The income tax and the GOP race for governor

Straw polls are rarely useful, except as a measure of a candidate’s infrastructure – his or her ability to move a certain number of volunteers to a certain location at a certain time.

But the larger the event, and the closer to election day, the more meaning that kind of balloting has. On Saturday, the Cobb County Republican party had one of the largest straw polls in the state.

Roughly 1,200 people paid a $10 fee for entry into an auditorium at Jim Miller Park in Marietta, attended by virtually every statewide candidate on the July 20 GOP ballot.

Five candidates for governor were there: Jeff Chapman, Nathan Deal, Karen Handel, Eric Johnson and John Oxendine.

When asked who they want to see as the Republican nominee for governor, here’s what attendees said:

– Handel, 199;

–Johnson, 199;

– Deal, 140;

– Oxendine, 130;

– Chapman, 31;

– McBerry, 3;

–Putnam, 0.

Though they could barely be heard among the din of the crowd, a theme developed in short addresses from the gubernatorial candidates, one likely to be fleshed out in the final two weeks of the campaign:

Chapman: “There’s probably one thing I need to say that I think will help define why you want to vote for Jeff Chapman. There’s no right way to do the wrong thing.”

Deal: “I’m the only candidate who has put forth a proposal on tax reform that has actually been scored by somebody that knows what they’re doing. The National Tax Foundation currently ranks Georgia 29 in terms of tax law….They scored my proposal – they said it would take us to No. 16.”

Handel: “You deserve real, meaningful tax relief – not for the sake of passing down to your local government officials.”

Johnson: If you want a governor that’s going to reform our tax code – that will reward our work and rewards profit and making money and doesn’t discourage it….I’m just the guy to do it.”

Oxendine: “The [National] Tax Foundation says that we’ve got the second worst tax climate in the region. If you want to bring jobs to Georgia – government doesn’t create jobs. That’s what Barack Obama and Roy Barnes talk about. Did you see Roy Barnes’ commercial? He says he going to create 10,000 jobs – he’s going to take money out of your pocket give it to someone else. that’s not creating jobs. That’s redistributing the wealth. We’re going to create jobs by changing the tax climate.”

Not by coincidence, the Associated Press tackles the topic in its weekend piece:

Two candidates have staked out a more extreme position than most: John Oxendine and Karen Handel want to eliminate Georgia’s individual income tax – the state’s single largest chunk of revenue. Nathan Deal and Eric Johnson have expressed skepticism about the idea, which is popular with tea party activists and fair tax supporters, who may be a powerful voting bloc in a GOP primary.

Tossing out individual income tax collections would rip a giant hole in the state’s tattered balance sheet. Individual income taxes brought in about $7.8 billion to Georgia coffers in fiscal year 2009 – roughly 50 percent of the state’s total tax collections.

Neither Oxendine nor Handel has said specifically how they would fill that hole, arguing it would take study. But it would almost certainly require higher sales taxes and perhaps taxing services – like haircuts and lawn work – that are currently exempt.

Oxendine, in particular, has been out front about halting Georgia’s income tax. He’s featuring the proposal prominently in his television advertisements as part of his “Contract With Georgia.”

But pressed on the specifics, Oxendine said the changes wouldn’t happen overnight.

Oxendine said he favored a consumption-based tax because it’s based on choice.

“You choose whether to engage in commerce,” Oxendine said. “A tax on direct income punishes you for success.”

Oxendine said some of the money could come from removing sales tax exemptions or possibly broadening the sales tax base. Some, but possibly not all, of the lost income tax revenue would need to be replaced, he said.

Handel also said she supports eliminating the state income tax but is also short on the details of how such a plan would work.

