Your morning jolt: Republicans put distance between themselves and the state Capitol

Georgia Republican candidates for governor take part in a final debate. Curtis Compton/AJC

Georgia Republican candidates for governor take part in a final debate. Curtis Compton/AJC

The campaigning side of the state GOP couldn’t afford to be seen with the governing side of the Republican party on Sunday night.

Much was made of Karen Handel’s absence from the Atlanta Press Club debates for governor, held at Georgia Public Broadcasting headquarters.

But with one runoff berth – possibly two – at stake, the most interesting aspect of the GOP confrontation was the effort made by each candidate to separate himself from the Republican-controlled Legislature and Gov. Sonny Perdue.

Asked – by yours truly – whether $96 million in fee increases passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Perdue amounted to a tax increase, each candidate answered in the affirmative:

Nathan Deal: “It comes closer to a tax increase than anything else I can call it.”

Eric Johnson: “Anything that increases revenue to state government is just like a tax increase, no matter what you call it.”

John Oxendine: “It’s a tax. You take money from the taxpayers of Georgia, take it out of their pockets, it is a tax.”

Jeff Chapman: “To increase an existing fee or establish a new fee would be considered a tax increase….That’s one of the reasons I stayed this session and did not leave to run for the office of governor.

“I understood that there would be many people advocating tax increases. I chose to stay in the foxhole, fight through it, and oppose that tax increase along with some others.”

Republican members of the General Assembly no doubt winced as they listened to that exchange.


All five GOP candidates swore they would not follow the example of the current governor, and would place their investments in a blind trust or, in the case of those with businesses, mothball them.

Though he didn’t call him out by name, Oxendine chided Perdue for breaking a tradition established by Joe Frank Harris, the first governor to place his assets in a blind trust while serving as governor.

Said Chapman: “It does grieve the public to hear of someone as high as the office of governor benefitting, and doing deals.”


But curiously, the state senator from Brunswick was the only one of the five who said he had a slice of business that he would have to continue dealing with personally.

“Right now, the U.S. Army is looking at a patent, a piece of equipment that I invented, for soldiers – to save lives and help them mobilize their equipment,” Chapman said. “So I’ve got to hurry up and get that deal taken care of, ’cause I’m the only one who can move it forward.”

After the debate, Chapman explained a little bit more. Over in Iraq, semi tractors capable of hauling large trailers are valuable commodities – the U.S. military has only about 3,000 of them. Chapman has invented some hardware that permits more heavily armored trucks – which are also more plentiful – to haul those trailers.


Seth Harp, one of several Republican candidates for insurance commissioner received special attention during the gubernatorial debate, for these comments he made during his campaign, aimed at Oxendine:

“The citizens of Georgia demand a commissioner of insurance who will run the office with ethics, integrity and transparency.

The state of Georgia will not tolerate another insurance commissioner plagued with ethical problems.”

Asked what he thought of Harp’s remarks, Oxendine said:

“Seth Harp is an individual who is a trial attorney. He has spent his entire career trying to hurt Georgia businesses. He was against tort reform, and he has been in the pocket of all the trial attorneys. Which are the exact same ones funding Roy Barnes’ campaign.

“I think we’re going to see a lot of the trial attorneys using all of their pawns to come after John Oxendine, because they know that John Oxendine is the strongest candidate that will beat Roy Barnes.”


There were signs that the state GOP will pay a price for the harsh tone of its primary for governor. Of the five candidates on the GPB stage, only one – Johnson – would commit to endorsing and supporting the Republican nominee who comes out of the Aug. 10 runoff.


Immediately following the Republican gubernatorial debate, a small army of Atlanta police officers rushed Georgia Public Broadcasting headquarters.

The cops declared it wasn’t anything the candidates said.

From my AJC colleague Ty Tagami:

Police were responding to a tip that a stabbing suspect might be in the building, officer James Polite, an Atlanta Police Department spokesman, told the AJC.

Later, Atlanta police public affairs manager Carlos Campos explained that the tip had been about a suspect hiding in the ceiling of the building. He said it appeared to be a prank call and that officers found no suspect.

The GOP candidates for governor were allowed to depart, unmolested.


