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!