Of Nathan Deal, Roy Barnes and Georgia geography

There’s the mess in Washington, and the mess in the state Capitol.

Decide which one worries you most, and you’re halfway to solving the riddle of the November race for governor of Georgia.

The other half of the mystery is trickier, and will come down to your opinion of two political veterans: An 18-year Washington regular who trumped Sarah Palin’s chosen “mama grizzly,” and the first ousted governor to attempt a return since Georgia was a dusty web of dirt roads.

After 12 hours of limbo on Wednesday, it became clear that Republican voters — by the slimmest of margins — had settled on former congressman Nathan Deal to beat back the return of Democrat Roy Barnes.

The contest is sure to become one of the most hard-fought and expensive in the nation. Millions of dollars are about to be spent to help you identify the nightmare that keeps you up at night, whether it be classroom size or health insurance mandates.

Deal and his allies will hang the albatross of President Barack Obama’s low approval ratings around Barnes’ neck.

The refusal of Washington Democrats to bend on health care and spending “simply reminds Georgians about the way Barnes ruled imperially here,” Gov. Sonny Perdue said Wednesday.

Barnes, in turn, will make Deal part of the Perdue-led squad that — according to the Democrat — has bungled the last eight years of state policy.

“Do we continue down the same path with the same team that gave us ethics violations, teacher furloughs, [and] tax breaks to special interests?” Barnes asked in a TV ad on Tuesday. “Or do we work our way back?”

In between will come heated discussions of congressional investigations, apologies, so-called “birthers,” and what teachers should and shouldn’t remember.

Georgia has one of 37 races for governor this November, and is one of a dozen or so rated as toss-ups.

On June 30, Barnes reported having $1.1 million on hand to finish out the July 20 primary. Assume Deal is broke, or nearly so, after an extra three weeks of campaigning in the GOP runoff. But do not grieve for him.

With 2012 redistricting at stake, national Republicans and Democrats — both with tens of millions of dollars at hand — have identified Georgia as their playground. “A top-tier pickup opportunity,” says the Democratic Governors Association.

On Wednesday, the DGA immediately picked up where Karen Handel had left off, denouncing Deal as “a corrupt Washington insider.”

But keeping Georgia in “R” column may be more important to the Republican Governors Association, now led by former Perdue aides — who defeated Barnes in 2002. Also, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, RGA chairman, is making noises about a presidential run in 2012. The loss of a reliably red state would be a blemish.

“I do know that Georgia is a priority,” said Eric Tanenblatt, Perdue’s former chief of staff.

But character lies at the root of all politics, and a Barnes-Deal contest offers its own peculiarities:

– With Handel’s defeat, age, gender and government experience have been largely removed from the campaign equation. Barnes is 62. Deal will turn 68 this month. Both are lawyers with long careers in politics. “Outsider” is a term that applies to neither.

– Deal’s family history is peopled with teachers and school administrators. That, and two college degrees, are likely to make Deal a more confident suitor than Handel for the votes of teachers across the state — the constituency to whom Barnes has directed most of his apologies.

– Geography becomes a factor. Both Deal and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, a Republican up for re-election, hail from Gainesville. House Speaker David Ralston is from Blue Ridge — which would complete a north Georgia triumvirate of power in the Capitol, should Deal and Cagle win in November.

Barnes is from suburban Marietta, but look for the Democrat to test Deal’s appeal south of I-20, perhaps with some subtle stoking of regional jealousy. “The majority of the vote is in metro Atlanta, but middle and south Georgia are going to be critical,” said Carpenter, the Barnes campaign manager.

– Another north Georgia factor: The 9th District represented by Deal is Georgia’s most conservative. Last year, Deal signed a letter requesting from Obama proof of his citizenship — on behalf, Deal said, of curious residents of his district. Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, was asked about the “birther” letter Wednesday — but played it down. “I think if you look at what Nathan Deal is probably going to have to explain…, that may soon be the least of his concerns,” Gibbs said.

– Gibbs’ remark was a reference to a congressional ethics investigation short-circuited by Deal’s resignation this spring, looking into pressure the congressman brought to bear on state officials to protect his auto salvage business in north Georgia. Handel raised the issue in the runoff — but look for Democrats to emphasize that Cagle, the Republican lieutenant governor, helped arrange meetings between Deal and state officials.

