Commentary on Rumors…

It appears that Gov. Sonny Perdue’s Chief of Staff John Watson has asserted a strong role in the re-election campaign and is calling the shots. Perdue’s 2002 campaign manager, Scott Rials, has formed his own consulting group and will be working on various statewide campaigns, which are expected to “dovetail” into the governor’s re-election campaign. Rials is also playing a leading role in Republican Gary Black’s campaign for agriculture commissioner. Perdue assistant Nick Ayers is now reportedly being called “the manager,” though his title has been executive director since 2003. Rials is seen by insiders to be the man largely responsible for the moves that helped Perdue rise above his GOP primary opponents in 2002…Rumors continue to circulate that Republican Robert Lamutt is considering throwing his hat into the race for Secretary of State. Lamutt, who fell just short in his bid for the GOP nomination for the 6th Congressional District (eventual winner Tom Price defeated Lamutt in a runoff), is said by insiders to have financially recovered from a campaign that was significantly self-funded in 2004. Thus far, Republicans Bill Stephens, the Senate majority leader from Canton, and Fulton County Commission Chair Karen Handel have both entered the race. Stephens is working hard to secure support from the party’s conservative base, while Handel brings her metro Atlanta core supporters into the fray. It remains to be seen if GOP activists become enthusiastic about either candidacy, enough to anoint a frontrunner in terms of fundraising or endorsements. Lamutt is said by insiders to be aligned with the Casey Cagle-David Schafer bloc in the state Senate, which is seen by many to be rivals to Stephens and his supporters. Cagle is seeking the GOP nomination for lieutenant governor…?

Here’s my two cents on the current status of our “hotbutton” races:

Tara, taradadadadada…Enter the Governor’s campaign manager, his political director, et al. Aren’t you folks excited about meeting with the Governor’s high – powered staff? Apparently, not quite as high powered as they’d have us believe. Interestingly enough, the above statements appeared in Bill Shipp’s column just a day or two after another Republican lobbyist (who shall remain unnamed) told me he sensed that John Watson was feeling unsettled. My source felt that before this time next year, Watson would resign in order to devote himself fully to the Governor’s re – election effort. I guess Watson isn’t convinced of their power, status, or ability, either. Not convinced enough to let the “lollipop gang from the romper room on Roswell Roadâ€? (to borrow a phrase so glibly spoken by several operatives around the state) handle the direction of the campaign on their own. Is it a sign? Perhaps. I would tend to view it as a positive sign, though, rather than a negative, meaning, perhaps, that finally, someone is taking the situation outside metro Atlanta seriously, and finally going to devote some credible weight to rectifying it. Now, the true litmus test will be if the day to day operations of the campaign change as a result of Watson’s renewed focus and vigor. I predict the Governor still wins, although the risk alert is high â€

10 comments

  1. Bill Simon says:

    Well, Silence, I now have clear evidence that you are not as well-entrenched in the machine as one might think.

    David Shafer has endorsed Karen Handel and heartily supports her. As far as this “rumor” that Lamutt and Shafer are tied at the hip. I just have to laugh hysterically at the minds that come-up with that kind of mindless drivel.

    That’s not to say that there is animosity or anything between them, but I know for a fact that Lamutt dances to his own tune and Shafer dances to his own tune. Any other claim by the mutterings of anonymous folks is worth about as much as the names these people post under.

  2. Mojo says:

    I was living in Augusta at the time of the last election and Powell won a very close and very nasty race for state senator. I certainly hope that a Republican can step up to the plate and take the sleazeball down.

    It seems a little early, still, to be calling the Governor’s race. It will certainly be interesting to see who emerges between Perdue and Cox. If I had to put money on it, I’d say Cox.

  3. GAWire says:

    That’s great about Watson wanting to come in and everything, but Rials has proved himself as a force to be reckoned with in GA behind-the-scenes politics. His training under Newt is one of the things that helped lead Sonny to success in ’02.

    I’m surprised he didn’t get away from the disfunctional Chairman-Ralph-Reed-GAGOP a long time ago and form his own firm (actually, I think he did – South, LLC – but came back), but something tells me it had to do with loyalty to Sonny.

