Roy Barnes and Thurbert Baker battle for DeKalb County

Former Gov. Roy Barnes made a brazen foray into Attorney General Thurbert Baker’s home turf of DeKalb County last week.

While the event didn’t rise to the level of a Sharks vs. Jets rumble, the Democratic race for governor could hinge on the incursion and what follows.

Roy Barnes chats with DeKalb County Commissioner Jeff Rader (left) and DeKalb County District Attorney GwenKeyes Fleming  on the steps of the old courthouse in Decatur. Bita Honarvar, bhonarvar@ajc.com

Roy Barnes chats with DeKalb County Commissioner Jeff Rader (left) and DeKalb County District Attorney GwenKeyes Fleming on the steps of the old courthouse in Decatur. Bita Honarvar, bhonarvar@ajc.com

The former governor assembled a collection of nearly 30 current and former DeKalb leaders who back his return to the state Capitol. Most prominent among them was District Attorney Gwen Keyes Fleming.

The surface message was polite but unsubtle: The state’s top prosecutor does not have the support of his county’s top prosecutor — not in his run for governor.

The larger point was even blunter. Barnes intends to challenge Baker for the largest cache of Democratic votes in Georgia — the vast majority of them African-American — by cracking the attorney general’s base of support.

“Whoever is going to be the Democratic nominee is going to have to carry a significant number of DeKalb County voters,” said Sheriff Thomas Brown, a Baker supporter and close friend of the candidate. “You’re not going to win statewide unless you carry DeKalb County or you’re right there in the thick of it.”

The county’s influence this year could be even greater. DeKalb usually provides a 15 percent chunk of the July vote. But a primary challenge to U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson is likely to drive turnout even higher.

Last year, the Democratic congressman wrote Baker a $1,000 check for his campaign, but now says he’s neutral in the gubernatorial contest. One of Johnson’s rivals, DeKalb County Commissioner Connie Stokes, has sided with Barnes.

Baker was born in North Carolina, but DeKalb became the launch site for his political career — first as a state lawmaker. His wife, Catherine, just retired as a teacher for the DeKalb school system.

“His roots are staked down in DeKalb County,” Brown said — a fact that no doubt figured into the attorney general’s decision to run for governor. Baker kicked off his campaign this spring with a rally in Decatur.

“Thurbert will do very well in DeKalb,” Brown said.

So it is noteworthy that Barnes named DeKalb County Commissioner Lee May as his political director, placing May in charge of collecting endorsements and support from other elected officials.

May is African-American, and Baker lives in his district. May’s formula for winning DeKalb is simple. “You have to be visible, you have to have a presence, and you have to have people speaking on your behalf. It’s a big county,” he said.

Past history has required that Barnes’ pursuit of DeKalb votes in particular — and African-American votes in general — be conducted politely and respectfully.

“It’s not about beating someone down,” May said.

African-American politicians have not forgotten the gauntlet that U.S. Rep. John Lewis was forced to walk for his initial support of Hillary Clinton in the 2008 presidential election.

That year, black leaders became so gun-shy that they stayed out of the Democratic race for U.S. Senate between DeKalb County CEO Vernon Jones and former state lawmaker Jim Martin — until the Rev. Joe Lowery blew the all-clear whistle.

The civil rights icon endorsed Martin as the man best equipped to challenge Republican incumbent Saxby Chambliss.

In the runoff, Jones lost DeKalb — and the nomination. (Jones is now running against Johnson.)

What many forget is that the stampede of black leaders toward Barack Obama — and pressure directed at those who supported Clinton — didn’t begin until the Illinois senator proved his viability with a victory in the Iowa caucuses. (Ironically, unlike Lewis, Baker stuck with Clinton throughout the ‘08 primary.)

And so electability has become a central message of both the Barnes and Baker campaigns.

Supporters of the attorney general point out the general election dangers of Barnes’ serial apologies and Baker’s substantial resume.

Supporters of the former governor point to Barnes’ deep pockets, experience and well-known name. “For me, it does come down to we’ve got to make sure we’ve got the strongest candidate possible, not knowing who the Republican nominee is,” said Fleming, the DeKalb district attorney.

The campaign for DeKalb is sure to get hotter — as everyone of any influence is pressed to pick a side.

May, the DeKalb commissioner and Barnes political director, confirmed that Bishop Eddie Long, the influential pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, has agreed to host a fund-raiser for Barnes later this month. The church boasts 25,000 members.

Long has been placed on the Barnes campaign finance committee.

