2014 Campaigns Starting To Shape Up

January 30, 2013 10:30 am

by Charlie · 33 comments

Today’s Courier Herald Column:

By the time you read this column it will be out of date.  The events that began with Saxby Chambliss’ announcement that he will not seek a third term in the US Senate has set off a cascade of events which will keep many of Georgia’s elected officials and those who would like to be one guessing, calculating, and probably in some cases, regrouping.  Now that the initial shock has worn off and some things are becoming more clear, we’ll let this server as a marker of where things appear to stand now.

Congressman Paul Broun’s wife made a statement at a Gwinnett County meeting of political activists saying that Broun was a candidate for the US Senate.  Broun was in attendance – as was Karen Handel, the featured speaker for the group as well as a potential rival.

Handel’s ultimate decision likely depends on the decision of Congressman Tom Price, who appeared to be preparing for a quick announcement to run for the Senate on Friday, but now has slowed his timetable somewhat.  With other Congressmen such as Jack Kingston and Phil Gingrey also taking a serious look, it appears that the fundraising base that those in Congress would share diminishes with each additional entrant. 

Each Congressman also has his potential weakness that could cause apprehension to give up a safe seat for an attempt to become a Senator.  Kingston is from a part of the state that receives virtually no coverage in the Atlanta media market, which reaches more than half of Georgia’s voters and a disproportionate share of Republican primary voters.

He would also be walking away from 20 years of seniority and a key position on the Appropriations Committee – and a shot at being Chairman in the very near future.  It would likely take another 20 years in the Senate for Kingston to match that level of power.  That said, those same connections allow him to raise money quickly and he would be a serious candidate if he decides to make this move.  He is said to have an exploratory committee and is putting out quiet requests to begin fundraising.

Seniority would also be an issue for Gingrey, as he will be turning 73 within a few days of the Republican primary.  As Senators don’t usually get key committee assignments/positions until well into their second term, Gingrey would be in his 80’s before hitting his stride in the Senate.

Price, meanwhile, is not likely to have the support of Governor Nathan Deal in the primary, a lingering chill from when Price was the only member of Georgia’s Republican Congressional delegation who did not support Deal for Governor when he left Congress to join the GOP Primary.  He has made significant inroads with the Tea Party/non-establishment crowd however, but Broun’s entry into the race may take some of that support away as well.

The person sitting back, smiling, is Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle.  One of 2010’s top vote getters, Cagle already has a standing statewide political network as well as a solid internal victory to regain much of his powers stripped of him two years ago by the Georgia Senate.  Reports say Cagle has a poll in the field to determine his support.  If this move is made, it significantly changes Georgia’s political landscape at a magnitude almost equal to Chambliss’ decision.

The Lieutenant Governor’s position is viewed by many as the on deck circle for the Governor’s office.  Cagle briefly entered the 2010 Governor’s race but later withdrew citing medical issues.  While he appears to have fully recovered from his back issues, some eyeing a 2018 Governor’s race when Nathan Deal is term limited believe that either Cagle won’t run, or they can successfully run against him.

If the Lieutenant Governor’s office is open in 2014, however, virtually anyone looking to run for Governor in 4 years would have to take a serious look at the Lieutenant Governor’s race.

And, of course, given that many of these people currently holding office, this would create even more open seats to be contested throughout the state.

Saxby Chambliss may have done more to help Georgia’s unemployment rate by announcing his retirement than any other elected official.  If there’s a political consultant in this state who is unemployed 3 months from now, they’re just not trying hard enough.  The abundance of candidates and campaigns will be plentiful.

debbie0040 January 30, 2013 at 10:42 am

“Saxby Chambliss may have done more to help Georgia’s unemployment rate by announcing his retirement than any other elected official. If there’s a political consultant in this state who is unemployed 3 months from now, they’re just not trying hard enough. The abundance of candidates and campaigns will be plentiful.”

That statement made me laugh on this dreary day. Still laughing about it..

gcp January 30, 2013 at 11:17 am

“If the Lieutenant Governor’s office is open in 2014, however, virtually anyone looking to run for Governor in 4 years would have to take a serious look at the Lieutenant Governor’s race.”
Exactly why we should eliminate the useless office of lieutenant governor.

Daddy Got A Gun January 30, 2013 at 11:41 am

Casey has got the sweetest job in Government, which is saying something.

He has no responsibility. Only works 40 days of the year. Get’s State Patrol security and drivers. etc. Why would he give that up?

David C January 30, 2013 at 12:44 pm

Interesting that it’s considered a good spot to run for Governor from. In the 65 years that Georgia’s had a Light Guv, only three have ever been elected to the top chair, and only one in the last 54 years. Marvin Griffin in 1954, Ernest Vandiver in 1958 and Zell in 1990. Most of the Govs have come straight out of the legislature (Purdue, Barnes, Harris, Busbee, Jimmy, Sanders).

drjay January 30, 2013 at 3:24 pm

to be fair, only 11 men have ever been elected lguv in ga…and of those 4 have ended up serving as guv (and one more was his parties guv nominee), so i’m not sure we have really est. a tradition in that regard yet…

brasstownhigh January 30, 2013 at 2:18 pm

gcp –

Anyone with two eyes and half a brain can look at how beneficial it is to have a Lt. Governor and an effective Lt. Governor at that. Just look at last year compared to this year.

