Republicans Made Several Unforced Errors, But Can Democrats Capitalize?

Throughout the recently adjourned 2008 legislative session, I often said to Democratic-leaning lobbyists, “The Republicans are making a lot of unforced errors this year, but the question in my mind is whether the Democrats can capitalize.”

This year, the Georgia Republican majority made a whole lot of unforced errors beginning on the first day of the session when the House overrode several of the Governor’s vetoes and lasting until the final day with the Republican House Speaker telling the Republican Lt. Governor to “be a man.”

But can the Democrats capitalize?

The record of accomplishment for the Republican-led Georgia General Assembly this year is very short. When the gavel came down sine die on Friday, the Republicans had nothing, and I mean nothing, that they could hang their hats on. They don’t have tax reform. They don’t have transportation reform. They don’t have trauma care funding. The Republican majority does not have anything meaningful that they can take back home to their districts for the summer and fall campaigns (How exactly do you campaign in Waycross, Georgia touting a new law that makes it easier for someone to bust a cap on the MARTA bus as your major accomplishment?). The Republican majority does not have a single policy coming out of the 2008 session that they can point to and say to the voters, “For this reason and this reason alone, you should keep us in the majority.”

Quite to the contrary, the Republican majority has given Georgians a long list of reasons why they should be voted out of office. But once again, can the Democrats capitalize?

State Sen. David Adelman (D – Atlanta) told Insider Advantage that “On every important issue facing Georgia, the Republican Party let Georgia down this year.” The Senate President Pro Tempore, Eric Johnson (R – Savannah) said it was “hard to call this session a resounding success.” It’s hard, quite frankly, to call the 2008 session a success period; resounding or otherwise. I mean what did Georgia’s lawmakers do down there that moved Georgia forward, made Georgians’ lives a little better, and made Georgia a state that all her citizens can be proud of.

What did they do for the last four months? Did they do anything meaningful? Can the 2008 Republican-controlled Georgia General Assembly be characterized as something other than a do-nothing legislature?

And just one more question, can the Democrats capitalize on the abundance of unforced errors made by their Republican friends in the majority?

The summer and fall campaigns should, hopefully, answer that for us.


  1. StevePerkins says:

    Watching Barack and Hillary desperately tearing each other down, on account of your party’s utterly retarded “superdelegate” system, I’m starting to wonder if you’ll even succeed in capitalizing on the colossal failures of George Bush? The Democratic Party is such a skilled master of “snatching defeat from the jaws of victory”, it takes one’s breath away. They get their moments in the sun here and there… but by and large they have “loser” etched into their DNA, and are resigned to just sit back and wait for the GOP to blow the occasional election.

    In all honesty, Andre, I wish that wasn’t so. I wish the Dems WERE more credible… not so much to see them win (we disagree on economics too much), but to see them at least keep the Republicans honest. However, they simply do not enjoy that level of credibility. For all the Georgia GOP’s flaws, the reason they took the majority was because the Dems were just as corrupt and messed up themselves… and four years of sitting on the sidelines without power hasn’t changed that perception.

    As for what GOP legislators have to campaign on in Waycross… well, I was just down in South Georgia visiting last weekend. The political conversation I listened in on didn’t deal with failures regarding tax and spending reduction. It wasn’t about the Governor “praying for rain” as opposed to working on a serious water plan. No, it was about the Clayton County school system, with the consensus being, “Yup, that’s what happens when you put the blacks in charge.”

    This state is deeply racist, and it drives every facet of our politics. For generations, the Democrats dominated because they found some miraculous way for minorities and minority-haters to work side by side, pushing common populist interests against “country club Republicans”. However, those old alliances have broken down and everything’s polarized now. Democrat leaders often have to be race-baiting demagogues to rise from their ranks (which perpetuates their problem). Meanwhile, the GOP has inherited a bunch of racists whites with populist economic beliefs (which perpetuates THEIR problem).

    The GOP shift is Georgia had nothing to do with a victory of IDEAS, it was just a racial realignment that was a long time coming. Before, the state was run by racist white populists, throwing the occasional bone to their black constituents. Now, the state is run by racist white populists, who no longer have any black constituents to worry about. In all honesty, Andre, I wish you guys will pull these RINO bigot a**holes back under YOUR tent again… I liked the battle lines a lot better under the old model.

  2. bc_its_right says:

    I’m sharing my letter to Georgia Senators and Representatives. As a registered Republican you can see where I stand. I even thought of changing to a Libertarian but IMHO some there have also been playing politics with the lives of children and the average citizen. Don’t let anyone kid you. We need change – but don’t allow any of them to make you promises and fool you again. I’ve removed the exhibits attached to reduce the letter but wanted to share – cuz I’m tired of all – Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians playing politics with our lives. Just sayin..

