College Degree? No College Degree? Does It Matter?

Paragraph IV. Qualifications of Governor and Lieutenant Governor. No person shall be eligible for election to the office of Governor or Lieutenant Governor unless such person shall have been a citizen of the United States 15 years and a legal resident of the state six years immediately preceding the election and shall have attained the age of 30 years by the date of assuming office.

-Article V. Section I, Constitution of the State of Georgia

Bill Gates.

Ted Turner.

Michael Dell.

Karl Rove.

Casey Cagle.

Karen Handel.

Tell me. What do these six individuals have in common?

The answer is that none of them finished college.

Bill Gates, Michael Dell and Karl Rove all dropped out of college. Ted Turner was kicked out of college. Casey Cagle attended, but never finished college. And Karen Handel left home at age 17, started at the bottom of the corporate ladder and worked her way to the top.

These six individuals are all very accomplished, and the common thread they share is that none of them have college degrees.

There is a debate emerging on Political Insider and Shepherd’s Political Pie about whether a college degree should be required in order to be considered a legitimate candidate for Governor of Georgia.

Jason Shepherd, an Oxendine supporter, writes that “there are at least two candidates on the Republican side […] applying for the State’s top job [who] are hoping that the requirements don’t include a college degree.”

While Lt. Governor Casey Cagle attended both Gainesville College and Georgia Southern University, an injury ended both his football and college career. By the age of 20 he was back home in Gainesville where he started a small tuxedo rental business. In 1994, at the age of 28, he was elected to the state senate.

Karen’s resume as an executive only rivals Oxendine’s on the Republican side. She has also been very successful in her roles and has been successful at each level.

But does that experience negate the need to have a college degree?

Source: Shepherd’s Political Pie, “Chief Executive Wanted: Must Have College Degree”, January 9, 2009

My answer is yes it does.

Much like the Georgians they desire to lead, Casey Cagle and Karen Handel worked hard; they played by the rules; they had their tough times and they persevered; and they both have managed to carve out relatively successful lives for themselves. . .

. . .All without a college degree.

And I say with little hesitation that the life stories of Georgia’s first Republican Lt. Governor and Secretary of State are both very compelling and makes them both very attractive gubernatorial candidates. Their stories are the nearly identical to those of many other citizens of this state.

Constitutionally, there are only three requirements to be elected Governor of Georgia.

You must have been a U.S. citizen for a least fifteen years, a resident of Georgia for at least six years and be at least thirty years old.

That’s it.

So, are Karen Handel and Casey Cagle qualified to be governor?


Will they be elected governor?

Well, that’s up for the people of Georgia to decide. But, I’m pretty sure that most voters will not automatically disqualify Cagle and Handel for the state’s top job simply because they don’t have a piece of paper that says they’re smart.

And anyone, Democrat or Republican, who would make a campaign issue out of that is a getting a little too uppity.


  1. debbie0040 says:

    My teacher hubby has a 6 year master’s degree and I make more than he does because of my experience in the IT field. I don’t have a college degree but did attend college for a few yers. Experience means much more than a college degree sometimes.

    If Oxendine tries to make having a college degree an issue, he will lose and he will tick off many people that like him…He will also be proving that he is not quite as smart as he would have us believe…Jason Shepherd is doing his candidate a disservice by bringing this up….

  2. umustbekidding says:

    They all majored in pandering to whoever is in the room at the time, the true test of a real politician.

    “”Bill Gates, Michael Dell and Karl Rove all dropped out of college. Ted Turner was kicked out of college. Casey Cagle attended, but never finished college. “”

    I find your spin on CC attendance interesting – he “attended, but never finish” isn’t that dropping out? Just because he couldn’t play football doesn’t mean he couldn’t go to school.

  3. Mountain Republican says:

    The elitist attitude will come back to bite Oxendine and his supporters if he isn’t very careful. In college, I remember friends that had opportunities that came up or that they created.They pursued their business interests and their success in the private sector did not allow time to come back and complete the checklist for a piece of paper.

    People like Cagle and Handel have gained invaluable experience in life through their pursuits. Cagle has built businesses from nothing and served as a senator and now Lieutenant Governor. He is a key person in framing the $20 billion state budget. Handel has served in various governmental capacities, and is now our Secretary of State.
    Either Cagle or Handel would be better that someone who believes that they “deserve” to be Governor simply because they have a degree.

  4. Honestly, there are some in the state that will see Ox’s degree as a plus. People such as my own mom, who pushed me to get my degree and is still pushing my two younger brothers to get theirs. Also people such as many college professors and even many college graduates, who look down – for whatever reason – on those without degrees.

    The question, though, is can he win by bringing that up?

