November could bring a north Georgia triumvirate

If things go the way Republicans want, the biggest news coming out of the November ballot box will be the establishment of north Georgia as the state’s new power center.

House Speaker David Ralston, assured of re-election, resides in far north Blue Ridge. GOP nominee for governor Nathan Deal and Casey Cagle, seeking a second term as lieutenant governor, share a single geographic base: the city of Gainesville, on the banks of Lake Lanier.

The three most powerful men in the state Capitol would live within 50 miles of each other, all within the 9th Congressional District.

“It’s a big state to have everybody in one little corner,” admits Ruth Bruner, mayor of Gainesville.

Republican nominee Nathan Deal (left) of Gainesville, and House Speaker David Ralston of Blue Ridge

Republican nominee Nathan Deal (left) of Gainesville, and House Speaker David Ralston of Blue Ridge. John Spink, jspink@ajc.com

Georgia has never had a governor and lieutenant governor hail from the same city, according to the Georgia Municipal Association. Bruner is torn at the prospect.

On one hand, she’s a supporter of Democrat Roy Barnes.

On the other, governors are famous for directing benefits toward their longtime neighbors — often at taxpayer expense. Joe Frank Harris guided a beer brewery to Cartersville. Zell Miller championed a $20 million playground— Brasstown Valley Resort — near his home of Young Harris.

Roy Barnes sent an amphitheater to Mableton. And Sonny Perdue is putting the finishing touches — despite the steepest downturn since the Great Depression — on a multimillion dollar horse show complex in his home of Houston County.

Republicans are as reluctant to discuss the topic as the mayor of Gainesville — but for other reasons.

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle/Bob Andres, bandres@ajc.com

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle/Bob Andres, bandres@ajc.com

Whether water, economic development or transportation, regional tension lies at the heart of nearly every problem that dogs Georgia.

With an election less than four weeks away, that tension isn’t an issue that Republicans want to hand to Barnes — who has devoted months of attention to south Georgia during his campaign for governor.

“I don’t get any push-back from that,” said Ralston, who in January succeeded Glenn Richardson of Hiram — on the edge of suburban Atlanta — as speaker.

First of all, there’s the state’s dire economic situation, Ralston said. “In this era of budget limitations and deficits, I’m not sure that the tangible benefits are going to be [there] for any governor to do. That overrides everything.”

Then there’s the Internet, the House speaker said. Special favors for the home folk — at least the big ones — have become too difficult to hide. “Can you imagine the blogging that would go on?” Ralston asked. “Zell Miller didn’t have to worry about blogging on Brasstown Valley. I think you can’t ignore that anymore.”

But neither can south Georgia ignore facts on the ground. The power shift toward north Georgia is about far more than a trio of Republicans and the accidental location of their homesteads.

This is the natural result of a century-long shift away from agricultural Georgia. North Georgia — that part of the state above Columbus, Macon and Augusta — accounted for 55 percent of the state’s population in 1960. That figure is now 73 percent, according to 2009 estimates.

Political boundaries for state House and Senate seats, and seats in Congress, will be redrawn when the General Assembly convenes next January — as happens after every U.S. census.

An increase in population will give Georgia one extra member of Congress — from a Republican district likely to be drawn northeast of Atlanta.

But a more significant political shift will occur within the state Legislature.

The continued population drain from south Georgia will force a shift of six House seats to the north, according to initial estimates. For the first time in state history, a majority of House seats would be from 28 counties surrounding Atlanta. In north Georgia.

This worries Georgians who carve out a living below the gnat line. And no issue has been more sensitive to Georgia’s population shift than water.

We’re less than two years away from a federal judge’s deadline to settle our water war with Alabama and Florida. A governor and lieutenant governor living on the shores of Lake Lanier would give bountiful representation to metro Atlanta, whose population depends on the water behind Buford Dam.

Downstream Georgia already feels short-changed. But there could be one bright spot in the November results.

In Washington, Republicans have been content to let U.S. Sens. Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson — one a resident of south Georgia, the other a native of suburban Atlanta — to handle most of the negotiations on water.

In the House, U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Atlanta, has acted as ramrod. But should that chamber shift to Republican control in November, a Georgia Republican would have to be named lead negotiator in the House.

The 9th District of Tom Graves, the Republican elected to replace Deal, includes most of Lake Lanier. But Graves was only elected in May and lacks seniority. A replacement for retiring U.S. Rep. John Linder of Gwinnett County, whose district also touches Lanier, has yet to be chosen.

More than likely, the House water war portfolio would fall to U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland of Coweta County, whose 3rd District includes much of the Chattahoochee River between metro Atlanta and Columbus.