Following are the other results in Saturday’s straw poll of Cobb County Republicans:

Secretary of state:

– Brian Kemp, 345;

– Doug MacGinnitie, 331;

Attorney general:

– Sam Olens, 341;

– Max Wood, 203;

– Preston Smith, 128;

State insurance commissioner:

– Gerry Purcell, 235;

– Maria Sheffield, 103;

– Seth Harp, 98;

– Ralph Hudgens, 47;

– Stephen Dale Northington, 39;

– Tom Knox, 13;

– Dennis Caine, 5;

– John Mamalakis, 5;

– Rick Collum, 3

Agriculture commissioner:

– Gary Black, 544;

– Darwin Carter, 115;

Labor commissioner:

– Melvin Everson, 425;

– Mark Butler, 152;

School superintendent:

– Richard Woods, 278;

– John Barge, 221;

Public Service Commission:

– Jeff May, 235;

– John Douglas, 154;

– Tim Echols,122;

– Joey Brush, 73.

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71 comments Add your comment


July 4th, 2010
1:13 pm

I have yet to decide who I am voting for Governor. This is one of the reasons I have not early voted. I am leaning towards Johnson, but Oxidine’s and Handel’s stance on eliminating the State Income tax now has me taking another look. When I compare states that don’t have State income taxes I don’t like to use Florida as they are unique. TN however manages to get it done without one. When you drive the roads they all seem to be in good shape in TN not the teeth chattering I-59 that we have here in Dade.

Stir It

July 4th, 2010
1:18 pm

Glad to see that the Public Service Commission candidates decided to run for school superintendent instead.

Real Georgia

July 4th, 2010
1:27 pm

Nathan Deal has issued the most comprehensive – and workable — economic plan of any candidate in this race. He’s subjected his plans to the rigorous inspection of the Tax Foundation – which determined that Real Prosperity would reduce Georgia’s tax burden from 29th in the nation to 16th in the nation.


July 4th, 2010
1:28 pm

Johnson is nothing but a tool of special interests. He had his chance in the Legislature and has little to show for his time in office. I look at the money backing him and that has even more a negative effect for me.

As for Ox and Handel scrapping an idea and then nothing to make up for it, I find kneejerk ideas to buy votes without practical implementation systems a poor leadership trait. We don’t elect leaders to push ideas to a ’study’ or blue ribbon panel. Show some innovation, ideas, and leadership. Don’t just give great focus group sound bites.


July 4th, 2010
2:06 pm

Pandering crooks mostly.
There are some worth voting for gov.–but the AJC insists on marginalizing: Chapman, Porters, Poythress.
AJC–the poll numbers for these folks are low because you and other media outlets don’t give them any meaningful or fair coverage. They are all mainstream, qualified and sane candidates with practical experience and documented ethics. You are married to Barnes. Why? I’m guessing the road builders and developers are loading on.


July 4th, 2010
2:09 pm

I’d rather abolish the property tax. At least if you’re working and spending money you have an income stream to pay the income and sales taxes, but if you own you home free and clear and lose your job you probably won’t be able to pay the property tax.


July 4th, 2010
2:13 pm

The final “poll” item listed should be Public Service Commission, not a repeat of school superintendent.

No Fan of Any Team

July 4th, 2010
2:50 pm

Let’s see does removing income tax make us more Socialist or less Socialist?

No Teabagging

July 4th, 2010
2:55 pm

No Income tax… sucking up to Tea Party and stealing old ideas from Libertarians. LOL

Tired of BS

July 4th, 2010
3:06 pm

We have a rough few years ahead of us. I’d rather see Handel at the helm.


July 4th, 2010
3:08 pm

There are no good candidates for governor, Republican or Democrat. Kind of like being in the middle of a political desert. Just tax everybody the same on the front end & be done with it. It’s fairer & the state could redistribute any excess revenue personnel to do something else – like figure out which of the many road projects to tackle next.


July 4th, 2010
3:27 pm

Karen Handel, show us your high school diploma.

