Archive for June, 2010

Competition is good for everything — except the Georgia ballot

Competition will solve any problem, according to the wisdom of the rubber-chicken circuit.

School systems would be sharper if they only had some competition. Widget prices would plummet and wages would skyrocket, if only the power of competition were unleashed.

Fox News’ Glenn Beck even wonders if competition from private armies might juice our national defense. “I’d like to give it a whirl,” he says.

The one place where increased competition can’t work — and in fact is too dangerous to attempt — is the Georgia ballot. Republicans and Democrats agree on this point. Over the last 70 years or so, both parties have conspired to make sure that they remain the dominant actors every election cycle. This one included.

Mary Norwood, candidate for Fulton County Commission chairman/AJC

Mary Norwood, candidate for Fulton County Commission chairman/AJC

Since 1988, a small piece of ground has been given up to the Libertarian Party, which can place candidates on the ballot by votes of its state convention. But Georgia law still places a …

Continue reading Competition is good for everything — except the Georgia ballot »

Back in a week or so

Family duties call, and vacation time must be burned. Unless something important happens — and then I’ll be in touch.

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Barnes 7th TV ad: Retrofitting state buildings could create 10k jobs

The Democratic campaign of former Gov. Roy Barnes matched Thurbert Baker, his primary rival and attorney general, ad-for-ad on Wednesday.

Baker focused on bingo-for-education. Barnes focused on jobs:

The Barnes script:

Narrator: “Roy Barnes has a plan to put people to work. Immediately.”

Barnes: I know it won’t solve all of our problems, but I can put 10,000 people to work – electricians, plumbers, sheet-metal workers – by retrofitting all of the state’s buildings for energy independence or efficiency.

“The best part is, the energy savings will pay for the improvements.”

Worker: “I think a paycheck would be great.”

We’re going to have to look at the numbers on this one – 10,000 jobs is a lot of people, and a lot of money. Here’s the documentation provided by the Barnes campaign.

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Thurbert Baker begins hard sell of bingo-for-education

Attorney General Thurbert Baker, the Democratic candidate for governor, today launched his third TV spot in four days – and began the hard sell of his bingo-for-education idea:

The pace of Baker’s entry into a TV-oriented campaign appears aimed at tamping the poll numbers of former Gov. Roy Barnes back down into runoff territory – below 50 percent.

The script, featuring Baker in a classroom:

“The future of Georgia will be determined right here. To compete in a new global economy, these kids need more time in school, because there’s a lot more to learn.

“So we’ll make kindergarten mandatory, expand after-school activities, bring our school days to the average of the industrialized world – and we’ll pay for it by adding bingo to Georgia’s lottery.

“Georgia’s kids can beat anybody in the world, if we just give them the education it takes to win.”

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Your morning jolt: An advancing hairline in the race for governor

Given the importance of TV, looking good is essential in politics. The problem is that it’s risky to be seen trying.

Discussing a candidate’s appearance is equally dicey. On one hand, political discourse is shallow enough. Yet when the bedrock foundation of a candidate’s relationship with voters is the 30-second TV spot, what candidates choose to display becomes a topic worth noting.

Women are judged more harshly. Look at Nikki Haley, the new Republican nominee for governor in South Carolina.

Sarah Palin recently had to beat off breast enhancement rumors. We all chuckle at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Bambi-in-the-headlights stare, wondering what work she’s had done.

And remember that, four years ago, former state School Superintendent Linda Schrenko, once a GOP favorite to become governor of Georgia, was convicted of using federal tax dollars to finance, among other things, a face lift.

Men have it slightly easier. Glasses are often ditched for contacts. Once they reached …

Continue reading Your morning jolt: An advancing hairline in the race for governor »

Ralph Hudgens: ‘Insurance commissioner can’t do squat about health care’

Ralph Hudgens, the state senator from Hull and Republican candidate for insurance commissioner, was on the radio this morning with Martha Zoller.

Her station, WXKT (103.7FM) in Gainesville, covers most of north Georgia, and streams live on the Internet.

Hudgens and Zoller continued to chat during one of the breaks, but Zoller forgot to turn off the audio that feeds into the live stream.

So a number listeners heard Hudgens say, quite forcefully: “The insurance commissioner can’t do squat about health care.”

And so another politician has learned that a) the mike is always live, even when it’s dead; and b) some truths uttered in private aren’t nearly as true when they’re said in public.

