GOP candidates for Governor debate tonight

Tonight while many of us will be watching the returns from Massachusetts, the Athens Republican Party will host a debate between the candidates for the GOP nomination for Governor at UGA’s Grady College of Journalism auditorium at 7pm.

The debate will be carried on TV across the state ( WNEG in Toccoa, WALB in Albany, WGCL in Atlanta and WMAZ in Macon).

The confirmed candidates are:

  • State Sen. Jeff Chapman
  • US Rep. Nathan Deal
  • Secretary of State Karen Handel
  • State Sen. Eric Johnson
  • Ray McBerry
  • State Rep. Austin Scott

You may notice a name missing from the list. He will not attend because he believe that is too good to debate with counterparts polling under 5 percent.

Who is up for a live-blog tonight?


      • eschristian says:

        Yeah – I was present when he said “Peach Pundit is not a reputable news source” – along with other people who regularly read Peach Pundit – yet again NOT a smart move on the Ox’s part – another example of him shooting himself in the foot politically – over and over and over!!!

  1. RuralDem says:

    Here’s some more info from Nathan Deal’s email about the debate:

    Tape-delayed Broadcast:
    WRDW-12 Augusta (CBS) Saturday, 1/23, 12 Noon
    WTOC-11 Savannah (CBS) Sunday, 1/24, 1 p.m.
    WTVM-9 Columbus (ABC) Check local listings for date and time

    The debate will also air on selected radio affiliates of the Georgia News Network, including WGAU-1340, Athens; and WKWN-1420, Trenton-Dade County.

  2. John Konop says:

    What issues and or questions would ask about at the deabte?

    I would ask about jobs, education and transportation via policy. I would also ask about ethics after the Richardson saga.

      • Geez John, there are so many that come to mind… like, Who owns me? Or along the lines of the issues that you brought up… Who is responsible for me, my livelihood, my education and responsible for getting me from point A to point B? What specific government enacted barriers do you plan to try to remove to make these things easier for one to obtain?

        Philosophical: What are rights? Who or what has them? Do man made institutions, like government, have them and if so, how do they get them? If you believe rights originate from the people, bestowed on them by their creator/nature, how is it that man made institutions like government seem to have right’s that individuals don’t have? Where did they get them?

        Practical: Name one thing that government has demonstrated that it can do for me better than I can do for myself or arrange with the cooperation/consent of others to do for me?

        Are non-republicans invited? Maybe I’ll show up and ask a few of these if I get a chance.

        A New Book on Transportation that everyone involved with “fix’n” the problem should read.

        • John Konop says:

          Daniel N. Adams,

          I had interesting conversation with very intelligent friend of mine about education. And they made the point in reality 90% or more of kids are in public schools. Solutions like vouchers would only realistically affect a small % of the problem from just a logistic basis.

          That is why my focus has been on how to transition public and private through the use of vocational, tech and colleges working with the public, home schools and private schools more efficiently and affectively.

          And being a pragmatic businessman I look for the biggest bang for the buck always understanding some will fall through the cracks.

          I only bring up this point in hopes that the questions to the candidates will be around real solutions not just pie in the sky solutions that pander to a philosophy that only serves to fire up a base.

          And I think that is why the Libertarian party has not taken off. It is group of intelligent people who feel more comfortable smoking cigars and or drinking wine debating philosophy than focusing on pragmatic solutions. But hey I do like wine and a good debate.

        • Red Phillips says:

          Daniel, I get your point. It is one often made in certain libertarian circles. How can States have rights? Only individuals have rights. But rights are inherently abstract things. You can’t touch them. You can’t put your arms around them. They are a philosophical construct. So since they are a philosophical construct and not a real thing, there is absolutely no reason you can’t invest them in subordinate political entities like States the same way you invest them in individuals.

          From a freedom standpoint, you can stand around as an individual demanding your rights all you want but the Feds can still easily crush you under their weight. Your rights and 4 dollars will buy you a cup of coffee at Starbucks. The individual armed with his individual rights is powerless against the Federal Leviathan. That is why we need divided sovereignty. With States invested with their own powers of resistance. The individual is powerless against the Feds, but the States aren’t. This is one of the essential insights that divides paleolibertarians from other libertarians.