The four candidates for governor with money yet to burn are on four separate aircraft today, touring the state for tarmac press conferences – trying to hit as many media markets as possible.

Highly convenient for TV crews.

Though it probably doesn’t mean anything, Democrat Roy Barnes and Republican Karen Handel are traveling clockwise. Republicans Nathan Deal and Eric Johnson are moving counterclockwise around the board.

Oxendine has a lunch-time appearance in Macon, then the downtown Varsity in Atlanta. And then he’s phone-banking.

Barnes: A start at Peachtree-DeKalb, Augusta, Savannah, Albany, Columbus, Macon, and back to PDK.

Handel: A start at PDK, Augusta, Savannah, Macon, Columbus, and Dalton.

Deal: Dalton, Columbus, Albany, Macon, Augusta, and Dalton.

Johnson: PDK, Dalton, Columbus, Macon, Augusta, Albany and Savannah.

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51 comments Add your comment


July 19th, 2010
9:51 am

I watched the “Debate” last night, we are screwed.


July 19th, 2010
9:58 am

Well at least Chapman is looking for a way to make some money out of all this.


July 19th, 2010
10:04 am

Interesting that the Republican Party would not let one candidate for governopr qualify because he refused to sign the party’s loyalty oath. Yet, with the exception of Eric Johnson, every other Republican candidate freely admitted Sunday night that they would be willing to violate the oath they swore to uphold. Does taking an oath mean nothing to them? If Karen Handel is the nominee, are Nathan Deal and John Oxendine going to back Roy Barnes?


July 19th, 2010
10:06 am

“The GOP candidates for governor were allowed to depart, unmolested” Yeah, the cops missed the REAL crooks in the building.

Good job last night Jim (actually Friday, I think.) You need to school some of your colleagues on how to ask concise, coherent questions.


July 19th, 2010
10:16 am

I didn’t watch the debate and have known for weeks that were are doomed.

Jim Nichols

July 19th, 2010
10:20 am

I wonder if anyone is going to jump on Oxendine for either not knowing, or being completely disingenuous with voters, when he stated that tax cuts pay for themselves in increased revenue. That has been empirically proven to not be the case in many situations.

The Republican candidates I’m running against in State Senate 17 seem to not know that one either…

I mean its pretty basic econ 101.

Paddy O

July 19th, 2010
10:22 am

Mr. Galloway – missed the debate – can you publicize your questions & the answers to them? Any of the questions come from the bloggers here?

Keep doing this GOP

July 19th, 2010
10:24 am

Makes me glad i voted for Polythress


July 19th, 2010
10:26 am

“But with one runoff berth – possibly two – at stake, the most interesting aspect of the GOP confrontation was the effort made by each candidate to separate himself from the Republican-controlled Legislature and Gov. Sonny Perdue.”

Interesting? You find that interesting? I find it disgusting. They’re freakin republicans!

Will Jones - Atlanta Jeffersonian Exegesis

July 19th, 2010
10:35 am

From North Georgia to the Okefenokee, the Golden Isles to the Chattahoochee, all Georgians, urban, suburban, exurban and country, can be confidant that DuBose and Carol Porter, as Governor and Lt. Gov., will be a credit to Our State and no embarrassment: a productive, harmonious married couple leading our government…they will be the “darlings” of The Nation.

Progress isn’t a bad word. It’s what life on this planet requires. Let’s make elect these two who have proven they know how to be happily married, raise a family and do good and right.


July 19th, 2010
10:37 am

Obama had to admit that the money he is taking for healthcare was a tax too. When government uses its power to take money from people, it is a tax.
When the vote was happening the Democrats all denied that healthcare created a tax. Now in his court pleadings, Obama says it’s a tax.
A tax by any other name is a tax.


July 19th, 2010
10:40 am

Oxendine and Handel were the ones who lost the most last night. Every time Oxendine opens his mouth his numbers drop. People were curious to hear what Handel had to say and also see her ‘bring it on’ persona in action. She left everyone hanging and left people with more questions than answers about herself. Our state would be in good shape either way with a Johnson/Deal runoff.

Jimmy Johnson

July 19th, 2010
10:49 am

McBerry needs to go. He has no business being in this race and he takes away from all the legitimate candidates.

