Nine down, three to go: A dozen debates by candidates for governor may be a record-breaker

You and I can complain all we want about the apocalyptic nature of Georgia’s race for governor — at least the part seen through 30-second TV ads.

According to Democrat Roy Barnes, life without him as governor would be best symbolized by a honking, driverless SUV in an empty parking lot. And Republican Nathan Deal says that, minus him, the state Capitol would be a cratered, nuclear wasteland.

Even so, the contest among Barnes, Deal and Libertarian John Monds has been admirable, even historic, by one important measure. Since August, the three candidates for governor have already debated nine times.

Three more meetings, all televised, dominate the final weekend before the vote: 12:30 p.m. Saturday on Channel 2 Action News, 5 p.m. on Fox 5, and 7 p.m. Sunday on Georgia Public Broadcasting. The GPB debate will be aired statewide.

One of these three candidates will have more impact on your life than anyone else you cast a vote for. The next governor will determine the conditions of the roads you drive, the quality of the classrooms your kids sit in, and the availability of the water you drink.

If they’re still strangers by the time you vote Tuesday, it’s your own fault.

Veterans of state politics can’t remember a set of candidates for governor so willing to share the stage — at fairgrounds, in community centers, in one synagogue and several chilled TV studios across the state. We may never again see the like of it.

The debates haven’t been kissing contests. Harsh words have been thrown. At one, Deal’s hasty exit — ahead of a troop of reporters who wanted to question him about his congressional office’s involvement in a business dealing — dominated a news cycle.

Yet the sheer number of forums is proof that the staffs of the Barnes and Deal campaigns — at least on one level — get along surprisingly well.

In mid-August, the two sides sat down with a spreadsheet of 50 or more invitations, and narrowed down their joint appearances to a dozen — about three times the usual number.

The Barnes campaign vetoed appearances before tea party crowds. Both candidates felt obliged to appear at The Temple and its largely Jewish audience in Atlanta. Appearances in Perry and Albany were mandatory, both agreed. Invitations from several universities were consolidated into a single debate hosted by college students on GPB. Televised settings were given precedence.

Location mattered.

“We agreed to all these debates because we wanted geographic distribution of the debate settings — and we accomplished that,” said Brian Robinson, spokesman for the Deal campaign.

Thanks to Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas, political debates have a special place in American history. They are beloved by everyone — except political campaigners, who believe them to be inefficient, exhausting and dangerous.

Even with televised debates, audiences are relatively small. The Channel 2 and Fox 5 confrontations on Saturday will compete with college football, including the Georgia-Florida game. The GPB debate on Sunday will go up against an army of Halloween trick-or-treaters.

So from a campaigner’s point of view, there is little to gain in a debate, and much to risk.

A Barnes gaffe from a last debate in 2002 — trying to play down the deaths of foster children in state custody, the sitting governor declared that “children die every day” — was revived by the Republican Governors Association for use during the current campaign.

That said, Barnes is an attorney who excels at closing arguments before juries, and he’s been in his element during most of the debates this fall. Yet Deal — also an attorney — has been no one’s plaything.

“I think Perry was a good one,” said Chris Carpenter, the Barnes campaign manager. The debate at the Georgia National Fairgrounds was a raucous affair. Booing and jeering from the audience are traditional ingredients.

The former governor showed up in jeans and a sports jacket, and outlined the final theme of his campaign: “The question is, who is best qualified, in this difficult time, to lead the big business of the state of Georgia through these difficult times — and without scandal.”

Deal’s best performance may have been this week, in the odd setting picked by 11 Alive — three chairs in the cavernous state Capitol. The debate, aired at noon Wednesday, was a comparatively calm discussion.

“Nathan’s a nice guy. He doesn’t relish the punch-a-thon. When he has to fight he can — it’s not his first resort,” said Robinson, spokesman for the Deal campaign.

Monds, the Libertarian, has played the third wheel throughout. He occasionally makes news — in the 11 Alive debate, he said he would support the legalization of marijuana.

