You’re joshing me…

This morning, an email was sent around to various and sundry individuals around the state. Below is an excerpt:

At the end of August, Nick Ayers, Marty Klein, Graham Thompson, and Justin Tomczak will be holding regional meetings with legislators throughout the state. They will be soliciting your input and feedback on the Governor’s upcoming reelection campaign, and discussing the 2006 legislative session. The campaign is at a critical point and before any organizational decisions are made, the Governor wants legislators’ feedback and assistance.

I have to admit, I’m a little shocked. No, I’m a lot shocked. The things that go out of Atlanta never cease to amaze me.

The danger is not that his base will not vote for Sonny. They’ll vote for him, out of undying loyalty to the party and what the Governor stands for. But will they work for him? I highly doubt it. When someone supports, raises money for, makes phone calls for, and knocks on doors for a major underdog candidate, the underdog wins, and the underdog forgets the worker bees, committment to working for the candidate falls to nearly zero. The vote is there, the energy is not.

Hence, the concept that the Governor needs to spend some major time re – connecting with his base. Remember the Saturdays with Sonny? The periodic conference calls with activists on the local level? What happened to those? They need to be brough back. It’s nothing complicated. Just go into a metropolitan area (Rome, Dalton, Columbus, Savannah, Gainesville, Macon, Augusta, Valdosta, etc), and sit down with three groups of 10-15 people and listen to them. Just listen. Have someone take notes. Take the advice to heart. They don’t need to even feel important: they just need to feel involved.

So, in theory, the Governor’s people are on the right track. However, when the rubber meets the road, we see a breach of a foundational tradition in political professionalism and courtesy. In politics, you have hired guns, and you have candidates/leaders/officials. I’m sure, at this point, that most of the Republican legislators in Georgia are wondering why the Governor, rather than coming to meet with them himself, is sending, in their mind (remember, perception is reality), a lollipop gang from the romper room in Atlanta. Sending these guys to meet with the David Shafers, Jerry Keens, Earl Ehrharts, Glenn Richardsons, Eric Johnsons, Tommie Williams,’ etc, is not going to be viewed well. They’re apparently not even going to recieve the courtesy of an exclusive meeting — the meetings will be conducted with delegations.

Perhaps the legislators themselves should just send their own staff members to the meetings. That would accomplish the purpose without wasting the valuable time of the Governor’s staff, and send a message that the Governor can’t treat people, especially elected officials, like an afterthought and still hope to stay Governor.

Please understand, I’m not against the Governor, by any means. I’m not against the folks who work for him. I think that in many cases, while judging Sonny’s staff’s attitude, many people make a judgement call on their “ability,” when they haven’t been given a chance to prove themselves. However, strategic and planning faux paux like this one will quickly establish that reputation in the wrong direction. I would hope that the Governor and his staff would wake up and smell the pizza before it’s too late!

Thoughts, anyone?

20 comments

  1. BillyTheKid says:

    I one hundred percent agree. We all need to go to Bill Shipp’s site and vote in the poll for our Governor. He’s lagging way behind.

  2. GAWire says:

    Elected Members rarely take kindly to meeting with 20-something-yr-old staffers telling them what to do on behalf of the Gov’s campaign.

    The Gov had a team of top-notch folks from both GA and DC last time around. Needless to say, I haven’t seen that yet.

    I think Sonny is losing on Simon’s PV poll too.

  3. Bull Moose says:

    I agree completely Silence! Sonny has got to get out and talk to people himself. Folks are really lackluster on how they feel about the Governor.

    I think people will vote for him, but I don’t see them really ready to go out and WORK for him. There is a big difference.

  4. albert says:

    Feeling appreciated and that your opinion counts, even in a small way, goes a long way. The Governor does a phenomenal job with a press conference and presentations but needs to go way beyond the norm in connecting with people.

    One of the things we as a Party have to reconcile with is that we can win majority elections in Georgia. We have a “personality flaw” that we always have to be critical and end up eating our own. Any group that has been minority for any length of time would have a dilemma with leading by majority. I think that Sonny has done a pretty good job at transitioning us.