It’s not all the clout that downstream Georgia could desire. But a little is always better than none.

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83 comments Add your comment

greg best

October 6th, 2010
6:55 pm

Nathan Deal, Casey Cagle, and David Ralston….controlling the State of Georgia..imagine that….they could also easily star as the mountain perverts in a Deliverance movie.

Billy in Savannah

October 6th, 2010
7:05 pm

Please don’t let this happen Georgians!

Robert

October 6th, 2010
7:20 pm

Dems…lets flail around desperately to find some issue that actually has traction and can distract the people of Georgia from our memory of King Roy and how he governed this state. So far the Obmacrats have not had any luck finding a way to keep this election from being a referendum on the ruling party and on the history of King Roy.

greg best

October 6th, 2010
7:26 pm

Robert…there you and your ilk go again…try to tie Obama to any Georgia Democrat to fire the racist coals that are always simmering just below the surface. You are a race-baiter and need to be called out.

professional skeptic

October 6th, 2010
7:35 pm

Ha! Deal won’t be funneling taxpayer dollars back home, no sir. Straight into his pocket those dollars will go, a la Gainesville Salvage & Disposal.

You think he played shell games with state contracts before? Just wait until he gets to the Governor’s Mansion…

Mike

October 6th, 2010
8:06 pm

Does it really matter where the best Candidates live? Your article forgot to mention Dr. John Barge candidate for State Superintendent lives in North Georgia.

ghostwriter

October 6th, 2010
8:18 pm

Okay, what’s the good news?

td

October 6th, 2010
8:26 pm

Lets not forget that Dr John Barge is from Rome and Sam Olens is from Cobb. It is going to be great to have not only all of the constitutional offices held by republicans but also to have most of them living north of the Chattahoochee is an added bonus.

Ralph

October 6th, 2010
8:28 pm

Sounds like the AJC is conceding Barnes’ defeat since he and whoever the Democrat Lt. Governor nominee (also not mentioned) is not mentioned as bringing any goodies.

Or is this just more AJC bias?

Mr. Grumpy

October 6th, 2010
8:43 pm

Yeah, that’s all the state needs — a regular Republican mafia running state government.

Hey, if Nathan’s elected Governor, he’ll have to sell his interest in the vehicle salvage business he’s got with the state. You Dealphiles will support that, right? I mean, it wouldn’t be proper — in fact, I think it would violate sate law — if “Governor” Deal doesn’t divest himself of his entire interest in his contract with the state of Georgia. And also the office he rents in Gainsville to the State Board of Pardons and Paroles. Wait a minute. In Nathan’s case, he might want to maintain his relationship with the Parole Board. Ya never know…

It’s going to be interesting if he wins, don’t y’all think. How’s he going to pay on his bills if he’s got to get rid of all these contracts and leases he has with the state of Georgia?

UGA Law

October 6th, 2010
8:52 pm

Hall Native

October 6th, 2010
9:03 pm

The Hall County Mafia is movin’ on up..

Cue Jefferson’s theme.

Sharon

October 6th, 2010
9:09 pm

Obama is the leader of the democrat party. Connecting Barnes to Obama is not racist. I am sorry you cant defend Obama. It’s clear that Barnes is running away from him as far as he can go. So are many othe democrats around the country. The fact is that he has led this country down a path that many of us think is disasterous. Saying so and connecting Roy to the leader the democratic party is not racist but your attack surely is.
Obama is deeply unpopular. Likely to grow more so. Democrats should expect to be connected to the man who has led them into the wilderness.
While I am at it, I am sick of twits who can’t take any attack without reaching for the race card. It’s a sign of your own weakness and a set of issues going on in your heart …not anyone else’s. Grow up.

td

October 6th, 2010
9:10 pm

Mr. Grumpy,

It is called a blind trust. He will not have to divest anything if he does not control the actions of the business.

Robert

October 6th, 2010
9:13 pm

The election in a few weeks is going to be a refenendum on Obama and the progressive’s leadership. That includes Roy Barnes. If Barnes wants to separate himself from Obama’s policies, the opportunity is right before him.
This election has been nationalized by the outrage that many of us feel as our leadership has ignored the will of the people over and over again. We don’t want to see one more democrat elected to anything.

td

October 6th, 2010
9:16 pm

Robert, Barnes said in the debate Sunday that he supported Obama’s election in 08 and MIGHT support him in 12.

greg best

October 6th, 2010
9:20 pm

Robert…go for it, bro’!! You are a racist-mongering hateful guy. Admit it. It’s about a black President, isn’t it? I bet you are an over 59 fat-ass white guy.