But Monds has been treated politely — the several thousand votes he’s likely to draw could determine whether the race for governor ends Tuesday, or continues for another four weeks.

With another round of debates.

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54 comments Add your comment

Georgia

October 27th, 2010
6:33 pm

Nathan Deal will most likely be indicted before the end of the year.

That, and the fact that he can’t balance his own check book, makes him the most backward-arse moron the GOP has put up in decades.

john

October 27th, 2010
6:37 pm

It never would have happened unless the race was/is close.

dagny

October 27th, 2010
6:56 pm

Georgia – I hope you are right but my thoughts are everything will go away after his win. Politicians can get away with anything.

findog

October 27th, 2010
7:01 pm

Thank God for DVR’s
You can skip the hatefulness

Last Man Standing

October 27th, 2010
7:09 pm

Georgia:

Exactly WHO is going to indict Governor Deal? Are you privy to some documented information that we are not? I have read this same line over and over but no one gives any specifics. WHAT are the charges he will be indicted on?

CM

October 27th, 2010
7:22 pm

I believe Deal will be indicted because he used his public office to pressure the state into support his private business. What he did was not just corrupt and unethical, but also illegal. I just wish he would get arrested sooner!

@crazyforliberty (Doug Craig)

October 27th, 2010
7:25 pm

In Georgia we libertarians have had a better chance of getting into the debates then libertarians in other states but we also have one of the strongest state parties. I would like to thank everyone who have invited us this past election cycle into the debates. I believe that has helped our poll numbers. If we can now get the state house and senate to get some new ballot laws we could get some Libertarian running for some of the smaller races and win at the local level.

Cutty

October 27th, 2010
7:26 pm

Deal may not get indicted by the end of the year, but the fact remains that he can’t balance a checkbook. Don’t particularly like republicans, although I’ve voted for a few, but to think that Deal is more qualified than Barnes to be guv’nah is completely mystifying.

john

October 27th, 2010
7:30 pm

The IRS is about to slap him with a big levy on top of the debt he forgot to report for deducting losses from an operation in which he was a passive partner on his personal returns.

know the truth

October 27th, 2010
7:41 pm

who told you that John or did you read it the National Enquirer.I think you have been smoking too much rope.

td

October 27th, 2010
7:42 pm

Cutty

October 27th, 2010
7:26 pm
Deal may not get indicted by the end of the year, but the fact remains that he can’t balance a checkbook. Don’t particularly like republicans, although I’ve voted for a few, but to think that Deal is more qualified than Barnes to be guv’nah is completely mystifying

I would be willing to bet that even if all of this made up stuff about Deal did not happen then you would be on here saying the same thing.

know the truth

October 27th, 2010
7:44 pm

I think I’ll stick with Rasmussen on this one.

Jimmie

October 27th, 2010
8:01 pm

John, I just don’t see how your candidate gets there, regardless of what your internal polls do or don’t say. How energized are Republican voters in the 2nd and 8th Congressional Districts? How about in Nathan’s home district? Nathan will carry the 1st, Savannah. He’ll outperform Sonny’s 2002 numbers in the 12th C.D because of the national climate. He’ll carry the 7th. He’ll carry Westmoreland’s district. Roy has acknowldged that he has to win it in South Georgia – do you think that all those energized Republicans and independents looking for Jim Marshall’s, Barrow’s and Bishop’s scalps are going to split the ticket for Roy Barnes, who hasn’t polled consistently above the low 40s? The Senate race isn’t going to drive his numbers – the latest Rasmussen numbers showing Thurmond at 29% speak to that. What is the driver? No big contested local races in the metro – where does it come from? I am just not seeing how Roy gets there in the end. Nathan has either sealed the deal or is within two points of doing so. Late breakers will move to Nathan and this will end Tuesday, mercifully.

