As evidenced by his quick change of mind on the pursuit of federal funding for education, many of Nathan Deal’s wounds have been self-inflicted.
But the hammering that Karen Handel, the frontrunner in the GOP runoff for governor, has given Deal over the past week – in TV ads, in a weekend mailer, and in a Fox5 debate – has turned off some very specific Republicans.
Mark DeMoss is a Buckhead public relations specialist – Franklin Graham is a client – who served as Mitt Romney’s liaison to evangelicals during the 2008 presidential campaign. Romney, as you well know, has endorsed Handel.
DeMoss was ready to do the same. We’ll let him pick up the rest of the story in a Monday letter he wrote to Handel:
I’m sorry I have not returned your recent phone calls as I have been on vacation for most of the past month. I returned home last night fully intending to go online and make a maximum contribution to your runoff campaign when I saw your “Investigation Journal” mailing in my mailbox. I was saddened to see your campaign has resorted to this.
Karen, I can not and will not support this kind of campaigning with my money; I’m sorry. While I have several problems with this tactic, my primary issue with it may not be what you think.
Certainly many people in this country (including me) are tired and turned off by “attack ads” and “negative campaigning;” but I have a strong objection to this on different grounds. I believe that if the strongest case you can make for supporting you is that your opponent is “one of the most corrupt members of Congress,” that is a sad commentary on you and your qualifications to be governor of our state. Is this really the most compelling case why we should support Karen Handel?
I actually think this strategy reflects more poorly on you than it does on Nathan Deal. I don’t solicit business for my public relations firm using this tactic and I am repulsed by politicians who solicit support primarily on the grounds that their opponent is basically a “bum.”
I realize political consultants routinely advise candidates like you that this strategy works, unpleasant as it may be, and they may be right. But it doesn’t work with me and I’m disappointed that you chose to use it. I think the voters of this state deserve better.
Replied Dan McLagan, spokesman for the Handel campaign:
“We’re sorry that Mr. DeMoss feels this way and we hope that he has already sent similar letters to Nathan Deal and the other groups who have spent $1 million attacking Karen and distorting her record in the primary. We know that he would not want to create a perception that there’s a double standard in play.
“In fact, the AJC and Office of Congressional Ethics should get one as well since the whole piece consisted of quotes from them with little editorial commentary from us.”
But in an interview on Tuesday, DeMoss said that, in cases of unbridled attacks, truth isn’t necessarily a defense.
“Even if every word is certifiably true, not in dispute by either side, I still think it’s a lousy tactic, and it is not a compelling tactic to make you our governor. That’s what I would say to her,” he said.
DeMoss marveled that candidates are the only American commodity that is sold by tearing down the competition. You don’t see Holiday Inn sell rooms with charges that the Marriott down the street has bedbugs.
This isn’t the first time that DeMoss has used his checkbook to demand more politeness in political campaigning. This spring, DeMoss announced he would withhold contributions from the Republican National Committee, after word leaked of an RNC fund-raising slideshow that portrayed President Barack Obama in Joker make-up.
For the last year or so, DeMoss has teamed with Lanny Davis, a prominent Washington Democrat and Hillary Clinton supporter, to form something called the Civility Project. It is not going well.
In May, the pair sent personal letters to 50 governors and every member of Congress, asking them to sign a pledge to keep conversation civil in political debate.
“I didn’t expect a tidal wave of responses. But we have, to date, one member of Congress who signed this thing. Frank Wolf of Virginia. Since then, nobody has responded to it,” he said.
“Honestly, I’m not sure what I’m going to do with the project. I may just shut it down and go on to other things,” a discouraged DeMoss said. “It should be easier to sign than a no-tax pledge.”
The Savannah Morning News this morning quotes U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston as saying that former state senator Eric Johnson of Savannah, who finished third in the July 20 Republican primary for governor, is backing Nathan Deal in runoff.
But other than saying on Facebook that he “likes” Deal – does that remind anyone else of middle school? – Johnson has kept mum. Kingston says he spoke with Johnson earlier this week, after Johnson returned from a vacation.
In an interview with the Post-Searchlight newspaper in Bainbridge, Democratic nominee for governor Roy Barnes made prominent mention of jet fuel and candy, though not together.
From the newspaper:
[Barnes] said one of the greatest needs with the number of peanuts that are produced here is a candy company, such as Mars, M&Ms or Hershey, which could produce their product near where a key ingredient—peanuts or pecans—are grown.
Another item he would like to push is giving preferences to Georgia companies.
He said he noticed when renewing his hunting license recently that the company issuing Georgia hunting licenses was from Missouri.
“I think Georgia companies should get a preference within a very narrow margin within one to three percent if they employ Georgia workers. We’ve never gotten in to that, and I think this the necessary time,” he said.
But Delta will be paying attention to this portion of the article:
The state has said the economy won’t normalize for approximately five years, which Barnes said seems a little too long.
“Assuming you have a little growth, you sweep that off to education. You set your priority. And then if you need to, you suspend some sales tax exemptions for two to three years,” Barnes said.
The state should look at some of its exemptions, which could add up to $6.1 billion, as an item it could recoup some money from.
He cited aviation fuel.
“Why should airlines not have to pay sales tax when your delivery trucks have to pay for sales and motor fuel taxes,” Barnes said. “Those are some of the things you can look at.”
One day after a joint House and Senate hearing on the state of the HOPE scholarship and the Georgia Lottery, Senate Democratic Leader Robert Brown of Macon declared that he will call for a return to family income limits for those receiving college scholarships.
“This gambling money was not intended to supplant traditional education dollars nor provide an entitlement program,” Brown said Tuesday.
Setting the family income limit at or below 600 percent of the federal poverty level would ensure that the program would remain financially solvent, Brown said.
The press release from the Senator contains a not-so-sly dig at conservative Christians on the Republican side:
Senator Brown said faith leaders who remain opposed to gambling dollars for education can replace the HOPE money for students under their leadership with other private dollars.
This would help prevent families of faith from yielding to the temptation of gambling dollars. By expanding private options, it would provide more funding for these families while making more funds available for families not inhibited by religious sanctions.
The Marietta Daily Journal has this bit of good news for one candidate in the Republican runoff for attorney general:
The Georgia Christian Coalition has given attorney general hopeful Sam Olens its highest rating, A+.
Olens faces Preston Smith of Rome in the Republican runoff for attorney general.
A well-known political consultant told the Journal that the Christian Coalition endorsed Olens because of recent headlines revealing Smith’s extramarital affair, although GCC president Jerry Luquire said his group’s selection of Olens is not an opinion of his opponent.
“Mr. Olens earned the highest rating by his conservative, pro-family work in his elective career. This includes his support of public prayer against the (American Civil Liberties Union),” Luquire said.
In a Tuesday e-mail to supporters, Mary Norwood has finally thrown in the towel. Said the independent candidate for Fulton County Commission chairman, who has been refused a place on the November ballot:
“After the setback at Fulton County, I conferred with my local and national teams and discussed the scenarios of recourse in various courts. At the end of an extensive and exhaustive review, I determined that the judge’s decision would stand….
“I have had many ask if I will run as a write-in candidate, but the reality is that it would be not be possible to win a county-wide race as a write-in candidate, even with your support.
“Just as our laws make it extraordinarily challenging to run outside the two-party system as an Independent candidate, garnering enough votes–to win–from voters who would “write in” a name that isn’t on the ballot isn’t feasible or realistic.