Zoller e-mailed Hudgens an apology later in the day. Fortunately for the candidate, the audio wasn’t being recorded.

Hudgens is one of nine Republican candidates in the race for insurance commissioner.

One of them, attorney Maria Sheffield of Atlanta, heard Hudgens comments, and Twittered a …

Continue reading Ralph Hudgens: ‘Insurance commissioner can’t do squat about health care’ »

Nathan Deal gives Ga. 400 tolls a place in GOP race for governor

One day after a Survey USA poll showed him in a virtual tie with Karen Handel for a runoff berth in the GOP race for governor, former congressman Nathan Deal has begun touting a small but significant geographic difference between the two.

The Ga. 400 toll plaza, circa 1993/AJC

The Ga. 400 toll plaza, circa 1993/AJC

This from a just-issued Deal press release:

Nathan Deal, a leading Republican candidate for governor, said today he’ll move quickly as governor to bring down the Georgia 400 toll before the end of 2011.

“As governor, I’ll swing the sledgehammer to bring down the Buckhead Wall,” Deal said Tuesday. “The state has collected more than enough money to pay the bonds for the highway. We are now using the tolls of Georgia 400 drivers to pay for other road projects. That’s not fair to the commuters in north Fulton and Forsyth counties. They’ve carried more than their fair share.”

Back in 2003, Gov. Sonny Perdue vetoed legislation to restrict the use of toll revenue to expenses directly related to the road …

Continue reading Nathan Deal gives Ga. 400 tolls a place in GOP race for governor »

A year later, Gov. Mark Sanford disappears — again

On the day that Nikki Haley is likely to nab the GOP nomination to become his all-but-certain replacement, the man who made the Appalachian Trail a code word for philandering has disappeared.

Again.

This time, we’re headed straight to baggage claim at Hartsfield-Jackson. From The State newspaper in Columbia:

Nearly one year to the day that Gov. Mark Sanford embarked on a secret trip to Argentina and turned S.C. politics on its ear, Sanford’s whereabouts are unknown to the press and the public.

Monday, Sanford’s spokesman Ben Fox told The State Sanford is on “personal time” but declined to say where the governor is.

Sanford is due back in the office this morning, Fox said. He spent most of the Father’s Day weekend with his four sons, and the governor has been in communication with his staff over the weekend and Monday, Fox added.

State Law Enforcement Division Director Reggie Lloyd said Sanford has security with him but would not elaborate.

“We’ve left it up to …

Continue reading A year later, Gov. Mark Sanford disappears — again »

Your morning jolt: Mary Norwood sues John Eaves over demand for handwritten ‘Fultons’

Mary Norwood, running as an independent candidate for Fulton County Commission chairman, says she has sued Democratic incumbent John Eaves — for allegedly using a picayune point of law to sabotage her campaign.

mnorwood

Mary Norwood, independent candidate for Fulton County Commission chairman/AJC

Norwood needs 22,000 or so signatures – 5 percent of Fulton County’s registered voters — by mid-July in order to have her name placed on the November ballot.

Norwood says that Eaves, relying on what she calls a “hyper-technical interpretation of the law,” is insisting that the word “Fulton” be handwritten, by each signer, along with a street address. Eaves is being represented by former congressman Buddy Darden of Marietta, with the influential firm of McKenna Long & Aldridge.

Norwood says her campaign received written approval from the Fulton County Department of Registration and Elections to “pre-type” the word in the space requesting the signer’s county of residence.

Because if it says …

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Can Roy Barnes win without a Democratic runoff?

It may be time to start wondering if Roy Barnes can win the July 20 Democratic primary for governor without a cash-consuming runoff.

For the second time in less than a month, a statewide poll has shown the former Georgia governor with an overwhelming lead.

In late May, it was a WSB-TV/InsiderAdvantage poll, which showed Barnes leaping to a 64 percent lead. On Monday evening, a SurveyUSA poll showed Barnes with the support of 63 percent of Democratic respondents, with Attorney General Thurbert Baker, his closest competitor, at 13 percent.

See the details here. Crosstabs can be found here.

The poll was sponsored by group of three media outlets – 11Alive News and V103-FM in Atlanta, and 13WMAZ-TV of Macon.

The same poll shows that, on the Republican side of the race for governor, state Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine holds a commanding lead of 34 percent, with former secretary of state Karen Handel (18 percent) and former congressman Nathan Deal (17 percent) in a tight …

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