They’ll argue that one is a scandal, but two is a conspiracy.

– Then there’s the historic feat Barnes is attempting. Gov. Eugene Talmadge was booted out of office by voters in 1942. He was re-elected in 1946 — but died before he could take office. That was the last time Georgia voters forgave a governor —and gave him his old job back.

Memories of Barnes’ style remain, Republicans hope. “It’s very difficult to say, ‘I wasn’t a good listener eight years ago, but I’m a good listener now.’ It’s a tough sell,” said Chip Lake, chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland and a major Deal supporter.

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94 comments Add your comment

EJ

August 11th, 2010
6:14 pm

And what of John Monds, Libertarian candidate for governor?

Rob

August 11th, 2010
6:27 pm

And what of Monds? Face the facts: He has no chance to win, so why should he even be discussed – except perhaps as a spoiler for Deal. Third party fringers like Monds just muck things up for the vast majority of us who realize that the winner will either be a Republican or a Democrat. I’ll stick to the real world, thanks.

Athens Voter

August 11th, 2010
6:27 pm

DDT

August 11th, 2010
6:30 pm

Vote for either one since they will get the goldmine and we will get the shaft. Kind of like getting to pick the way you die, whats the difference really since you are going to be dead whatever you choose.

Burroughston Broch

August 11th, 2010
6:31 pm

Methinks I will hold my nose and take a chance on Nathan Deal. I have already experienced Roy Barnes gubernatorial performance and don’t want a repeat. Roy Barnes is a know nothing who knows everything.

khc

August 11th, 2010
6:39 pm

let’s hope the issues get thoroughly discussed and all georgians listen with an open mind and force these candidates for details as opposed to cute one-liners…..

clear choice

August 11th, 2010
6:45 pm

Nathan Deal is just as corrupt as they come. He would be in the same sinking boat as Charlie Rangel and Maxine Waters — being skinned alive before the House ethics committee — if he hadn’t “conveniently” resigned from office to run for Governor.

Good timing for him, Raw Deal for Georgia.

DDT

August 11th, 2010
6:51 pm

Kind of like being in the middle bathroom stall in a mexican resturant with people on both sides of you trying to figure out which smells the worst, the drunk on one side that let a pickled egg and beer fart or the big fat slob on the other side that has the squirts after they ate three plates of cheap crappy mexican food. Voters will need to wear a gas mask to the polls.

Red Clay

August 11th, 2010
7:04 pm

Barnes has to be kidding. Just the flag issue should sink him. I know the libs love that, but in reality he found a way to circumvent and override the wishes of the majority of people in Ga that wanted to keep the 56 flag.He is a dictator, but a better listener?

Fire Eater

August 11th, 2010
7:25 pm

Kudos to Karen Handel for her gracious concession. She needs to bring her friends Sarah and Jan back here to campaign for Deal.

The folks attacking Deal for “corruption” deserve far more scrutiny themselves…one such outfit is funded by internationalist oligarch George Soros. He has funded groups attacking the Second Amendment.

I saw Roy Barnes supporters at their finest down at the Section 8 housing voucher giveaway in East Point…one of them said it was “just like Katrina.”

Illegal aliens need to be packing their bags in Georgia…maybe all 600,000 of them will move to LA and further bankrupt the state of Kalifornia.

John

August 11th, 2010
7:29 pm

Barnes, a sissy walking man who forgot the flag and the people.

The Goobernator

August 11th, 2010
7:29 pm

Sorry, Red Clay. Sonny Perdue was the one that promised a referendum and voter choice on the flag. He did a bait and switch and only offered two choices, no chance of anyone resurrecting the stars and bars, and that really ticks off some of the old timer, conservative, Republican Goobers.

John

August 11th, 2010
7:33 pm

DDT, you the man.

calvinb

August 11th, 2010
7:40 pm

Yes. Stick to the issues. I am leaning toward old Nathan provided he doesn’t say or do anything terribly stupid and offensive. Like old Kil Joy Roy did in snubbing the POTUS, Veterans and Teachers.

