Governor race likely to depart from tradition

The Georgia General Assembly, the traditional way station for gubernatorial candidates en route to West Paces Ferry, is left with a single Republican and Democrat in next year’s governor’s race.

House Speaker pro tem Mark Burkhalter (R-Johns Creek) declared Thursday he’ll skip the 2010 race. He dined with four close friends to weigh the decision. “It was very positive,” he said. “If I had listened entirely to them, I would have run. They gave me some great perspective and the sense of comfort and confidence that friends give you.”

But , he said, “it really boiled down to ‘what did I think over the next 18 to 20 months that I could do to most positively affect the future of the state?’” That, he concluded, is to remain in the House and grow the conservative majority, even though opportunities like this may arise once in a career.

The next day, U.S. Rep. Lynn West­moreland (R-Grantville), former minority leader in the Georgia House, announced that he’ll stay in Congress. “It’s best for me to remain in Congress where I think I can make a difference as a legislative fighter.”

For Republicans, the sole candidate with legislative experience remaining is state Rep. Austin Scott of Tifton, first elected to the House 14 years ago at age 26. The sole Democrat serving in the House is Minority Leader DuBose Porter of Dublin, first elected in 1982. Georgia Attorney General Thurbert Baker, who’s also announced, represented DeKalb County in the House for nine years before being appointed attorney general in 1997.

Georgians have not elected a governor without prior legislative experience in almost 60 years — the last being Herman Talmadge in 1950. Ernest Vandiver and Lester Maddox weren’t legislators, though Vandiver as lieutenant governor presided over the Senate. Maddox was chosen by House Democrats over Republican Bo Callaway in an election thrown there by a 1966 write-in campaign for former Gov. Ellis Arnall.

Both Scott and Porter have an uphill struggle if they are to continue the tradition. Baker is not somebody I’d bet against, though statewide voting patterns favor Republicans.
Scott plans to mount a campaign by raising $100 from 100 people in all 159 counties, he told the hometown Tifton Gazette in announcing. In a race against two opponents who’ll be well-financed and who have already demonstrated they can win statewide — Secretary of State Karen Handel and Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine — Scott is a real long shot.

He has some appeal, though. He’s young and photogenic and because he’s not well known and not from metro Atlanta, he could, with sufficient money and the right campaign team and message, emerge as a contender. As politicians go, he’s as reliable as they come. Once he makes a commitment, his word is his bond — even if it turns out to have been unwise.

As chairman of the House Governmental Affairs Committee, he is one of just a handful of free-market conservatives serving on a 2007 task force studying whether to eliminate the archaic Certificate of Need law that preserves health care monopolies. The legislation would pass through his committee. He agreed as a task force member to abide by the majority’s recommendations, in effect surrendering much of his legislative power on the issue. On another occasion, he committed to support the governor’s veto of the 2007 budget, a commitment he honored even though it briefly cost him his chairmanship.

He was the lone elected Republican at the mansion with former Gov. Roy Barnes and other Democrats planning strategy for changing the Georgia flag in 2001. Not surprisingly, his district is never safe, though he has won for 14 years. He’s a long shot, not well known and not secure at home. But there are enough elements to his story to make him a candidate who could gain traction.

Porter has the problem that he and former state Adjutant General David Poythress of Gwinnett County, and possible-candidate Barnes are all competing in a primary where half the voters will be be black. Baker is Georgia’s first black attorney general and, following the historic success of President Barack Obama, there’s likely to be a surge of interest in electing the first black governor.

Barring scandal, any of the Democrats will have a difficult time reaching West Paces Ferry except by tour bus.

The field may be fixed now. If so, it’s likely a 60-year tradition will be broken.

55 comments Add your comment


April 24th, 2009
8:59 pm

Sorry, but your friend Burkhalter sounds to me like a self-indulgent prick. In short, a weenie. According to you, his cop-out is supposed to be some whiney BS about how much he can do to amend the planting soils of the GOP? Give me a break! What an effing ponce!

Screw him. Now, on to actual women and actual men. Are there any? Let’s see…


April 24th, 2009
10:38 pm

Vote Libertarian…that’s all you need to know.