    Where we are losing is building the new mindset. We had an opportunity to have leadership meetings and rah rah sessions, like Reed had all over the state when he was Chairman. It’s a little late in the game to start now, but it needs to start now. In September there will be such a meeting on the 23rd and 24th.

    It is far easier to mobilize people when they “connect” than out of mere loyalty. Silence, you are absolutely correct. In last years Senatorial campaign I worked for Herman Cain. A lot of us ate, drank, breathed and slept work for him because we not only believed in what he had to say, but that he was willing to work his tail off. He had a slogan “They will not outwork us.” And they didn’t.

    If the governor wants a repeat he’s going to have to prove it to the people. We have a thriving economy in the midst of some difficult times. He is going to have to sell his agenda to the people.

    At the Party level, we need leaders who want and can lead. No longer can we afford to have people with position simply to hold a title. We’ve got to present a vision and the ability to organize.

  5. Tater Tate says:

    Yes, as a long time observer, I am a little tired of the old guard that tries to control the party in Georgia. I guess that’s why a lot of us have fond feelings for RR and his chairmanship. The grassroots were energized all over the state, and something the McKennaLong connected crowd had not been able to accomplished, the election of a Republican governor (and Saxby) occurred.

    We do need party leaders who just don’t want to have the positions to get the Washington connections and invites, but people who want to help bring about Republican principles in the state.

    But I am a frustrated Republican anyway. Here we have a two term Republican President and congress and we still can’t get our agenda accomplished up there. I know many who are frustrated about this.

    And that’s what I want the Governor’s young team to hear. Get the Republican agenda accomplished in Georgia. Nothing will energize the base more. I think Sonny has bought into the idea that the less accomplished, the more chances of a second term.

    I’ve already posted on another thread what I think they need to focus on during the last year of his term.

  6. Benjamin Gates says:

    I agree as well. The Governor must know that sending in the people he is is not going to helphis couse. So why don’t we help him out. If the party will get behind him the people will follow. But we have to get him reelected first.
    Just one of the many steps to the process.

  7. Hammertime says:

    Man, y’all get a grip. campaign staff are always “20 somethings”. It’s not like Bowers, Norwood, Johnson and others aren’t engaged. We expect our new leaders to be like they were when GOP was in the majority – with nothing to do. I don’t like these regional meetings and they’re a waste of time. But at least the Governor is getting out. Barnes was isolated and covered in a blanket. Perdue is more in touch and is a populist at heart. Why don’t you quit being back seat drivers and get in the game?

  8. Silence says:

    Hammertime,

    “…campaign staff are always “20 somethingsâ€?…But at least the Governor is getting out…Perdue is more in touch and is a populist at heart. Why don’t you quit being back seat drivers and get in the game?”

    I’m not quite sure what Governor you’ve been watching, but you need to change the channel. It’s not necessarily the age of the staffers, although that IS an aggravating factor. It’s the simple fact that the Governor himself doesn’t have time to go out of Atlanta to meet with HIS legislators, the folks who do HIS grunt work to pass HIS agenda, and in many cases, take the media storm that comes as a result of it. And you think he’s “in touch?” You think he’s “getting out?” When? Where?

    When the stalwarts of local parties and local grassroots organizations (who shall remain nameless) routinely refer to the Governor’s staff as “pricks” and “son of a b—h,” there’s something wrong. Apparently, this style of “populism” and being “in touch” is rubbing people more the wrong way then getting them energized and engaged.

    Perhaps I’ve got MY head stuck in the sand, but it seems to me that Sonny Perdue is doing the exact opposite of what you’re saying, and of what he should be doing.

  9. albert says:

    Hammertime,,,, positive criticism is a good and necessary thing as long as its not overkill. I think most of these assessments have been pretty fair.

    As far as the 20 somethings go, their cheap labor and work hard. My hat’s off to Justin. Without some of these 20 somethings you wouldn’t have some really good state conventions. A lot of us 30, 40 and 50 somethings aren’t much for getting the the organizational work done, that needs to get done.

    Regional meetings are good if you have the right people attending. They are opportunities for people from different areas to get reacquainted and share ideas and sip a few suds.

  10. Rebel says:

    so who’s going to be honest and point out that “the emporer doesn’t have on any clothes?” until the Gov. is told or figures out he has major problems with his base, he won’t do anything different.