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40 comments Add your comment

Georgia for Roy Barnes

June 12th, 2010
3:22 pm

I live Dekalb…I am going to vote for Roy Barnes

cornish530

June 12th, 2010
3:45 pm

There is absolutely no question that Roy Barnes has EARNED the support of the African
American community. Throughout his tenure Baker has been aloof from the African American community. Baker is a decent human being with some identity issues and politicians who have them test which way the wind is blowing before taking action. This is not the time for that kind of leadership.

bbdawg

June 12th, 2010
3:53 pm

Neither will carry Dekalb Co. I perdict that David Poythress will beat both of them or at least make it into the runoff.

The Ghost of Gene Talmadge

June 12th, 2010
4:08 pm

King Roy has promised (and provided) judgeships, appointments, whatever it takes to get the black power elite in the metro areas. That’s old news.

What’s currently funny is poor Thurbert “The Rug” Baker. The blacks hate him, especially for the strange Wilson case broo-ha-ha. What moderate whites that are left turned their nose up at him once he became the Obama-care front man instead of Atty Gen’l for Georgia. What does he have left? A few white liberal democrats? How many of those are left anywhere? Enough to win a county commission seat somewhere? Maybe?

John

June 12th, 2010
4:46 pm

Teachers will never vote for King Roy. He screwed us once and will screw us again. I don’t care who you vote for just don’t vote for King Roy. Enter your comments here

Educated Voter

June 12th, 2010
4:53 pm

My support is going to Poythress. He has the best interest of the community, public schools, teachers and transportation. He is not pursuing his own interest in comparison to Roy Barnes. Please look at Barnes’s game plan for DeKalb, the slick tyrant is back!

Will Jones - Atlanta Jeffersonian Exegesis

June 12th, 2010
6:02 pm

DuBose and Carol Porter will make Georgia look great! Let’s make them Elect this time.

Conservative Democrat

June 12th, 2010
6:11 pm

“Educated Voter,” you are anything but. Roy Barnes showed character would do the right thing with the state flag even though it changing it was politically risky. He showed it again when he placed education reform over the safe path–doing nothing. If Roy was “pursuing his own interest,” as you accuse, he would leave his law firm job and profitable business interests to do public service again. Poythress is well-intentioned with a lot of promises but no experience and unproven.

dawggie stile

June 12th, 2010
8:52 pm

A Preacher on the Finance Committee. How appropriate.

Educated Voter

June 12th, 2010
10:16 pm

@Conservative Democrat- I would offer that you are not an educated voter. His educational reform more of an attack on teachers than actual reform. He wants to save face, be re-elected and finish his tyrant reign where he left off before voted out. This is more important than his “law firm job and profitable business interests”. Poythress is a better leader, consensus builder (i.e. listens rather than declaring it is my way or no way) and has a better vision on all the issues. Furthermore, I suggest that you save your negativity for someone who does not know the issues.

Educated Voter

June 12th, 2010
10:18 pm

Correction-Barnes’ educational reform was more of an attack on teachers than actual reform.

Bobby Anthony

June 13th, 2010
2:29 pm

Barnes will burn you.

Conservative Democrat, you embarrass yourself

June 13th, 2010
2:47 pm

If Roy was “pursuing his own interest,” as you accuse, he would leave his law firm job and profitable business interests to do public service again?

Yes, because he’s satisfying his EGO.

Any more dumb questions Conservative Democrat?

Intruder

June 13th, 2010
3:07 pm

There is absolutely NO WAY Barnes will take DeKalb County! The demographics of DeKalb dictate that it must back Baker solidly. Don’t believe me? Check out the results of the last presidential election from DeKalb. No matter what Barnes promises or does, he is on the wrong side when it comes down to the color of his skin.

Logic 05

June 13th, 2010
7:10 pm

King Roy has paid off enough people to get their endorsement.
This zero will win the democratic nomination.
Meanwhile, Georgia loses.

Gay Blade

June 13th, 2010
7:11 pm

Roy has the gay vote locked up!

Rev Al Sharptongue

June 13th, 2010
7:12 pm

I hereby officially announce my support of King Roy.

Sick of Republicans

June 13th, 2010
7:28 pm

I have not decided other than I sure won’t vote for a Republican. Roy could have chose someone better than Lee May for his top guy in DeKalb; Connie Stokes probably won’t get my vote because as a Commissioner – neither she nor May nor any of them has done one thing about Sutton and her wild tale about not knowing about the bad checks.

WAW

June 13th, 2010
7:43 pm

The Governor of Colorado just signed a bill that passed solidly in the legislature. It ties tenure with performance (something Gov Purdue talked about this passed session in Georgia). If student’s standardized tests are not satisfactory, the teacher can loose tenure. According to the Associated Press Colorado is the first state to link performance to tenure, but here in Georgia everyone knows that’s not true. Roy Barnes was way far ahead of the Republican Colorado Government and look what it did for the block-voting-“of course we’re not a Union” teachers. This time vote for a Governor who reduces class size, put school nurses in each school, adds bonuses for Nationally Certified Teachers, and funds education. Vote for Roy Barnes. Yes, breathe into a paper bag a few times and forget about the “Linda lies” you helped circulate eight years ago (they were not true then and they are true now).