Still Munchin the Carpet

April 25th, 2009
1:36 am

Wooten says approvingly: “Once he makes a commitment, his word is his bond — even if it turns out to have been unwise.”

Christ on a stick, man. Are you so in love with doctrine that you would tout a man who will stick to his guns, no matter what, even when he knows he is in error?

Life on earth is all about adaptation to changing conditions and information. Stand athwart this primary imperative and you will perish.

Thus is the path of Common Sense Conservatism.

Road Scholar

April 25th, 2009
5:53 am

Where is the governor concerning the 10th bank failure in GA? (at least were no 1 at something) Oh, were they all being run by Republicans? The Repubs have problems running a one car fumeral. All talk, no management, no ethics!

Save Georgia

April 25th, 2009
8:59 am

Thurbert Baker will NEVER win. He has no support in the African-American community based on his decisions regarding key cases – like Genarlow Wilson.

TB doesn’t even require his own staff to follow the law, so how can Georgians trust this man? He employs people as favors to others, credentials, integrity and morality have no place in his decisions apparently.


Churchill's MOM

April 25th, 2009
9:14 am

Karen Handel has my vote. Look at the MESS men have made in the state. I would like for her to have a college degree but Sonny has 1 and look at the poor job he has done..

*************Handel 2010***PALIN MCCAIN 2012**********


April 25th, 2009
9:19 am

“He was the lone elected Republican at the mansion with former Gov. Roy Barnes and other Democrats planning strategy for changing the Georgia flag in 2001.”

He doesn’t stand a chance in a statewide race. Next.


April 25th, 2009
9:26 am

Based on what you’ve written, Jim, Rep. Scott sounds like he would be a great “concessionaire” selling hotdogs.

I’ll predict Karen Handel wins the governorship.

Ga Values

April 25th, 2009
9:54 am

Churchill’s mom it is possible that a women could do a better job a Govonor than Sonny, I suspect that you could have done better than Sonny. Look at Condi Rice, she has a PHD from the best schools but was a total failure in the Bush administration. In my time Lester Maddox was the best Governor in Georgia , he was a man and did not have a college degree. At this point I don’t like any of the Republicab choices or Roy but will probably give Handel a chance.


April 25th, 2009
1:16 pm

I suggest we recruit Gov. Perry from Texas.


April 25th, 2009
1:46 pm

I’m interested to see how much of Georgia’s politics is impinged by transportation issues. Yesterday we were discussing “smart growth”, a rubric for a string of subordinate principles aimed at guiding development and redevelopment. “Smart growth” policies are all over the map when it comes to transportation, (public) transit and gridlock. Their implementation would, in general, tend to obviate a lot of transportation woes, but in some cases the policies exacerbate transportation problems.

Jim Wooten generally dislikes the power-hungry “smart growth” crowd, and usually identifies them with advocates of costly, unrealistic transit utopianism. Still, I think that the implementation of many of their “smart” principles would help to melt gridlock on the cheap.

On an unrelated note, at my church’s fundraiser today I met a kindly AJC flack whose business it is to travel from event to event, setting up tents from which to tout the paper and sell subscriptions. He told me that the AJC plans to roll out a new, color-coded graphic format in its analog product in the coming days, and he added that today’s paper contains a couple articles describing the publisher’s plans. It sounds interesting. I’ve been pulling pork since early this morning, or I’d have read the articles by now so as to report to those of you with an interest. Perhaps one of you might know already what’s in store, in which case, please do tell.


April 25th, 2009
2:00 pm

Call me a sap, but I like this version of Burkhalter. His reluctance to step up, in my mind singularly qualifies him for leadership.

I’m sure you know what I mean.


April 25th, 2009
2:18 pm

@Ga Values,

Sometimes I get this eery sense that we are discussing public figures who are wraiths, publicly defined and conceived, rather than actual human beings. So it is with your weird references to Condoleeza Rice.

For starters, why do you presume to call her “Condi”, rather than, say, “Secretary Rice”, or “the former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice:, or else, simply, “Dr. Rice”? Do you similarly refer to Henry Kissinger as “Hank”, or “Harry”? What do you call The All Bright, when you refer to her? Is she “Maddy” to you?