FormerGeorgian

October 6th, 2010
9:49 pm

Will someone tell me why the richer states like Connecticut vote Democratic while the poorer states like Georgia vote Republican?

me

October 6th, 2010
10:04 pm

You cannot reason with people using the facts on these politicians. This is their religion and they are not wrong. They believe that no matter what this crook did in the past their faith in him is what counts. Amen and may the LORD not have mercy on their souls for the ill they force on people.

Tom

October 6th, 2010
10:09 pm

greg, methinks you should be looking in a mirror – your posts reek of racism in their own right.

know the truth

October 6th, 2010
10:22 pm

How many of you whinners and hypocrites are willing to put your name on a ballot and run for office?You seem to be quick to criticize those who do and regardless of views would not be happy if even Elvis were governor

robert

October 6th, 2010
10:51 pm

Enter your comments here

robert

October 6th, 2010
10:51 pm

E
nter your comments here

robert

October 6th, 2010
10:55 pm

It is no coincidence that Georgia is such a dumb state and they now are voting Republican. They just don’t know any better. Plus, many Georgians equate the Democrats with Civil Rights for blacks, women, and gays. They are stupid white people who think they got a ticket to heaven but really will burn in hell after they are dead and gone. We can only hope many are older and will soon be off the voting [rolls.

No Longer Republican

October 6th, 2010
11:12 pm

I’ve got to ask Deal supporters question. I am no Roy Barnes fan. I voted for Sonny eight years ago because I just did not like Roy Barnes. He was on ok governor, but I could not stand him. I will vote for Roy tomorrow when I go do the early voting thing. But I understand why some people don’t like him. I do not understand how any body in their right mind who is not directly related to or going to benefit from a Deal governorship would vote for the man. Can someone please tell me? The standard answer is they don’t believe he is a crook and a liar. So all of this stuff is just fabricated out of thin air? Come on you gotta know where there is smoke there is fire. I simply do not understand how reasonable, sensible people can just block all of the Deal background out and vote for him. You must know that will be disaster for this state. Can someone please help me understand?

td

October 6th, 2010
11:15 pm

robert

October 6th, 2010
10:55 pm
It is no coincidence that Georgia is such a dumb state and they now are voting Republican. They just don’t know any better. Plus, many Georgians equate the Democrats with Civil Rights for blacks, women, and gays. They are stupid white people who think they got a ticket to heaven but really will burn in hell after they are dead and gone. We can only hope many are older and will soon be off the voting [rolls.

Or could it be that Republicans equate Democrats to Welfare state, Health care reform, cap and trade, redistribute wealth, anti business, high regulations and tail lawyers? No I guess we are not that smart?

robert

October 6th, 2010
11:23 pm

td

All the issues you listed only help the majority of people in America not just the rich few the Rebels I mean Republicans want to pass. They are for the rich getting richer and the little man to stay down. Just ask them about Unions who have gotten so many Americans a better way of life. The Republicans can’t stand unions.

Matt the Brave

October 6th, 2010
11:32 pm

Maybe with those three in office, Highway 5 from Blue Ridge to Tennessee with finally be widened. Or maybe the 4-lane from Murphy, North Carolina to Blairsville will finally be completed as promised 20 years ago.

And Robert, you’re a jerk. Not all Republicans are racist, but apparently a Democrat like you is a race monger who is much more of a racist and apparently feels like they have to show how much of one they are not to atone for your sins in the past. Good luck with that.

red hill

October 6th, 2010
11:33 pm

So far all I see is the usual Dem drivel. Name calling and race-baiting. The first post compares N GA politicians to “Deliverance” then we have the accusations of racism by tying Barnes to Obama. I have news for you, Obama is the leader of the Democratic party in this country. EVERY DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE from local elections on up to national elections is tied to Barack Obama. The Republicans need to have pictures of every Dem candidate right next to a pic of Obama in every newspaper in the country. Hey, y’all voted for him, now you can live with that choice. Racism?? You have got to be kidding me.

td

October 6th, 2010
11:36 pm

No Longer Republican,

1: First Deal has not been indicted or convicted of any crime in the state of the US. You think you see something and that is your right but some people would need more proof. This is not even that important of an issue to most voters.

2: Re apportionment: Everyone knows how Barnes bullied his way to gerrymandering the districts 10 years ago. The Clinton Justice department even said he went to far. Do not want him any way involved in it this year.