Billy Joe Poteet

August 11th, 2010
7:45 pm

I would venture to say that the people posting here in favor of Barnes are either too young to remember or did not live here under King Roy’s prior reign. I can’t fathom that anyone familiar with his earlier performance would support him now. He lied to the voters before and gazed down from his lofty perch with disdain at the people who put him there. Are we to believe that he has undergone some magical and mystical change? I think not . . .

luangtom

August 11th, 2010
7:48 pm

I wonder if the DNC will send King Roy any money for his campaign? Afterall, he snubbed their poster-child, President Obummer. I doubt that King Roy could not have rescheduled a meeting with Sheriffs Association members. He just did not want to be on the same stage as Obummer. Maybe that was a smart move……

rbn

August 11th, 2010
7:48 pm

Teachers need to focus on the class size reduction, decent pay raises, and hunreds of millions spent to renovate schools during Roy 1. Contrast that to the slow destruction of Sonny 1, followed by death spiral of Sonny 2 and get back to work with Roy.

Billy in Savannah

August 11th, 2010
7:55 pm

I remember the prosperity of the state during Barnes’ term as governor. I cannot believe the name calling that Republicans like to throw. They never discuss the issues and who is better qualified. They just keep voting against their own interests (unless, of course they are in the upper 2% of income). Study the facts Billy Joe! By the say, did you even realize the blue flag Barnes’ briefly reinstated was the historic flag our homeguard fought under defending our state from the Northern invaders? Barnes for Georgia!

Billy in Savannah

August 11th, 2010
7:58 pm

You are so intelligent luangtom, so typical. He is the President. How about a little respect and intelligent discussion rather than name calling. You must watch FOX all the time. (I agree with your comment rbn).

khc

August 11th, 2010
8:10 pm

poteet you been asleep last 8 years….and john, marie could kick your arse

David Staples

August 11th, 2010
8:17 pm

@Rob – Monds has every bit as much of a chance to win as the other two candidates do. The only reason third party candidates don’t have as much of a chance to win as the others is people like you that continue the “can’t win” theory. When people start voting based on the issues instead of the letter beside the candidate’s name we’ll truly see reform. Until then, if you’d rather choose between bad and worse, have at it. I’ll stick to the candidate without ethics issues who is for smaller government, less spending and lower taxes.

Postmortum

August 11th, 2010
8:24 pm

Handel might have gotten the endorsement of the MILF candidate, but it looks like she didn’t get the MILF vote. And as many ageist things as Handel said about her opponent, her supporters are just going to have to deal with that comment.

AthensLibertarian

August 11th, 2010
8:31 pm

I’ll second David’s comment to Rob. The biggest reason people write off 3rd party candidates is FEAR. Fear of splitting a vote. Well, the truth of the matter is Rob, the Libertarian Party pulls in as many, if not more, angry moderate Democrats as it does angry moderate Republicans. If you stand on principle, your vote is never wasted. Smaller government, more freedom, lower taxes. Vote Libertarian. Unless you are just afraid to stand up for your principles, and if that’s the case, you’ll get what you vote for. Don’t bitch about it later.

JDW

August 11th, 2010
8:48 pm

Monds has no chance. Roy is not the greatest but is way better than The Corrupt One. As for Sonny…..just name one accomplishment other than getting a great deal on personal loans.

CobbVoter

August 11th, 2010
9:10 pm

I’ve never felt as good walking out of the voting booth (or pressing a touch screen) as when I voted my principles. During the primary, I voted for a select few in the GOP, hoping they’d “seen the light” of their big spending, theocratic ways. It seems they haven’t, and they elected a crook to run for Governor. I know it, he knows it, and you know it.

I’m no fan of Barnes, but I’d rather have a know nothing than a crook.

I’m voting on principle in November for John Monds, but I’ll take Barnes over Deal in a runoff. Since plurality doesn’t win in Georgia, I will sleep like a baby on election night, knowing that I voted for the man that best represents my beliefs, instead of having to “fall in line” like the Republicans probably will.