Deal fading fast

July 4th, 2010
4:42 pm

Mr. Deal had indeed violated House ethics rules by using congressional resources to influence Georgia state officials for his personal financial benefit. Most damningly, however, the OCE found that Mr. Deal provided incorrect information on his personal financial disclosure forms. Importantly, OCE issued the damning report after Deal resigned.

The House Ethics Committee, however, never pursued the case after Deal left the House.

But, Deal isn’t out of the woods. He’s facing a state ethics probe now:

The state Ethics Commission is investigating a complaint filed against former congressman and current gubernatorial candidate Nathan Deal over his use of campaign funds to pay legal fees to defend himself in a federal ethics probe.

The Associated Press reported in April that Deal, a Republican, had used more than $19,000 in contributions from his state campaign account to pay legal fees related to a congressional ethics investigation.

No Ox, Noo Raw Deal, Nooo Linger Longer Johnson, Noooo King Roy

July 4th, 2010
4:45 pm

The name says it ALL

No Ox, Noo Raw Deal, Nooo Linger Longer Johnson, Noooo King Roy

July 4th, 2010
4:49 pm

Jim, the 2nd group you have for School Super are actually for the PSC or for Ga Power in most cases.


July 4th, 2010
5:03 pm

It’s hard to know what will happen in the primary at this point. Recent polls still show 34% undecided. These straw polls are obviously about how many staff, family, and volunteers you can get at one event.
If you’re one of the undecided I recommend Jeff Chapman. If the Ox gets the guilty verdict on the 8th and you want to change your vote, I recommend Jeff Chapman. If you’re not happy with Johnson,Handel, and Deal because of a questionable voting record or ethics violations then I recommend Chapman.
Chapman is everything the conservatives have wanted and now he’s here!!!! Let’s don’t make the same mistake we’ve done before……….

No Ox, Noo Raw Deal, Nooo Linger Longer Johnson, Noooo King Roy

July 4th, 2010
5:09 pm


July 4th, 2010
5:03 pm

Chapman would be great with me..

Real Georgia

July 4th, 2010
6:00 pm

Have any candidates besides Deal released specifics of their tax plan? Or a they just going to commission a study once they get sworn in? Our state needs Nathan Deal and his experience to guide us through these next eight years.

Dick In Gainesville

July 4th, 2010
6:14 pm

Last week Deal was going to run the illegals out of Georgia, this week he is going to make us all rich with a tax system. I know Nathan and let me tell you one thing if it lines his pocket he’ll do it if not forget it. If you want to see how he did in getting rid of the Illegals come up here to Hall County and drive around, yea he got rid of our Illegals, come up here & see.


July 4th, 2010
6:23 pm

Don’t you get tired of spreading the same lies?

Here is why I Am Voting for KAREN HANDEL

Karen has business, executive, government and political experience.
• Executive manager at KPMG and CIBA Vision

• CEO and President of the North Fulton Chamber of Commerce where she led the organization from the brink of bankruptcy to solvency in just two years and helped bring thousands of jobs to North Fulton

• Deputy Chief of Staff to Governor Sonny Perdue

• Chief of Staff to Marilyn Quayle in the White House

• Chairman of the Fulton County Board of Commissioners where she balanced the nearly $1 billion budget without tax increases and led ethics reform

• Secretary of State where she cut the budget by nearly 20% and developed the implementation plan for Photo ID

Karen is a new generation leader offering 21st Century ideas

• Jobs. Karen will refocus Georgia’s economic development strategy to target industries that will drive jobs in technology, healthcare, bioscience, logistics/distribution, and alternative energy. Karen will make small business and entrepreneurialism a priority. She will seek tax credits for angel/venture capital investments and establish an entrepreneurial fund to ensure that Georgia’s homegrown innovations and companies commercialize and expand here.

• Tax Reform. Georgia’s tax code has not had a top-to-bottom review in over two decades. Karen will lead a comprehensive overhaul of Georgia’s antiquated tax code, and she’ll do it collaboratively with our local governments.

