I Almost Feel Sorry for Jim Cole

If you haven’t heard yet, State Representative Jim Cole, the Governor’s Floor Leader in the House, has been appointed Secretary of State.

Jim is a fine individual. I don’t know him super well, but have had several encounters with him over the years. My wife is a big fan. At a Fred Thompson event last year, Jim and his wife stood between my wife and the crowd for an hour providing a buffer for my wife. She loathes crowds.

I have not a word critical to say of Jim Cole. In fact, we chatted on the phone briefly this afternoon. He’s a good guy of good character and also a successful small businessman.

I do, however, feel sorry for him.

First, the Governor does not have a very good track record of appointing people to elected positions who then survive the election. In fact, in the judiciary, appointment by the Governor has frequently been a death sentence for candidates.

Second, there are two men running for the Secretary of State’s job already. Everyone thought the Governor would be wise (hahahahahahaha) and appoint a care taker with a massive amount of experience relevant to the job, particularly relevant to dealing with the U.S. Department of Justice. See e.g. Anne Lewis, the no brainer choice for an outstanding caretake Secretary of State.

Brian Kemp already has a huge statewide base of support. While Doug MacGinnitie has a resume tailor made for the job, Kemp has been establishing his bona fides for the job for over a year — including going to every board of elections meeting save one.

Neither Brian nor Doug is going to get out because of this. In fact, I suspect they through surrogates are going to be emboldened to attack the Governor. For those of you still under the delusion that Governor Perdue is still tight with the Republican base in the state, you’ll finally see what a lot of the rest of us have seen for awhile — the base no longer views Perdue as one of them.

Jim Cole is going to have to seriously fight against two guys who have been in the game for a heck of a lot longer and who both now have much better name id across the state. And he is going to do so as a relative unknown with no clear qualifications for or experience related to the job. He may and, I think, does have it, but he’ll have to work hard to share the info.

Looks very much like I could have spoken too soon here on this one. If so, this could be really interesting for other fall out from the appointment in other areas. One of the two candidates will probably drop out. One will stay in.

Third, this opens up a special election for Jim Cole’s seat. It’s a seat that was entrenched in Democrat hands for a long time until Cole won. But there is no guarantee that this seat will stay with the GOP. The special election will expend taxpayer dollars needlessly. The GOP and Democrats will both spend money to fight over the seat that could be better spent elsewhere. Party operatives are already emailing me pissed about this.

Fourth, while we have a long and rich tradition of Secretaries of State presiding over their own re-elections, Georgia’s first Republican Secretary of State just announced her resignation because, in light of the current ethical problems of the GOP’s good old boy network, she thought she should be above even the appearance of impropriety in presiding over issues directly affecting her election.

Cole, so closely affiliated with the Governor, is going to have to overcome the notion that he is the Governor’s errand boy and not an independent Secretary of State outside of the good old boy network that has too frequently of late caused the GOP problems.

There may be some oddly good news for Karen Handel in this. A lot of people have been treating her race as some sort of referendum on her relationship with the Governor. She now has the opportunity to distance herself from him via a carefully crafted statement on the appointment and Cole now makes a better target for those wanting a referendum on the Governor. After all, Handel got the job via election, not selection.

The downside though, for Handel, is also clear. If Cole turns out to be ineffective or the Democrats pick up his legislative seat, the other gubernatorial candidates can say it would not have happened if Handel “hadn’t pulled a Palin.”


  1. Jeff says:

    Good ole boy politics at work, as usual – and Karen Handel is right in the middle of it.

    She did exactly what Attorneys General have done in this State for 67 years. Resign before her term was up, and then have a hand in selecting her own replacement due to her connections with the Governor.

    This didn’t DISTANCE her from the Governor – it tied her closer to him, and closer to the culture of corruption that has infected this State for far too long.

      • Jeff says:

        Governor could have over-ruled her on the actual pick – but by resigning, she let HIM pick, not the People.

        Exactly as Attorneys General have done for the past 67 years.

          • Jeff says:

            This is the first time the Attorney General office has actually had an open seat in 67 years due to the very thing that Karen Handel is doing with the Secretary of State office right now, and you fail to see the logic in connecting the two?

            Dude, even YOU admit in your own post on this that “has interjected himself into a primary race with his own candidate. It’s a very underhanded move because Perdue has given Cole the power of incumbency”.

            Karen Handel is known to be tied closely to Perdue, and therefore taking into account the Attorney General situation, my statements here are not unreasonable. Pessimistic I will absolutely cop to. I’ll even allow that they may be wrong, and that maybe Handel really is lily white innocent here.

            Just saying that at best, it doesn’t look good.

          • Jason Pye says:


            Yes, however, you assume that Handel had something to do with this appointment. On that, you are wrong.