Kris

August 11th, 2010
9:21 pm

VOTE AGAINST THE CROOK
VOTE FOR BARNES IT’S IMPORTANT

pops

August 11th, 2010
9:26 pm

Red Clay

August 11th, 2010
7:04 pm
Barnes has to be kidding. Just the flag issue should sink him. I know the libs love that, but in reality he found a way to circumvent and override the wishes of the majority of people in Ga that wanted to keep the 56 flag.He is a dictator, but a better listener?
————————————————————————————————————–
Bet you didn’t even VOTE on the flag issue, if all you people that are complaining about this issue had voted on it. this would not be an issue. But then you must complain about something

pops

August 11th, 2010
9:30 pm

John

August 11th, 2010
7:29 pm
Barnes, a sissy walking man who forgot the flag and the people.

Why do you bring this up now why did you not vote then

pops

August 11th, 2010
9:32 pm

Billy Joe Poteet

August 11th, 2010
7:45 pm
I would venture to say that the people posting here in favor of Barnes are either too young to remember or did not live here under King Roy’s prior reign. I can’t fathom that anyone familiar with his earlier performance would support him now. He lied to the voters before and gazed down from his lofty perch with disdain at the people who put him there. Are we to believe that he has undergone some magical and mystical change? I think not
——————————————————–
What rock have you been under

Rafe Hollister

August 11th, 2010
9:39 pm

John Monds is the best candidate for sure, since the other two are dishonest and unethical. I pledge to vote for Monds if the polls show him within 10 points of the leader the day before election. If he is not then you are throwing your vote away and if it makes you feel good to vote principal my hat is off to you. Me if prefer to have a choice as to which crook is elected. My Dad always said he voted for Marvin Griffin because he knew about how much money Marvin was going to steal, but he wasn’t sure how much the other guy would steal.

I prefer to vote for the crook who leaves me with the most of my money, enforces the law, makes the schools operate as efficiently as possible, and keeps the pavement smooth. I believe that crook to be the Raw Deal.

Jimmie

August 11th, 2010
9:43 pm

Mr. Galloway, you forget in your description of the fight for voters south of I-20 that Nathan Deal was born in Statesboro in SE Georgia, where he still has a lot of family, and grew up and graduated high school in Washington County in Middle Georgia, where he still has many friends, and is a double Mercer grad. He is a natural below I-20 because he actually grew up there. Nathan has a distinct advantage in that part of the state because is from that part of the state. Also, in that part of the state, Republican turnout was much less than it will be in the general because people were voting in local D races for county commissioners, etc. Many of the D total south of I-20 from the primary will swing to the R column in November and Nathan is a natural in this area because of his roots there.

Mark

August 11th, 2010
9:47 pm

I hate the fact that now Georgia does not have a conservative candidate in the race. I guess Deal will be the lesser of two evils…

Drew

August 11th, 2010
10:14 pm

Let me tell you people hwo Roy reduced class size, I am a teacher in Georgia and was under King Roy’s first and hopefully only reign. He opened up the floodgates to let anyone with a college degree teach. By making certification easier to folks who like the security and summers off to leave their jobs and come into education. By doing that, he allowed tons of well meaning people who could not teach come into the system, taking jobs away from people who went to school to teach, and therefore could not find jobs, overflowed the education system, so that now, thousands of real teachers cannot find jobs. To fund this, he poured millions of georgia taxpayer dollars into the public education systme to pay people who have no teaching skills whatsoever. This along with all the kickbacks doled out to the people who sung his way on the flag deal DEPLEATED A 400MILLION DOLLAR SURPLUS. Had he had his way, the Northern Arc would have trashed thousands of acres of private property in rural Georgia to ease atlanta traffic. So, no, I don’t care about the spin on how good he was for teacher, because he was not. Remember in November: NO FAT SLIME BALL KING RAT ROY.

John

August 11th, 2010
10:25 pm

Roy Barnes was a great governor. It amazes me that people are still upset that the confederate battle emblem was removed from the state flag. That took some guts and may not have been politically correct in Georgia, but it was the right thing to do. As far as his performance as governor, he will find ways to create jobs. The only reason that the confederate flag is not still flying over Georgia is because of the desire to attract more business to this state. We need somebody that will care about putting Georgians to work, and Roy Barnes has shown that he can and will do that.

