Your morning jolt: Sonny Perdue hints he’ll back independent candidate for school superintendent

Earlier this week, we told you that Gov. Sonny Perdue might appoint a successor to state School Superintendent Kathy Cox — who would then conduct an independent campaign to win a full four years in November.

Otherwise, the timing of Cox’s resignation restricts Perdue to the five candidates – two Republicans and three Democrats – already on the ballot. Or, Perdue could pick a caretaker who would simply fill out the last six months of Cox’s term.

On Tuesday, after signing a bill that gives the governor more power to intervene in the affairs of troubled school systems, Perdue dropped a very large hint that he is indeed considering Door No. 3 – the independent route.

Denis O’Hayer of WABE (90.1FM) was there to pick it up. Listen to the interview here. Here’s the part that matters:

O’Hayer: Will you be trying to pick someone who can simply hold the fort and get us through a new school year and through the elections, or will you try to pick somebody who’s already on the ballot?

Perdue: You know me well enough to know that I’m not much of a caretaker. I don’t believe in just holding the fort. I don’t think we can hold the fort on education. I think we’ve got to move. And I think anytime you hold the fort, you risk the possibility of slipping back. We’ll make an appointment with that in mind.

O’Hayer: Does that mean you’ll look at someone who’s already declared?
Perdue: It means I’m going to look at everyone.

O’Hayer: Would you consider appointing a Democrat?

Perdue: I would consider appointing the best person I can find to the job of superintendent of education. It’s that important. I, frankly, asked for legislation this year that that position be appointed, because I don’t think it should be a partisan position.

The Republican governor also defended the Board of Regents against those who argue that the university system should actively verify whether all its students are citizens or legal residents. (See this MDJ piece on a complaint filed by immigration activist D.A. King.)

Said Perdue:

“I think the university system’s primary responsibility is to educate students in higher education. And I think to expect them to be the immigration agents or [to determine] whether someone’s here legally or illegally is really beyond their scope of work….We have our Department of Driver Services to determine in a very clear way whether someone is a citizen or not.”

Perdue also told O’Hayer that U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson (D-DeKalb County) had ticked him off by co-sponsoring legislation to ban firearms from unsecured areas of airports – an attempt to head off two gun bills now on the governor’s desk.

Said Perdue:

I don’t know whether I’ll sign those bills or not. But frankly, the meddling that I see from Congress is not helpful in my decision.

Republican candidate for governor Eric Johnson sends this snapshot of yours truly at the FreedomWorks debates last Saturday – as I was demonstrating that, from my house, I can see Alabama:


At that debate, when asked about transportation, only two of the Republican candidates for governor mentioned the need for more rail. And only one candidate – former secretary of state Karen Handel – alluded to rail as a means of moving people.

Even so, Georgians for Passenger Rail are optimistic that they can prompt an “adult conversation” on the topic. Walter Jones of Morris News Service writes today about a Brookings Institute study released by the group, detailing how passenger rail could be financed:

[The study] calculated a complex “layer cake” for funding the operating costs on the first rail line from Atlanta to Macon.

A transportation sales tax could begin generating money quickly for the $25 million needed each year to pay the operation costs not covered by fares, according to the Brookings study.

Later funding could come from so-called tax-allocation districts around each station that increase tax collections as the value of the property rises in value.

The authors of the report call it “value capture,” in which governments reap revenue benefits from the rise of property values that come from passengers living and shopping near train stations.

Planned real estate development around the stations is critical to the success of the funding, and [Gordon Kenna, executive director of Georgians for Passenger Rai] said his organization would advise rail-line cities like Hampton, Morrow and Griffin on ways to maximize their development potential.

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21 comments Add your comment


May 26th, 2010
9:54 am

Whoever Perdue picks as School Superintendent will be the kiss of death for that person if he or she plans to run for the office. And about Congress “meddling” into the issue of guns in the Atlanta airport, they have every right to do that because that airport is the busiest in the world, and Congress shoud be concerned about safety there.


May 26th, 2010
10:25 am

i guess whomever Perdue picks will be somebody who will continue the Republican assault on public education.

[...] My colleague Jim Galloway has this item –  a snippet of an interview the governor had with Denis O’Hayer of WABE (90.1FM) — that suggests Sonny Perdue may also be willing to consider an independent. (It is too late for anyone to qualify to run as a Democrat or Republican.) [...]