john

October 27th, 2010
8:04 pm

I detailed it in another reply to you somewhere else, but to reiterate, Roy got 39% white vote in 98, 31% in 2002. Polls show a close race with only 25% whites supposedly for Barnes. 25% for Barnes, really? 98, another red year, Barnes vs a slippery bag of snakes, Barnes beat the bag of snakes. Early voting numbers are looking good for Barnes’ camp also.

john

October 27th, 2010
8:05 pm

Also, Ken Hodges is polling pretty good, not as good as Barnes, but both are doing good for a red state in a red year.

know the truth

October 27th, 2010
8:07 pm

Well put Jimmie,the “other” Georgia will overwhelmingly go for Nathan and seal the deal on Tuesday.South Georgia has a friend in Nathan Deal and he won’t forget us.

john

October 27th, 2010
8:09 pm

People forget we have 3 state elected Democrats, 2 black, and Thurbert Baker in 2006 got more votes than Casey Cagle. This isn’t Wyoming, come on now.

The Centrist

October 27th, 2010
8:10 pm

So Deal wins. As real conservative he will start by cutting another $4 billion out of the State budget, cut taxes, create jobs, reject all stimulus or earmark funds from the federal government, get rid of all migrant workers in South Georgia and all bilingual working in the carpet plants and chicken farms in North Georgia, get rid of stem cell research of any kind, not make one trip to a foreign country, and tell all big banks who got bailout money to leave the state.

john

October 27th, 2010
8:11 pm

http://warnerrobinspatriot.com/bookmark/10042528-Peach-County-Farmers-Support-Barnes-at-Bus-Stop

“Without the farm Bill many of us would be out of business,” the farmer says. “Nathan Deal has basically written agriculture off, and that was when he vote against it when he was in Washington,” he continued.

know the truth

October 27th, 2010
8:16 pm

Half true John,only 25% of that bill would have gone to the farmers,75% went to social programs.

Jimmie

October 27th, 2010
8:21 pm

John, I know, I voted for Thurbert and Michael last time around and I like them both and would have supported both of them had they run this year in all likelihood. I voted for Roy in 1998. But that isn’t going to induce me to vote for Roy over Nathan in 2010. Nothing against Roy, I just think Nathan is better for the job. Who is the third statewide Dem? And can anyone remember who ran against Thurbert in 2006? That is a real trivia question, except I guess to the person who ran against Thurbert. One thing that should really concern Roy, along with the various other concerns – like being down 8 or 9 with 6 days to go, is the Landmark poll showing no gender gap. That is way out of line with historical patterns and a real problem for the Dem ticket, not just Roy Barnes. This atmosphere is so poisonous for Democrats because of what is going on in DC – looking at it objectively – I don’t think the state guys can overcome it – even credible candidates like Roy and Hodges.

john

October 27th, 2010
8:22 pm

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/politics/congress/barnes-deal-make-final-pitches-on-the-road-105888893.html

“I’m very conservative,” said Jeff Wainwright, owner of Taylor Orchards, one of the largest peach growers. “Eight years ago I was leaning more toward the Republican Party but Roy seems to be a lot more concerned about agriculture and everything going on below the ‘gnat line.’”

Thomas Mason, host to the event, picks up the mantra.

“How do you turn the state over to a man who voted against the farm bill?” Mason said, his voice barely audible over the downpour of rain pelting the roof of the large metal building.

Mike

October 27th, 2010
8:22 pm

I truly hope that the people of Georgia can see that Deal is all about Deal. He is fighting for his life without a doubt, his choices are to win or go to jail.

Jimmie

October 27th, 2010
8:24 pm

John, would be interested on what you are hearing on early voting numbers. I am hearing sort of the opposite.

john

October 27th, 2010
8:24 pm

Tommy Irvin, popular guy in south GA, retiring Ag Commissioner. Ken Hodges is also popular in the south.

know the truth

October 27th, 2010
8:29 pm

Point being?