  11. Tater Tate says:

    That’s what I don’t get. Sonny is a great guy and had a distinguished career as a leader in the State Senate. How could he not know? And how could he have surrounded himself with those he did?

  12. Hammertime says:

    He is getting out as much as a Governor with responsibilities can. Call his office and ask for his schedule. He is not the SP of 2002 because he has a hands-on method of governing. Is he perfect? Not in the least. He has his faults (temper, stubborness, isolation). My point is that y’all should either accept his faults and the fact that the other guys will block everything we believe in or just get on the other team.

    And I believe the regional meetings ARE an indication that he knows there is a problem. But I do not believe it is as bad as the “echo chamber” makes it out to be and not as bad as a fully engaged campaign will get. Point out one legislator who doesn’t want him to come to their district. Just one. Nobody wanted Barnes (and said so).

  13. Bull Moose says:

    There is a level of arrogance from his camp and there are people beyond politicos that are aware of it. It’s a shame, because the first Republican Governor of Georgia should have been able to accomplish so much!

  14. Erick says:

    I’m on a fine line here. I agree with Hammertime that “the regional meetings ARE an indiciation that he knows there is a problem.” But, the question then remains, why is there a problem?

    The governor has a young staff, but a young staff is not, in and of itself, a problem. In fact, the governor does have some very competent people on his staff. There, however, remains the question: why is there a problem?

    If the governor’s staff can diagnose and fix the problem, more power to them. But, if they are at fault in causing the problem — and I am most certainly not saying they are — we must wonder if they will be able to either correctly diagnose it or fix it.

  15. kspencer says:

    2 cents, and recognizing I’m agin’ Sonny –

    The problem is that politics is personal. When those staffers come out to meet with everyone they are Sonny’s avatars. That is, though we may know better, we still tend to ascribe to the boss the impressions given by those who speak for the boss. If most of them come to be viewed as SoB’s, then the impression everyone gets is that Sonny is an SoB as well. If we knew Sonny before and he wasn’t, then we’ll take longer to get there, but unless it’s fixed we will eventually decide that he’s been corrupted (or showing his true colors) due to the heights to which he’s risen.

    The fix is kind of simple. Every staff member going out who raises hackles needs moved. If their other skills are nearly indispensable then they need moved to a position with nearly no public contact. If not indispensable, they need moved to to seek new employment. Because the governor – or any candidate – cannot afford staff that misrepresents him.

    Note: I know that you need a few SoBs – hatchet people, or whatever you might call them. But they should be the exception, not the rule.

  16. PeggyP says:

    Silence, While I do agree there is merit to this thread, by including “David Shafer” in with the likes of Jerry Keen, Earl Ehrhart, Glenn Richardson, Eric Johnson, and Tommie Williams, you seem to be a bit out of touch with the legislative leadership. David Shafer is not exactly a mover and shaker within the Republican caucuses these days.

  17. BillyTheKid says:

    PeggyP – Why do you say that? Maybe I’ve got my head in the coastal sand down here, but Shafer has always seemed to be quite the sharp, amiable fellow. Isn’t he chair of Science and Technology?

  18. PeggyP says:

    Billy,
    Good question but you kind of made my point for me. The Science and Technology Committee handled, what, two bills last session? It’s a b.s. committee and an embarassment for Shafer. Hell, maybe Shafer would have been shut out of a chairmanship alltogether if the freshman Republican class wasn’t so large last session. Seems like the turnover in Senate vets forced his chairmanship. I can’t believe Silence didn’t mention Senator Don Balfour, Rules Committee Chair – someone who actually effects the goings on in the Senate – over Do-nothing David Shafer.

  19. Doc says:

    Sonny should do a better job at listening and reaching out, and he should do it personally, not through staff. But I doubt these Republican legislators are as upset as you suggest, and if they are, they need to get over it. We all need to support the Governor regardless of shortcomings.

    On the David Shafer subject, he has been a leader in the Republican party for a long time. He is one of the few elected officials who helps other Republican candidates. There are a lot of “do nothing” legislators but he is not one of them.

    Cathy Cox will be a tough opponent. We need to set aside petty grievances and jealousies and get behind the Governor.

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