You say that Dr. Rice took her PhD from “the best of schools”. With all due respect to the Universtity of Denver, her terminal alma mater, it is not commonly perceived as one of the best of schools. The fact is that the lady fought her way out from behind the 8-ball, and has spent herself doing it on the fumes of her own ambition and sense of duty.

Disagree with her, if you want to. Trust me, she’d be willing to have lunch with you and dispute you point-for-point, if that’s what you’d like.

But she’s long since earned the right not to be “Condi” to such as you.


April 25th, 2009
4:01 pm

Whoever becomes the next Governor he or she must make transportation the #1 priority. I also hope we won’t have a “nanny” like the present occupant who won’t let the people of GA decide their own issues, i.e., to tax themselves for transportation projects, to vote as to whether alcohol can be sold on Sundays, etc.


April 25th, 2009
4:09 pm


He’s been a dinosaur who at several times when we needed him most, seemed extinct.

Let’s extinguish his kind, then.

Ga Values

April 25th, 2009
4:40 pm

Poultry 2:18 pm

A little over your head or just drinking?


April 25th, 2009
7:49 pm

Poultry: Let’s remember the entire economic and political mess we are in did not just materialize since Jan. 20. The Repubs are very good at DENIAL. Look at how they have created the Reagan myth that he was a fiscal conservative. In revisionist history one can create any fable one wants to. That is why 65-70 percent of Americans don’t believe the Repubs any more. It seems that red state GA and a few other southern states are mired in the illusion that Repubs have the answers.


April 25th, 2009
9:40 pm

Ga Values, you petty turd,

I tried to respond to your wisecracks fulsomely, but the AJC censored me, as the AJC will do anyone who says something non-AJC.


April 25th, 2009
10:05 pm


Chris Broe

April 25th, 2009
10:30 pm

the race for the guv’nah? who best exemplifies conservatism’s economic elasticity? What does Wooten’s waist-band of right wingers think? I’m sure they have a candidate who looms large in their ballbriggand tea-baggin’ plans. I like Wooten’s band of top drawer unmentionables, commonly known as “the sisterhood of the traveling skidmarks” .

Real unitards.

Conservatism is in good hands.

Republitards are irrelevant

April 25th, 2009
11:57 pm

It’s pretty damn hard to reach West Paces these days, because Purdue proved to be a moron when it came to solving any traffic problems, and like all the Republitards in the gold dome, he wati oblivious to the traffic crisis that continues to drive

Republitards are irrelevant

April 26th, 2009
12:05 am

all significant companies away from the Atlanta area.

All the irrelevant crybabies keep pointing to significant issceues like Michell’s arms, or proving Obama wasn’t born in the US, but when it comes to where it really matters Republitards, the party of Wooten continue to fail to grasp issues and when a significant election happens, they get their butts handed to them.

Congrats to new NY Congressman Scott Murphy who won the NY 20th. After a month, the Republitard conceded that the Party of No Ideas got their butts kicked once again on the national scene.

Once again the Rethugs have DUHfeat they can believe in that signals what will happen again in 2010 and 2012. Senator Franken continues to hire staff, while the idiots from Jawjaw cry about a 25 year old cold war plane they want to waste your tax money on. Saxbuh ought to hitch up a dodo bird and fly into Kabul. The party of racism has become the party of bufoons.

The Bush strategy sure paid off in Pakistan which will very soon be Talibinistan.

Republitards R Irrelevant

April 26th, 2009
12:48 am

Looks like the ole Nuclear Options and all the filibuster threats after it by the Repubtards are about to bite ‘em in the Republibutt.

Health care will happen, and like many issues the fillibuster is not going to be a factor. “Reconciliation” will be imposed per Senate rules, and requires only 51 votes. When this happens, we will have at least 59 with the addition of Franken, and with one more retirement, we’ll get 60 easily anyway.

I’d read up on “reconciliation” Repubtards, because it’s making all those filibuster threats clown like, including Sackbutts theory that he was necessary to keep the filibuster from cloture.

According to the paper the AJC uses now for its national and international reporting, since they have morphed fully into a mediocre high school paper, when they aren’t slumming with Associated Right Wing Press the threat of filibuster has produced an ultimatum–”reconciliation” will kick in 10/15 or sooner if the Repubtards continue to be the party of DUH NO.