    April 3, 2008

    Representative Amos Amerson
    401 State Capitol
    Atlanta, Georgia 30334

    Georgia Senators
    Georgia Representatives

    Re: Georgia Education Legislation SB 461, HB 1321, HB 384 – A Travesty in Justice

    Dear Representative Amerson,

    First, I want to express my sincerest appreciation for your public service and that of Rebecca Hammock’s. As you know, a colleague and I met with you on Monday, March 31, 2008 regarding my opposition to SB 461. I shared my concerns about laws that are intended for good, but have unintended negative consequences and are currently being used against children, parents and families throughout Georgia. These shameful practices have gone so far that my own son, who is a good student in Forsyth County, has suffered retaliation, because of my volunteer advocacy work for the past 8 years.

    I have advocated in Fulton County, Dekalb County, Cobb County, Gwinnett County, Houston County, Gainesville City, Bibb County, Newton County, Worth County, Walton County, Hall County and Forsyth County Schools, just to name a few. I have witnessed and have evidence of the unjust, humiliating, disrespectful and abusive mistreatment of children across-the-board in Georgia. It is no surprise that children are coming into our schools and shooting others out of the frustration and hopelessness they feel. It truly is unbelievable, and that is part of the problem too. We don’t believe the children.

    I became extremely frustrated after trying to call, email, or fax several Senators and Representatives in Georgia that were elected to serve the interests of the public. My concern was for legislation that would negatively impact the 1.2 million children in Georgia public schools, as well as their families. Some of the responses I received were so troubling that I drove over an hour to The Capitol to personally find out what was going on. I understand the stress that many are under when serving the public- it is not an easy task. There are always two sides to every issue and no one can ever please everyone, but we are talking about the lives of our most valuable resource; children.

    Please understand that my concerns and those of others are out of frustration over bills and laws that have in fact been applied “unjustly” and used against children, their families and the public you serve. As I stated in my public comment on March 26, 2008, I considered bringing the boxes of case files that would fill a room which prove the children and parents are not lying, but there are so many they would not fit in my car.

    My experience at The Capitol, describes and explains the frustrations of many public citizens. When I called the offices of several Senators and Representatives, I was told not to fax the petition signed by public citizens, as they were expecting important contracts. I understand that contracts are important, but this concerns the lives of 1.2 million children in Georgia and their families. I then asked about emailing, as several public citizens wanted to email. It seems that too is a problem for some. It was explained to me that they get hundreds of emails and that many times the public citizens are uninformed. Is that surprising? I then asked: Well, if we can’t call, email or fax them pertinent information, then do you prefer that we come down there? Apparently, that too is a problem for some, not all, Senators and Representatives.

    I left messages for several Senators and Representatives, but some of the calls were not returned, even though some of the Senators and Representative I left messages for know that I have advocated for children and families in the districts they serve. I thought: this is contradictory to how the legislature was designed to operate. This is not democracy at work for The People of Georgia.

    How are Georgia Senators and Representatives supposed to know how we; the public citizens would like them to vote, if we can’t call, email, fax or have special badges for access. I even found that Senators and Representatives have an alternate email they only give to “certain” citizens. How will Senators and Representatives know how to vote for the average public citizens if they can’t call, email, fax or meet with them? So where is the voice of The People in this supposed democratic process? I guess I and other average citizens will have to sharpen our skills in Mental Telepathy to communicate with those we elected to serve the public interest. Perhaps ESP will have the same impact and influence on our Senators and Representatives as those that can afford attorneys and lobbyists to champion their cause.

    This brings me to my next area of concern. While at The Capitol I heard several lobbyists lobbying for public schools and educators. However, not once did I hear any concern for the CHILDREN, Parents and Families involved in Georgia public schools. There are lobbyists representing the interests of every educator, special interest group and others connected with Georgia Public Education, as you can see by the attached (Exhibit #1).

    Who lobbies and speaks for the children, parents and families negatively impacted in Georgia public schools? Since public schools are paid for with our public tax dollars; I’d like to know the amount of our tax dollars being paid by “our” public schools to lobby for laws and the interests of those employed by or affiliated with public schools? How is it that our public tax dollars are being used to protect the interests of government schools and others connected to them, while the children, their families and average citizens do not get the same? The average citizen does not have the financial means to hire a lobbyist or attorney. How is their voice heard, so that it may influence laws that are supposed to be by the people and for the people?

