The Foley thing has swung the pendulum back a bit, but how much?
Clearly it hurts the GOP – not only is Congressman Foley no longer a Congressman, but questions are being raised about when the GOP Congressional leadership knew about Foley’s activities. Since this is a blog about Georgia politics, let’s focus on the impact this might have on Georgia.
The GOP is making the case that a vote for John Barrow or Jim Marshall is a vote for Nancy Pelosi for Speaker. Will the Democrats now try to make the case that a vote for Mac Collins or Max Burns is a vote for Denny Hastert for Speaker? I don’t think either argument has much impact, but it a tight race it might.
I think the bigger impact of the Mark Foley story is the potential impact on Republican voters who may become disgusted with the GOP leadership and decide to just stay home on November 7. This leads me to my other discussion topic about the mood of the Republican base.
This past Saturday while waiting to walk in the Duluth Fall Festival Parade, I asked a person who was walking with the GOP if they wanted to wear a “Sonny” sticker on their shirt. The person said “no” because this person is not sure if Sonny will get their vote. I was taken aback, and engaged in a discussion as to why the person felt this way. Another person walking with the GOP came up to participate in the discussion and expressed anger at Sonny and went so far as to call me a Democrat for supporting the Governor. The bottom line for both of these folks is that they don’t think Sonny is “conservative” enough.
Another recent encounter: I received a phone call from a person here in Gwinnett who told me he was not voting for Sonny because Sonny was a Democrat. We discussed Sonny’s record for about twenty minutes and this guy could not be persuaded. He’ll vote for Casey Cagle, but Sonny Perdue can go to h*** in his opinion.
I don’t mean to come across as condescending, but I think the comments by these folks represent a basic misunderstanding of the difference between governing and being a minority opposition Party. No longer can the GOP in Georgia be as ideologically pure as it once was. It’s easy to sit around with your Republican friends and say: “when we get in power we’ll do X” because the reality is “X” might not really be possible, or at least not possible in the short term. Republicans have governed Georgia for about four years now and to expect Georgia to be a Republican utopia in just not realistic. Republican voters must realize this and judge their incumbents accordingly.
I realize these are an anecdotal encounters, but these people are not “soft” or “out of touch” Republicans. Frankly, these encounters have me worried – just how pervasive is this line of thought, and coupled with questions about the national Republican leadership, could it present problems for Sonny and the Georgia GOP on election day?