Shocking I know.
I’m not here to tell you that South Georgia runs this State, nor am I here to tell you it is the predominant force of State politics. South Georgia once was and as the metro area has grown, South Georgia has lost influence. Last night, Handel and Deal went tit-for-tat in South Georgia, trading off victories in counties. While some skewed heavily for Deal, others went for Handel – without really any rhyme or reason. But it was not South Georgia that brought Handel down and pushed Deal forward. Deal made gains in the metro area, picking up his former opponents supporters. These are the votes that many assumed would be going to Handel.
But this post isn’t about last night – it is about the past few months and the next few months. When President Obama came to town, Roy Barnes was in South Georgia. Roy Barnes has been in South Georgia – going to fish frys, shaking hands, and kissing babies. Deal has credibility in South Georgia – he’s voted for the farm bill, which helps with the rock gut farmers. We are about to have an interesting race for Governor – do you remember the last time both candidates for Governor were from above the gnat line? Do you recall a time when the Governor, Lt. Governor, and Speaker of the House were all from above the gnat line?
Last month Hicks, who is from the metro area, narrowly beat Terry Coleman. The Terry Coleman from South Georgia who was Speaker of the House. To me it was a sign. A sign that South Georgia was headed to dark days. With reapportionment coming up, I expect the non-Atlanta parts of Georgia to lose seats – maybe have some Representatives cover 6 counties. I’d hate to have to do constituent services for those guys.
But there is one nugget left on the State-wide ballot from South Georgia. His name is Ken Hodges. He’s a Democrat running for Attorney General – and he won’t be going down without a fight. While I commend Sam Olens on his ability to raise money and endorsements as a Republican running for Attorney General – that position has been dominated by Democrats. Olens has a tough road ahead of him – because Ken is going to use the same playbook he used for the primary. Prosecutor, not a Politician. To his credit, Olens has run a Statewide campaign thus far and that has helped him become the nominee. I expect to see these two all over the state fighting tooth and nail for voters just like Deal and Barnes are going to be.
While I do not expect the land of the red clay and gnats to decide the outcome of November’s elections – in any race – I do think we are about to witness all of the Statewide candidates making a strong grab for whatever they can get from down here.