• Education. Over the past two decades, per-pupil spending in Georgia has nearly doubled without corresponding improvement in graduation rates and test scores. Karen wants to create 21st century classrooms with technology that allows for expanded learning opportunities. She will embrace teachers as partners. She supports more charter schools. All of us want accountability.

• Transportation. Karen wants a true transportation plan that lays out a network for moving people and product in Georgia. Currently, 1% of the gasoline tax goes to the state general fund. Karen will reallocate these monies to transportation. Karen supports legislative changes to GDOT’s accounting rules that will free up approximately $500M for transportation programs. Karen supports public-private partnerships. And, should the General Assembly fail again to pass legislation for transportation funding, Karen will pursue a fair statewide funding solution.

Karen Handel is NOT involved in ethical scandals (as some opponents are).

Karen is the only Republican in the race who can defeat Roy Barnes!


July 4th, 2010
7:08 pm

Thinker, that’s a pretty vapid list of reasons. Especially given your name on here.


July 4th, 2010
7:30 pm

I am NOT voting GOP. First, let’s get realistic here about abolishing the state income tax. Where do these clowns think they are getting the “replacement” funds? If they increase the sales tax, YOU, my friends, are still being taxed (one way or another). Our current Georgia income taxes top out at 6%. Move to NY/NJ where you are paying 11 – 13% (or more),…or Ohio and Pennsylvania which have “local” county income taxes.

Houses are in forclosure, the state is loosing property tax dollars. How can we attract new business (jobs) if our education system is one of the WORST in the country…..and our SAT scores are also one of the lowest.

We need new sources of revenue. How about finding some “native Indians” and using the “old” GM plant as a huge casino complex? No…..our politicians would rather turn the property over to developers at HUGE TAX DISCOUNTS for incentives.

Sure, we all would like lower (or no) taxes, but we have to be realistic about the consequences.

Sonny has had control for the last 8 years. What has he accomplished to benefit his citizens? Nothing.

If you want to create a better business environment to create more jobs here in Georgia, you need to improve our regional transportation. The state must help MARTA and also request Federal Funds to expand….or create high speed trains between Atlanta and Macon and Atlanta and Athens (at a minimum). With the expansion of our port in Brunswick, we should also consider faster ways of shipping from these ports and expand the facilities to attract more shipping.

Our current bunch of “representatives” and I use that term loosely, from our Governor to our Senators, to our Representatives……just a reminder that you were elected by “We the People”, but you have chosen to vote party over people and have accepted money and favors from the lobbyists and turned our country into representing BIG BUSINESS NOT your constituants.

I will remember all this in the voting booth this November.

The General

July 4th, 2010
7:39 pm

I’m glad to see Melvin Everson way out in front in all the straw polls that have been taken. He a class guy and will do a great job as Labor Commissioner. Keep it rolling, Melvin!


July 4th, 2010
7:43 pm

Why don’t we raise the state taxes and provide better schools, parks, roads, transportation, healthcare, and quality of life?

I won’t vote for a hypocrite who says they support individual rights and small government, then wants the government to tell people who they can and cannot marry. Why is that the state’s business anyway? If a church doesn’t want to marry two people who love and care for each other, fine, their private choice, but get government off our backs.

Fool Me Once

July 4th, 2010
8:00 pm

Eliminating the Income Tax and replacing it with a sales tax is reminiscent of the GREAT Plan, a GREAT failure that no one could swallow in Georgia. Want to pay a huge sales tax on haircuts, vet bills, car washes? We would be taxed to death on every move we make just to replace an income tax. How about just whittling away some of the other minion taxes we got?