            Then again, everything is a conspiracy to you.

          • Jeff says:

            I see everything as connected, but not necessarily a conspiracy. More “structured chaos” than anything. Chess is also a good analogy here.

        • Mozart says:

          Did I miss an announcement? Has the Attorney General resigned too? What’s this that Jeff is talking about with regard to “This is the first time the Attorney General office has actually had an open seat in 67 years due to the very thing that Karen Handel is doing with the Secretary of State office right now”.

          Me vewy vewy confused. 🙁

  2. mitchmartin says:

    Erick, I hope you keep this post as is and not edited as this situation plays out so that everyone will see how little you really know.

    • Icarus says:

      I think I have a decent grasp of the truth here, and Jeff’s version is no where close.

      Fact is, this changed on a dime in the last 24 hours.

      Still a lot to sort out in the behind the scenes games, but Handel wasn’t part of it, by any version I can piece together.

      I may choose to get more into it later. Right now, it’s New Year’s Eve, and it’s not just 5:00 somewhere, but it’s 5:00 here.

      The Governor has made HIS decision. Not much I’m going to do to change it by typing away here. I’m going to go enjoy New Year’s eve. I’ll have an extra one to toast the Governor, and his belief that his will is more important than the will of the people.

  3. Part-Time Atlanta says:

    This is all wrong. I thought Watson was supposed to be the pick so he could keep the seat warm until Kemp got there. Someone better call Cole soon and let him know that that’s still the plan.

  4. Ludwig Von Beachbum says:

    I think Eric’s closing statements on Handel do more to give substance to those saying “Karen Handel IS Sonny’s girl”.

    • Jeff says:

      I’ll be the first to admit it is possible you are correct here. Indeed, my comments above are based solely on the history of the office of Attorney General, and not from any knowledge at all of Perdue’s motivations in this particular instance.

        • Jeff says:

          Again: Based solely on my knowledge of how the Attorney General’s office has been handled for the last few decades. Like has happened now with the SoS office, for nearly 70 years the Attorney General would resign about 2-3 yrs into his last term, and the Governor would then appoint the new Attorney General, who would then have the power of the incumbency when the next election came around.

    • BuckheadConservative says:

      I will be so glad when we are done with Sonny Perdue’s “epiphanies” This guy is a Pez dispenser of bad ideas.

  5. Silent Outrage says:

    I don’t think Handel had anything to do with this as I thought I heard that she had suggested a caretaker and not intervening in the primary… Either way, primaries are healthy and I hope Kemp and Mac stay in this thing…

    Handel does have “her own plate full” right now and doubt she’d be weighing in on this one anyway… Maybe you’ve heard – she’s the leading ethical candidate for Governor! 🙂

    • Jeff says:

      I do get a good chuckle out of her claiming to be the “ethical” candidate here while violating one of the biggest Federal laws governing the office she held until today.

    • Mozart says:

      “Maybe you’ve heard – she’s the leading ethical candidate for Governor!”

      I would only add “at the moment” as there appears to be something that just had a burner turned-on underneath a pot that has Handel’s fingerprints all over it.

    • edmund says:

      Marty, man, still finding time to comment on Peach Pundit when your candidate is on the phone begging would-be donors to put her over the million dollar mark? Yikes. Handel: the leading ethical blogger for Governor!

  6. fishtail says:

    First of all, it’s New Year’s Eve and I’m going out. But let me say this first, my lobbyist friends tell me Jim Cole is not as clean as he would like everyone to believe…their words “there’s a public Jim Cole and a private Jim Cole”…. “his sanctimonious comments about Glenn Richardson will come back to haunt him”…God don’t like a hypocrite”. So I will get on this later and others will as well. There are some long knives in the grass for this guy. Happy New Year’s, girls and boys!!

    • Romeg says:

      Hmmm. “My Lobbyist Friends”? What would we do without ‘unnamed sources’ or ‘sources who wish to remain anonymous’?

      I have known Jim personally for coming up on 7 years. And Yes. Just like all of us he has a private life; perhaps even a secret one, as do most of us. But in those 7 years I’ve never seen anything to suggest that he is anything other than he holds himself out to be: a dedicated public servant and a hard-working, serious minded entrepreneur and a dedicated family man. His parents, likewise, strike me as serious, dedicated Christians and very supportive of Jim and his family.

      If you have actual information of which the citizens and voters of this state should be aware then produce them. Otherwise, Shut Your Pie Hole.

  7. Jim’s in a near impossible situation. He now gains a seat he is not entirely familiar with, although will learn. He’ll be running against two candidates who have networks built throughout the state and are running on agendas.

