I want to open this â€œventingâ€? post by first of all stating that, in all honesty, Zell Miller is my hero. Having read that letter, knowing his history, lifestyle, convictions, and from limited personal contact, I truly believe that the former Senator and Governor is the last of a dying breed, namely, that of statesmen, not politicians, and I applaud his character, his conviction, and his politics. We can talk all day about the merits of our personal political favorites, and debate the ins and outs of their respective campaigns, but Iâ€™ll be the first to stand up and say that none of the candidates (with a very few exceptions) for whom Iâ€™ll work or vote this cycle can hold a candle to the hardened ex Marine from Young Harris, Georgia.
That being said, Iâ€™m going to talk a little bit about everything in this post, without a great deal of discombobulated speculation, personal attacks, or posturing. Hopefully, itâ€™ll be with satisfactory grammar and spelling.
Iâ€™ll open with reference to one of RRâ€™s most impressive endorsements, by the gentleman whom I just lauded as one of the greatest leaders to walk this soil. I daresay few hard â€“ core conservatives in Georgia would argue with what I just said, or refuse to share the respect we corporately hold for Senator Miller. However, somehow, that doesnâ€™t translate when you consider his endorsement of Ralph Reed. Mayhap you doubt his competence in selecting good leaders, but Iâ€™ll wager itâ€™s more accurately attributed to an unwillingness to admit that he just might have bestowed his endorsement upon the best man for the job. Senator Miller would not, and I say this most emphatically, waste his breath, finances, energy, or opinion on someone who was not the best man.
While weâ€™re on the subject, I still have not received any response from anyone as to the guarantee from the White House for a pre-defined number of visits to raise money for Ralph and help build his grassroots structure. Sonny needs that. Ralph needs that. In fact, Iâ€™ll agree with Buzz in some of his comments when he said the candidate for LG will not have any effect on Sonny. Iâ€™ll take one exception to that: it WILL affect Sonny in a positive way to have the President coming down to Georgia to raise money for Ralph.
The fundraising scene will turn very interesting now, because both the low hanging fruit and the â€œmetro â€“ Atlantaâ€? fruit has been largely harvested. As someone recently pointed out, among all the candidates for LG, nearly 2.5 million has been raised, and the gubernatorial, nearly 11 million. Thatâ€™s a lot to be raised at 12 months from the primary. At this point, the fundraising will be limited to those who are able to raise money in rural, outlying areas (Brian Kemp apparently did well at this, as most of his money came from Athens/Clarke County). Apparently, too, the â€œcasinoâ€? issue had little effect on Ralphâ€™s ability, or consistency, in raising money. The time during which the press and media coverage was the most stringent, the money flowed just as smoothly and consistently. Thereâ€™s something to be said for that. Iâ€™d additionally point out that, regardless of all the speculation that most, if not all, of Ralphâ€™s money would come from outside the state. Incidentally, only 20% of it came from outside Georgia. Thatâ€™s a pretty good number. I admit, I was expecting about 45%. Nay not so. Apparently, thereâ€™s more support in Georgia for Ralph that originally was postured.
While weâ€™re on the subject of raising money and the interrelation between candidates and campaigns, I want to go back to something someone discussed a few days ago about the other statewide campaigns. Iâ€™m going to break it down, Georgia style, â€˜cause, folks, weâ€™re offered, I believe, an unprecedented number of valid, strong, statewide candidates this election. Within the Republicans, Iâ€™ll divide those into two groups: Reed haters and Reed lovers. Whether his supporters like to admit it or not, much of the rational behind Caseyâ€™s campaign stems from animosity generated when Ralph won the party chairmanship a few years back. Another portion of the animosity (the part that takes the form of an anti â€“ Bill Stephens monster) comes from Caseyâ€™s defeat as a majority leader. Seems interesting, doesnâ€™t it? Why would a Senate caucus, just a little while back, vote Casey down as majority leader, then endorse him for Lt. Governor? Seems odd. At any rate, those are the two camps. The anti â€“ Ralph camp is driven largely by Casey Cagle, Joel McElhannon, and those who opposed Ralph for GAGOP chairman. Consequently, those who endorse Casey will glibly call Brian Kemp a winner. Funny that Cagle and Kemp have the same consultant. Brian doesnâ€™t stand a snowballâ€™s chance in hell of beating Gary Black. Those same Kemp/McElhannon/Cagle supporters will then turn, of course, and support anyone BUT Bill Stephens.
The major question in all of this is: who is Sonny going to support? He dis-serviced Brian Kemp. He desperately needs Ralphâ€™s organization. Karen Handle, the candidate he muscled into the Commission Chairâ€™s spot, might be running against his former floor leader and majority leader. His consultant is running Gary Blackâ€™s race. Where will he come down?
Finally, I think weâ€™re making a mistake of taking for granted several â€œRoss Perotsâ€? that could show their faces in this election. Iâ€™ll give Bull credit, because in one of his posts, he appeared to take into account the Libertarian vote, something the rest of us have failed to do. In the LGâ€™s race, Greg Hecht, former state Senator from metro Atlanta, has almost a half million bucks. Thatâ€™s enough to be more than annoying bee to a major Republican contender. Tommy Irvin, entrenched Democrat, has almost the same amount. Whoever comes out of the Republican primary for Ag commissioner, is going to have to deal with an extremely well funded candidate.
In short, Iâ€™m saying that we, as a group of bloggers and activists, myself included, have voluntarily assumed a very tunnel visioned stance in this election cycle, and if weâ€™re not careful, weâ€™ll miss the big picture in a knock down drag out over Ralph Reed.
I issued a challenge a little while back for both candidates to come out with their stance on the issues, and their position on the problems that face the people of Georgia. As of yesterday, it would seem Ralph has begun to walk that path. I spoke briefly with one of Ralphâ€™s volunteers in Savannah as they were in the midst of a listening tour with the people in Savannah. And not just in Chestnut Mountain or Gainesville, but in the outlying areas of the state, visiting folks with a very unique set of interests: coastal and waterways. Itâ€™s in those same areas, interestingly enough, that the Cagle name ID is virtually nil: by admission of the very people on this site who seem to support him. I must respectfully restate my former conclusion that it will be VERY important to both the Governor and Lt. Governor the way they seek to serve and hear the unique needs of the different demographic groups in the state.
Finally, I have a proposition to all of us who seem to be so violently divided over the Lt. Governorâ€™s race. Screw that. Letâ€™s help Sonny, cross over during the primary, and go vote for Mark Taylor.