Will Jones - Atlanta Jeffersonian Exegesis

June 13th, 2010
7:44 pm

Would the Gay Community support someone surrounded by gays like Roy Barnes, even if they aren’t “out?” Why not support someone with integrity instead, like DuBose and Carol Porter? Atlanta first, and Georgia, across the board, has the best people in the world. We can be classically liberal in the Spirit of the Founders, Black and White, Jew and Gentile, rich and poor, straight and gay, and righteous, too. Live and let live.

Barnes is corrupt: profiting while Georgia suffered. He is part of the problem. Let us embrace a good man to lead us now by grace: DuBose Porter and the bride with whom G-d blessed him as Lt. Governor.

It will give America something great to talk about, as the Good Spirit is upon Our City and State with the Braves rising once more.

voter

June 13th, 2010
7:53 pm

Dekalb is the Chicago of GA. Incompetent officials and an uneducated voter base. Dekalb is a leach on Ga’s economy, no wonder why it would be nice for these Dems to carry this county.

Mike in Dunwoody

June 13th, 2010
7:53 pm

Roy Barnes has my vote. He will restore confidence and competence in the governor’s mansion. The Republicans look like a pack of wandering, incomptent, wild wolves by comparison. Their main constituency is the still-vocal yet increasingly shrinking bigot-voter block. Thanks anyway but my support will go to Roy barnes.

The Thin Guy

June 13th, 2010
8:55 pm

I live in Dekalb and I hate all of them. The Pubbies want my soul and the Demoncraps want my wallet. At least none of them think Guam is about to capsize. Ted Turner would make a better governor. He has a record of taking things that don’t make money and turning a profit. Tomato Nose Barnes says no one will lose their house without a powwow with him. Heck, my house is worth half of what I pair for it due to Pelosi economics. Do something about that King Roy.

Napoleon Dynamite

June 13th, 2010
8:57 pm

Vote for Pedro.

This is Norman Maine

June 13th, 2010
9:20 pm

Oooookay. I was going to vote for Barnes and I recognize that putting Eddie Long on his campaign finance committe was purely a political move…….BUT I cannot stand Eddie Long. It’s no surpise that he would want to be on a finance committe. He’ll hang out anywhere there’s money. That’s why endorsed Bush. I am seriously reconsidering my vote for Barnes now.

Diehard

June 13th, 2010
9:44 pm

Roy has the gay vote locked up? Or does he just have his linebacker of a wife locking up the gay vote?

African American Male School Teacher

June 13th, 2010
10:07 pm

I have already voted for Barnes and am happy about it! Think about electability. This is Georgia, a redneck state. Outside of Fulton, Dekalb and Clayton we all know Baker doesn’t have a chance. Look at how we thought Obama would carry Georgia in 08. Come on folks, face reality! Get out an vote for Barnes, an honest courageous leader that Georgia need.

Icarus

June 13th, 2010
10:07 pm

If you accept that DeKalb is important, then you have to accept that the middle segment of the Georgia Gang is important every Sunday. This is a slippery slope you’re starting here, Jim.

Will Jones - Atlanta Jeffersonian Exegesis

June 13th, 2010
10:18 pm

The tank-top “Bishop” Eddie Long who backed 9/11-committing servant of the Roman Anti-Christ, the draft-dodging closet-queen George W. Bush is with Roy Barnes? The one who buys cars for the “unwed mothers” in his congregation? Talk about the visible church falling into apostasy led by a false prophet. He is it to a tee.

Birds of Feather.

DuBose and Carol for Georgia’s leadership. Their grace is obvious.

Harmoni

June 13th, 2010
10:21 pm

@ ghost Talmadge,
You can keep your sterotypical statement. All Blacks don’t hate Baker. Had you inserted the word some, that would have been understood. You are relating to hearsay. Maybe some do not support him or dislike him even, but hate is a very harsh word when describing feelings that you obviously don’t know any definites.

Harmoni

June 13th, 2010
10:26 pm

Not really happy to hear that Eddie Long is associated with Barnes. Church politiks and politics does not a good mixture make….

kerry

June 14th, 2010
2:04 am

We are in sad times politically. I have never seen such a sad sack of candidates running for Governor. Georgia politics has turned in to one big joke! The politico’s always go where the wind blows and never support the underdog. Roy Barnes is a big fat joke! The Republicans running are just as sad. They are going to waste millions and still lose but can’t raise millions for an even worthier cause like our schools. The media will not give the little guy any coverage and the people are not going to demand to hear all their choses because they are to dumb to do any research on any candidate. The system is broke because the people are broke. It all is a big joke! Peace!!! The next governor will be the same sack of sh*t!