“Republicans are in a tizzy because Democrats are threatening to use the budgetary procedure known as reconciliation — it reconciles policy with fiscal guidelines — to overhaul the health care system, possibly enact climate change legislation and rewrite education policy.

They have good reason to fret: If Democrats successfully invoke reconciliation, such major bills could pass by a simple majority vote, denying Republicans the filibuster, their sole remaining weapon to influence federal policy given the Democratic grip on government.

“It stinks,” Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, said as he pondered the prospect of Democrats pulling the trigger on reconciliation.

But there are a couple of problems for Republicans as they push back furiously against the idea, chief of which is the fact that they used the process themselves on several occasions, notably when enacting more than $1 trillion in tax cuts in 2001.

That means critics can have a field day lampooning Republicans and asking them — as Senator Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent, did repeatedly the other day — why reconciliation was such a good idea when it came to giving tax cuts to millionaires but such a bad one when it comes to trying to provide health care to average Americans.”


April 26th, 2009
7:57 am

After losing last year’s presidential election, the national Republican Party seems to have lost its way.

Yelling “no” at every idea proposed by President Barack Obama doesn’t seem to be working for the GOP congressional leadership. A blast of “no”s is followed inevitably by a rise in Obama’s popularity. The Republican lawmakers never seem to have any workable proposal for a follow-up to “just say no.”

Oh, I forgot, the GOP produced a budget alternative, but it omitted any numbers. Budgets without numbers are difficult to navigate.

Republicans also can’t seem to find a new leader to carry their non-message. Surely, someone out there is willing and able to pick up the banner of Lincoln, Goldwater and Reagan and charge ahead. Texas Gov. Rick Perry has suggested that secession may be the “new way” for the GOP. New way to what? The federal pen? Promoting secession is a felony, even if the governor claims to represent the Alamo.

Let’s get serious. Let’s recruit somebody with a proven record who can pick up the pieces of the Republican Party and put them together again. Let’s bring back former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

This nation – this state, too, for that matter – thrives when we have two strong, competitive parties at work.

When I started in this business four wars ago, I wrote at least one column each month devoted to the need for a two-party system in Georgia. I saw a strong Republican Party as the perfect policeman for the corrupt bully Democrats. The incumbent Democrats repeatedly accused me of being a Republican mole. My late father warned me to stay away from Republicans. “They’re not going to be around much longer,” he would say.

Finally, when Georgia Republicans gained full power in 2002, long after Newt had departed the scene, they simply replaced the Democrats. Georgia remained a one-party state; all that changed was the label. Greed simply moved from one side of the aisle to the other. There wasn’t a dime’s worth of difference between the parties. I started a campaign to recruit conservative moderates to take charge.

The first moderate Republican I discovered way back in the 1970s was Newt Gingrich, R-Carrollton, a pointy-headed professor with the fire to become a lead dog in Congress. He repeatedly assailed the Democrats as crooked and uncaring. He ran twice for the House without success, and then lightning struck. Newt was off to Washington.

A funny thing happened when he got there. Newt became a first-rate congressman. He understood the needs of his constituents. When he represented a South Atlanta district that included Hartsfield Airport, Gingrich delivered the goods. Whatever the airport needed – upgraded electronics or more landing lights – Newt delivered. Nothing was too good for Newt’s airport when the gift came courtesy of the taxpayers.

When he moved up to speaker and to a new district north of Atlanta, Gingrich became a key player in helping Lockheed Martin win and maintain big defense contracts. Defense contracts meant steady jobs. “Bring Home the Bacon” Gingrich was a lawmaker who seldom received public recognition for his astonishing pork-barrel talents. He was much better known as the firebrand ideologue who gave us “The Contract with America” – a covenant asserting, among other things, that term limits were needed to clean out the deadwood in D.C. Republicans swore to abide by the contract, and they raced back into power. They also ignored term limits. Newt and his merry elephants had fooled the voters.

Didn’t matter much. In Washington, Newt embarrassed himself with a little extramarital hanky-panky and fits of squalling brat-ism, but he was a fine, high-achieving House member. Republicans ought to consider restoring him as leader of their party. Once again, Newt could lead the elephants out of the wilderness of defeat and back toward power.