July 4th, 2010
9:12 pm

Ummmmmmm! All the straw polls I’ve seen taken the past year after GOP candidate debates have been portrayed as meaningless by the media and GOP RINO groups. Wonder why? Could it be that Ray McBerry would come in first or second place in straw polls conducted right after the events. Several candidates became fearful of these debates. Now all of a sudden straw polls in RINO districts are worthy?? Sounds fishy?? The upcoming televised GOP Gubernatorial debates scheduled for 16 and 18 July will tell all. Forget your biased insider Atlanta polls!
A true conservative, constitutionalist, state’s rights candidate can be found at


July 4th, 2010
9:15 pm

How does your candidate stack up? This is a list of all current candidates for Georgia Governor – Stats This is Georgia US House – Stats

Tired of BS

July 4th, 2010
9:36 pm

McLagen…… I think we’ve all established that Mrs. Handel has a diploma. Had you researched your thought before posting it, you would have known that KPMG or CIBA Vision would NOT hire someone in an executive position without a highschool degree.
Now…. let’s move on to real issues of importance.


July 4th, 2010
9:40 pm

Thank you. I now know who DEFINITELY NOT vote for. Your focus is very distorted.

I see nothing offered by any of these candidates to help Georgia GROW. I see stop this and stop that, but no direction as to how or what you really want to see to make Georgia more attractive to business: the environment, health care, transportation, education, and creating an environment which promotes educatated well-skilled workers.

Maybe you want to be represented by the party of “NO”, but not me!!!!


July 4th, 2010
10:15 pm

Lois’s remedy for our economy is tax, spend, tax, spend. Reread the post. Tax, spend, tax, spend.


July 4th, 2010
10:19 pm

You are correct Savannah77. Roy Barnes’ latest ad is an attack on Ray McBerry. Why is Barnes running against McBerry before the primary? There is unreported support for the ONLY states rights and 10th Amendment candidate, who has been speaking on this subject for years, not just weeks.


July 4th, 2010
10:30 pm

Lois, the electtherightcandidate site lists all candidates, repub, dems, and libertarians. Who is the party of NO?
Investigate the top governor candidate at The issues you mention are found – attract business, jobs, local control of education, tech schools, state sovereignty, no property or income tax, second amendment rights, 10th amendment, right to life, etc are on this site as well as videos. McBerry is a true statesman; the only non career politician in the GOP race for governor. He does not owe any favors to anyone, he will work for all of Georgia, not just Atlanta or DC. The federal govt has got to get out of our lives and stop smothering the life out of our states.

I love the bumper stickers on cars running around town. “ReElect NoOne” Meaning career politicians have gotta goooooooooooooo. . . . . .


July 4th, 2010
10:31 pm

Congrats on McBerry’s 3 votes. LMAO!!!

“Unreported support” for McBerry! LMAO!!!


July 4th, 2010
10:35 pm

DannyX did you know that McBerry jumped in the 2006 race the last 90 days of the last race running against the incumbant Sonny Perdue and pulled 11% of the vote. Wow! That is an accomplishment!! Wonder what he will pull this time that more people have heard him speak, see him in action in debates, and know how he stands on issues?


July 4th, 2010
10:41 pm

Legitimate straw poll results from a PAID event? Have you been drinking, Danny boy?


July 4th, 2010
10:43 pm

Why is Roy Barnes running an attack ad against Ray McBerry, Danny boy? C’mon, invent a real good reason.


July 4th, 2010
10:56 pm

Warbler: I guess an answer to that question would be meet Roy Barnes “A Self Serving Career Politician” Hopefully with the current state of our nation, We The People, will investigate the candidates and make informed decisions and vote the true statemen into office to serve the people and restore our state sovereignty.


July 4th, 2010
10:59 pm

I just attended the Gwinnett Co. tea party. Out of about 15 candidates, at least 10 spoke of the 10th Amendment. These words did not pass the lips of the existing politicians six months ago. Why this sudden fascination with the 10th Amendment? Mmmmmmm.


July 4th, 2010
11:10 pm

Have you noticed that Jim has dozens of posts on corruption in the Republican primary. Most of his articles on Democrats are very warm and fuzzy.
Jim, you are as transparent as cellophane (to Hank Johnson, that’s plastic wrap).