          That said, a debate would be a terrible venue to discuss such philosophical concepts. Such topics are better tackled in academic environments and bar rooms.

    • macho says:

      I’m hoping that’s not the official campaign excuse, because if it is, they are being really lame. I know candidates who have campaigned one night in Gainesville, GA and then made it down to St. Mary’s, by car, for an 8 am breakfast. So going from Athens over to Chattanooga is nothing for a statewide candidate, besides, Ox has access to planes.

  3. Nathan says:

    In my humble opinion (for what it’s worth), just because you’re the front-runner doesn’t mean you should skip a debate. He’s giving his opponents more ammunition to fire at him. Perhaps he had a prior appointment, but I would figure that his scheduler would try to make arrangements to show up at a debate.

  4. The Ox doesn’t need to debate, he’ll only debate Barnes. Don’t you know that is what this whole race is about? Who can debate Barnes and then beat Barnes.

    Not about policy. Not about ideas. Who can beat Barnes.

    Lib’ral Peach Pundit that folks shouldn’t read, for shame.

  5. eschristian says:

    Seriously? I know his numbers are tanking and Karen’s are soaring however, I thought Ox loved the camera and would not give up the chance for that type of publicity. Sometimes I truly don’t get his political strategy and I guess since his campaign continues to restructure – over and over and over again perhaps he does not either? I guess tonight Karen is going to bring it while telling the others to bring it on and Ox will just sit home like the rest of us and watch it all???

    • anewday says:

      I don’t think that Karen’s are soaring… If I were a betting man I would bet that Karen is the worst debater up there tonight.

      • Doug Deal says:

        You’ve never met her then. I have not seen a politician with more presence and command of the issues than Handel has shown in a very long time.

        • anewday says:

          How can you tell? I’ve seen her 4 times and it has been the same exact speech each and every time. So if you mean that she has mastery of that one speech then yes. But outside of that speech I have thought she has been flemsy at best with any questions asked to her.

          • Kellie says:

            I guess you’ve never asked her a question. I have seen her a few times and she does great with any question thrown her way. She will come out on top tonight.
            I just wish Ox was there to show what a bumbling fool he is.

          • anewday says:

            Now let me say I like Karen’s stance on ethics and what not, but I just have never thought that she was a good public speaker other then the ONE speech that she says at every event. Each to there own, but she just doesn’t strike me as a good debater.

          • eschristian says:

            anewday – how many of the candidates have you spent time with?

            Here is an overview of OX and Handel:

            Handel looks you in the eye and listens and answers the question that you ask her.

            OX gives a campaign style rehearsed answer and at the same time looks over your shoulder around the room to look and see who all is in there.

            Sorry that has just been my experience – MULTIPLE times when meeting with both of them.

            Also, it makes a difference who you surround yourself with – OX has restructured his campaign at LEAST 3 times that I know of. Handel got the right people as a leader would do and they are a great group of campaign staff – professional, ethical and hardworking. Some of the behaviors of OX’s campaign staffers are not in the same league as Handel’s which is a major reason many people left the OX camp and headed to Handel’s!!!
            (and will continue to do so)

        • eschristian says:

          No doubt Karen Handel will show Georgians tonight what we have known for a long time now – she knows what she is talking about, she has a plan and a track record of accomplishing her goals. She is going to make an awesome Governor!!!

          • Except for the fact that she’s railing against the establishment she’s been a part of . . That might work in a GOP primary, it’s not going to work so well against a bunch of Democrats who have been marginalized.

            The race right now is her’s to lose, I hope for all of our sakes that you are right and she comes out strong and can stop the pandering about how men can’t govern without scandal and start focusing on issues she can control as Governor.