May 26th, 2010
11:00 am

Republicans mentioning rail? Surely the apocalypse has arrived.

[...] Political Insider [...]

[...] My colleague Jim Galloway has this item –  a snippet of an interview the governor had with Denis O’Hayer of WABE (90.1FM) — that suggests Sonny Perdue may also be willing to consider an independent. (It is too late for anyone to qualify to run as a Democrat or Republican.) [...]


May 26th, 2010
11:30 am

Aquagirl, you are correct! The apocajypse arrived with the election of Obama-mama and the Democrats!


May 26th, 2010
12:14 pm

Surely you jest!!!!!!!!!!!!!

You Asked

May 26th, 2010
12:15 pm

@ Bart-

So you think congress has a mandate to meddle in local law if there is a safety concern?

…and we’re outraged about a reinactment of the KKK in an American History class… we should be outraged that no one seems to know what the Constitution means any more.

Dave Dawg

May 26th, 2010
12:19 pm

Considering it’s a six month appointment with no chance of running for re-election, Perdue has been given the chance to pick someone who can best accomplish his biggest goal for the rest of his term — win education funding from the feds. The federal government is currently run by Democrats, so picking a Dem for the position would go a long way toward winning the money. It’d show bi-partisanship, but more importantly it would build a bridge to the Dems in control. This could be Perdue’s biggest legacy, and a Democrat can only help him accomplish this feat.

You Asked

May 26th, 2010
12:21 pm

Perdue has already appointed many Dems and leaders from other Democratic administrations to leadership positions so he’s got nothing to prove to either party. He’s probably wishing the pllitical parties would stay out of the fray and let him choose the most qualified person to get the job done.

Dave Dawg

May 26th, 2010
12:22 pm

And Barbara Christmas comes to mind as a good choice.

Mr. Ed

May 26th, 2010
12:26 pm

Zell Miller for Superintendent


May 26th, 2010
12:28 pm

How ironic that Governor Perdue is concerned about federal “meddling” in state affairs but not concerned about state “meddling” in the rights and responsibilities of locally elected Boards of Education.

For example, the state, not locally elected Boards of Education, decides the length of a lunch break an elementary teacher has. The state, not a locally elected Board of Education, determines the punishment for a student who is found guilty of “bullying”.

It ain’t “meddling” unless you want it to be called “meddling”!!

Mr. Grumpy

May 26th, 2010
12:33 pm

Hey, You Asked, do you want to list all of the Dems that Perdue has appointed to run state agencies and Boards? We’d all be interested to know who they are.


May 26th, 2010
2:05 pm

Well, You Asked, I think a case can be made that since the airport is the busiest in the world, it is not really a local issue. The Feds do have the responsibility to protect the homeland, and I would argue that keeping guns out of the world’s busiest airport is helping to protect the homeland.


May 26th, 2010
2:19 pm

Karen speaking up for rail shouldn’t be too big of a surprise. When she was chair of the Fulton County Commission she supported light rail along the top end of 285. While 99.99% of the evidence points the other way, being a Republican doesn’t automatically mean one has to be opposed to mass transit.

Your Neighbor

May 26th, 2010
10:26 pm

The gun bill has nothing to do with guns inside the airport, it pertains to the “common” areas. Like driving in and picking up someone. What you sheeple dont get is that bad guys and terrorists arent too concerned with gun laws. If they wanna kill ya, a law isnt going to stop them. Gun laws only effect law abiding, honest citizens.

No Longer Republican

May 30th, 2010
5:55 pm

Sonny Perdue will appoint who is best for Sonny Perdue. He doesn’t give a damn about anything else. Cannot believe this bozo has been allowed to wreak havoc on my beloved state for 8 years! Education in Georgia is set even further back becuase of this clown and as long as the sheep keep following nothing will ever change. Man I wish Georgians would wake up! Electing Handel, Oxendine, Deal or any of the other Rethuglicans will keep up right in the same mess.

[...] On Tuesday, after signing a bill that gives the governor more power to intervene in the affairs of troubled school systems, Perdue dropped a very large hint that he is indeed considering Door No. 3 – the independent route.   Read the complete story [...]


May 31st, 2010
12:58 pm

Karen Handle for rail? Oh yeah, what a conservative. More evidence this Maryland-born, so-called-Republican is just another Arlen Spector. Fess up Karen, you are pro choice too. Conservatives put cost-benefit first and rail never measures up. But this is about finding a job in a recession right?