3: National election: The vast majority of voters are angry with the way the Democratic party and the Obama administration have pushed a far left wing agenda and just outright ignored the voice of the people when they said slow down (remember the town hall meeting about health care). These voters are angry and will vote for a straight republican ticket to send a message.

4: Obama: There were a lot of moderate middle class suburban voters (mostly white women and blue collar white men) that listened to Obama tell them he would be a different President. These people felt good about supporting a black man that was going to govern as a moderate. The Presidents actions have made them feel betrayed and embarrassed of their vote. These people are going to come to the polls and try to right the perceived wrong for voting him into office.

5: Philosophy: The reason I am voting for Deal. No matter what he, the media or these bloggers say, Barnes is a liberal. Deal is really a moderate that leans right but he is a lot closer to being a conservative. He will not fight the policies set forth by the legislature the same way Barnes would. We have a line item veto in this state and Barnes would just strike any conservative policies the legislature set forth.

Are these good enough reason for you?

L Dodd

October 6th, 2010
11:38 pm

If Deal wins, watch the deals, with one camera under the table.

td

October 6th, 2010
11:46 pm

robert, Please do not talk to me about unions and their intelligence levels. I worked for a aerospace company in Marietta for 4 years in the 80’s. I was young and a proud member of the union. I saw the union do some good things like protecting workers from management harassing them and got me a good wage and good benefits. I also saw them defend other workers coming to work drunk, sleeping on the job and just not working at all. I went to a union meeting the October before the Presidential election between Mondale and Reagan. In a debate prior to the election Mondale had said that if he was elected he would cut defense spending drastically. Our union bosses were telling us to support Mondale and I asked them why we would even consider supporting someone that was going to cut our jobs? They said because he is a Democrat and Democrats support unions. All the workers their cheered loudly and I left. Support the union over your job, really smart voters.

td

October 6th, 2010
11:59 pm

robert

October 6th, 2010
11:23 pm
td

All the issues you listed only help the majority of people in America

What is you definition of rich? $40, $50, $80, $100 thousand per year? I am within this range and none of Obama’s policies have helped me in the least little bit. I just checked out my open enrollment for insurance next year and Obama’s health care is going to cost me about $70 more per month next year, plus my co-pay is going up by $10 and my deductibles are increasing by $500. This sure did not help me. If the Bush tax cuts are done away with then I will be moving up and paying an additional 5% next year plus I will be paying more taxes because I am married and heaven forbid the tax liabilities if my parent pass away next year.

I consider myself a middle class citizen and I can not see where his policies are going to help me on little bit. Please tell me where they are going to help?

No Longer Republican

October 7th, 2010
12:01 am

td

Thanks for responding, and I was really trying to read with an open mind until you wrote that Nathan Deal was a moderate. That is the stupidest thing anybody has said on this blog. There was not a more conservative right wing hate monger on the ballot in the Republican primiary. Republicans had some decent choices, but they chose the most right-wing, crooked of the bunch and now I have no choice but to vote for Barnes.

No Longer Republican

October 7th, 2010
12:11 am

td,

Also would like to know how electing the crook and liar will have ny impact on what goes on in the White House or the Congress. Electing a governor in Georgia will affect what happens in Atlanta, not Washington. Understand that you hate our president, but because of that hate you want to elect someone who is seriously ethically challenged? Our state gas suffered enough in the last eight years with Sonny in office, Deal will be ten times worse. While the rest of the country moves ahead with new ideas and new industries, we will just be sitting here doing the same old thing because we elect leaders only by party in Georgia. STUPID

CobbGOPer

October 7th, 2010
12:32 am

You mean the 9th District Mafia?

CobbGOPer

October 7th, 2010
12:44 am

As for the racism bits, yeah, I think it’s there. Just ask Herman Cain or Dylan Glenn, two outstanding Republicans who couldn’t get a second look in Republican districts with other white guys with a pulse in the race. I mean, Dylan Glenn lost to Lynn Westmoreland, one of the straight up most ignorant, redneck retards currently occupying a seat in Congress. Why? I’m pretty confident it’s because he’s black. Herman Cain would make an excellent governor. If he had run this time around, he might have made the runoff. And he would have lost to who? Nathan Deal. Because the racism is still there. It’s just that no one will admit it even under water torture.

MD

October 7th, 2010
5:49 am

Herman Cain is a great American.I would vote for him in a second and I’m white.

Bitter EX democrackkk

October 7th, 2010
6:48 am

Herman Cain / Ron Paul 2012 is the DREAM TICKET for President!!!

catlady

October 7th, 2010
6:58 am

Unfortunately the 3 share more than just the R.