    And to that, I think he will surely lose if he makes it a central campaign issue, or even makes a big deal of it. A casual mention of it should be enough to help get any who could be convinced just on that to vote for him. Anything bigger than that, and I say he loses far more support than he gains.

    Ask any Georgian around you, and we can typically name SEVERAL people we know and trust that have been very successful WITHOUT a degree. Handel and Cagle come to mind during this discussion, but I can also point to any of a few dozen people I’ve known for years, and these are people throughout the state.

  5. odinseye2k says:

    It’s probably not the best for your case that the only politician listed besides the gubernatorial candidates is Karl Rove. Doesn’t take much education to advise your people to simply make stuff up as you go.

    Dell and Gates both left school in order to jump into the computer world – a place where there was no college degree at the time, it was learn as you go. They also made *major* use of any computing facility they had access to at the time (guys like Wozniac love to tell stories about how their department heads told them they were bankrupting the place with all of their mainframe use). Also, just because these guys did it, does not mean that there is no use to a computer science degree (since it recapitulates in four years what these guys, and a huge community beyond them, did).

  6. odinseye2k says:

    Also, there is a big difference between becoming a leader (usually in business or politics) and being able to (properly) handle policy in an increasingly technocratic world.

  7. Andre says:


    Here’s a short list of political figures lacking a college degree:

    Jesse Ventura, former Governor of Minnesota;

    Michael Moore, Oscar-winning film-maker;

    Rush Limbaugh, conservative talk radio host;

    Al Sharpton, former Democratic candidate for President; and

    Barry “Mr. Conservative” Goldwater.

  8. Clone Of B. Plyler says:

    Why can’t we just stick to the constitution of GA. & then let people debate the issue if they want to run on that.

    Most of the folks in the capitol have a college degree. How many have common sense?

  9. Chris says:

    Well, working in the private sector my advice is to take experience and achievement over book-learning any day of the week.

    Of course those whose only experience is book-learning will make an issue of Casey & Karen’s lack of a degree. I expect the AJC to bring up the issue alot. I suspect they’ll even endorse Oxendine because of it (and because they want the absolute worst candidate to get the nomination and embarrass the Georgia GOP).

  10. Andre says:

    My point is this:

    Whether you agree or disagree with their political positions, you cannot deny that Casey Cagle and Karen Handel have managed to have successful political careers in spite of their not have a piece of paper that says they’re smart.

    There are many, many Georgians out there who are exactly like the Lt. Governor and the Secretary of State.

    For example, in Gwinnett County, there is a school bus driver who makes less than $30,000 annually. She recently bought a town home in Duluth and she spends most of her time raising her young son all by herself.

    Now I dare you to approach this lady and tell her that she can’t be Governor simply because she has no college degree. I dare you to tell this woman that even though she may have some good ideas and even though she may be able to draw on her own life experiences as the chief executive of this state, that she still can’t be the governor of Georgia because she doesn’t have letters behind her name.

    I’m going to be honest here, that’s pretty damn un-American. And I say that because we live in a country where we are all taught from birth that we can be whatever we want.

    As I said earlier, there are only 3 qualifications to be the governor of this state. You must have been a U.S. citizen for a least fifteen years, a resident of Georgia for at least six years and be at least thirty years old.

    Karen Handel, Casey Cagle and anyone else who meets those 3 requirements are all qualified to be governor. That piece of paper saying that they’re smart is just icing on the cake.

    Anyone who tries to make a campaign issue over Handel or Cagle not having an advanced degree is setting themselves up for defeat.

    It makes that person look elitist and uppity.

  11. odinseye2k says:

    I think the biggest advantage of a college degree is that you know where to look when your experience and achievement fail you. Folks listed above are those that either stayed with one thing (Dell and the make-a-computer biz) or have a very major passion for learning that transcends the place they are a part of (Bill Gates).

    The governor of a state requires the active knowledge (or at least the ability to do some wheat / chaff separation of your various staffers, soothsayers, and old drinking buddies) of economics, ecology, education (since the school system is a major state duty), infrastructure formation and use, and of course a bit of politics. A healthy understanding of the law probably isn’t a bad thing, either.

    Of course, when your experience with “book-learning” are bachelors students in political science from UGA … well, you may have a low estimate of the value of college.

  12. odinseye2k says:

    “For example, in Gwinnett County, there is a school bus driver who makes less than $30,000 annually. She recently bought a town home in Duluth and she spends most of her time raising her young son all by herself.

    Now I dare you to approach this lady and tell her that she can’t be Governor simply because she has no college degree.”

    Um … I’m not saying this lady is a bad person – but do *you* want her running your state?

    “It makes that person look elitist and uppity.”

    It’s the Governorship, not a standard three squares and a decent home. I think a certain degree of elitism is warranted.