    Obviously, I am not a politician and I may not be politically correct in saying it, but it needs to be said:

    Special Interest Groups, their attorneys and lobbyists have high-jacked democracy in Georgia
    Georgia Laws are stacked AGAINST the children, parents and families in Georgia Public Schools
    Our God-given rights and responsibility for our children
    Do NOT stop at the doorstep of public schools

    I really want to know the answers to my questions, because I often hear we need to invest more in our public schools – “public education is under-funded”. If funding is really an issue, then my first suggestion is to limit the use of the people’s tax dollars to special interest groups, their attorneys and lobbying activities, which are sometimes unjust and negatively impact the children. This not only doesn’t serve the public’s interests, but in some instances it creates the issues we currently have in public education.

    Now, to another politically incorrect question: How much of our tax dollars are being spent for public schools and educators to have “legal representation” and “educational consultants” that work for attorneys representing and protecting the interests of our public schools? Again, we; the average citizens hear how public education is under-funded, yet there is enough money for attorneys, educational consultants that work for attorneys, and lobbyists for schools to protect the interests of public education, instead of educating the children. Surely, the voices of our children and families in Georgia do not fall on deaf ears.

    Please tell me that democracy is still alive and well in Georgia. Show us with your votes that the voice of our children and average citizens in Georgia is worth protecting, more than special interest groups that are using our public tax dollars to access our Senators and Representatives to lobby for laws that continue to be used against children, families and average citizens in Georgia.

    I, and others have simply asked for laws that give “equal” protections and legal representation for our children and their families in Georgia. We have been given a list of excuses as to why that is not possible. Well then, will someone please explain why our leaders in Georgia on both sides have passed laws giving protections and legal representation only to “certain” individuals in education? Attached please find the current Georgia laws protecting educators, but not children or parents (Exhibit #2). Who voted in favor of these laws, that currently can be used against the children, parents and others who disagree with educators in Georgia? Are children not individuals, protected under the constitution? How can we morally and ethically allow anything less for our children?

    As a Republican, I am ashamed of what I experienced and witnessed at The Capitol in Georgia. I am starting to wonder just how I will vote in the next election. Many Republicans, claim to be Christians, yet much of what I witnessed leaves doubt.

    I do applaud both Rebecca Hammock and you. I walked into your office on March 31, 2008, as a concerned constituent. I was not asked my name or anything. Rebecca Hammock greeted me, in a warm and inviting manner. She walked us straight back to your office to talk to you. You welcomed us and listened to my concerns and asked Ms. Hammock to get a copy of SB 461. We reviewed SB 461 line by line. I’ve heard several rumors about you, but I must say – Representative Amerson, as far as I am concerned, I am glad that you are my Representative. You were kind enough to ask about my older son’s experience, which took place over 8 years ago. You patiently listened to what my younger son has had to endure at Forsyth County Schools, as a result of my work. We may not agree every time and I’m sure we will communicate in the future. We may disagree in the future, but the manner of treating public citizens in your office should be adopted and be an example to be followed by all at The Capitol. I also want to thank Debbie Lynn of Representative Burkhalter’s office. She too has always treated me with respect and kindly assisted me, even though I was not a constituent or wearing a “badge”. The Clerk’s Office has also been very kind and helpful.

    It is because of you, Rebecca Hammock, Debbie Lynn and those in the Clerk’s Office that I have not lost faith and hope for Georgia.

    As we come to an end of this legislative session, many important bills will be debated on the floor. I, and others will be watching. The vote of every Senator and Representative will show us if you are willing to set aside the special interest groups and their attorneys, and do what is right for our children. I expect that for every law that extends protection to an educator, the same be extended to a child. In my opinion, to do anything less is unacceptable, unethical and certainly not Christian. I leave you and your colleagues with this verse, as you vote on Friday:

    Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people…
    -Isaiah 10: 1-3 (NIV)

    Respectfully submitted,

    Carmen Allen
    Georgia Education Advocate

    Cc: House Education Committee
    House Rules Committee
    List serves serving children
    Distribute far and wide:

  3. juliobarrios says:

    “Now, the state is run by racist white populists, who no longer have any black constituents to worry about.”

    I agree with Andre in that the Republicans fell short on a lot of issues this year, but I’m trying to figure out why it’s considered racist. At some point when you can’t say anything about the drought, trauma care, etc.. without interjecting race aren’t you the racist?

  4. juliobarrios says:

    “As a registered Republican you can see where I stand.”

    The State of Georgia has open primaries so there is no such thing as a “registered” Republican or Democrat.

