Updated at 4:55 p.m.: Steve Dillard, central Georgia campaign chairman for Karen Handel, called to say that Nathan Deal was mistaken in remarks he made during Sunday’s debates. Maurice Atkinson, the Bibb County co-chairman for Handel, had indeed withdrawn his support for Handel. But Dillard said that he has not.
Statewide contests in the past have been won and lost on television – and that remains mostly true.
But with campaigns for governor vastly underfunded this year – in Georgia, political money is real estate-based, and free-spending developers have tanked – other tactics have been crucial.
Direct mail in particular.
Over the weekend, the Republican runoff campaign of Karen Handel mailed out 400,000 flyers to GOP-voting households – a four-page, glossy look at congressional allegations leveled at rival Nathan Deal.
Deal himself gave it a mention in Sunday evening’s confrontation on Fox5 (WAGA).
The significance is that this is the second major attack Handel has leveled at Deal in the last five days – without a commensurate response from the former Georgia congressman.
See the entire flyer here. The Handel campaign freely adopts the judgment by the Democratic-oriented Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington that Deal is “one of the most corrupt members of Congress.”
The last page is devoted to excerpts from a report by the Office of Congressional Ethics.
The repeated phrase throughout: “Only your vote on August 10 will stop Nathan Deal from becoming the Republican nominee for governor.”
Karen Handel’s hardball tactics were a prime topic in Sunday’s Fox5 debate between the GOP runoff candidates for governor.
Moderator Russ Spencer specifically pointed to Handel’s TV ad that declared Deal to be a “corrupt relic of Washington.”
Said the former secretary of state, as she stood next to Deal:
“Clearly, if you look at the record, there are some issues of corruption here. There’s a congressional investigation, where, frankly, you resigned in order to avoid it going forward. We have issues of no-bid state deals, that I will call them, that you have been able to make a great deal of money off them….”
Handel accused Deal of “squealing” about negative campaigning – a loaded word in north Georgia, thanks to James Dickey. And she added this:
“You know, it’s frankly time to put the big-boy pants on, because, candidly, if you can’t handle this, how are you going to handle Roy Barnes?”
“The first forum we had after the primary was with the Republican women of Cobb County. And they asked us, will you pledge not to engage in negative campaigning? I have put up an ad with my two grandsons. And here we have a campaign ad that is negative, the worse that you’ve seen, and a mail-out that’s just gone out that’s even worse.
“I think what we’re seeing is, there’s a reaction to this. We have now been informed that her chairperson in Bibb County, and her middle Georgia campaign person, has now resigned because he’s repulsed by this kind of campaigning.”
Spencer then showed a pre-primary ad from Deal, accusing Handel of showing support for gay Republicans.
Deal may have scored a significant point when he questioned Handel about primary accusations she leveled against former state senator Eric Johnson, who finished third with 20 percent of the vote – but has not endorsed in the runoff.
“You said that his ethics were ‘iffy.’ You implied that he was a criminal by virtue of using his political office for his own political gain. Are you now prepared to apologize to Senator Johnson?”
“We are moving on from this, but I will tell you that it is a conflict of interest for anyone to use their office in order to make money for themselves. We are now in the primary – in the runoff. I’m not running against Eric Johnson. I’m running against you. And I’m going to continue to talk about ethics.”
Deal offered this one parting shot at Handel – which he’s likely to elaborate on this week: “I have the credibility, I have the record, and I have the temperament to govern this state.”
Look for that “temperament” part to surface again.
Every campaign takes risks. Today, Roy Barnes is betting that he can court white independents in middle and south Georgia without provoking any resentment among African-American voters who think he’s shunning President Barack Obama in Atlanta.
In Sunday’s Savannah Morning News, Larry Peterson lays out the gamble that Handel is making with her attacks:
Maybe Deal is – as he insists – completely blameless. But the issue doesn’t seem to be going away.
Handel, of course, is trying to make sure it won’t.
Her schtick as a pure-as-the-driven-snow reformer taking on the corrupt-old-boys network likely helped her finish first in the primary.
But there’s a downside: About 63 percent of the people who voted in the primary backed candidates she said were basically crooks – or worse.
Those voters, of course, disagreed. Many probably still do, and won’t support her with much enthusiasm if she wins on Aug. 10.
Atlanta isn’t the only place where Democrats are running for shelter from Obama fundraising. This piece from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram will seem very familiar:
AUSTIN — When President Barack Obama visits Texas on Aug. 9, the state’s top-tier Democratic candidate, gubernatorial nominee Bill White, will likely be miles away, reaching out to voters in Johnson County near Fort Worth.
Another Democratic hopeful for statewide office, Austin attorney Hector Uribe, says he’ll be focused on his bid to unseat Republican Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson. Barbara Radnofsky, the Democrats’ nominee for attorney general, says she too will be preoccupied with campaigning and has no plans to attend an Obama event.
In the first round, Atlanta Tea Party organizers lined up behind state Rep. Clay Cox of Lilburn in the Republican contest to replace U.S. Rep. John Linder.
But despite cash and endorsements from everyone in the state Capitol, Cox finished third.
Atlanta Tea Party decided to try again this weekend, with an endorsement of pastor and radio talk show host Jody Hice, who finished second to Rob Woodall, Linder’s former chief of staff.
Atlanta Unfiltered on Friday shook a finger at Sam Olens, one of two surviving Republicans in the contest for attorney general:
The candidate who promises as attorney general to “aggressively raise the bar on ethics reform” is systematically skimping on reports of his own campaign expenditures.
Sam Olens, former chairman of the Cobb County Commission, received more than $55,000 in unitemized reimbursements from campaign funds since January 2009, campaign reports show. The total includes $17,000-plus from his county commission campaign account.
Olens’ disclosures describe most reimbursements as being for “travel” or for several types of expenses lumped together, such as “travel, mailings, subscriptions.”
State law requires more detail than Olens is providing, said Stacey Kalberman, executive secretary of the State Ethics Commission.