Attorney General Candidates In The On Deck Circle

Not much ink has been spilled here on the general election matchup between Republican Sam Olens and Democrat Ken Hodges.  Yet it is one of the more compelling matchups, pits candidates with real differences against each other, and one that Democrats think they have a real chance of winning despite the Republican wave that appears to be cresting on Tuesday.  

Voters should be taking more interest in this race for another reason:  The winner of this contest has a leg up on being his party’s nominee for Governor in the near future.   For the Democrats, this fact is evident.  They are facing probable removal from all offices at the State level.  Further, the remaining Democrats in Congress – Lewis, Scott, Johnson, and Barrow – are generally viewed as left of center and have only regional appeal.   If elected, Ken Hodges would almost certainly become the face of the Georgia Democratic Party.

Sam Olens would be but one Republican at the state level, with another 9 or so Republican Congressmen also in office.   Yet the recent train wreck of Republican Governor and Lt. Governor’s primaries has exposed a flaw that Republicans now look destined to repeat in 4 or 8 years.   The Lieutenant Governor is generally the person who is expected to move up to Governor.   The rest of the bench is then realigned around the openings at LG and Congress for those being groomed to higher office.  Casey Cagle’s decision to seek the Governor’s race only to drop out for the relative safety of re-election threw the governor’s race into chaos from which it did not recover, and caused problems for candidates for Lt Gov and further down the ballot as candidates who had announced campaigns for higher office had to decide if they would honor their words to future voters, or retreat to re-election campaigns and wait.  

When the post mortems on this campaign cycle are written, most of the problems Republicans have faced can be laid squarely at the feet of Casey Cagle.  To most casual observers, there will be no problems as the Republican wave is likely to be complete.  But party insiders are clearly aware this cycle should have been easier, smoother, and with a truly vetted nominee.   The next statewide cycle will not likely coincide with a generational Republican wave, and they will enter that cycle as they competed in this one:  Without a clear succession plan because of a flawed Lt. Governor.

Thus, Republicans need to take a strong look at Sam Olens, and work a bit harder to ensure he is part of this wave.  His upward ambition has been used against him by Hodges, yet I’d rather vote for someone with ambition than for someone who has used his office and its related subpoena powers to investigate his enemies

Further, Olens has an actual record demonstrating fiscal responsibility in his management of Cobb County.  With the budget issues the next Governor is certainly going to face, having a go-to fiscal conservative in the on-deck circle for higher office will be quite valuable next time around.

Should Olens win, he is certainly not a lock on a move up to Governor or even Lt. Governor.  Though most incumbent Congressmen took a pass on Governor this time, it’s possible one would reconsider in 4 years.  If Deal decides to go for two terms, the number of Congressmen who may want to come home from DC could grow, along with the list of other statewide office holders who look in the mirror every morning and see a Governor.  

Regardless of the timing, one thing is clear.  When voters choose between Sam Olens and Ken Hodges, they’re not just choosing an Attorney General.  They are also choosing a future leader of either the Republican or Democratic party.

20 comments

  1. stephaniemills21 says:

    I found this particular line true…”most of the problems Republicans have faced can be laid squarely at the feet of Casey Cagle”….on many many levels.

    • polisavvy says:

      I agree, stephanie. That’s one of the reasons I couldn’t vote for him for Lt. Gov. Voted for Porter instead.

  2. B Balz says:

    A non-fiction writer constantly battles with objectivity; that is, reconciling their own personal beliefs with facts. As we all should know, facts that are not in the public domain, but are widely believed, are actually rumors.

    Charlie, like many of us, myself included, want to believe in the core values that differentiate conservatives (Not always the GOP). Conservative values such as fiscally conservative policy favoring private over public sector control, social policy that is fair and not Draconian, and perhaps the most elusive value, honest and ethical behavior.

    The AG race and the Governor’s seat trouble me greatly. But this assertion is not why: “But party insiders are clearly aware this cycle should have been easier, smoother, and with a truly vetted nominee.”

    The bias against Sen. Cagle may be deserved, but currently is based on rumors. This post fails the objectivity challenge by implying that Sen. Cagle rejected the gubernatorial bid and tossed Georgia into a miasma of uncertainty. He had neck surgery, fact, not rumor.

    Further, Charlie implies gubernatorial candidates were unvetted. I can read this as Ms. Handler, Mr. McBerry, etc. as well as the current nominee, were not vetted. This is a pol blog, I don’t come here for objectivity, so no harm, no foul.

    Hopefully, a vote for Olens and Deal is NOT a vote to REPEAL the HC Bill. For many, repeal is welcome, but to ‘insiders’ virtually impossible to achieve. Instead, being tied to an attempt to repeal this flawed law may become a GOP ‘donnybrook’.