Go home Ray, and take Steve Tarvin and your Tea Party of one endorsements with you!


July 19th, 2010
11:09 am

“The candidates were allowed to leave unmolested.”

That’s the first time the term unmolested has been used to describe Ray McBerry.


July 19th, 2010
11:11 am

Karen Handel skipped the debate because she didn’t want to get hammered for courting the gay vote back in her Fulton County Commission days. Now she lies about that support to court the religious right! What a liar!
A friend of mine who worked nearby her office told me, “She screams at people on the phone!” Yep, a witch with a B.

Hodges for AG

July 19th, 2010
11:16 am

I heard someone supported nullification last night.. seriously? Is this 1832?

Will Jones - Atlanta Jeffersonian Exegesis

July 19th, 2010
11:30 am

Deal is a known crook run out of Congress before the tar and feathers were applied, and Linger Longer’s “good buddy” Johnson’s trying to look like a squint-eyed pirate. Each would be an embarrassment to Georgia.

Oxendine’s childish vanity, brought to high office by corruption, could be no more transparently unevolved and immature were he cast in the role by Hollywood’s best director.

Handel, whose papist whitetrash, Dan Quayle pedigree ends with her, augmented by the endorsement of Roman Catholic and Big Oil front, inbred whitetrash Sarah Palin, has no qualms lying directly and provably to Georgia after thwarting electoral accountability refusing to implement a paper trail as Sec’y of State. Gary Horlacher (D) say he will.

DuBose and Carol Porter is the solution tomorrow. May G-d bless Georgia once more.


July 19th, 2010
11:38 am

Does it bother anyone else that Ox refers to himself in the third person? Is he bipolar?

Will Jones - Atlanta Jeffersonian Exegesis

July 19th, 2010
11:52 am

Though wived with one happy to raise his children on the People’s Dime, Oxendine is not a man and he knows it. Speaking of himself in the third-person is his only means, besides the graft he receives for his corrupt efforts as Insurance Commissioner, of seeming to have gravitas.


July 19th, 2010
11:57 am

Whatever you do tomorrow, Republican primary voters, please do not allow the most crooked of these candidates to participate in the runoff. Do NOT vote for Oxendine.


July 19th, 2010
11:59 am

after studying all of the candidates, Chapman seems to be the most ethical out of all of them.

Will Jones - Atlanta Jeffersonian Exegesis

July 19th, 2010
12:00 pm

Chapman’s a good man. Too bad his confusion on what it means to be American has garnered him GRTL’s endorsement.


July 19th, 2010
12:02 pm

Ray McBerry For Governor. VOTE!

Jon Lester

July 19th, 2010
12:13 pm

RBN, I thought of that, too. Wasn’t exactly a winning tactic for Bob Dole.

Baby's Daddy

July 19th, 2010
12:18 pm

Ain’t but one hope for elephant party–Karen Handel; she be Roy’s worst nightmare. Vote for Thurbert and get us some bingo cards to play wit.


July 19th, 2010
12:46 pm

This GOP group is comical. I have laughed so hard at these commericials.

Deep voice over:

Karen Handel says she hates gays. Does she? Lets check the record…No one hates gays like Nathan Deal. A real conservative, with real hate for gays.

I’m John Oxendine and despite my effeminate nature, I hate gays as much or more than Nathan Deal. But also, as the most conservative candidate, I also hate taxes more than anyone. No one hates taxes like I do, so suck on that Eric Johnson.

I’m Eric Johnson and I am the most conservative candidate for governor. Want proof? I’ll give it to you. My opponent, Nathan Deal hates gays. I hate gays more. My opponent John Oxendine hates taxes. I hate taxes more. But I will see their hatred for Gays and taxes and raise them immigrants. See, I will stop illegal immigration at the border. What border you ask? The Georgia Border. I will make it law that all mexicans will show their ids twice daily to a police officer and whats more I will build camps where we can concentrate these mexicans who don’t show their papers. Yes, mexican concentration camps. That enough hate for ya?


July 19th, 2010
1:09 pm

Hahaha, Imno, I think you nailed it.