  13. Clone Of B. Plyler says:

    Any candidate with common sense will not debate this issue in GA because it iwll be a loser for them.

  14. Icarus says:

    “I think a certain degree of elitism is warranted.”

    I consider myself somewhat of an elitist (shocking, I know), but not a snob. I think there is a huge difference.

    As an elitist, I expect to be able someone in a leadership role to have a vision of where he/she is trying to lead, an ability to articulate that vision and plan, and the ability to execute that plan.

    A college degree, in and of itself, is not required to do that.

    Nor does having a college degree keep you from pandering to the lowest common denominator of the electorate, like say, by calling for military action because gas lines are long, or telling gun owners that their rights are being taken away just because we don’t want to waste an entire session arguing over how many weapons you can take to the alter when you pray on Sunday.

  15. odinseye2k says:


    On that level, I agree. It’s just bad politics to show 75% of your electorate that the opponent has something in common with them.

  16. Bill Simon says:

    Any candidate with common sense will not debate this issue in GA because it iwll be a loser for them.

    Common sense is neither common nor does it always make sense. Especially in political races.

  17. Andre says:

    Do I want her running my state?

    Yes. Yes, I do. And she could easily be the next Karen Handel once her son is an adult.

    As I’ve said repeatedly, there are only three requirements to be governor of the State of Georgia:

    1.) You must have been a United States citizen for 15 years;

    2.) You must have been a resident of Georgia for 6 years; and

    3.) You must be at least 30 years old.

    To paraphrase the Clone Of B. Plyler, why don’t we stick to the Constitution of the State of Georgia and then let the people decide.

    That’s why we have elections.

  18. Clone Of B. Plyler says:


    Let me make it more plain. Maybe you should run for office on this college degree angle.

  19. odinseye2k says:

    “Maybe you should run for office on this college degree angle.”

    Maybe an appointment. I would love to use the “it doesn’t take a rocket scientist” for pure corniness value, though.

  20. Bill,

    “””Common sense is neither common nor does it always make sense. Especially in political races.”””” That is a profound statement.

    All I can say is, this is going to be a hot election cycle, and it is going to be a long one.

  21. debbie0040 says:

    “All I can say is, this is going to be a hot election cycle, and it is going to be a long one.”

    I agree so why are we debating now? Isakson could jump in and throw everything off… Why waste time debating now?

  22. shep1975 says:


    If you read the whole blog I wrote, I put a high premium on actual real world service, but there have been others who have brought it up and said they cannot vote for someone without a degree. I have watch my single mother build three very successful businesses without a college degree, actually, with much less college than Handel or Cagle has.

    I think a college degree is important, but it is part of the total package. I voted for the #2 option in my poll.

    Truthfully, what did a degree in veterinarian medicine teach someone about running a state government? Nothing. It is the experience that Sonny learned out of college that he has used as governor.

    There are a lot of you who will say the man with the Harvard MBA, George W. Bush didn’t do nearly as well as President as the graduate from Eurka College (Ronald Reagan).

    But a campaign is a job interview and there is no one who puts in a resume for a job and leaves off education.

    Personally, I would expect the Democrats who tend to be education elitists, to make it an issue. You just have to look at some of the Dems on here and how they talk down to those in this state who have less formal education, forgetting these are the bulk of the folks who keep Georgia’s economy running by building the small businesses that form the backbone of our economy.

    I still think it’s an interesting debate for (pardon the pun) academic reasons, but all in all a degree does not matter in the least. Competency and character are far more important than a college degree.

    It definitely wasn’t an issue many of you on here, you included, hit Oxendine for supporting Cagle and more than a few who are supporting Cagle now said you would NEVER support Oxendine again because he was helping Cagle against Reed.

    Cagle beat a PhD (Reed) and a JD (Martin). I also think that one of the problems with Georgia education is the push for everyone to go to college and neglecting, especially at the high school level, more vocational training, some of which pays a lot better than college.

    I started off the debate on my blog putting out the fact that, according to, many of the fastest growing, best paying jobs require no degree. For all of the ones they listed, all of them have an average higher than what I currently make.

    My uncle never went to college, but as a master mechanic he makes more than a comfortable living for his family. He also owned his own shop for awhile before selling it and taking over the shop at a dealership for more money and less hassel.

    I tried to leave the door open on my blog for discussion, but everyone is discussing either here or on the AJC so it is here and there I have to continue the debate.

    Remember, there is a poll up so be sure to vote:

  23. umustbekidding says:

    I don’t really care if someone has a degree. I do expect them to be smart, which usually – not always- comes with a degree.

