Your morning jolt: In debate, Johnny Isakson says GOP won’t shut down government

We will get to the quarrel over the Hawaiian shirt soon enough.

The three candidates for U.S. Senate had their one and only debate Sunday night. Given the current political climate, exchanges between Republican incumbent Johnny Isakson and Democrat Michael Thurmond were remarkably civil.

The only harsh notes of discord in the Atlanta Press Club debate were struck by Chuck Donovan, the Libertarian who steadfastly attacked Isakson as something other than conservative.

The Insider was on the panel of questioners, which curtailed note-taking. But there was actual news in the statewide, 60-minute session on Georgia Public Broadcasting:

– Chances are that Republicans will take control of the U.S. House next week – which is certain to set up a confrontation over federal spending with President Barack Obama. But Isakson said that – with troops still in harm’s way in Iraq and Afghanistan, and in need of civilian government support – he didn’t expect GOP leaders to pursue a federal shutdown like the one that occurred under U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich in 1994.

– Asked to give Obama a mid-term grade, Isakson said the president was on his way to an “F.” Donovan said he was already there. And Thurman, the Democrat, gave Obama a “C+” – but added that Congress had earned a “D” for its failure to conduct itself in a bipartisan fashion.

– Both Isakson and Thurmond upheld the use of earmarks in the federal budget process for local projects of importance. Both cited the dredging of the Port of Savannah. Donovan said no earmarks, ever.

– Thurmond declared that he was against repeal of the Bush-era tax cuts, even on the wealthy.

Fox5 this morning posted the first video of the debate:

Here’s part of an Associated Press account:

When asked whether his vote for the first phase of the economic stimulus plan was a mistake, Isakson answered that “in terms of the stability of the financial system, that was the right thing to do.” He added adding that he voted against the stimulus under Obama and against the health care reform legislation approved by Congress earlier this year.

Donovan suggested that Isakson only appears to be fiscally conservative, and that his votes in Congress have amounted to trillions in spending.

“I’ve got a long, successful history of conservative votes,” Isakson countered.

The Atlanta Press Club sponsored what will likely be the only debate among all three candidates and it covered a range of topics, including the federal budget, immigration and the recently lifted ban on gays in the military.

Isakson’s health was also questioned. It had become an issue in the campaign early on after he was hospitalized for an infection. Isakson took the questioning in stride.

“I’m in great health, the best health I’ve been in a long time,” the 65-year-old Isakson said, adding that he has lost 18 pounds. “I feel great and I’m having a good time. So all I can tell you is go to the Internet and see what the doctors say.”

Thurmond touted his three terms as labor commissioner and said he would take his experience to Washington. He said his priority would be to get Americans back to work using a program he debuted in Georgia that has gained national exposure.

“On behalf of the unemployed men and women of this state … I want to reaffirm my commitment to you,” Thurmond said. “When you lost your job during this very hard recession, I was there. If you will elect me as your next U.S. senator, you will have a voice in Washington who feels your pain, who understands the challenges that you’re facing.”

He vowed to be a consensus-builder who would work across the aisle for Georgians.

“I will not be a person who will say no just because a good idea originated with a Republican or who will say yes to a Democrat,” Thurmond said.

***

After the governor’s race, the next priority for the state Democratic party appears to be the race for attorney general, which pits Ken Hodges against Republican Sam Olens, the former Cobb County commission chairman.

A missive from the Democratic party went out over the weekend, challenging Olens’ conservative credentials – including his commitment to gun rights and the Second Amendment.

The proof? Olens doesn’t have a hunting license. (Let it be noted here that buffalo are practically extinct in east Cobb.)

Tension between the two candidates bubbled up during their 30-minute debate on GPB last night. From Walter Jones of the Morris News Service:

A recurring theme was whether the post requires someone who has been a prosecutor. Democrat Ken Hodges, district attorney for 12 years in Albany, described Republican Sam Olens as unprepared for never having been a prosecutor. Hodges dwelt on it so much, that at one point, he misspoke.

“I’m running to be district attorney. Excuse me, I mean, I’m running to be attorney general of the state of Georgia,” he said, as he criticized Olens for seeking the attorney general’s office as a stepping stone for governor.