July 19th, 2010
1:13 pm

Imno, that was funny. Unfortunately it is their way of pandering to the voters of GA. If it didn’t work they wouldn’t do it. That’s not funny.

Jim Nichols

July 19th, 2010
1:24 pm

Definately funny and definately works in a Republican primary. But I think Barnes’ “the rest of the nation is laughing at us” resonates with voters when you speak one to one and force Republicans to move past platitudes.

At least thats what I’ve found on the trail down here in Henry/Newton/Rockdale/Spalding/Walton….

Morehouse Guy

July 19th, 2010
1:36 pm

I think lmno should have his own blog and replace Galloway. That GOP gubernatorial is a race to the bottom, where people are actually penalized for treating gay Georgians like everyone else, pledging to slash every tax left and right (without specific recommendations as to where they will cut spending), and passing laws like those in Arizona that stand on questionable constitutional grounds (I thought Sarah Palin said that Karen Handel was a “Constitutionalist” — — but apparently not) that will do very little to actually reduce the number of illegal immigrants in the state or Georgia (I bet the GOP’ers on this blog think we have the capacity in our state law enforcement agencies to both enforce our laws AND get ever undocumented person out of Georgia, huh?). But to be fair, King Roy has also jumped on the “let’s stop and depart every person that speaks Spanish” bandwagon. Amazing.


July 19th, 2010
1:52 pm

Well, you certainly aren’t going to get elected with love in this Christian Nation. Hate is a big seller. It always has been, but this is the first time I’ve seen candidates argue about who hates more.

And maybe I’m old fashioned but I like my pandering to be a little more subtle.

We have guys running for State Congressman jobs all over this state that are actually running against Obama. Some guy in Cooterville, GA who needs to garner 52 votes to hold the office is out there saying he will put an end to “obamacare”.

Like I wrote, its comical.


July 19th, 2010
1:54 pm

All of these GOP candidates seemingly have something WRONG with them. I have been leaning toward a Handel vote in the primaries, but her not showing up last night made me wary. I appreciate her taking a stance against the alleged sexual misconduct of the ultra creepster, McBarry, but I think her being a no-show hurt her more than it helped. I would have really liked to hear her weigh in on some of the questions asked last night, and also have a female presence on stage. Of course, there’s no one else that I feel will be the right person for the job. Oxendine is a complete wacko, with his 3rd-person references and ethical violations. Deal seems ok, but I’m not impressed with his ethical standard either. Plus I think he might be TOO conservative. Sooooo….what then? What is the answer? Voting for Roy on Election Day? I just don’t know. Very disappointing. OH, Jim, thank you for asking thoughtful and succinct questions last night. Your panel counterparts made me want to jump through the TV and slap the questions out of them. GET TO THE QUESTION!!! There is a lot to say for asking questions with brevity and relevance. You did that, and I appreciate it. Perhaps you should contract yourself out to hold a panelist tutorial prior to future debates.


July 19th, 2010
2:14 pm

lmno, 12:46, you should have replaced all the “I”’s with the candidates name, spoken by them in the third person. I noticed the whole “Bob Dole wants to….” style last night too. Oxendine wasn’t the only one, McBerry and I believe Nathan Deal and Eric Johnson used it too.

I think it was for the ease of voters, all those white guys look alike and pretty much sounded alike. There’s no option in the voting booth for Guy With Sissy Voice, Kinda Crosseyed Guy, Guy Who Really Wanted To Use The C-Word For Karen Handel, etc.


July 19th, 2010
2:15 pm

and 29% of high schools do not make yearly progress….will the dumb arses of this state limit their procreation……


July 19th, 2010
2:19 pm

sorry it should read 29% of all schools


July 19th, 2010
2:31 pm

” There’s no option in the voting booth for Guy With Sissy Voice, Kinda Crosseyed Guy, Guy Who Really Wanted To Use The C-Word For Karen Handel, etc”

Hilarious.. Even funnier that I know who you mean for every one.


July 19th, 2010
3:32 pm

While an ex-officio member of the Jekyll Island Authority, Eric Johnson attempted to hand over Jekyll Island State Park to his campaign finance director.
An astonishingly brazen and outrageous conflict of interest, and indicative of the type of immoral government as a greedfest that has driven this state into the ground over the past eight years.
With the possible exception of Chapman, they all appear ethically challenged and capable of anything –legal or illegal– to get what they want.