    I don’t know if Scott’s loyalty for the Gov has faded, but in general, it seems decreasing loyalty to Sonny is becoming a little too common . . .

  4. Silence says:

    GaWire,

    You’re correct. Scott Rials, had I to wager a guess, is probably the brightest [rising] star Georgia has right now. He did form his own firm, South LLC, interestingly enough with Joel McElhannon. Scott and Joel are now consulting “opposites” on the Ag Commissioner’s race.

    I don’t think Scott’s loyalty to the Governor has faded. If I might clarify something…I don’t think loyalty to the Governor among the GOP faithful is fading. I do, however, think we’re suffering from a distinct deficit in energy and desire to get out and work for him. May be the same thing, now that I think about it…

    One might think all he wants, Bill Simon. If I may ask a question: what qualifies you to speak with such certainty about the affairs of the “inside” of the machine? No, you don’t know what I do, or how entrenched I am in the machine, to borrow your metaphor. We do, however, know what you do, and that begs the question: how are you so certain about the relationship between Senator Shafer and those close to him? True, I was but repeating a rumor I’d heard, or read, rather, on Bill Shipp’s website. Do you have better information?

  5. Rebel says:

    Let me return to the issue at hand – this is the Governor’s race. Not Scott’s, Joel’s, Paul’s, Nick’s, John’s, or anyone else’s but the Gov.

    Until the Governor realizes he’s in trouble and is losing this race, we’ll continue to see the hired help chasing their own shadows. Now, if the hired help were worth what they think they are, they’d tell the Governor how much trouble he’s in. Then he’d know, give them some marching orders, and maybe turn the titanic around.

    But are the people in the crows nest without binoculars? Are the first class passengers just dancing with joy and assuming that the ship can’t go down b/c we’re finally in power? I’m out of titanic metaphors, but you get the idea.

  6. Bill Simon says:

    “We do, however, know what you do.” No, actually, Silence, you don’t know what I do.

    Most, if not all, of the items I print are FACTS written as RUMORS, as opposed to what most of the rest of the folks write about, and that is “rumors” written as “facts.” Get the difference?

  7. GAWire says:

    Rumors, facts . . . whatever! Hey, it’s politics – facts are always rumors and rumors are usually fact, b/c they are rumors turned into fact after people discuss them as though they are fact!

    Confused yet? Good. Moving on . . .

    I agree with Rebel in that I don’t usually put a lot of stock in the – “so-in-so is a consultant for so-in-so” and “so-in-so’s campaign manager said such-and such about candidate whoever” – talk. None of that stuff matters if the voters aren’t convinced the candidate is their guy/gal. I was simply just trying to put in a good word for a friend.

    I would slightly disagree (at this current juncture) with the comment that the Gov is “losing this race”. While support is lower than it should be for Sonny, and his campaign is clearly showing serious troubles; I don’t think he would lose if the election were held today.

    Still, I see Rebel’s point, which I think is that if the Gov doesn’t change his course soon, the ship will only continue to resemble the Titanic – right up to Election Day.

  8. Booray says:

    I think most of you people know just enough to seem like you know what you’re talking about without actually knowing in-depth the real story (note: I don’t know the “inside” story either but have been around long enough to smell this kind of scenario for what it is).

    All this talk about Watson, Rials, McElhannon, Shafer, this one, that one. It’s just a bunch of noise. It is completely irrelevant this far from an election even if folks know what they’re talking about.

    And I just don’ t get all the hand-wringing over the governor. The guy is beating both his Dem opponents by good margins and he’s “losing” the campaign?

    Maybe he should be winning by “more” but when you look around the country at other govs (all of whom have had to fight with budget deficits, etc. like Perdue), our governor is doing OK. Certainly better than Schwarzennegar.

    My advice: calm down and focus your energy on college football season. When the bowls are over, all this talk about elections will finally begin to matter just a little bit.

    Booray Bussey

  9. Silence says:

    I struggle with not being able to agree with you more, Booray, as I sit here and map out the SEC game schedule from now until the bowls…there are some excellent matchups being shown us this season. Wow.

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