Jimmie

October 7th, 2010
7:16 am

This is unbelievable – honestly. Deal is going to beat Barnes handily in south Ga. and Barnes knows it, that is why the AJC serves up this stuff. I thought the AJC was against the notion of the two Georgias. Apparently only when it serves its purpose. Do you think, honestly, that the people of south GA will feel more comfortable with a Republican governor who grew up in a small town in the middle of the state or a big spending liberal suing lawyer who grew up in Atlanta and, with the exception of stint in Athens for school, has never left? I can tell you the answer, but it is not one Mr. Galloway wants to hear. The level of coordination between Mr. Galloway and the Barnes campaign is astounding, disheartening and disturbing. It also speaks of desperation by the Barnes team because they know they have to outperform in south and middle georgia to have any hope of winning and I bet their polls show they are trailing big time based on this junk.

Northside Native

October 7th, 2010
7:28 am

I remember when I was a kid in the fifties my Dad used to rail about the “south Georgia” politicians who ran the state. That ws way back when we had the oild county unit system, and the southern part of the state dominated politics using that system for decades. Like it or not, at least we now have democracy.

SPSU

October 7th, 2010
7:47 am

Funny to see all those on here accusing some of racism. Try living in North Fulton – Fulton County is full of racists like John Eaves, Shirley Franklin, John Lewis & let’s not forget the library lawsuit in which it was stated that there were too many white women working in the Fulton County libraries.

DifferentDrummer

October 7th, 2010
7:49 am

Jimmie

It’s amazing to me how y’all pick on the AJC for reporting information which is also reported by the conservative Savannah Morning News, the conservative Augusta Chronicle, and the conservative Macon Telegraph. Cox Communication owns the AJC and WSB, which broadcasts the Neal Boortz, Sean Hannity, Herman Cain and Mike Savage talk “shows.” What more do you want? You guys bitch and moan about the AJC and its alleged bias toward these crooks you support, when all they’ve done is report the facts…facts you can’t stomach. It’s interesting that “Don Nathan” is quoting the AJC in his ads about Barnes. How come? Because it’s information that he believes supports his campaign. What exactly is it you conservatives want? Total control of the media? That’s what they did in Nazi Germany and Communist Russia. Is your version of the First Amendment a media that broadcasts just your views? If you check a bit, you’ll learn that the AJC also has “conservative” columnists and editors. Galloway hasn’t done anything more than present facts for you to consider. You don’t like Cynthia Tucker because she blasts some of your ilk. Sean Hannity does it everyday on the radio and on that bastion of one-sided “entertainment” coverage, the Fox News Network, and you get your feelings hurt when Cynthia throws a zinger at you. Grow up!

DifferentDrummer

October 7th, 2010
8:03 am

td @ 9:10 PM, Oct 6, 2010

A blind trust? You can’tbe serious. Except for Sonny Perdue, every previous Governor in modern history has put his business affairs in a blind trust—but those business affairs never covered a monthly contract for something like his car salvage rip-off or for real estate leases to the state of Georgia. Is he going to select a Revenue Commissioner who wants to put that program out for satewide bids, like Bart Graham did? What do you think? Is he going to select a commissioner at the Dept. of Administrative Services (which oversees real estate leasing by the State of Georgia) who sees the obvious conflict of interest, which you apparently do not see? What do you think Don Nathan will do? What should he do? What if this commissiioner decides he can save the state money by consolidating leased property in Gainesville, but it would mean abandoning Nathan’s property he leases to the Bioard of Pardson and Paroles? What if Pardons and Paroles finds a better “deal” in Gainseville and wants to get a new landlord for their staff? Do you think they’ll be permitted to do this?

td, you’re very bright, but you’re also very weak on knowledge regarding the ethical standards involving conflicts of intetrests by the state’s most important Executive Officer.

MD

October 7th, 2010
8:10 am

The problem with local atlanta politics is racism to many unqualified blacks in office and thats a fact.

gm

October 7th, 2010
8:11 am

Sharon” You people are idiots, I guess Obama ran the state of Georiga for 8 years, its this kind of thinking make people around the world think Georgia are a bunch of misguided hicks.

What the Dem should do is be proud of things they have done, and point out how the Rep have ruined this country for 8 years and Sonny and his good old boy crew did nothing for this state.

Not to mention how America lost over 5 million jobs under the Bush adminstration nd Sonny did not bring jobs here in this state.

MD

October 7th, 2010
8:11 am

and that holds true in the white house.

Yankee

October 7th, 2010
8:15 am

I live in north Ga.and it is a damn nice place to live.

Yankee

October 7th, 2010
8:16 am

not many democraps.