Jimmie

October 27th, 2010
8:35 pm

Forgot about Tommy – he has been there so long that you just sort of think of him as a permanent fixture. That makes three Dems I voted for last time around. Look, the Dems have two good candidates on the ballot in Roy Barnes and Ken Hodges, and they are performing pretty well, but in a presidential year, a miracle candidate like Obama gets beat by what, 8%, in Georgia by a horrible candidate in Senator McCain – and I mean he was horrible. It just doesn’t work in an off year with a candidate in the out of power party, with a national wave coming in, when your unfavorables (at least for Roy) are over 50%. I may be surprised – stranger things, like 2002, have happened, but I’ve followed this race and thought about all the dynamics at work and it just seems like a bridge too far for Georgia Dems this year. That’s my honest opinion, which is worth what it cost you, but at least it is thought out as opposed to spelled out in all capital letters like some of the stuff on here.

john

October 27th, 2010
9:00 pm

According to another Landmark poll released today

“Nothing has effectively changed since we last conducted a statewide survey a week ago,” said Mark Rountree, President of Landmark Communications. “Barnes’ support has increased slightly as traditional voting groups solidify. But Deal’s numbers have not moved much. The attacks on him by Barnes are not working at this point.”

So Barnes is gaining, Deal has peaked, despite a barrage of misleading attacks just this week.

Ken Hodges from the South, Carol Porter endorsed by a lot of conservatives like RedState’s Erick, it’s a whole team carrying the D. Then, you have Isakson, TARP supporter, Cagle/Deal, crook, campaigning with Newt soon, the resigned adulter.

Good chatting with you J. I guess it comes down to whether you believe that only a fourth of whites will vote for Barnes.

Georgia

October 27th, 2010
9:07 pm

Even the Republicans voted to throw the corrupt Nathan Deal out of Washington…and if he ain’t good enough for Washington, then he sure ain’t good enough for Georgia.

http://oce.house.gov/disclosures/Review_No_09-1022_Referral_to_Standards.pdf

td

October 27th, 2010
9:15 pm

The Centrist

October 27th, 2010
8:10 pm
So Deal wins. As real conservative he will start by cutting another $4 billion out of the State budget, cut taxes, create jobs, reject all stimulus or earmark funds from the federal government, get rid of all migrant workers in South Georgia and all bilingual working in the carpet plants and chicken farms in North Georgia, get rid of stem cell research of any kind, not make one trip to a foreign country, and tell all big banks who got bailout money to leave the state.

Now that is just being over the top and totally unrealistic. It is the libertarians that want no government. Conservatives believe in limited federal government(military, currency and foreign policy mostly) and the state should do most of the work but as small as possible (not non existent).

td

October 27th, 2010
9:32 pm

john

October 27th, 2010
9:00 pm

I have been saying for weeks that the election would end up with Deal at 52%, Barnes 44% and Monds 4%. If I am not mistaken Deal is currently around 48% with 8% undecided and Monds at 5%. Libertarians always poll higher than the final vote count (1/2% will end up voting for Deal and 1/2 for Barnes). In a wave election the undecideds normally role with the winning party, even if that does not happen then the Deal only needs 1 of the 8% to vote for him to win without a runoff.

On another note: Paulding, Cobb, Gwinn, Cherokee, North Fulton, Hall and Forsyth counties have reported their highest early voter turnout ever (higher than 2008). Do you really think they are voting for Barnes?

Bring back "Babe Alley" to the Capitol!

October 27th, 2010
9:36 pm

Jimmie @ 8:01, 8:21 & 8:35 pm-
I agree that the environment is just too poisonous, even adicic, for Democrats to even think that they’re gonna make any real gains in Georgia, the REDDEST of the Red States before the election because of how royally the Dems in Washington have screwed up. I also kinda see a tidal wave of support for Deal and the GOP on Election Day as Independents break towards the Repubs in probably in large numbers and any and every voter who is remotely conservative turnout in record probably unheard of numbers in extreme, and justified, anger over the Nat’l Democrat leadership.
With independents breaking hard towards the right and Repubs turning out their voters in record numbers in a solidly conservative state, this is what I see on Election Day in the governor’s race: Deal 52%, Barnes 40%, Monds 8%

TP4U

October 27th, 2010
9:48 pm

@Jimmie @John – FYI Michael Thurmond (D) is on the top of the 2010 ticket running for U.S. Senate opposing Isakson.

jack freeman

October 27th, 2010
9:54 pm

nathan deal is a crook because he used his office as a congressman to better hisself, his family, and his business partners and will continue to do so as long as the voters of georgia gives hi a free pass. wake up georgia and pull your head out your……………………..the sand.