    In the end ‘repeal and replace’ only works when there is an actual ‘replace’. Show me replace, and I will stand up for repeal.

    Georgia, be careful of what you wish for. Part of America’s future includes healthcare, regenerative medicine, biotechnology. I hope our next Governor and AG temper their fight with the reality at hand: 200,000 or so jobs lost (Atlanta area alone) must be replaced.

  3. Tiberius says:

    Cheers to Sam Olens for exposing and combating what I like to call “The Great Lie of Georgia Politics.”

    The lie is that the AG somehow can affect crime in the state or has control/administration over the sheriffs and police chiefs in the cities and counties. You see it every 4 years when AG candidates walk down the steps of the Capitol or a courthouse with Sheriffs or cops behind him in tow. Or some other ad talking fighitng crime.

    I know why they do it—a poly ad talking about defening the state in court or interpreting code section isn’t sexy enough for TV or radio but the absurdity must be exposed by those of us who take some interest in this.

    I voted for Preston Smith but I cheered Olens in the debate when he challenged the former U.S. Attorney on the need for the AG to be a prosecutor.

  4. slyram says:

    Further, the remaining Democrats in Congress – Lewis, Scott, Johnson, and Barrow.

    Not so fast, Bishop isn’t gone. The irony is that Bishop and Artur Davis (lost in the Alabama governor primary) are the most reasonable and amiable members of the CBC. Davis attended Harvard Law with President Obama and I have always thought that Bishop and Davis were the two CBC members that Senator Obama emulated during his brief time in congress.

    A Bishop defeat is a pyrrhic victory because he injected moderate views into the liberal CBC. With him gone, the first inclination of the remaining CBC member will be providing the cuts the conservatives want starting with items Bishop championed like farm, veterans and mil con matters. Yes, the House will likely be under GOP control but we should remember that both candidates Obama and McCain dislike crop-support programs.

    Oh, the urban members will be, “you want cuts…well, let’s start with the Blue Dogs’ stuff since they aren’t here anymore.”

    I voted for Isakson and Bishop two weeks ago for regional reasons and voted for Saxby two years ago for the same reasons. The last southern Dem who deserves this target is SDB.

    Charlie, Hodges isn’t the future leader of the Dem Party; he is the current leader to me. I can’t believe Barnes’ ad ended “Nathan Deal..too corrupt even for congress.” Thanks a lot Governor Barnes..that really helped the congressional Dems. Hodges has run a more hands-on, grassroot campaign than Barnes…Hodges has better coattails. In SWGA, Hodges and Bishop are keys to turnout rather than Barnes who spent a zillion dollars on ads mostly promoting himself. I better leave this alone but the dynamic of my community in a governor runoff depends on Barnes using his big muscles now for the ticket.

  5. Doug Grammer says:

    To begin with, in most states, when a vacancy occurs in the Governorship due to term limits or deciding not to seek re-election, it is usually NOT the Lt. Gov. who wins that office, but usually another statewide office holder.

    Com. Olens will make a great AG. I don’t see him running for Gov.

    If Gov. Deal does not run for a second term, I expect to see Sec Handel, Sen. Johnson, and at least 1 other congressman (perhaps Kingston, or Westmoreland) throw their names in the ring. Perhaps Sec. Kemp or Com. Black might be interested. Let’s just go another few days and get through 2010, before we skip 2012 and go straight to 2014.

        • Well, it’s what he told Jim Galloway. And I can tell you from personal experience that what Sam Olens tells you isn’t so much “true” as it is what he thinks he should tell you.

          I will say this…I hope you’re right.

          • Doug Grammer says:

            Please provide a link to the Galloway article. I remember the video with Preston Smith. Umpteen years ago, Com. Olens was an officer the Cobb County Dem Party. He denied in the debate that he was part of President Clinton campaign team. A newspaper article was offered as proof that he lied. I think the paper got it wrong.

            I find where someone was accused of trespass and destruction of private property and it made the paper. All that was done was a note was taped to a door and the claim was made that paint came off when the note was pulled off. Under OCGA, it isn’t trespass until you are asked to leave, even if there are signs, and there weren’t any.

      • rightofcenter says:

        Oh, I don’t know about that. If he is as crooked as projected here at PeachPundit, he can probably be flush again within a couple of years…….

  6. Skyler Akins says:

    Olens is a politician who has never prosecuted a case. Hodges is a former District Attorney (of the Year), DA Assoc. President, and a tough on crime prosecutor, to me…the choice is clear.

  7. Jack Smith says:

    I proudly cast my early vote today against the Hodges filth.

    It was my conscience. I flushed something this morning that had more moral character than Ken Hodges.

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