July 19th, 2010
3:40 pm

Imagine that–the supposed front-runner not showing up for a debate. “Bring it on!” Uh-huh! And Oxendine talking about Oxendine in 3rd person. Oh my!
No wonder Deal and Johnson and Chapman are up in the polls today!!! Let’s hope the two of them peak tomorrow and THEY are the runoff.


July 19th, 2010
4:02 pm

On a similar note as the distance expressed during last night’s debate, one thing I have found interesting is the complete absence of Sonny Perdue in this primary. Obviously, the governor isn’t going to jump into an intra-party scuffle, but that doesn’t mean that the candidates are prohibited from invoking his name to pick up votes. Most notably, I haven’t heard or seen anything from Karen Handel touting that she used to be his chief of staff, or anything from Eric Johnson along the lines of, “I worked with the governor to…” I think it’s an interesting commentary on Perdue that no one is attempting to capitalize off a sitting governor. Not a ringing endorsement for him to be VP in 2012.


July 19th, 2010
5:04 pm

People, y’all are in for a very rude awakening, because Barnes is going to win in November! All of you are to blame for NOT backing THE strongest GOP Conservative. The only man who can beat Barnes is Nathan Deal, so I ask you…do we want a former “do-nothing” Governor to rule again for the next four years?!!! Geeze…it ain’t rocket science!

The Honkomatic

July 19th, 2010
5:39 pm

How can “an ex-officio member of the Jekyll Island Authority, Eric Johnson” “hand over Jekyll Island State Park to his campaign finance director”.

Did Mr. Johnson own the deed to the property such that this was within his power?

Was the finance director going to sell it on Ebay?


Will Jones - Atlanta Jeffersonian Exegesis

July 19th, 2010
5:41 pm

G-d willing it will be DuBose Porter who beats Roy Barnes tomorrow. This Obama-electing Georgian won’t be voting for Barnes regardless of the Gay Old Pervert party’s nominee.

The Honkomatic

July 19th, 2010
6:12 pm

Mr. Ex-Jesus luuuuuuvs seeing his words in print.

Bet he’s the only one.

Takes brainpower to vote for a lifelong Democrat office holders.

New ideas there…..not.


July 19th, 2010
6:23 pm

Eric Johnson wielded major input and influence as a an ex-officio member of the Jekyll Island Authority and a Senate leader and legislator in the awarding of a 25 year, endlessly renewable, no-compete contract to a resort development company, Linger Longer, owned by his campaign finance director Jamie Reynolds. Ultimately the economy plummeted and the deal fell through. If not for the economic downturn and the fact that the contract was so weighted in favor of the financial interests of the developer that it raised public outcry and scrutiny, Linger Longer would have had the exclusive right to future development of Jekyll Island State Park. This is documented in the public record.


July 19th, 2010
6:52 pm

donna you are da barnes was far from a do nothing gov like sonny

Lee Howell

July 19th, 2010
7:13 pm

What I can’t understand is why Barnes is leading the Dems. Why get a recycled governor when you can get a brand-new one? What’s wrong with Porter & Poythress?

Will Jones - Atlanta Jeffersonian Exegesis

July 19th, 2010
7:53 pm

Porter and Porter would light up America with the entire State of Georgia the beneficiary.

[...] Debates: All 7 Democrats and 5 out of 7 Republicans running for their respective party’s gubernatorial election, squared off in a pair of debates last night. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution offers a nice overview of the evening’s debates. Jim Galloway, the Political Insider with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, was one of the panelists for the Republican debate. He offers some of his thoughts on the debate here. [...]


July 20th, 2010
12:19 am

Did not watch the debate; don’t think I missed anything important!!!!!!!!

Claude Lett

July 20th, 2010
9:08 am

Ray McBerry is the only one running on either platform that will stand up to big government. He will elliminate income AND property taxes with a consumption tax. He will protect your right to keep your gun in an emergency – not like Katrina when guns were taken for public safety. He will protect the rights of unborn innocent children from being sucked into a tube. If you like freedom you’ll like Ray McBerry.