been altered. Remember to vote ‘no’ on Brian Kemp.”
The message ended there, with now mention of who paid for the robo-call.
As noted by Morris News Service, two candidates, Republican Doug MacGinnitie and Democrat Gail Buckner, publicly attacked Kemp on Tuesday for what they called sloppy management:
“What we have here is not a minor technology glitch, but rather a major gap in priorities,” MacGinnitie said. “When the incumbent spends time away from his desk on midday campaign fundraisers and golf outings, it is no surprise criminals view our Georgia business owners as a weak target for identity theft.”
Buckner accused Kemp of spending too much time campaigning and not enough overseeing the office.
“The people of Georgia need to know that their government will no longer leave them vulnerable to such an attack,” she said. “My real concern is that if Mr. Kemp took such a lax approach to online security, what other potential problems in his office is he ignoring?”
Kemp, appointed by Gov. Sonny Perdue in January, is filling the balance of Karen Handel’s term since she resigned to campaign full time for governor. Kemp, a Republican, had already been campaigning to succeed her when Perdue picked him.
In a precursor to his Saturday show at the Fox, “Prairie Home Companion” host Garrison Keillor will speak Friday at a noon lunch hosted by the Atlanta Press Club.
By happenstance, the liberal Keillor also had an op-ed piece in the Baltimore Sun this week, drawn from his attendance at a recent gathering of spouses of U.S. senators – and their mates:
Some members seemed less embraceable than others: Roland Burris, the Rod Blagojevich appointee, was not Mr. Popularity, and one could detect a distinct coolness toward Saxby Chambliss, whose 2002 campaign defeating Max Cleland was more like first-degree assault than civics, but otherwise, people mingled freely.
Out in America, the U.S. Senate is regarded as a tiny medieval fiefdom of pompous gasbags, but in the Senate, there is genuine affection among colleagues. And why not? They spend a lot of time together. Johnny Isakson of Georgia palled around with Al Franken.
There was friendship on both sides for Bob and Joyce Bennett of Utah. Senator Bennett has served three terms and, at 76, was hoping for a fourth, but a few days before, his state Republican committee denied him the endorsement, a big shock here, a sign of the anti-incumbency wave, and his fellow incumbents kept slipping over to him and patting him on the shoulder.
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