Later, Olens turned it around.

“I want to be your attorney general, not your district attorney,” he said.

Olens, the former chairman of the Cobb County Commission, said he’s tried 150 jury trials in his legal career, giving him the wide background needed to oversee the state’s Law Department that deals mostly with civil matters anyway.

But he defended charges his salary rose from $58,000 to $129,000 during his tenure as chairman, saying it was set by the legislative delegation, not him. And he brushed off Hodges’ claims that the county’s budget and payroll ballooned during that time by noting that the county has been described by others as one of the state’s most conservatively managed as he cut tax rates.

Olens attacked Hodges for trying three times to indict [a surgeon] at the local hospital [and the surgeon’s accountant,] who were questioning the accounting there.

Hodges corrected him because it was a special prosecutor who sought the indictments after Hodges removed himself from the case to avoid a conflict of interest.

***

But the true drama of the night at GPB studios may have been the struggle over the “iconic” Hawaiian shirt that Libertarian Shane Bruce insisted on wearing during the 30-minute debate among the three candidates for state insurance commissioner.

hawaiian2

Producers were worried how the swirl of colors might play on high-def television.

The Libertarian blog Bludgeon and Skewer posted this photo of Bruce, in his campaign shirt, and two of the party’s other Libertarian candidates — Chuck Donovan (left), running for U.S. Senate, and John Monds, the candidate for governor.

“It was a fight,” Bruce said afterwards. His winning argument may have been the fact that, underneath, he had only a black T-shirt with a prominent hole over his stomach.

Walter Jones of Morris News Service, who did yeoman’s work last night, reports that incumbent John Oxendine was a major topic:

Democrat Mary Squires said he “has been one of the most corrupt that we’ve had in a long time in Georgia.”

…And Republican Ralph Hudgens said just because Oxendine is chairing a fundraiser for him next week doesn’t mean the two see eye-to-eye.

He also said he saw nothing wrong with letting insurance lobbyists pick up the tab for meals or in accepting campaign contributions from individuals in the insurance.

“These are the people who have an interest in the insurance-commissioner race. … I don’t have any problem taking any individual’s money,” he said, noting that the lobbyists encouraged him to run because they viewed him as fair as chairman of the Senate Insurance Committee.

Squires, who is a lobbyist, denied she is trading on her six years as a legislator. She was a lobbyist before her election, she said.

Hudgens asked why she doesn’t mention her lobbying in her campaign materials.

“I’m not hiding it,” she said, noting her name appears on the public registry.

She blasted Hudgens, however, for accepting $20,000 in gifts, meals and event tickets from insurance lobbyists even though he has an $8 million net worth and could pay his own way.

And what did Bruce, the colorful Libertarian, have to say?

“I can out run, out ride, out shoot, out hunt, out fish anybody standing on this stage. I am a true Son of Liberty.”

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66 comments Add your comment

Baker

October 25th, 2010
10:19 am

He does campaign videos on a vespa. Can anyone imagine Hudgens or Squires managing to pull that off?

Baker

October 25th, 2010
10:22 am

Another point of note I thought was that Thurmond said he wouldn’t raise taxes on ANYONE during a recession.

Ralph

October 25th, 2010
10:25 am

Although I support the Republican party more than the Democratic party, Ken Hodges is clearly more qualified be Attorney General than the political animal Sam Olens who has had his eye on running for Governor a long time.

Jeff Sexton

October 25th, 2010
10:38 am

Shane Bruce should be ashamed of appearing at a major political debate in a hawaiian shirt. The Libertarian Party already looks like kooks to far too many, and he did NOT help that image with his choice of attire. Out on the campaign trail it may be understandable. At a major debate – possibly the ONLY one to be televised state wide in his campaign – it is most certainly NOT. There are ways to have fun without being so outlandish – for example, maybe a tie with a beach scene, paired with the requisite dark suit/white tie. Professional, yet fun at the same time.

MD

October 25th, 2010
10:39 am

STOP this BS and vote republican.

grizzybear

October 25th, 2010
10:56 am

remember, this is the same ralph hudgens who said your credit score should determine your insurance rate, has no problems with lobbyists, do not vote for this crook!