Of course, Newt would have to change his style slightly. He’d have to stop mumbling, “Kill all Democrats.” Yet, with just a tiny bit of a makeover, Newt could resuscitate the party, and he wouldn’t even need to play the part of a cigar-smoking radio buffoon.


April 26th, 2009
9:01 am

It saddens me that the GOP has reduced itself to something it sees as a “conservatism” it cannot construe except through the late Mr. Reagan. To me, the party stands for the things for which the nation has stood at proud moments. It stands for our tradition, which it is not willing to trash.

The cold fact is that George Washington’s rejection by London, their refusal to grant him a knighthood in recognition of his achievements in beautiful Virginia, gave him the resolve to make war on those prigs. We all know that the Revolutionary War would have gone to the British had it not been for Washington; what we deny is that, for Washington, it was a ruthless grudge match. It was payback.

These are some of the realities we dare not, but should, teach to schoolchildren.

Abraham Lincoln revered Washington and understood the elder president well. He saw that Washington found himself in a tragedy of his own making, that Washington’s lust for vengeance put his mortal soul in peril. The likely explanation for Washington’s ultimate magnanimity is that Washington washed hands he knew were bloody and dirty.

Lincoln felt the same way. As he racked up death tolls unprecedented, sleeplessly, he feared for his immortality.

If we’re going to have collective schools that teach about our nation’s heritage, why can’t we have ones in which the truth, rather than some jive, is taught?

Caribou Barbie

April 26th, 2009
9:01 am

Churchill’s mom… Palin is a fool, nearly as bad as Rice.

Caribou Barbie

April 26th, 2009
9:06 am

A new Politico poll released Tuesday finds that President Barack Obama enjoys broad support — some 66 percent trust Obama a “great deal” or “some” — and is named the most popular figure in politics today.

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Republican Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, meanwhile, found themselves on the opposite side of the popularity fence.

Palin, who enjoyed broad support among the conservative base of the Republican Party during her run for the vice presidency last year, got the highest “untrustworthy” rating of all the major political figures surveyed at 33 percent. Voters were asked if they trusted the politician “to identify the right solutions to the problems we face as a nation.”

Ranking second-worst in the “untrustworthy” column was House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who polled at 32 percent. Pelosi came in last when asked if respondents trusted her “a great deal” — at just 26 percent.


April 26th, 2009
9:09 am

Rice is a fool is she, Caribou Barbie?

Let’s see you top that one. Go ahead. Try to top it for foolishness.


April 26th, 2009
9:43 am

VOTE LIBERTARIAN – John Mond is running for governor on the Libertarian party ticket. If you would like the Government out of your wallet and your bedroom, he’s the way to go.

The political world is headed for a rude awakening by citizens tired of our current nanny and police state.

Dems are Crooks

April 26th, 2009
9:47 am

About 25 companies received more than $100 million in Mr. Murtha’s earmarks in the current military bill while their executives contributed more than $350,000 to his campaign.

Only one business appears to have received an earmark without any contribution last year: Pittsburgh Electric Engines Inc. of Mount Pleasant, Pa. Its founder declined to discuss how he won the support.


April 26th, 2009
10:48 am

Karen Handel has had the state in hot water on voting rights issues. Then there is the mess with ballot counting and absentee voting. She is singularly NOT qualified to lead, and should have already been removed after her poor work in 2008.

Women don’t need tokens!

Bo Chambliss LOBBYIST

April 26th, 2009
10:49 am

Saxby got a lot more then $350,000 for his vote for TARP.


April 26th, 2009
1:24 pm

Pardon me, but mAy I plese yawn now?

Thank you.


April 26th, 2009
1:37 pm

I never thought I’d live to see the day when Democratic shills, in lockstep with their clueless flock, would come to defend their party’s standard-bearer on the basis of his somewhat favorable ratings in the most favorable of polls.

Democratic Party, USA: we’ve got the polls on our side, for now!