The Centrist

October 27th, 2010
10:04 pm

td. “Now that (cut spending, cut taxes, against immigrants, against stimulus or earmarks, against stem cell research, against foreign trade, and against bailouts) is just being over the top and totally unrealistic.” Please tell us one thing that was cited that is not a part of the general GOP campaign rhetoric in this state election? We could go on, but…Good Night…

td

October 27th, 2010
10:06 pm

jack freeman

October 27th, 2010
9:54 pm

You just do not understand. The vast majority of the voters in this state says Barnes=Obama, so this race is a choice between Obama and Deal. It does not matter who the Republican candidate was Handel, Johnson or even Ox the election was over before it started.

Sharia Lawyer

October 27th, 2010
10:09 pm

It could be worse, we could have been stuck with Christine O’Donnell.

john

October 27th, 2010
10:09 pm

TP4U, I realize that, I am sure Mike will lose. Georgia likes to vote for conservative Washington representatives. I threw Johnny and Kemp a vote today.. Remember 98, Georgia reelected its GOP senator 52.37-45.15, while giving Barnes an even bigger margin 52.5-44.1

Sharia Lawyer

October 27th, 2010
10:54 pm

Since many of you are sending a message to signal your displeasure with “ObamaCare” can you please explain to me how the GOP, the champions of free enterprise and free markets, after 12 years in control of Congress with 8 of those years in control of the White House, and in control of virtually every state house in the south, managed to prevent competion in coverage by the many insurance companies in this country? Just how? I am a UGA graduate so please use small words.

mehlman rings twice

October 27th, 2010
11:06 pm

One thing for sure – Barnes, win or lose, won’t wake up Wednesday morning millions of dollars in debt. Nathan, on the other hand, can at least say he was trying to help his child.

mehlman rings twice

October 27th, 2010
11:42 pm

One more thing. “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.”
The important thing here is the phrase, “and so did the bank that lent the money”. The awful and dreadful federal government (FDIC) then agreed to forgive part of the loan, thereby engaging in income redistribution in favor of Deal’s daughter. Tell me this isn’t similar to what Neil Bush did in the 1980’s during the S&L fiasco. These socialist Republicans love income redistribution!!

double

October 28th, 2010
12:51 am

Citizens for Responsiblity and Ethics in Washington (CREW) 2009 list Nathan Deal among 15 most corrupt.

Split Ticket

October 28th, 2010
8:19 am

For those of you voting to breakup Dem majority in Washington, do the same in Atlanta. An all-one party rule can be dangerous. Vote Barnes to keep a check on the GOP legislature just as you are voting for a GOP Congress to balance the President. Split party rule is good checks and balances.

Ga Values

October 28th, 2010
8:32 am

What is the difference between Rep. Nathan Deal (R-GA), Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), & Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA)? Deal resigned rather than face trial.

15 MOST CORRUPT CONGRESSMEN

Rep. Nathan Deal (R-GA)
Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL)
Sen. Roland Burris (D-IL)
Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA)
Sen. John Ensign (R-NV)
Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL)
Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA)
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WV)
Rep. John Murtha (D-PA)
Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY)
Rep. Laura Richardson (D-CA)
Rep. Pete Visclosky (D-IN)
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA)
Rep. Don Young (R-AK)

WOW

October 28th, 2010
8:39 am

Looks like a Black Democrat,Rep. David Scott (D-GA)
, has taked Deal’s place on the most corrupt list..