@crazyforliberty (Doug Craig)

October 25th, 2010
10:57 am

Chuck donovan won that debate last night. we are working on getting another but I believe johnny Isakson is scared to debate. We are working on this weekend at Clayton state. Please visist http://www.donovanforsenate.com. He is the only one who loves small government and the only one getting love from the Tea party

Jim Galloway

October 25th, 2010
11:03 am

Good point, Baker. I’ll add.

McGill

October 25th, 2010
11:07 am

Why do Democrats always emphasize “bi-partisanism” when in fact they rarely act that way themselves? And if my math is correct, the Democrats have had an unassailable majority in both Houses since January 2009 and they still cannot enact their legislative program. That is the fault of the Republicans? Spare me the Donkey groans, please.

MD

October 25th, 2010
11:13 am

galloway you think you have influence over people because you are a journalist well this election will prove you wrong.The liberal media will be in a state of shock nov.3 and you should take a vacation and think about why the American people do not see things your way.The American people run this country and we are going to prove it.

Chris

October 25th, 2010
11:25 am

I am voting for all statwide Republican candidates with the exception of Ken Hodges. Ken is the most qualified candidate for the job, without question, and he has my vote. I am still waiting for the Monds folks on these sites to tell me what his career is. I had thought about voting for him, but will not do so, because there is just not enough out there on him. I think, based on a New York Times article over the weekend, that the “supporters” of Mr. Monds on this site are actually Barnes supporters following the national Dem. plan of trying to bolster third party candidates to siphon off Republican votes. Just a hunch, but I ‘d put money on it.

EffWhyEye

October 25th, 2010
11:28 am

Gawd yes – hands down it was Donovan over the same-old, same-old from the D and the incumbent R (except the D was workin’ it to sound a whole lot more fiscally responsible).

Loved the sparks in the AG debate. And I totally agree with the person who said Shane Bruce should’ve skipped the funky Hawaiian shirt. WTH was he thinking? Still, I can’t cast my vote for a former and probably future lobbyist or for a guy who has no problem taking money from lobbyists. Disgusting. I’d rather vote for a crazy guy in an inappropriate Hawaiian shirt.

Ralph

October 25th, 2010
11:30 am

Galloway probably understands he and the AJC have little influence and merely attempt to pump up their leftist base since it is so obvious he and the AJC are grossly biased toward Democrats. He even reluctantly admits above “Chances are that Republicans will take control of the U.S. House next week”.

At least he and the AJC have stopped daily shilling for Barnes as it is hopeless.

Jeff

October 25th, 2010
11:33 am

Chris,

If you’re voting for Ken Hodges, you clearly despise the First Amendment, just as he does. His corruption is only eclipsed in this State by Nathan Deal and POSSIBLY John Oxendine.

Since when does one’s career make you more or less eligible to fulfill the Constitutional roles of the Governor? (Hint: It doesn’t.)

You may also want to know that two primarily DEMOCRATIC voting blocs are being targeted by Monds supporters, with his message of getting government out of our bedrooms, boardrooms, and sanctuaries: Did you know that Monds is the FIRST African American to ever appear on the General Election ballot for Governor in this State? Did you know that he – along with Shane, Chuck, and two others – were the ONLY Statewide candidates to show up at recent PRIDE events?

The whole “he’ll only siphon votes from” either half of the Big Government Party over another is complete hogwash. Liberals are attracted to the LP’s social platform, and Conservatives are attracted to our fiscal platform, and BOTH are likely to vote for John for a variety of reasons, including Deal’s corruption/lunacy and Barnes’ DISavowal of President Obama. If John were running under the Constitution Party banner (extreme right wing), you may have a point. But because John is running under the Libertarian Party banner, you simply show your ignorance.

Really Red

October 25th, 2010
11:39 am

The Real Deal–He’ll make Georgia just like Mississippi–but without casinos!

lisa

October 25th, 2010
11:42 am

The Democrats are more conservative than the Republicans this year and more ethical too!