        • polisavvy says:

          Seems to me as though you only consider Oxendine and Handel to be the only candidates running. There are some very good and decent men (contrary to her painting them all with the same brush) who have common sense and presence who are also running. I don’t think that Ms. Handel has the lock on the nomination, nor do I think Oxendine does. I believe that after there are a few more debates, we will see different people emerging as the front runners. I was leaning towards her a while back; however, after her painting all the men at the Gold Dome as being unethical, I felt as though she diminished me as a female. She needs to bring more to the campaign than her derogatory ethics comments. Not meaning to sound cruel or harsh, but a college education would be a plus. Maybe people shouldn’t count their chickens before they hatch.

          • Republican Lady says:

            A college education doesn’t guarantee success. A good example is the OX. He’s highly educated but can’t seem to apply those principles to common sense decisions.

      • Lawful Money says:

        I think you nailed that one newday….

        Not that this was really a debate, but her responses were dreadful.

        Most disappointing performances though:
        Eric Johnson & Austin Scott.

        Mr. Scott looked completely out of his league and provided the responses most characteristic of an obediently subservient surrender to Washington DC.

        Shocking really, I didn’t think he was that poor – but he dropped thoroughly right out of contention tonight in my view.

    • I know his numbers are tanking and Karen’s are soaring…

      Which polls, surveys, county straw polls, or fundraising numbers are you talking about? I haven’t seen any such tangible evidence of Handel getting traction ANYWHERE other than the fantasyland of Peach Pundit. Hell, even her “numbers” here have evaporated since they shut down the comment-voting system.

      • eschristian says:

        (see below) @John Konop January 19, 2010 at 3:42 pm
        The problem OX has is his negatives #s with voters, not name recognition, in all seriousness can any political strategist tell us why this was a smart move by OX?

        Go and dig into the #’s on Rasmussen’s poll – more to the eye than just the #’s OX tried to put out there – her #’s will come with time – she is just where she needs to be right now – I agree with above – it is her race to win or lose. I predict Victory!!!

        • Yeah, but you JUST said “I know his numbers are tanking and Karen’s are soaring”. When it’s pointed out that there has actually been no significant movement in numbers whatsoever, the story becomes “Uhh, let’s focus on different numbers then”. That is basically… oh never mind, who am I kidding? I forgot for a moment which website I was posting on.

    • macho says:

      Ox would rather run naked down Peachtree during Gay Pride, than have to debate other candidates. He’s not a fast thinker on his feet and is terrified of debating. Which is why he would be such a disaster against Roy Barnes, who by anyone’s measure is a good debater.

    • eschristian says:

      You know I was thinking – let me clarify on the whole campaign staff restructuring over and over and over – yes he has @OX – however, in the beginning of the campaign everything was looking good and was keeping an open mind. However, just as OX appears to repeatedly do over and over he just keeps shooting himself in the foot like when some of his staff left (who did an awesome job) but that is only to his opponents advantage (just like tonight – NOT showing up to debate)!!!

  6. John Konop says:

    The problem OX has is his negatives #s with voters, not name recognition, in all seriousness can any political strategist tell us why this was a smart move by OX?

    Will OX not be an easier target by all the candidates buy not being on stage? If he was on stage could he not at least defend himself?

    • eschristian says:


      Yet another example of OX shooting himself in the foot politically.

      As far as polls & #’s @anewday that is what I was referring to as stated by John Konop. After the debate tonight – I predict an even bigger shift in the polls with Handel ascending and OX descending.

      • AlanR says:

        The right answer is don’t go to the debate. All we need to do now is figure out the question. Maybe somethings about to come out (via Handel or one of the other candidates leaking) that Ox knows is coming and wants to avoid, afraid he’ll be confronted before a large political audience. If this is the case, skipping the debate would be smart.

        Or might just be the knucklehead we believe him to be. Even if you love the guy, you have to admit it.

  7. True Grit says:

    Not that it will matter to most of you, but no one remembers that Ox was one of two or three that confirmed for the first debate that was supposed to be at Mercer that had to be cancelled.

  8. Ken in Eastman says:

    Chapman must both find a way to stand out in this debate without looking as if that’s what he is doing. I don’t know enough about him to go farther than that.