Ozymandias

August 11th, 2010
10:28 pm

Why do some Georgians eagerly seek a raw Deal?

paradise

August 11th, 2010
10:30 pm

Roy Barnes us a menance and should be banned from holding any public office. When he was governor of this state all he did was hurt the poor people with all his propaganda on preditor lending, now people who do neefd help can not get it. The man is a moron with a law degree, right there you should be scared. The state can not afford him in office, he will do everything possible to destroy this state. He will condone Obama’s health care knowing there is no money to pay for it. He doesn’t have a clue as to what is needed.

Red Clay

August 11th, 2010
10:30 pm

Hey POPS
What do mean I did not vote. There was NO VOTE, just the point, Barnes rammed is rag through the legisature. How could I have voted when the people where not allowed a vote. Shame on Sonny as well for giving us a false vote.

paradise

August 11th, 2010
10:32 pm

I applaude the voters of Georgia for seeing Handel with clear eyes and did not give her a chance to be governor. Now she can back to the County office she held.

Dan Mc

August 11th, 2010
10:34 pm

Drew….you are a misinformed dumbass. You sound like a teacher who sucks and was replaced by someone.

Alan Morris

August 11th, 2010
10:39 pm

Anyone who believes Georgia is a better place to live, work, play or retire today than it was eight years ago simply has his/her head in the sand.

Bobby Anthony

August 11th, 2010
10:59 pm

To rbn: I am a teacher who will never forgive Roy. Sonny did not cut educational funds until Mr. Bush’s recession stripped the state’s reveue coffers. The State of Georgia cannot spend money it does not have. Without the stimulus money being sent from DC there would be many more cuts. We all need to face the fact that next year more cuts will occur. This will happen no matter who the next Governor happens to be. If Barnes is elected I am sure he will make an apology for his campaign promises as he fires more teachers.

Vinings

August 11th, 2010
11:25 pm

Barnes was an opportunist who made sure all plaintiffs attorneys like him benefited from his reign, and that all his friends he appointed to judgeships on his way out benefited after he left. He is a good plaintiff’s attorney but was a slick and creepy governor.

Keep doing this GOP

August 11th, 2010
11:58 pm

Sonny was wanting to cut educational funds from the start of his reign of terror in 2003. He was also wanting to get rid of the govenors exemption on property taxes that same year. The Legislature at the time would not let him do neither.

The fact is, he has cut over 4 billion dollars out of the education fund in this state and he has raised taxes on property owners. And all this with the blessing of the Republican led legislature.

The fact that the man the nominated could be indicted by the FBI for his arm twisting at the Dept of Revenue and could have been in the same boat as Waters and Rangel is laughable.

Why would i even consider voting Republican for anything, including dog catcher.

Kris In Loganville

August 12th, 2010
12:09 am

This will be a close contest because Nathan Deal will once-again rally the state’s large, GOP-inspired, “bigot constituency”. It does not matter to these people that Deal is an outright crook who is in it for self: Deal voters are more concerned with preserving the status quo and reigniting long-lost social and cultural wars. Is that what moving Georgia into the future is all about?

Roy Barnes has support across the state-and Deal knows this. It is essential for Democrats to get out there and vote for Barnes this November. Georgia is a great State that deserves great leadership and honesty from its elected officials. Nathan Deal offers neither.

I’m voting for Roy Barnes in November.