Plus there’s that whole part about it being written in the constitution and how he serves as president of the senate….ect….

David C January 30, 2013 at 3:41 pm

I’d be perfectly happy if with Lt. Gov they do what they do in the Northeast and some other states. Put them on the ticket and make them elected together on one ballot line. Since the main reason to have a Lt. Gov, like a Veep, is succession (To quote Dan Quayle, “One word sums up probably the responsibility of any vice president, and that one word is ‘to be prepared’.”) it makes sense to have them elected together–that way you don’t have a situation like Purdue-Taylor from 2002-06.

gcp January 30, 2013 at 5:28 pm

We don’t need a lt. governor. Let the senate elect their presiding officer just like the house. If the governor is unable to perform his duties the legislature would select a governor until the next election. Pierre Howard, Mark Taylor, Zig Zag Zell and others use the office just to eventually run for another office. It’s a waste.

brasstownhigh January 30, 2013 at 7:58 pm

Unfortunately gcp, even with all of your constitutional/scholarly wisdom, you can’t take a sharpie to parts of the constitution you don’t like.

But if your only argument for it being “useless” is that it’s occupants run for higher office, the same could be said of the Secretary of State, Attorney General, Insurance Commissioner, ect. But like the Lt. Governor, they all serve a purpose, and a constitutional one at that.

gcp January 31, 2013 at 11:09 am

Brass
And the purpose of the office of lt. governor is to preside over the senate and succeed an incapacitated governor; both functions can be accomplished without a lt. governor. Will it ever be eliminated? Of course not; bureaucrats seldom vote to eliminate a government position. But how did Ga. survive until 1945 without a lt. governor? Amazing.

Dave Bearse January 31, 2013 at 7:57 pm

The same way the state was surviving without universal electricity and telephone phone service availability prior to about that time.

gcp February 1, 2013 at 10:39 am

Attn Dave Bearse:
And the purpose of the office of lt. governor is to preside over the senate and succeed an incapacitated governor; both functions can be accomplished without a lt. governor. Now please tell me why we need the office of lt. governor.

Dave Bearse February 1, 2013 at 3:48 pm

It’s an office that can be done without, but have little interest in the subject.

Five Forks January 30, 2013 at 2:29 pm

Broun will have God on his side, so other entrants be advised.

Price would have the money advantage from day one. But there would be a ton of out side money in this race.

Big fan of Gingrey, but he would be 80 before he could start pulling weight for Georgia, and then we’d have to start over.

Cagle would be the only non-dc heavyweight and he has a strong statewide network. He would quickly be the front runner.

Bob Loblaw January 30, 2013 at 3:37 pm

Gingrey has PLENTY of dough.

Whose running for Gingrey’s seat? Judson Hill? Ed Setzler? Bill Byrne (snicker)?

Ron2008 January 30, 2013 at 4:46 pm

Gingrey has plenty of women problems, really Todd akin was partially right.
No amount of money can save you from that comment.

Bob Loblaw January 30, 2013 at 4:55 pm

Ahh, loosen up. Have a glass of wine.

The Last Democrat in Georgia January 30, 2013 at 6:54 pm

Ron2008, January 30, 2013 at 4:46 pm-

Gingrey might have problems if this was a more moderate state, but this is deep-red Georgia where the conservative base of the GOP is substantially larger than Missouri, so Gingrey’s Todd Akin comments wouldn’t at all be anywhere near the problem for him that his gun control comments would be for him during a heated GOP primary where everyone is trying to get to the right of Paul Broun.

If Gingrey had only made the Todd Akin comments and not the gun control comments, he would likely be in even better shape than Paul Broun to capture the very-large conservative base of the party which will turnout in droves both during the primary and the general election.

Also, Georgia Democrats wouldn’t have anywhere near the money or resources to make enough of a big deal out of Gingrey’s Todd Akin comments to motivate the amount of moderate and left-of-center voters to turnout to make a difference against the very-large and highly-motivated conservative base that will turnout to propel the Republican candidate to an easy victory.

Daddy Got A Gun January 30, 2013 at 7:02 pm

I’m in Gingrey’s district now. I promise I will work my arse off in making sure he is defeated in the primary.

Remember the last guy who supported gun control from that district? Six-term Democrat Buddy Darden. Defeated by Bob Barr. I was a volunteer on Bob’s campaign well before the primary.

The Last Democrat in Georgia January 30, 2013 at 8:57 pm

“Remember the last guy who supported gun control from that district? Six-term Democrat Buddy Darden.”

Not really. Oh, I remember his name and I remember him being in Congress, but after the gun control talk he sure as heck wouldn’t have gotten my vote if I had lived in his district.

And just like you, I wouldn’t vote for Gingrey if I lived in his district, either as the absolute last thing we need is for someone to sell us out to the gun-grabbers who are using the Newtown tragedy as a way to undermine the Second Amendment.