    Deal has to decide if he should answer the unspoken accusation about his ethics. It will loom larger as an issue if he does not. If he does address it, he will appear to be on the defensive. I do not envy him his position.

    Handel cannot afford to sound shrill or mean. She can come across that way at times. And, yes, she will be judged differently because of gender. It’s not fair, but that’s how it will be.

    Johnson is low-key and that may hurt him. Humor could be used to good affect, but he needs words that resonate to gain ground. He will probably play up his experience vis-a-vis the budget. That will not be sufficient to make a major move in the polls.

    McBerry will have to work to not over-sell his positions. If he does not reassure those uncomfortable with anything outside the mainstream, his campaign will suffer. He’s good at red meat for his supporters, but can he do “statesman-like”. I honestly do not know.

    Scott must also find a way to stand out in this debate without looking as if that’s his goal. It will be tough. Scott will possibly play up ethics to his advantage. His main problem is the perception that he can’t win. He has to address this and make his case.

    The real story here is Oxendine. He is MIA, probably to avoid being the target of the rest of the field. It may not do him any good. I especially look for McBerry and Handel to address his absence with some zingers thrown into the mix.

    May the best candidate win – and may that candidate beat the crap out of Roy Barnes.

    • John Konop says:


      I do think that is a very good evaluation. I have not decided yet but I will say what I like best about Karen Handel is she does come across like a very no non-sense, strong, smart, CEO. I realize to some this can be a negative, but in the tough environment we are facing it is not time for a feel good bureaucrat.

      With that said I am very interested to hear from the other candidates, but I am looking for someone who take charge and get things done not a feel good candidate.

      • Ken in Eastman says:


        So it wasn’t a good evaluation because you think I missed on Handel? No commentary on the rest?

        I still think I’m right but, of course, I would or I wouldn’t have written it. 🙂

        • John Konop says:


          I actually agree with what you said about all the candidates even Karen. I am just making the point what I am looking for. But I think you were spot on about the politics. Most everyone knows what I think about Deal and Ox and the other candidate I really do not know enough to make an intelligent comment which is why I am still undecided.

    • AthensRepublican says:

      Here’s my quick evaluation:

      1-Eric Johnson- I liked his emphasis on jobs. He needs to give more specifics though. He also needs to get a clue that ethics is a real issue that as Governor people will expect him to lead on. Also, there is nothing wrong with having an opinion on the water issue. He unnecessarily punted. He was strong on his positions on education. On style, he appeared relaxed and comfortable. Not a bad performace for a first debate but not a winning performance either.

      2-Nathan Deal- I agree with the comments above. He needs to address the corruption issue. This is also 2010 not 1970. On the positive he had the right direction on several issues but did not give any specifics.

      3-Ray McBerry- Sounds like he wants to arm the militia and surround Lake Lanier. He also thinks this election is the most important election (2010 Georgia Governor) that we will EVER vote in. This guy has way too big of an ego.

      4-Austin Scott- I liked his stage presence. I loved his position on getting rid of the corporate tax. He addressed the ethics issue but I did not think it was as strong as Handel. He also needs to slow his speech down a bit. Sounds like he was trying to cram too much in. That said, he had what I thought was just the right amount of substance.

      5-Karen Handel- A little too much substance to remember the finer points of what she said. She comes across as way too stiff. She should improve over time. She owned the ethics issue against the other candidates. I think she should have addressed the economy and jobs more. I did think she came across as competent and smart. Her next challenge is to come across as someone who people will like.

      6-Jeff Chapman- He seemed slow on the issues and not at all comfortable in the debate.

      • seenbetrdayz says:

        I have to admit, “spray” is quite an open-for-interpretation description. Could have been anything from water pistols to . . .

        We need an open thread for this, don’t we?

        [Back to the Debate topic]

    • Republican Lady says:

      The OX needs to take himself and his sons to a gun safety course before he kills someone. A huge ego can cost you everything, as Nixon’s life shows.

      Like ‘eschristian’ said, he will find a way to shoot himself in the foot and cost himself the election. Ox is the “Peter Principle” in action.

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