rooster

August 12th, 2010
12:13 am

RED CLAY: The flag was changed in ‘02 in exactly the same way it was changed in ‘56 – by an act of the General Assembly. There is no practice in Georgia of allowing binding popular referenda on policy matters. That’s why the vote between Barnes’ placemat and the beautiful current flag was advisory only. The current flag was adopted by the General Assembly in ‘04, just like its predecessors in ‘56 and ‘02.
GOOBERNATOR: The battle flag is the St. Andrews Cross. The “stars and bars” flag was the Confederate national flag, which resembled the current Georgia flag. If fact the only difference between the CSA’s “stars and bars” and the current Georgia flag is that the blue field on the Georgia flag contains the state coat of arms instead of a ring of white stars. The St. Andrews Cross was adopted for use on the field because the “stars and bars” was hard to distinguish from the union’s stars and stripes in the confusion of battle.
Incidentally, I don’t take second seat to anyone when it comes to Confederate ancestry. My double paternal great-grandfather was the highest ranking member of his regiment from south Georgia still in the game at the end. As as Sergeant! He is on the roster of the armies Lee surrendered at Appomattox. So I don’t disrespect the soldier’s flag whatsoever. But removing it from the state flag was the right thing to do. Barnes’ mistake was having the design done up in secret and then springing it on the General Assembly. If more folks had been privy to the design, someone would have said “Governor that thing’s as ugly as hell,” and there might have been a better end product and a whole lot less backlash. (I always though it was odd that the cluttered blue placemat was designed by the architect who gave us the clean lines of the old Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium and the First National Bank tower,now 2 Peachtree,a state office building.) This was a case in which Barnes’ sense of what needed to be done was correct, but in which the manner in which it was pursued was flawed. And this is true of other issues on which he mad folks mad. BUT, BILLY JOE P, Barnes can learn to be nice a whole lot easier than Deal can dispel questions about his ethics or develop an appropriate set of priorities for the state.

Mayhem Is Coming

August 12th, 2010
1:41 am

What a joke. Handel and Deal have brought old style Louisana politics to Georgia. Deal could easily be indicated before November, that is of course Deal does not find a way to make the investigation”go away.”
I have never heard of a politican quit before the recount. Most likely made a deal with (no pun intended) Deal to pay off the campaign debt. I cannot vote for Deal. I’d write in Mary Norwood, bless her heart, before I vote for that nit wit Deal.

captguitarman

August 12th, 2010
2:05 am

This is surreal. All of these comments parsing the “differences” between Sonny, Roy, and Neal. It would be funny if it wasn’t so completely sad and pathetic. I’ve been here a good long while, but I came here form “out of state” as Burt Reynolds used to say, and I guess it is just impossible for native Georgians to understand what is going on in their state. So here’s a flash for you. There are NO differences. The mean, big bully bitchy candidate who hurted Nathan’s wittle feewings would have made a difference, but she got sent home yesterday. If you all don’t know now that it is going to be bidness as usual in Georgia for at least the next four years, if not the next eight, you are in for a very rude awakening. The whole gosh darned Republican legislative caucus (the majority now and for the future) came out for Deal. Think about that for a moment (if that is a function of which you are capable of applying to Georgia politics), and ask yourselves . . . wonder why dat is? Yeah, wonder why dat is? Here’s one possible reason – if only just a theory – Deal thinks legislators should be able to do bidness with all lobbyists, supporters, contributors, etc. just as long as it is “out in the open.” That always brings a laugh, that “out in the open” BS. The ethics reform law won’t bring it all out in the open . . .so I guess they will all just volunteer the information . . . and monkeys will fly out my butt. Their world will not be rocked, their nests will not be unfeathered — it is bidness as usual with Roy or Nathan, and there is joy under the Gold Dome tonight– and either way, I’m sure that in 2014 we will all be able to look back and hardly be able to count all of stellar legislative and gubernatorial accomplishments that we can now so fondly look back on as we think about Sonny’s tenure in the Governor’s chair . . . “Merlot To Go” immediately comes to mind. But thnk about it, who needs drinking water when you can cork your unused wine at your fave restaurant and take it home with you and drink it while you are parked on the Connector, I-285, I-75, I-85 . . . you name the highway. When I think what all King Roy, or Nathan the “Deal” Deal are going to accomplish working wit dem good ol boys in the legislature the next four years, it brings a tear to my eye . . . literally . . . lots and lots of tears. As for me, I intend to wait and see which city the Braves choose, Charlotte or Nashville, and then move there. As you might have guessed, it is impossible to run a big stadium without drinking water.

frugal voter

August 12th, 2010
2:49 am

Deal is a sleaze. Barnes? Been there, done that. Vote for Monds.

Jayne M. Barker

August 12th, 2010
5:49 am

Now you all, please tell me about the “other good ole boy” from Gainsville? Also, will his opponent ride in on Roy’s coattail???
Please tell me what is his educational background and his about “flight into illness”… Friend you can run but you can’t hide…I heard the U S
Grand Jury is looking for you too???

Fire Eater

August 12th, 2010
5:56 am

Adios illegal aliens.