Vote AGAINST the Corruption Crew: Deal, Cagle, Hudgens, Black, Butler, and Olens!

Vote FOR better Government leadership: Barnes, Porter, Squires, Powell, Hicks, Sinkfield and Hodges!!!

Kathy

October 25th, 2010
11:50 am

I am a Democrat, but I just Can’t support Ken Hodges after he masterminded those false prosecutions. That is over the top. He also looks so angry all the time, or like he suffers from chronic constipation. I just will have to go with Sam Olens on this one.

double

October 25th, 2010
11:52 am

For Gov,my vote is for one that will take no salary.

td

October 25th, 2010
11:55 am

lisa

October 25th, 2010
11:42 am
The Democrats are more conservative than the Republicans this year

You have got to be kidding me. No one is fooled by the Dems coming out and sounding conservative and everyone knows they do not mean it and surely would not run the office as a conservative. These Dems can not run on their true philosophy because it does not play at all with the vast majority of Georgia.

double

October 25th, 2010
11:57 am

For Gov. my vote is for one that takes no salary.

The Centrist

October 25th, 2010
12:03 pm

McGill. Your math is wrong. The Democrats had 60 votes needed in the US Senate to override a filabuster for only a brief period since 2009, and even that was shaky with Joe “I’m for McCain” Lieberman, Mary “Drill Baby Drill” Landrieu, Ben “Insurance Executive” Nelson, and Blanche “I changed my mind” Lincoln in the caucus. If the Democrats had legislated like the “60-votes be darned” Republicans, you would really have something to whine about.

Retired Soldier

October 25th, 2010
12:07 pm

Lisa-

I’ll bite if you can show me how the Dems are more conservative and how Gary Black is corrupt. I eagerly await your reply.

Retired Soldier

October 25th, 2010
12:08 pm

Centrist-

It’s called leadership. If the Dem leaders can’t convince those of their own party, maybe they need new leadership.

GG1968

October 25th, 2010
12:09 pm

The problem I have with Isakson is not that he voted for the bailout, because as much as I disliked the idea of the bailout I believe it was necessary (too many individual Americans depend on banks and have to do business with banks whether it be through a personal checking account, savings account, money market, mutual fund or whatever), but that he could vote for the bailout and then refuse to extend a helping hand to unemployed Georgians who lost their job through no fault of their own. I was unemployed until August of this year when I finally found a job after over a year and a half of looking and I applied for any jobs that I was even remotely qualified for (even ones I was way overqualified and would have been way underpaid for) and it still took me that long. The bottom line is no thanks to Isakson (and Chambliss) me and thousands of other Georgians were able to survive thanks to our unemployment benefits. I haven’t decided yet if I’ll vote for Thurmond or Donovan (I don’t know where Donovan stands on this issue and while I am glad he is so fiscally conservative, there comes a time when you have to be willing to spend money in order to not make the situation any worse and this is one of those times, just like, as much as I loathe to admit it, with the bailout), but I know I won’t be voting for Isakson.

GG1968

October 25th, 2010
12:11 pm

Retired Soldier

October 25th, 2010
12:08 pm
Centrist-

It’s called leadership. If the Dem leaders can’t convince those of their own party, maybe they need new leadership.

Maybe so, but people are going to do what they want to do most of the time, especially United States Senators and Members of the House of Representatives.

Retired Soldier

October 25th, 2010
12:15 pm

CG-

That’s fine, then don’t whine about not having 60 votes. Or better yet, maybe the Dems should have figured out what the Obama plan was to liberal for most folks. Now the are going to get the “blow back” for their excess. They deserve it.

GG1968

October 25th, 2010
12:25 pm

First off. It’s GG and second off, did I whine about 60 votes? No. I did not. Just saying was all.

Funny

October 25th, 2010
12:29 pm

@gg1968 the only reason the people on unemployment benefits got an extension was because Thurmond showed Perdue the numbers. Thurmond had to convince the republican leadership that it was better to take the stimulus money instead of allowing folks to go completely broke, lose their homes and put on the table. Perdue wanted to refuse the money and Isakson, Chambliss voted Gainst extending benefits. We need balance in Georgia and this nation– Vote for Thurmond. Donovan would have left you hanging too.