    If someone graduated from Harvard, you know they must be smart; it’s a tough school to get into.
    If someone graduated from a trade school, you’d have some concern and need to learn more about him to come to a conclusion on whether or not he is really smart enough to be governor.
    If a person graduated from a local high school, you’d really be skeptical.
    This is normal.
    We are trying to get young people to realize school is important and I think seeing that from our leaders does help.

  24. umustbekidding says:

    I should add, if a person graduates from high school then served in the military or has been in business for themself for 20 years, that makes a huge difference on how they are viewed.
    Being in politics all their working life does nothing for me.

  25. shep1975 says:

    And for the record, I saw the issue on Galloway’s blog and re-asked the question. I did not consult, ask or seek permission from the Oxendine camp to put it up. Since I am a supporter, and nothing more (you all may have noticed I was not on the statewide leadership team that Oxendine posted), I do not speak for the campaign.

    Given my family background, I doubt I could support anyone who would try to make this an issue in the campaign.

  26. odinseye2k says:

    “Harvard MBA, George W. Bush…”

    Well, let’s be honest. The guy was a legacy admit and a great number of his professors told him he basically wiped his butt with the degree.

    On the other hand, the guy that graduated near the bottom of his class in the Naval Academy just got it handed to him by a guy that did quite well in Harvard Law and taught classes at U-Chicago. The same guy who has this strange need to appoint people with credentials in his Cabinet, like that Nobel dude at Energy.

    So the college degree isn’t necessarily everything. Although, when looking at the value of my own degree, I compare my skills with those of my father. He’s an excellent computer wizard (hardware and software, often embarrasses the guys with the paper certifications), skills that got him a rather good job. However, his experiences and knowledge come from a lifetime of effort – to some degree, mine now match or surpass his and I’ve only had a handful of years of training.

    Actually, that’s a pretty good slogan.”

    I thank you for being my focus group.

  27. SFrazier says:

    The difference here is Cagle was successful in business before public office. Handels only success has come in public office. Unless you count lobbying as a job? I hate it when lobbyists run for office, kind of like the fox wathching the hen house.

  28. Bill Simon says:

    “If someone graduated from Harvard, you know they must be smart; it’s a tough school to get into.”

    Ah, the power of branding. It’s not a tough school to get into if your family has money/power/picture of the college president in an embarrassing situation.

  29. umustbekidding says:

    I wasn’t even thinking about W.
    My point is, without knowing anything else about a person you can learn a lot from their education. Keep in mind most voters don’t educate themselves on a candidate so their degree may be the only thing the voter goes by.

  30. JAC1975 says:

    What bothers me in this discussion is the denigration of a college degree. We have enough trouble in this state getting kids to value a high school diploma, let alone a college education. To dismiss a college education as something for elitist snobs makes me wonder why we should value education at all. If work experience is all that matters, we should just go back to putting our children to work at age 12.

    I don’t think a college degree is necessary to be governor. Does it make me wonder how much a candidate without a degree values education, especially higher education? Yes, it does. Obviously, they didn’t think a college degree was worthwhile for themselves, and if they are a serious candidate for governor, they obviously succeeded without it. Is there room, however, to acknowledge that college is NOT for everyone while not at the same time dismissing those who do get a degree as effete snobs?

  31. umustbekidding says:

    I started to use GA tech in my example but I thought it would just make all the GA fans mad. 🙂

  32. Trouble Twins says:

    Some of the dumbest people I know have College degrees. Having letters behind your name just means that you have the ability to pass exams. George W Bush, Dan Quail, Al Gore and Jimmy Carter all have college degrees. Does that make their actions and statements Smart?
    Not by a long shot. Our country was not founded on how smart or how much education you have but what does this country need and how can we make that happen. A college degree does not necessarily make that happen. It just means somebody had the means to get one.
    Oxendine and whom ever is pushing that idea is an idiot. And they had better go back to the town that is missing them.

  33. Andre says:


    I don’t believe anyone has said, implied or suggested that a college education is something for “elitist snobs.”

    However, for any person to say that a gubernatorial candidate is somehow disqualified from seeking to lead this state simply because they did not finish college would be taking an elitist and uppity stance in my opinion.

    If you graduated college and are running for governor, that’s great.

    If you didn’t graduate from college and are running for governor, then that’s great too.

    There are only 3 qualifications to be governor of this state. You have to have been a U.S. citizen for 15 years. You have to have been a resident of Georgia for 6 years. And you have to be at least 30 years old.

    Whether or not an individual finished college should not detract from their ability to be the chief executive officer of our great state so long as they have met all 3 constitutional qualifications.

    And what I’m saying is that any person, Democrat or Republican, who would make an issue out of a gubernatorial candidate’s educational accomplishments is setting themselves up to be characterized as elite, uppity and ultimately, for an electoral defeat.

