The tea party movement gave the Republican establishment another dose of heartburn on Tuesday, pushing Christine O’Donnell to an upset against U.S. Rep. Michael Castle in Delaware’s GOP primary for U.S. Senate.
O’Donnell’s victory gives Democrats a better chance of holding on to that seat – and perhaps the Senate itself – in November.
But here’s the relevant paragraph for Georgia, from the New York Times:
Mr. Castle, a moderate who served two terms as governor and had been reliably winning elections for the last four decades, became the latest establishment Republican casualty. Republican leaders, who had actively opposed Ms. O’Donnell, said the outcome complicated the party’s chances of winning control of the Senate.
While the GOP is giddy with the current anti-Democratic climate, the sheer volatility of the tea-tinged Republican electorate is unnerving, and has forced some unusual decisions, even here.
Specifically, the tea party movement and its anti-Washington attitude has complicated Nathan Deal’s effort to define himself.
On Tuesday, the campaign of the Republican nominee for governor released its first campaign ad, a biographical TV spot aimed at the lower section of the state that is least familiar with him – Augusta, Albany, Macon, Columbus and Savannah.
Deal is the son of two school teachers, the TV spot allowed. Family photos show him as a young prosecutor, judge and “public servant.”
The ad — which presumably contains the information that the Deal campaign most wants south Georgia voters to know – makes no mention of the fact that Deal spent nearly a generation in Congress, representing north Georgia from 1994 until last spring. Nor does it mention his time in the state Senate.
“This is about the Nathan Deal they don’t know,” Brian Robinson, spokesman for the Deal campaign, said – in an attempt to explain the absence of Washington or Atlanta in the ads.
The Deal TV spot also makes no mention of the former north Georgia congressman’s business experience. Deal was part owner of an auto salvage firm that became the subject of a U.S. House ethics investigation.
But my AJC colleague Alan Judd today provides another possible motivation:
In the midst of his campaign for governor, Nathan Deal faces such dire financial troubles that he must sell his home to avert foreclosure or bankruptcy.
Nathan Deal helped his daughter and son-in-law obtain more than $2 million in loans for Wilder Outdoors, a sporting goods store in Baldwin, Ga. The business failed — and so did the bank that lent the money.
Even if Deal liquidates all his assets, however, he still might be unable to repay a nearly $2.3 million business loan, documents reviewed by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution indicate. The loan comes due in full Feb. 1 — less than one month after Deal hopes to take office.
Financial crises aren’t necessarily fatal for political candidates. In 2009, Gov. Sonny Perdue was faced with payment of a $21 million loan related to his grain elevator business. But the governor has successfully kept a lid on the details.
Republicans were prepared to stick with state School Superintendent Kathy Cox, who – with her husband – was forced to declare personal bankruptcy, until Cox fled to D.C. and secure employment.
This spring, former state Rep. Tom Graves – in the midst of his bid for Deal’s congressional seat – was hit by a lawsuit from a bank, accusing him of being “insolvent” and attempting to duck repayment of a $2.2 million loan.
Tea party enthusiasts nevertheless stuck with Gaves. His financial status remains unresolved, but Graves is now the congressman from the 9th District.
For the Deal, the political impact of this news – apart from limiting his ability (or inclination) to identify himself as a businessman – may be found here:
Any way Deal tries to resolve the outstanding loan carries negative political or financial consequences.
Howard Rothbloom, a bankruptcy lawyer in Marietta, said in an interview he would advise Deal to sell his home and the commercial property, give the bank the proceeds and then ask the lender to write off the balance.
A South Carolina bank, SCBT, acquired Community Bank’s assets and deposits when the latter failed in January. As part of that deal, the FDIC agreed to share losses with SCBT on some of Community’s old loans. That arrangement — in essence, government help in paying off the debt — could work to Deal’s advantage, Rothbloom said.
“Everything is negotiable,” he said. “He could settle with the bank — pay them less than the full amount due in satisfaction of the debt. It’s not unusual.”
The above scenario would make it harder to condemn “too big to fail” and the immorality of federal expansionism.
A reminder: Georgia Public Broadcasting launches a new, weekly show at 7 tonight, called “Prime Time Politics.” Yours truly is involved.
On Fox5 News last night, Dale Russell reported that the state now wants to revoke the hospice permit of a major supporter of state Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine, who lost a GOP primary bid for governor in July:
In the Savannah Morning News, Larry Peterson reports that another Republican candidate for governor is headed back to the private sector:
When Eric Johnson ran for governor, his Savannah campaign headquarters was a suite at Hussey, Gay, Bell & DeYoung (HGBD).
And when the headquarters opened, he recalled starting his architectural career at HGBD in 1985 and said, “it feels like coming home.”
Now he has. The former state senator has been named to lead the firm’s architectural and interior design division. He is the new president of HGBD International.
Johnson, 57, is back at HGBD after working in real estate development for North Point Industrial for four years.
And at ATLaw, the Fulton County Daily Report, Andy Peters tells of state Supreme Court Justice Harris Hines’ odd date on Tuesday:
At 11 a.m., Hines said he was waiting on the steps of the State Capitol to meet a homeless man named J.J.
Hines recently left his cell phone on top of his vehicle and accidentally drove away. When he realized the phone was gone, Hines used his wife’s phone to call his number to see if anyone had found it. J.J. answered and offered to return the phone if Hines would meet him at the Capitol, near where he usually sleeps on the street.
During a news conference being held by Republican attorney general candidate Sam Olens, J.J. kept his promise and handed over the phone.