July 4th, 2010
11:17 pm

Thankfully there will be Libertarian Party candidates in most of these races so I won’t just have to hold my nose and vote.

Never count on a republican to cut either taxes or spending, and absolutely never both (the only appropriate thing to do). Republicans just don’t understand principles or economics (aside from Ron Paul and Peter Schiff and a handfull of others). Too bad. It sounds like they understand why businesses don’t want to be in this state. Unfortunately they just don’t know how to follow through on principled plans to restore liberty, and that is what it is going to take. Yes, government must be cut to the bone. But republicans only know how to pull the rug out from underneath people, rather than sound economic approaches to replace current goverenment services with a competitive free market approach combined with charity.

Oh well. It will be fun watching them screw up again. At least I know I will have a clear conscience by voting Libertarian (or not voting at all). I mean, my vote is WAY too important to waste on a candidate with no clue. I don’t care who they are running against.


July 4th, 2010
11:18 pm

Warbler, maybe you should read “Nullification” by the great Thomas Woods to see what all the fuss is about with Nullification and the 10th amendment. It may be the only sound approach to getting the DC tyrrany off our backs.


July 4th, 2010
11:27 pm

Yeah the last couple of months those do nothing career politicians have suddenly began reading up on states rights, the 10th amendment and maybe brushing off the dust from their history books. Ray McBerry, has been speaking all across the state and nation on this issue for the past decade.


July 5th, 2010
12:26 am

Karen Handel all the way!! No question!!!

July 5th, 2010
1:03 am

Yes, the practice of cutting taxes over the last eight years has worked SOOOOOOO well for our economy. Yes, Republicans, clamorning for more tax cuts might get you votes, but it’s bankrupting our state. It’s like training your dog to not eat food. Right about the time you get him trained to not need any food, he dies.

Paddy O

July 5th, 2010
2:38 am

I’ve got a lot of questions about Ms. Handel; not sure she will represent the state of Georgia very well. She also smell a lot like flip flop and the health care bill recently passed – big idea with no details. I’ll vote Chapman in the primary.


July 5th, 2010
2:59 am

I will vote for anyone but a republican in any GA State election. These republicans have controlled this State for years and the State has only gone in one direction – straight downhill.

I would vote for Mikey Mouse over any republican in GA.

Bitter EX democrackkk

July 5th, 2010
6:48 am

Karen Handel CAN defeat Royal Barnes, which should be EVERY Georgian’s top priority. WHY would ANYONE want to vote for democrackkk Barnes again? STOOPIDITY!


July 5th, 2010
8:15 am

ProgressivePeach: Tax cuts for federal taxes RAISED revenue to the treasury (maybe you want to read that again). They got MORE money after taxes were CUT. Yes, that is the truth. So when the tax rates go back up after this year, look to see revenues DECREASE.

The problem isn’t that taxes are too low – it’s that the idiots in our government don’t know how to curb their spending – they think they have blank checks. And then we keep electing them over and over again, thinking that something will change (what’s the definition of insanity again?). Taxes are too high – given what we get for them. Lower taxes – but ALSO stop spending. That’s the key.

Churchill's MOM

July 5th, 2010
8:26 am

atlmom 8:15 am

Are you going to vote for Johnny Bailout Isakson (RINO, Ga) or Chuck Donovan? I’m feed up with our Big Spending Big Government, ProAmnesty Senators.


July 5th, 2010
8:31 am

Hey progressive peach if you liberals would quit sucking all the money from the state(welfare, free medical care, free dental care free this and free that) maybe we wouldn’t have to tax so much ever think of that? Show us in the Constitution of these United States exactly where it says the federal government has the right to take my money to feed, clothe, medicate, provide cell phones, welfare cards and all these other handouts to the “LESS FORTUNATE” read lazy, sorry useless no work ethic bums.

Tell us oh great liberal one where is it??????????????????