  34. NorthGeorgiaGirl says:

    I agree that there are a lot of people with college degrees that aren’t very bright. I think a college degree is less important than experience in the workplace. Given that most colleges are full of liberal professors, what is a college degree other than further indoctrination in liberalism?

    I have learned as an adult and particularly as a parent that my college degree isn’t worth the paper it is printed on, and I graduated with honors in three years instead of four. It makes no difference. I have learned a lot more on my own since graduating. In fact, I have figured out that a lot of what I was taught was outright wrong.

    I have no idea who I am going to vote for in the governor’s race, but I will place a lot less emphasis in my mind on what academic credentials the candidates have and a lot more emphasis on principles and the way the candidates demonstrate their commitment to following their principles.

  35. odinseye2k says:

    “I don’t believe anyone has said, implied or suggested that a college education is something for “elitist snobs.””

    See just one comment above. I think that is a lot of the theme of the thread, that college is at best a helpful adjunct to one’s life and at worst a waste of four years and money. Book-learnin’ < School of Hard Knocks is a very common theme.

    Experience is great and helpful. In fact, there is no theoretically body of knowledge that does very well with it as an anchor. The problem is that as you go higher and higher up the chain of command, you will be confronted with more and more problems that are beyond your personal experience and beyond your ability to ever experience ever aspect of the issues you are presented with.

    At that point, the ability to choose between options and evaluate reports and research not on the surface, but on the soundness of method and science supporting them, and to evaluate which of the many advisors are presenting something with merit, becomes the main issue. That’s where an academic mindset and background are useful. It lies within that ability to sort through many different competing options and tie the opinions offered to underlying principles and sources of those principles (and the degrees to which each have been shown to fail) that makes someone that can be a solid policymaker.

  36. odinseye2k says:

    “In fact, there is no theoretically body of knowledge that does very well with it as an anchor.”

    That should be WITHOUT.

  37. I’m not going to waste a ton of space discussing the advantages that going through a college degree program provides for you. While a 4-year degree doesn’t make you a genius, I do believe the process exposes you to a range of thought and helps develop critical thinking skills… which take more work and discipline to develop on your own.

    Moreover, the act of finishing a degree is to some extent a rite of passage… outward evidence that you set a major goal and followed through on it. I know this is a sensitive subject for many. My father had to drop out one semester from graduation for financial reasons. I have many friends who didn’t complete their degrees. I myself am struggling through night school (on top of a full-time day job) to finish a law degree that I had planned on finishing 10 years ago. Things happen, I understand. If you don’t complete a degree, it doesn’t mean that you LACK character and follow-through… it just means that you need other evidence from elsewhere to show those things. A college degree doesn’t make you a better person, but it is some evidence that you have your act together more so than many.

    In short, lacking a degree doesn’t necessarily HURT you… but having a degree does HELP you. It gives you some measure of built-in credibility, that other people have to make up for through other means. It’s only one factor to consider, and different people may place different weight on it… but saying that it’s completely irrelevant is in my view pandering to people’s sensitivities and resentments.

  38. Andre says:


    I’m going to be honest with you.

    If it matters, then yes I did complete college.

    If it doesn’t matter, then no I didn’t.

    Also, as it pertains to the subject matter of this particular thread, I might add that while I have been a resident of Georgia for six years and a citizen of the United States for fifteen years, I currently am not qualified to be the governor of Georgia because I have not yet attained the age of 30.

  39. umustbekidding says:

    Dang, I messed up that post. It sould be;
    Looking at your picture I’d have to guess you are getting ready for a suicide mission.

  40. Doug Deal says:


    Being able to deal with things outside of your experience comes more from your attitude toward life than what education you have. I have one of the most challenging undergraduate degrees to obtain (Chemical Engineering), but I do not credit that for instilling in me a desire to figure things out and pursue knowledge for knowledge sake. That came from wanting to learn as a child and reading everything that I got my hands on. More focus on teaching these tools in the 12 plus years that students are in out malfunctioning primary education system would go a lot further than getting people in serious debt before they have ever even started their careers.

    In reality too many colleges have become degree mills, where people go to get degrees in what people previous generations considered hobbies and personal persuits. (Is it wise to be taking out student loans to bring home a degree in “The Classics” or “Political Science[sic]”?)

  41. Rick Day says:

    *insert retarded ramble about intellectual elite in high office here*

    Do online degrees count? Do they have to be from a ‘big’ school or is KSU, or Trinity acceptable?

    And just what about the children?

  42. Goldwater Conservative says:

    We have all seen that having a college degree does not make you smart (i.e. G.W. Bush and Sonny Perdue).

    Should not having one disqualify you in the public eye? That all depends.

    Experience is important, but can be made up for with intelligence and/or academic training.