GG1968

October 25th, 2010
12:30 pm

Why do Democrats always emphasize “bi-partisanism” when in fact they rarely act that way themselves?

I don’t know, but its not exactly like the Republicans are the perfect example of bi-partisanship themselves. Both political parties talk about it, but both rarely do anything at all about it making it better.

GG1968

October 25th, 2010
12:33 pm

Thanks Funny for the input. It just blows my mind what hypocrites Isakson and Chambliss are. Atleast if Donovan is against extension of unemployment benefits he’s consistent, because he wouldn’t have (or so he says … not that I don’t believe him, but lets face it, anybody can say anything they want in a campaign especially if they have not held public office before) voted for the bailout either (although like I said, as much as I loathe to admit it, the bailout I do believe was necessary).

The Centrist

October 25th, 2010
12:36 pm

The conservative philosophy has been great for Georgia. Leads the nation in bank failures, out of control state spending, 10% unemployment, a broken State healthcare system, pathetic State transportation system, pitiful and underfunded public education system, unethical governmental leadership, and gets back every penny sent to Washington in taxes.

Bill Orvis White

October 25th, 2010
12:40 pm

I just sent $2400 to the Honorable GA Sen. Ralph Hudgens and another $500 to the Honorable Samuel Olens. Both possess excellent character and are ready to fight the Godless liberals to the death.

Retired Soldier

October 25th, 2010
12:47 pm

GG-

If you read my post I was responding to the Centrist about whining for 60 votes. Lighten up or read better.

Alabama Communist

October 25th, 2010
12:53 pm

LOL……of course Johnny will help Obama shut down government with martial law after the food riots with millions of unemployed Americans trying to blame both the Democrats and Republicans for screwing up a free lunch……..

td

October 25th, 2010
12:54 pm

The Centrist

October 25th, 2010
12:36 pm
The conservative philosophy has been great for Georgia. Leads the nation in bank failures, out of control state spending, 10% unemployment, a broken State healthcare system, pathetic State transportation system, pitiful and underfunded public education system, unethical governmental leadership, and gets back every penny sent to Washington in taxes.

I think you are not totally accurate.

“Leads the nation in bank failures”: And this has to do with state government leadership how?

“out of control state spending”: You have to be kidding. I hate defending Purdue but he did cut spending from $22.6 billion to $16.8 billion.

” 10% unemployment” And that would be a great deal better if the federal stimulus was really shovel ready projects instead of propping up unions.

“a broken State health care system” Yes, I agree. The state is paying way to much money out in Medicaid.

“pathetic State transportation system,” Yes, need to build more roads but no more rail.

“underfunded public education system”: Money does not improve scores. A cultural change with parents to embrace education is the only thing that will improve the education.

“unethical governmental leadership”: I disagree but if it is true then the citizens will get rid of them in the next Republican primary. The answer is not to elect liberals.

“gets back every penny sent to Washington in taxes.” Should not be sending any of the money to Washington in the first place, with the exception of paying for our military.

Where has all your liberal friends gone? Have they all come to the realization that conservatives will hold all state offices after Nov. 2?

Last Man Standing

October 25th, 2010
1:08 pm

lisa:

“The Democrats are more conservative than the Republicans this year and more ethical too!”

Have you been treated for your head injury? If you have, I’d advise a second opinion is definitely in order!

Wolves in Wolves clothing

October 25th, 2010
1:14 pm

Barnes = Obama = Fail
Deal = Shady = Fail

Monds is looking better and better everyday

GG1968

October 25th, 2010
1:14 pm

Retired Soldier

October 25th, 2010
12:47 pm
GG-

If you read my post I was responding to the Centrist about whining for 60 votes. Lighten up or read better.

I read your post and it clearly said “CG” and I looked and did not see another CG, so I assumed that you incorrectly typed “C” instead of “G” and were addressing it to me. Excuse me for my mistake and as for lightening up … trust me – I’m there. You read too much into my post if you thought I needed to.