26 Reasons for Ethics Reform
•Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)
•Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO)
•Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL)
•Sen. Roland Burris (D-IL)
•Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA)
•Sen. John Ensign (R-NV)
•Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA)
•Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL)
•Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA)
•Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA)
•Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL)
•Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
•Rep. Gary Miller (R-CA)
•Rep. Alan B. Mollohan (D-WV)
•Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
•Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA)
•Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-NY)
•Rep. Laura Richardson (D-CA)
•Rep. Harold Rogers (R-KY)
•Rep. David Scott (D-GA)
•Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX)
•Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH)
•Rep. Pete Visclosky (D-IN)
•Sen. David Vitter (R-LA)
•Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA)
•Rep. Don Young (R-AK)

TelllinItLikeItIs

October 28th, 2010
8:45 am

Why is Monds support for legalization of marijuana a surprise? Libertarians have long stood for legalized drugs, legalized prostitution, leagalized bigamy and legalized gay marriage among other things. They talk conservative about economic policy, but on social policy the keep quiet and hope folks won’t find out. There is a reason that Libertarians don’t do better in elections, and THIS is the reason.

ROBOCOP

October 28th, 2010
9:44 am

If Deal is elected Governor, will (should) he appfrove and sign the annual budget bill which will include state tax dollars for his vehicle salvage business sanctioned by the state’s Department of Revenue and tax dollars he’s paid to lease property to the state of Georgia through the Department of Administrative Services?

How will he handle that? Even if he says he’ll put these interests in a blind trust, should he continue to receive this money? Since Sonny Perdue never put his business interests in a blind trust like every previous Governor in modern history has done, why should Nathan Deal do the same? Has anyone heard him in the 9 debates or TV ads say he’ll divest himself of those interests?

How should he handle this inherent and obvious conflcit of interest? Does this situation negate the ability of the Governor to impose and strictly enforce Executive Branch sanctions for state employees –including employees and officials of the Governor’s office — from engaging in conflicts of interests?

Who out there wishes to speak on his behalf and on how he’ll resolve this problem he’s got?

Dave

October 28th, 2010
11:02 am

Hi TellinItLikeItIs,

The reason Libertarians support legalization of the things you mentioned is not necessarily because they find them personally acceptable or desirable but because they reject the idea that the state has the authority to legislate morality. Government’s role in society should be to protect each citizen from being harmed by another citizen. It has no responsibility to protect citizens from themselves.

True Republican

October 28th, 2010
11:40 am

Robocop,

No tax dollars ever went to his salvage business. The salvage business only received money from individuals who wanted to get their restored cars certified for the road.

This is all laid out in the ethics brief……..the one that the 127 pages of investigation ends the conclusion with the line “Congressman deal did not violate the rules or the house, nor the spirit of the rules”.

professional skeptic

October 28th, 2010
12:03 pm

Extremely interesting:

When confronted with evidence of Republican Joe Miller’s lies and past misdeeds, Alaskans are now withdrawing their support of Miller.

http://www.slate.com/blogs/blogs/weigel/archive/2010/10/28/the-incredible-shrinking-joe-miller.aspx

Here in Georgia, however, when confronted with evidence of Republican Nathan Deal’s lies and misdeeds, support for Deal only grows stronger.

I’m beginning to think that Alaskans are made of sterner stuff than Georgians; that morality and honesty mean more to Alaskans than they mean to the people of Georgia.

Please, Georgia: Let’s follow the example set by Alaska. When a candidate has demonstrated that he is liar and a crook, we need to put principle over party and choose the better alternative. Alaskans know that they need to choose the best leader for Alaska – one who doesn’t lie to taxpayers or use his government position for self-enrichment.

Alaskans are saying NO to Joe Miller, now that they know what a liar he is. Alaskans are NOT just “holding their noses” and voting for Joe Miller anyway.

Do Georgians have the moral fortitude to say NO to Nathan Deal? For the sake of Georgia, I pray that we do.