    Having expertise, or a degree, in certain fields, I believe, does qualify a person a bit better than another who may not have a college degree at all. For example, a person with a BA from UGA is much more qualified than a person with a JD from Regent University. At that same token, a person with a liberal arts degree from a respectable university is probably more qualified than a PhD from Miami Christian or anybody with a business degree.

    I do believe that Oxendine’s education qualifies him much more than Handel. I also believe that Cagle’s experience puts him in a position that is on par (if not better) with Oxendine.

    The GOP has 2 very decent candidates for Governor in 2010.

    Furthermore, referring to Rick Day, it is a little much to go into the university program that a candidate gets their degree from…but that is more important than the school they attended.

    An individual with say…a bachelors in Political Science from KSU ( I am assuming you are referring to Kennesaw State) is probably as qualified (or better) than many of Harvards MBAs.

    The thing is, you can not teach intelligence. You can help people do better on tests and teach them new material…but there are aspects of nature in which not everybody is equal.

  43. slyram says:

    No college degrees might be a benefit with blue-collar voters.

    In Georgia, candidates can have more degrees than a thermometer but play up that Andy Griffin, demi-shirt wearing stuff for appeal purposes. Joe Frank Harris did it to beat city-slick Bo Ginn for governor.

    In the Congress, Jamie Whitten of Mississippi was a lion of the House; he actually came to Congress November 4, 1941 and was in the chamber for FDR’s infamy speech. They say Whitten use to tell a story about a state legislator in Mississippi who won office after the Civil War by saying he and his opponent were at the Siege of Vicksburg Battle. The storyteller was in the blood and mud as a foot solider and the opponent was up on the hill as a general—drinking tea from fine china in a tent. The storyteller said he wanted everyone in that tent to vote for his opponent and everyone who was a mud foot solider to vote for him. You know who won.

    Cagle and Handel might play that “I had to get to work” card and win favor from working folks—Democrats and Republicans.

    Sidenote: Whitten apologized for his “no” votes 60s civil rights legislation. He was a real southern gentleman—from Oxford like Faulkner.

  44. Goldwater Conservative says:

    Here’s a question…

    How about a high school degree…would not having one of those be a problem for you guys?

  45. MaxieGrrrl says:

    I just cannot believe that we would classify Casey and Karen with Bill Gates or even Karl Rove. It’s takes a spectacularly special person to carve out success in this world without a college degree. I am very willing to look over their experience in this race. I have deep respect for the “self taught”. Hell, I’m one of them!

    However, I’ve gotta ask: Would we even get that far if any of them were Black or Latino? Just a question. Flame away if you want.

  46. drjay says:

    i believe i’ve mentioned some of this before–but i remember a blogad on the side of a couple of blogs that had a picture of obama and biden and the tag line was something about wanting the “smartest mf’s in the room” and palin was castigated for being “intellectually lazy” and mocked for having merely a journalism degree from u of idaho…i’m not sure i would bring it up as an opposing candidate but i’m sure if i had them i would tout my own academic credentials as part of my bio, w/out memtioning anyone else’s lack of them–it’s probably a net plus when all is boiled down more people will view the degree favorably and lack unfavorably-that does not mean that someone w/out a degree can’t succeed but they may have a little more to prove–not just hrunning for guv–but in general in a lot of situations-it was recommended to me to put “Dr.” on my website, for what its worth…

  47. odinseye2k says:

    “I have one of the most challenging undergraduate degrees to obtain (Chemical Engineering), but I do not credit that for instilling in me a desire to figure things out and pursue knowledge for knowledge sake.”

    True, and I agree that an attitude toward the ability to self-teach should definitely be taught in high schools.

    As for the college piece, I would think of it more as mentored practice on all that analytical work as making one want to do it all the time.

    But, I guess it’s kind of the same as being successful at business. I would look at someone that ran a Fortune 500 in a much different light than someone that got to spend time on the boards due to political connections or defined “success” as being good at pushing AmWay soap.

  48. Goldwater Conservative says:

    Whats wrong with getting on corporate boards due to political connections? It happens very often and acts as proof that we live in a class state (not to be confused with a caste system).

    I agree that self-teaching is important…but it is not something that is extremely difficult to teach adolescents. It is difficult to teach to adults for that matter. I would give a “self-taught” individual a .0001% chance at understanding The Leviathan if not given direction in an academic institution. that is not to say that we should not strive toward perfection.

    This is one of those issues that strikes the social core of many of the aspects of our culture. Education is part of it…so is the job market.

    For some people, like Gates and Rove, finishing college is not necessary for success. Handel just gave up and that is different. Fact is, when I was hiring for any position on a campaign or in my private sector days…if you did not list a college degree on your resume, it went in the trash.