April 26th, 2009
2:53 pm

Good afternoon, Jim,

The problem with electing a Democrat in Georgia is that he’s about where the Republicans ought to be and the Republicans are trying to see just far into outer space they can venture. You claim for Austin Scott that “his word is his bond — even if it turns out to be unwise.” It seems that most Georgia Republicans could make the same claim. Wisdom, as you suggest, is not one of their prominent traits. Let’s hope Mr Porter can rally the Democrats and win this race so that the “conservative majority” has much needed checks and balances. We all saw how much damage they did the last time, and it’s time to rein ‘em it.


April 26th, 2009
3:32 pm

great domain name for blog like this)))


April 26th, 2009
6:44 pm

great, along with such names as Ripsnorter, Rebelvengeaner, Garboon and Poltroonasty, among others. Just “great…[for a]…blog like this)))”.



April 26th, 2009
7:40 pm

Poultry: feeling a bit peckish today?

Our state really cannot take any more Republican “leadership.”


April 26th, 2009
7:59 pm

Nah, catty, but thanks for asking. I’m 100% devoid of peck. I’m in fact impeccable.

I don’t care whether our state gets Republican leadership or the other kind, as long as it’s led for a change.

Republitards R Irrelevant

April 26th, 2009
10:49 pm

Pubtards are the party of clowns, regression and “no” whether they are bible thumpin’ Georgia hick crackers like Purdue, or the clowns in the legislature. The only place pubtards have a chance of being elected is in the redneck south with few exceptions and that will change soon as the Hispanic population increases to the point of 1/4.

Congrats to Mr. Murphy in NY that showed exactly what happens when Michael Broken Steele makes personal appearances on behalf of the RNC. He handed the pubtard’s butt to him who was 20 full points ahead at the beginning of the election for the 20th US Congressional district. Another US Dem vote.

Congrats to vet Purdue who has no clue what to do if Swine Flu gets lethal and pandemic. No Vaccines. Antigens not chosen for one that wouldn’t be available for 18 months at the fastest. Maybe he can use the Tamiflu that he bought for $6 million that had no efficacy against H5N1 Birdie flu and promotes resistance in that disease for the Swine Flu. It and Ralenza are the 2/4 neuraminidase inhibitors with Swine flu efficacy.

Hillbilly Deluxe

April 26th, 2009
11:26 pm

even though opportunities like this may arise once in a career.

Isn’t looking at politics as a career a lot of the problem now?

Hillbilly Deluxe

April 26th, 2009
11:27 pm

Anybody know how to turn the italics off once you’ve turned them on?

Republitards R Irrelevant

April 27th, 2009
1:21 am

I didn’t know you could turn the italics on. LOL How did you turn them on? I usually do it manually–that’s the only way I know how to “mark it up.” It looks like you got it “turned off.” Your moonshine supplier must be first rate.

Republitards R Irrelevant

April 27th, 2009
1:23 am

I thought Roy was running. Roy forgets more every 15 seconds than Porter or the less than mediocre AG every knew.


April 27th, 2009
6:46 am




William Casey

April 27th, 2009
8:13 am

Hey Poultry! Maybe you should seek a position with KFC. You have all the political acumen of a fried chicken thigh.

Hillbilly Deluxe

April 27th, 2009
8:50 am


If I was going to drink corn liquor I’d make my own.

[...] Jim Wooten on a governor’s race likely to depart from tradition. [...]


April 27th, 2009
9:55 am

I was re-reading an article the other day about the notion of the Peter Principle. The Peter Principle is the principle that “In a Hierarchy Every Employee Tends to Rise to His Level of Incompetence.”
I think this aptly applies to most if not all the Republican GA legislators and their leadership, and I use the term leadership very loosely. If GA is to work its way into the 21st century (from the 19th where it currently resides) we need leaders who will lead creatively and boldly. That does not fit the description of the current crop of Republicans.

David A. Staples

April 27th, 2009
10:10 am

As Republicans continue to prove that they’re just as pro big government as the Democrats, more and more people are getting fed up with the two party system and going to the Libertarian Party. Many people say they’d like to see a third party be competitive, but that it’s a wasted vote. You’d see more Libertarians on the ballot if the Republicans and Democrats hadn’t created such difficult barriers for anyone besides them to be on the ballot on the first place. If the Libertarian candidate in this race, John Monds, gets at least 20 percent of the vote, the Libertarian Party will gain equality in Georgia. Don’t you think that’s worth voting Libertarian for?