Mineralboss

June 14th, 2010
2:46 am

I left Dekalb county and it was the best thing I did. Too many stupid *&&(87&!! voting because of race and race only. Forget the ideals of the candidates, just vote for a *&&&!!! and a Democr**&!!

Will Jones - Atlanta Jeffersonian Exegesis

June 14th, 2010
9:06 am

A commenter above cited Roy Barnes’ “confidence” as an attribute.

Wonder if he/she has seen his TV ads? It is incredible what weak-eyed vanity Barnes portrays. “Lost” his glasses, or just wants to appear to be someone he is not?

Upon what is his “confidence,” or gall, based but money?

Just as he was unwilling to take The Oath and swear to the Constitution and People with 9.2 million Americans during Vietnam (disproportionately from Georgia), hiding in law school as if that were some “higher” calling than risking his life at sacrifice to Our Nation, he has not submitted to the Constitution of the State of Georgia or Our People in his business or political career (where he helped misguide banking in Georgia from the Capitol).

Then he changed the flag because the global Roman fascist plutocracy’s members who run the International Olympic Committee told him to. The Cross of St. Andrew’s symbol in the Confederate Battle Flag stands for “Protestantism Overseas.” Rich, elite Roman Catholics, like Juan Antonio Sameranch, a pro-Franco, pro-Hitler fascist, don’t like being reminded their Urbis et Orbis “papal” delusion is yet to be achieved with the American South’s cultural “holdouts” – where Baptists and Protestants vastly outnumber those being shipped in to take us over on Rome’s behalf – long successful in the North and West and now risen in even Virginia.

It is no coincidence that the two powerful institutions to which Roy Barnes has submitted in his adult life, the IOC and the “Royal Bank of Canada,” show up in the “Hall of Public Shame” as two of the worst corporate entities in the world: http://www.publiceye.ch/en/ranking/

Why add Georgia to the list under his false leadership?

If DuBose Porter isn’t the nominee for the Democrats I’d rather vote for Jeff Chapman for governor…or even anti-illegal immigration Nathan Deal – an “honest” crook. Barnes, with his vanity and life of subservience to corruption and Mammon, is the greater evil

May G-d bless Georgia and lead us to a righteous Election, that prosperity come to the Many, and not just to the Few.

Jeffrey Meeks

June 14th, 2010
10:31 am

Barnes is BAD for DeKalb County,he allready suck nearly a millions from DeKalb County taxpayers from the County sueing Dunwoody and just left

30 yr Dekalb resident

June 14th, 2010
3:11 pm

I agree Georgia politics have definitely went wrong. There are SOOOO many things wrong with this picture. First Hank Johnson would step back from supporting a “friend” Thurbert Baker and become neutral. Wow! Wonder what would happen if Barack Obama does the same thing??? At least Tom Brown has some loyalty. Lee May, Gwen Fleming supporting, raising money, political director??? I thought Dekalb was on the respirator in the middle of all kinds of budget cuts. Makes you wonder if everyone is working for Roy, whose running Dekalb county and looking out for its residents. And last but not least, THE PREACHER ON THE FUNDRAISING COMMITTEE?!?!? There is not enough time or space to say what’s wrong with that picture. Both Barnes and Baker have never been there for Dekalb, neither will get my vote.

Raquel Morris

June 14th, 2010
3:24 pm

@ Will Jones –

I rarely agree with you and often worry about your mental stability, but you are 100% correct about “Bishop” Eddie Long. That crook and false prophet should not be allowed anywhere near the Governor’s Mansion.

Bad move, Governor Barnes.

Blue Dogs

June 14th, 2010
5:55 pm

Whoever said Poythress is going to the runoff is an IDIOT.

Barnes has the Democratic nomination locked up at this point, he’s been leading by massive double-digits since late last year.

Will Jones - Atlanta Jeffersonian Exegesis

June 14th, 2010
8:06 pm

“Blue Dogs” – That “double-digits” “lead” have anything to do with the recently rediscovered fraud of Republican operative Matt Towery’s “Insider Advantage?”

What better candidate for the Gay Old Pervert party in Georgia to get the Democratic nomination?

Phony polling companies fronting for the Roman Anti-Christ’s farm-team here want us to think Barnes is our choice. Any “Republican” can beat him with his bought endorsements from the transparently corrupt.

With an Obama sticker yet on my bumper I’ll never vote for Barnes.

DuBose Porter is the good, decent man for Georgia…and Carol Porter for Lt. Gov.

Educated Voter

June 14th, 2010
11:32 pm

@Blue Dogs, the polls can be misleading. Didn’t the polls have Barnes beating Perdue by double digits? I am supporting Poythress!