    The question about a degree being politically required for running for governor is different…because it is political. This is where Handel and Cagle diverge. Cagle is the exception rather than the rule…by that I mean that he is smart and capable without collegiate training.

  49. Heavenhelpusall says:

    For me it does and for all the people that I know,and it will definitely become an issue,because there is no way in hell a person from another race,without the right credentials ,could even think about running for this office, without a degree,and hope to win,not saying that is ever going to happened in Ga anyway,not until alot of those in my generation and those before me ,die off, let along the rest of the South,I always say the South is still trying to fight the Civil -War,talking about the South shall rise again and all that BS, when it has , only with a new agenda, To Better It,No way.No how, No Handel or Cagle,But he,{Cagle}would be better then her, I don’t like her at all,Yes John Oxendine,bring it up, bacause that is how the game is played in politics everywhere,and everyone here knows it,Call me Uppity,I don’t care,Maybe they both can go on-line , while they are trying to move in that house on West Paces Ferry.

  50. I honestly think this entire discussion is nearly irrelevant, especially in terms of if this is an effective campaign tactic for one campaign to use. Perhaps someone jumped the gun and equated Jason’s blog with a campaign tactic by the Ox – which would be in error.

    But being that we are here, I really do not think the education thing will be so much of a problem. Handel’s biggest feat will be the rural-ites that see she is one of those “blasted ferners” from out of state, not her lack of education. Cagle is facing what should be a messy year in the legislature considering the projected state of the economy. While it is not advisable for any candidate to openly exploit Handel’s status as a non-Georgia born citizen, it will detract some voters if pushed through back channels. Cagle is naturally easier to attack.

    I’m not even sure any candidate could raise the question of education with Handel as the opponent. As we saw in the Presidential race, women are hard to attack with negative ads. You spout off how she is not educated and you get slammed with “woman overcoming the odds.”

    What happens if Westmoreland jumps in? He doesn’t have a college degree. I am not sure if there is an educational barrier inherent within our system. I do not think it is very far fetched for the chief executive to not be a college degree holder, after all we had a Goober Farmer Governor (although he did have degrees.)

  51. Daniel, I said it on the Insider and I will say it here, the Oxendine campaign didn’t bring it up, Jim Galloway did then I did because I thought the debate was an interesting one to have.

    You might as well say the Isakson for Senate campaign brought it up because I also plan on voting for Isakson for Senate. You can blame the John Wiles for State Senate since I also plan on voting for my incumbent state senator. I hold the same position in all of these campaigns, supporter.

  52. Oh, and Karen’s problem is not going to be that she’s not from Georgia, her biggest hurdle will be winning over rural voters who have a hard problem voting for someone from Fulton County, especially if the Democrat nominee is from rural Georgia. This will be the first test in the Governor’s race on whether a GOP candidate from Atlanta can win.

    The only times the GOP has nominated a candidate not from Atlanta were 1966, 2002 and 2006. In all of those years, the GOP candidate got the majority of the votes.

    I reminded Senator Perdue of that fact when he was kicking around the idea of running for Lt. Gov. in 2001. I said to him that if we had a GOP nominee from outside Atlanta running against a Democrat from Atlanta (Barnes), then we would stand a much better chance of winning. We split the metro area and always lose in rural Georgia.

    I will let the folks from outside the metro area comment more on this issue.

  53. odinseye2k says:

    “I do not think it is very far fetched for the chief executive to not be a college degree holder, after all we had a Goober Farmer Governor (although he did have degrees.)”

    That’s graduate of Rickover’s School of Whoop Yer Ass to you.

  54. Or Georgia Southwestern if you want to reach back to his two-year degree. A college degree is a college degree, no?

    I find it funny that we use the term “college education” which does not necessarily imply a degree but some time at a college. What then becomes the standard? Do I have part of a college education as I have one semester to graduate, or am I vested with that purely when I graduate? Do I have it after two semesters?

  55. Bill Simon says:


    You talk as if rural voters are all a bunch of redneck dupes. I wonder who they would consider to be a worse panderer, Karen (who is unpretentious) or Ox (who is majorly pretentious)?

  56. No Bill, you have to understand that there really are two Georgias and most people who live in Atlanta don’t understand it. It’s not “redneck” versus “urban.” I wouldn’t call someone in Macon, Augusta, Savannah, Rome, etc “rednecks” or “dupes.”

    There is a perception that people in Atlanta only care about Atlanta and take the rest of the state for granted. Atlanta also is the capital and many in the rest of Georgia look at Atlanta the way many in Atlanta (and the rest of Georgia) look at Washington, D.C.

    There is a lot more to this state than Atlanta, but while we in Atlanta talk about ITP vs. OTP and the differences and implications those designations have just within our own city, it is similar to the clash of culture, values, pace of life, economic resource allocation, power structure, etc, between Atlanta and the rest of the state.