GG1968

October 25th, 2010
1:17 pm

Wolves in Wolves clothing

October 25th, 2010
1:14 pm
Barnes = Obama = Fail
Deal = Shady = Fail

Monds is looking better and better everyday

The problem here is Monds really doesn’t stand a chance, so when it comes back to Deal and Barnes in the runoff, who are you going to vote for? IMO, if you vote for Monds, you’re just prolonging the inevitable – either Barnes or Deal residing on West Paces Ferry as of January.

Retired Soldier

October 25th, 2010
1:18 pm

Monds = Never done anything = Fail
or
Monds = No chance to win = Fail

Either way a vote for Monds is a vote thrown away.

GG1968

October 25th, 2010
1:24 pm

lisa:

“The Democrats are more conservative than the Republicans this year and more ethical too!”

Well I suppose there is some truth as well as some stretching the truth here as well. There have been ethics questions raised about various politicians from both sides of the aisle (Rangel on the Dem side and Deal on the GOP side to name just two) and in some cases, yes, there have actually been some Dems (Ben Nelson immediately comes to mind) that have been much more conservative than some GOP members (Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins come to mind as well as all of those that voted for the bailout – a true conservative would have voted against it). I would say the ethics thing is about equal, but in general with regards to being conservative, no, the Dems are not as conservative as Republicans. In some instances, yes, of course, they can be, but overall? No.

GG1968

October 25th, 2010
1:24 pm

Retired Soldier

October 25th, 2010
1:18 pm
Monds = Never done anything = Fail
or
Monds = No chance to win = Fail

Either way a vote for Monds is a vote thrown away.

I definitely agree with you here RS.

Jeff

October 25th, 2010
1:30 pm

RS and GG:

Better to vote for the man I believe in than two men who already have either been fired (Barnes) or resigned in disgrace before he could be fired (Deal).

There was a time not so long ago that a Republican had “No chance to win” in this State – but you never heard anyone telling them they shouldn’t have the right to run, as the Big Government Party consistently tells Libertarians and other “third” Parties in this state.

retiredds

October 25th, 2010
2:02 pm

Johnny grades the president an F. I grade Johnny, who’s been there long enough, so low that an “F”, while still indicating failure, would be a gift. Johnny hasn’t earned the right to grade anyone, much less the president.

Kathryn

October 25th, 2010
2:15 pm

It drives me insane that this country is divided so completely along political lines that we’ll vote for parties over individuals. I, personally, am going to research the candidates and vote for the person I think will work the hardest for Georgians. At least one of those people will be a Democrat. I cannot, in good conscience, vote for Nathan Deal in view of serious ethical questions. And his slogan “I’ll get it right the first time?” Only if it’s not his taxes!!! As for Barnes, he’s not perfect. But he’s certainly not the scary Democrat. In fact, I believe the LIbertarian magazine touted him as one of the best state governors during his first term. He’s a true southern democrat, and he’s certainly not about to institute any sort of gun ban.

Retired Soldier

October 25th, 2010
2:31 pm

retiredds-

Johnny hasn’t earned the right to grade the president? Really? Then what gives you the right to grade Johnny? Just askin…

Retired Soldier

October 25th, 2010
2:34 pm

Jeff-

Why do you believe in Monds? What has he done that has impressed you? Was he successful in business, the military or other government position? I don’t think so. That brings into question your entire comment. Convince me I am wrong.

td

October 25th, 2010
2:35 pm

Kathryn

October 25th, 2010
2:15 pm

“he’s certainly not about to institute any sort of gun ban.”

Then he will totally turn his back on the people that votes for him. Well, he did do the same thing the first time he was in office, so you could be absolutely correct.

The Centrist

October 25th, 2010
2:36 pm

Can anyone explain the logic? GOP senators along with a handful of Democrats, partnered to defeat the Creating American Jobs and Ending Offshoring Act, a bill that would have raised taxes on companies that send jobs abroad and benefited companies that bring jobs back to American soil. Meanwhile, in 2009, just 74 people made as much as 12.5% of all the people employed in America.

Retired Soldier

October 25th, 2010
2:44 pm

Centrist-

What does the bill have to do with 74 people making what 12.5% of Americans made? Is the problen the 12.5% or is the problem the 74 people?