The primaries for governor are still a year away. And yet, the nearly dozen people running for the seat are working up a lather in the race.
Here are some tidbits from their campaigns. Of course, keep in mind that anything from a campaign is designed to make that candidate look good at the expense of the others. A grain of salt won’t do — try a full shaker of Morton’s best. Since I get e-mails from some of the campaigns, all trumpeting their individual candidates’ successes, I thought I’d share my pain in having to go through them.
Last week, state Sen. Eric Johnson came to Effingham and pronounced his team has raised nearly $1 million. Not a bad feat for someone who probably doesn’t have the name recognition of some of the others in the populous and deep-pocketed Atlanta area. I’ve known Eric for several years. Don’t let the drawl and cowboy boots fool you. He’s pretty astute.
Since he’s not running for re-election to the state Senate, Buddy Carter is running for the Senate District 1 seat. But there’s been no talk of who might run for the state House seat Carter will leave.
John Oxendine, the state insurance commissioner with eyes on the higher office, has more than $1 million in cash on hand, his campaign said last Tuesday. His campaign also touts that Oxendine is the only candidate leading Roy Barnes in independent polls — though Oxendine and Barnes won’t face each other, if at all, until next November and not in the primaries.
As Johnson pointed out to members of the Effingham GOP a week ago, he’s the only candidate to have beaten Barnes under the Gold Dome. Oxendine’s campaign manager said last week “Oxendine is confident he will have the funds necessary to beat Roy Barnes.” Turns out the Democratic candidates aren’t the only ones with their eyes on the former governor.
Secretary of State Karen Handel is boasting that her campaign has raised over $430,000 in less than three months, with 900 individuals from 77 Georgia counties contributing. Everyone’s boasting about how much dough they can raise now, and we’re probably weeks if not months away from the first flurry of television commercials.
Handel likely will, at some point, also meet with the Effingham Republicans.
U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal, one of seven Republicans in the Georgia delegation in the U.S. House, has picked up the backing of five of the other GOP members, his Web site pronounces. The remaining Republican? Jack Kingston, who talked Eric Johnson into running for his old state House seat when Kingston opted to run for Congress in 1992.
Austin Scott, a state representative from Tifton, is on a “1,000 mile walk around Georgia.” His projected path will take him from Chickamauga down the western edge of the state, then from Bainbridge to Brunswick, up the coast, up the Savannah River valley, then from Augusta to Athens, up to the northeast corner of the state in Clayton, then down to Atlanta. His route will take him up Highway 17 through Effingham County at some point.
Your other Republican contestant, Ray McBerry, has a fairly extensive Web site at georgiafirst.org. He is launching his “States Rights Tour” across Georgia.
Things are quieter on the Democratic front. David Poythress, the one-time state adjutant general and Georgia secretary of state, blasted Barnes for being “completely out of touch with ordinary Georgia voters” and urged his friend to stay out of the race — after Barnes was silent on Gov. Sonny Perdue’s austerity cuts to education, failing to help repair the party he damaged in his loss to Perdue and for not stepping into the Mark Taylor-Cathy Cox “bloodbath” in 2006.
Poythress also has claimed the support of nine city leaders — the mayors from Nicholson, Chamblee and Lawrenceville and council members from Jackson, Ashburn, Nicholson and Fort Oglethorpe. Four of the cities have a population under 9,000 and three are under 4,500 in population.
DuBose Porter’s Web site isn’t fully operational yet. I’ve met Rep. Porter several times. Even interviewed for a position with him at the Dublin Courier-Herald — his paper used to not cover the “Redneck Games” that are held just outside of Dublin.
Thurbert Baker’s Web site is also fairly bare bones. Learned from reading it that the current state attorney general was the ACC individual sabre champion on the UNC fencing team and he was born in Rocky Mount, N.C., where I once spent about a year. By choice — mostly.
For those unfamiliar with North Carolina’s geography, Rocky Mount is neither rocky nor near the mountains. It’s in eastern North Carolina and its terrain and climate are akin to southeast Georgia, minus the gnats.
We’re one year and one week away from the primaries. Great.
And you thought the presidential campaign was too long.