With the primaries for the 2010 state election still well more than a calendar year away, one might not be giving too much thought to Georgia political races at this point.
Well, some are because already candidates are fighting for position as well as fundraising dollars as a full slate of statewide offices will be open next year.
With Sonny Perdue unable to seek another term, the Republicans will look to hold onto the Governor’s mansion next year. Georgia is an interesting state because it remains one of the solid red holdings despite the country’s swing back toward Democratic blue.
President-elect Barrack Obama, whose historic inauguration will be next week, made a strong showing in the Peach State but was not able to overcome the Republican’s chokehold here. It will be interesting to see what the Democrats can do in statewide elections in 2010. By that time, Obama will have been in office for almost half of his (first?) term and his approval rating at that time might very well play a role in how well Democrats do well statewide that year.
Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle has already announced he is running for Governor next year along with Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine. Now it appears Sec. of State Karen Handel will join the fray. While Oxendine has proven to be a champion for Georgians during his time in elected office, the candidacy of Cagle and Handel prove they simply are using their current offices as a spring board to higher political ambitions.
On the Democratic side, David Poythress, who ran for Governor back in 1998, appears set to make another run. All other Democrats are simply rumored to be in the mix at this point including state Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond, and State House Minority Leader DuBose Porter. Even former Governor Roy Barnes’ name is being mentioned in some political circles although I wouldn’t bet on him joining in.
While Democrats still face a tough road in recapturing the Governor’s Office in Georgia, one advantage they have is the ineffectiveness of the incumbent. Perdue will likely go down as the least effective governor in the state’s history overseeing a record unemployment rate which includes several large plant closings. Who can forget when one Middle Georgia plant closed its doors, Perdue was out of the country despite the fact the Governor is from this area of the state?
It’s amazing how Perdue will likely ride into the sunset once his term has ended. Once rumored to be a Republican vice-presidential hopeful in 2008, Perdue never made McCain’s short (or long) list of VP candidates and now is finishing out his term in quiet fashion. Despite the fact many Georgians are out of work, Perdue has not been heard from in who knows when, once again adding to his resume as the “least effective governor” in our state’s history.
Hopefully, the slate of choices our state has in 2010 will offer much better choices than what we’ve had the past eight years in the Governor’s mansion.
Senator Saxby Chambliss was recently named Georgian of the Year by Georgia Trend magazine. My lasting impression of Chambliss came during the 2008 election when Libertarian candidate Allen Buckley put Chambliss in his place during a debate.
Chambliss said he couldn’t take all the credit for solving Georgia’s gasoline crisis to which Buckley quickly chimed in: “You should get none of the credit. That’s what you deserve.”
Chris Bridges is editor of the Barrow Journal. E-mail comments about this column to firstname.lastname@example.org.