    Also, in an election, people are going to support the candidate who they think will represent and protect their interest the most. The issues in rural Georgia are vastly different than the issues in the metro area. You think traffic congestion is the number one issue for someone in Tifton?

    It’s also places like Tifton which are the make it or break it area for the GOP to win statewide. I think suggesting that rural voters won’t vote for a woman is shamefull and shows an ignorance about rural Georgia that is both unfounded and snobbish, which also feeds into the rural Georgia prejudices against Atlanta.

  57. Icarus says:

    “You think traffic congestion is the number one issue for someone in Tifton? ”

    Seems to me they’ve been working on that stretch of I-75 my entire life. I sure hope they’re proud of that extra lane.

  58. griftdrift says:

    Congestion in Atlanta will matter to Tifton if peanut trucks can’t get through to market.

    But God knows please don’t let that take away from finishing the Cordele-Ashburn-Tifton mess. I want my three lanes!

  59. Doug Deal says:

    Icarus, I think you are right. That area has been under construction for as long as I can remember as well, and I am fairly familiar with it because one of my brothers died in an auto accident on that Cordele-Tifton corridor about 12 years ago. I do not know if that was the same construction project, but I cannot remember a time since that it has not had orange barrels out.

  60. IndyInjun says:

    This topic points out an irony that I have often considered. As noted, college drop-outs Gates, Dell, Jobs, and Walton created $billion empires through innovation. High school drop out Dave Thomas founded Wendy’s.

    Then we have the case of Long Term Capital Management, which was the index case of the Financial Insanity Virus that dooms us economically. LTCM was founded by two Nobel laureates in economics and a star Wall Street Trader. These “geniuses” turned a couple of $billion in equity into something like $30 billion in direct losses, but as much as $1 trillion in derivatives losses.

    FIV has infected all Ivy League business schools and their grads have destroyed the world financial system.

    For me the conclusion is that common sense, drive, and determination trump a Harvard MBA soundly. The market for the later should be greatly decimated because of what these idiots have wrought.

    Sadly, it would be quite improbable, in most cases impossible, for those great entrepreneurs to be hired for any management position in the companies that they founded, given their ‘dearth of credentials.’

  61. rugby fan says:

    “This topic points out an irony that I have often considered. As noted, college drop-outs Gates, Dell, Jobs, and Walton created $billion empires through innovation. High school drop out Dave Thomas founded Wendy’s.

    Then we have the case of Long Term Capital Management, which was the index case of the Financial Insanity Virus that dooms us economically. LTCM was founded by two Nobel laureates in economics and a star Wall Street Trader. These “geniuses” turned a couple of $billion in equity into something like $30 billion in direct losses, but as much as $1 trillion in derivatives losses. ”

    Or you could do a better comparison and look at the number of successful college graduates vs. the number of successful dropouts.

  62. Truthteller says:

    Yeah, but I sure miss those old skin billboards on 75. I’d bet most of those in the pictures on those boards didn’t go to college.

  63. Doug Deal says:


    I read somewhere that dropouts of certain PhD programs actually have higher salaries than the people who have actually obtained their advanced degree. Success is at best an imperfect measure, since to some people it may mean being at the reins of a 20,000 employee fortune 500 companies, while to others it might mean owning a corner store in a small town or spending most of their time with family.

    As much “experience” as a CEO or a long time politician might have in management or politics, they are usually very thin on experience in living as a normal citizen. Being driven around in a limousine, having your groceries bought by a housekeeper, your children’s watched by a nanny or sent away to boarding school, having your notes written by an aid, and everyone around you calling you sir around the clock, every day, looking to fulfill your every whim is not exactly conducive to living in reality. I think I would rather have the small shop owner.

  64. IndyInjun says:


    The damage done by Harvard MBA’s to each and every one of us is incalculable.

    We should be so lucky that they be relegated to operating simple equipment instead of “financial engineering.”

    Most Phd’s are idiots.

    These corrupt manipulators will soon redefine “success” to encompass folks who were smarter than to fall for their “brilliant” machinations that caused the Greater Depression.

  65. drjay says:

    you are so right doug–and don’t get me started on nannies and their sick grandmother’s in guatemala and there “immigration issues” and not being able to drive on main roads, and just how does a 2 year old fall out of a boster seat and break his nose while he is “being watched” anyway!!! but the little one is too young for boarding school…

  66. rugby fan says:

    “I read somewhere that dropouts of certain PhD programs actually have higher salaries than the people who have actually obtained their advanced degree”

    Most likely because a PhD gears you almost exclusively toward academia only and there is not much money to be had writing about Bronte or Heidegger.

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