    Jim is quite capable, but building a statewide network is going to be tough. I suppose he could do something like another statewide candidate who uses every catastrophe or criminal prosecution event as a a photo op, but in the political environment that exists, and will get hotter, I certainly wouldn’t advise it.

    Congrats Jim, he’ll do a good job and he is a genuinely good person.

    • macho says:

      IMO having the “I” by his name instantly elevates him to equal footing, or perhaps more, with the other candidates. In a down ballot race, during a tight fundraising economy, it will be tough on the other candidates. I bet the “I” is worth 1 million dollars.

      • Could be, but this year is pretty fickle. I’m sure he will do well. This is the seat the GOP needs to keep. I don’t think it’s vulnerable, but in politics, anything can happen.

        • macho says:

          I was commenting on the advantage in the Primary of having the “incumbency” next to one’s name. It’s definitely a help in the General, see Irvin’s, Baker’s and Thurmond’s races last election, but you’ve got another variable in the General, which is party affiliation.

          Being that I don’t know if the Democrats even have someone running for SOS, I wouldn’t give them much of a chance, especially with the anti Obama/Democrat sentiment sweeping across the country.

  8. Ludwig Von Beachbum says:

    What is with the comments being hidden and the negative numbers?

    I see a pattern, say something not pretty and all dressed up about Karen Handel and they come out.

  9. Game Fan says:

    There’s always the case for “promoting from within”. Someone who knows the lingo of the agency. The mechanics, the history, the mission, the goals and objectives, what works and doesn’t work, ect… And actually there’s an interesting parallel between government agencies and large corporations. Where “management” rolls through and comes and goes without any idea what’s going on.

  10. AthensRepublican says:

    The Cole announcement took me by suprise. I don’t know Jim Cole and he may be a decent guy. However, I am not a fan of handpicked “incumbents” nor am I pleased with the arrogance of the Governor in first trying to handpick a Speaker and now handpicking a Secretary of State. It backfired the first time and I hope it may backfire a second time.

    My immediate reaction was that it was a slap in the face to the candidates that have been running for the position for a year now. The Governor could have appointed a caretaker and then let the voters of the state make a selection.

    Unless I hear he is not running-I still intend to support Brian Kemp.

  11. GOPGeorgia says:

    I like Jim Cole. Went door to door for him when he first ran. The I behind his name will help, but the other two guys running are months ahead of him in campaigning. It will be a fun race.

    I don’t know if Karen was consulted or not. If I were Gov., I would at least asking the outgoing SOS her opinion, but Sonny has a track record of surprising me.

    And Jeff is being silly.

    • Ken in Eastman says:


      Yes, Jeff is being silly.

      I don’t know Jim Cole. I certainly don’t dislike him.

      The incumbent label will mean a tremendous amount to those who vote in the primary who do not follow politics. You and I both know that for down ballot races this is probably over 50%.

  12. Lawton Sack says:

    From the Grassroots part of the Georgia Republican Party, I apologize for this mess. “Our” GA GOP is even more out of touch than I ever could have imagined.

    This should have been a simple situation: Name an interim S.O.S. who would promise to stay an interim and not seek re-election. Doug Macginnitie and Brian Kemp ought to feel real good about the GA GOP at the moment. These gentleman have been campaigning for a long time and it was one race that did not appear to be turning into a circus.

    Not to mention that we are going to have another special election to fill another seat under the Gold Dome. I am sure the GA GOP already has somebody in mind to fill that position, like they had Buddy Carter to fill Eric Johnson’s Senate seat and Ann Purcell to fill Buddy’s seat.

    Have a field day with this one GA Democrats, Libertarians, and Independents! The GA GOP is planning your campaign messages for you.

    Excuse me while I go read another GA GOP email from Sue and the gang about how much the Grassroots mean to the GA GOP.

  13. Georgia Judge says:

    You obviously do not know Jim Cole .Disagree with his selection all you want but good luck with trying to paint him as one with dual personality traits.He is a solid family man with much character and integrety.Your baseless personal attacks on someone you probably dont even know says much more about you and your lobbyist friends than Cole.

  14. Sandy Springs GOP says:

    While I am a Doug supporter, I have to admit this is a real knife in the back to Kemp. Everyone is trashing Sonny (as they should), but the guy who is really being a jerk here is Cole. It has been a real frustration for all of us Doug supporters that the General Assembly is almost universally supporting Kemp – and that includes Cole! Cole endorsed Kemp, gave him money, hosted a fundraiser for him. I have also heard they’re close friends, were roommates during the session, and are business partners of some sort. What does it say about Cole that he would sell out Kemp like this?

    They say if you want a friend in politics get a dog, but what dog would want to be friends with a guy like Jim Cole after this?

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