    It’s a good thing you didn’t decide to declare yourself a Libertarian, because your “for the children rhetoric” wouldn’t be too popular at their gatherings.

  5. bc_its_right says:

    “It’s a good thing you didn’t decide to declare yourself a Libertarian…”

    I did think about it. I was so tired of the party politics between the Dems and Reps that I sent in a small contribution, but then found some interesting work going on in the background. Thank God I gave it more thought before jumpin – the truth is they are all politicians. There is no such thing as a Rep./ Dem / Lib that are looking at the interest of the average citizen. They all switch parties to get elected. Dems that have become Rep to get elected. Dems that have gone Lib. Lib that have gone Rep. IMHO – anyone that pays attention to the party labels, needs to look further to get the real truth.

    My thing about “children” is NOT rhetoric, but I’ve learned people will put a “spin” on anything.

  6. Grunt says:

    I will say the Repubs have livened up life around the Capitol. The Dems had gotten downright dull, with few sex scandals, and even greatly diminished drinking. Now, leadership can’t keep their pants zipped, and Sine Die these days is a cock tail party, with comely young things in revealing dress staggering about. Friday night two young women brought Sen. Preston Smith a drink to the Senate floor. Unfortunately, they were so drunk they spilled it all over him, causing Eric Johnson to have their badges confiscated and them escoerted out of the Capitol, presumably to drive to the next party. Yes, the Party of God is in charge.

  7. StevePerkins says:

    No juliobarrios, I don’t mean to imply that the legislative agenda revolves around racism at all. I’m just saying that the new GOP majority has a lot to do with racist Democrats migrating from that party.

    The result isn’t necessarily that the GOP is any more racist than it ever was (I agree with you that this is a tired argument)… but it’s definitely a lot more economically populist than it ever was as a result of the new RINO influx. That is all.

  8. Holly says:

    but it’s definitely a lot more economically populist than it ever was as a result of the new RINO influx

    So, can we give them back? 😉

  9. Chris says:

    Gentrification is pushing Democrat demographics into southern Gwinnett. The GOP will probably lose a seat or two there. I suspect there is probably similar situation going on in Cobb and the south metro counties too. There are a few libertarian/moderate Republicans in North Dekalb who will have a tough campaign – but they tend to be independent and may not get pulled down by the Richardson incompetence. There are probably a few GOP pickups too. I don’t expect a lot of movement either way.

  10. Progressive Dem says:

    If Democrats are seen primarily as the party of African Americans, they will never regain power in Georgia. The party has to have a broader appeal that attracts suburban and white voters. That means the Democrats must craft a consistent message that deals with the regional and state issues of transportation, water and education.

    The Republican led legislature accomplished next to nothing of any meaning to the average Georgian. The Governor sat on the sidelines (from China no less) providing little leadership. The GOP is definitely leaving an opportunity open for the Democrats. As Gwinnett, Cobb, Henry, Cherokee, Rockdale and yes, even Paulding continue to grow and face the challenges of an economically integrated metropolitan area, the needs of voters will change. It is up to the Democrats to position their party to take advantage of the changes and find policy solutions. They need a central message to hold the black and white constituencies together in Georgia, and to broaden their support among suburbs.

    Consider the Republican county commission chairman from the Atlanta suburbs (Jack Smith in Fayette, Tom Wortham in Douglas, Sam Olens in Cobb, Buzz Ahrens in Cherokee, Charles Bannister from Gwinnett, Roy Middlebrooks from Rockdale and Jason Harper from Henry). There isn’t a hard-right, ideolouge conservative among them. These county leaders represent the political center in metropolitan Atlanta. Their cosntituents aren’t nearly as conservative as the legislature or the governor. At some point the suburban voters that elected these county chairmen will find their voice in the legislature, and the Democrats should be able to capitalize.

  11. Jane says:

    If the GOP had been able to work together they could have portrayed the Dem’s as incompetent rightly or wrongly. I would have reminded voters about Grady, Clayton School, and the budget deficient in the City of Atlanta. However Speaker Richardson snatched defeat from the Jaws of Victory. There will be a few GOP loses in the House, but very few changes. For example, if Mumford wants to be re-elected he needs to switch parties.

  12. drjay says:

    i am reminded of the gop in dc w/ newt after the 94 election–their appears to be some–“ofrcrap we won. now what?” newt was brilliant devising a strategy to obtain the majority–not so much at govening as the majority–the cowd in the state house appears afflicted w/ the same problem perhaps…

  13. drjay says:

    of course the house vs senate dynamic existed back in the 70’s between murphy and miller so maybe the more things change…

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