Bob Loblaw January 30, 2013 at 7:10 pm

Candidates will not make efforts to “get to the right” of Paul Broun.

The Last Democrat in Georgia January 30, 2013 at 8:42 pm

They will in this race as probably no one elected official in Georgia has expressed more dislike for Obama than Paul Broun and in deep-red Georgia where Obama is at the very top of the list national politicians that voters can’t stand and even love to hate, that’s really sayin’ something.

Probably no elected official in Georgia is more hardcore anti-Obama than Paul Broun and in a state where Obama is wildly-unpopular amongst most of the electorate, Broun’s unquestioned anti-Obama bonafides will go a heckuva long way in a hard-edged Republican Primary where the candidate with the hardest edge will likely be the most-attractive to voters.

Bob Loblaw January 30, 2013 at 9:11 pm

You are granting Paul Broun was too much credit. Everybody’s against Obama. Geez, its Georgia. Just because Broun called him a Soviet doesn’t mean everyone’s going to vote for him that considers themselves anti-Obama.

1. Paul Broun will not make the runoff
2. Paul Broun may not make the race. He’s going to decide that he can either serve in Congress or not. I hope he makes the race, but I don’t see him going through with it.

Georgians need someone who can move legislation and affect things in the House as well as get along with fellow Senators. Nobody has better relationships in the House leadership than Westmoreland. Price just challenged the Speaker and lost. Will that cause any effectiveness issues?

debbie0040 January 30, 2013 at 7:02 pm

Phil Gingrey and Todd Akin were friends. Gingrey may have mis-spoke but he was defending his friend. I am a woman and would have no problem supporting Gingrey if I thought he were the best person for the job. I would have supported Akin as well.

For the record, I am offended that you and others think the only issue women care about is abortion. I think that is incredibly sexist. I care about the same things as men do – fiscal responsiblity, limited government that is effective and efficient, lower taxes, national defense, etc.

The GOP handled the Akin and Murdock thing very badly. They mis-spoke and the GOP threw them to the wolves . Do you see the Dems throwing Joe Biden to the wolves for his stupid comments or even Obama for the dumb comments he has made?

Ron2008 January 30, 2013 at 8:02 pm

So let me get this straight, you would support someone who is an obgyn who thinks a woman can’t get pregnant during rape unless she is “enjoying it” and also the thousands of Georgia couples who can’t conceive a child because they are not relaxed enough and need to have a glass of wine to make it happen? I’m not sure how that could be taken out of “context”

The Last Democrat in Georgia January 30, 2013 at 9:45 pm

That’s a very good point, Ms. Dooley, as everytime Biden says something stupid all that Democrats say is “that’s just Joe being Joe”.

Though Akin and Murdock couldn’t exactly be considered the “cream-of-the-crop” when it came to qualified U.S. Senate candidates, which is why Democrats in both Missouri and Indiana strategized to manipulate those states’ respective GOP primaries to insure that the candidate that they thought would be the easiest to compete against won the Republican nomination.

And to the Democrats’ credit, they were right, as before the 2012 U.S. Senate race Todd Akin had a reputation as a guy who could not shut up and Richard Murdock, who like Akin also had a reputation of running his mouth at inopportune times and also had a reputation as a state politician who could not win a campaign for federal office, losing three previous races for Congress in 1988, 1990 and 1992.

Bob Loblaw January 31, 2013 at 8:11 pm

You’re correct. They weren’t qualified. They were TEA Party Candidates. However the qualifications of the Members they replaced?

The Last Democrat in Georgia January 31, 2013 at 8:50 pm

You mean the qualifications of the U.S. Senate members that they ATTEMPTED (unsuccessfully) to replace.

Thanks to Todd Akin, the incumbent Claire McCaskill was able to survive an election in which she basically would have been a goner had she and Missouri Democrats not been smart enough to play-up Akin’s conservative bonafides during the Republican Primary while the primary loss of a popular and legendary statesman like Richard Lugar turned out to be particularly painful for Indiana Republicans in the General Election.

northside101 January 30, 2013 at 3:06 pm

And then there was Lester Maddox, who served as lieutenant governor (1971-1975) after he was governor—back then, you could not be elected to consecutive terms as governor. That changed during Geroge Busbee’s first term when the State Constitution was amended. Of course, Zell was lieutenant governor for a really long time, 16 years. Tehcnically, Jimmy Carter did not come straight out of the Legislature—he ran for governor in 1966 and lost in the Democratic primary and succeeded in 1970—but David C’s point is well taken, very rare for a governor to be elected in this state without some service in the Legislature. Maddox of course was an exception and I’m not sure Ernest Vandiver ever did…Herman Talamdge of course came to office without any legislative e4xperience in the 3 Governors’ Controversy of 1946 and 1947.

Spacey G January 30, 2013 at 3:54 pm

‘Democrats in Georgia don’t have a bench.” Repeat 3X and you are now a “political consultant” in Georgia. Voila!

concerned GA January 30, 2013 at 8:29 pm

Can’t believe anyone would mention John Albers….he is a fraud and most of his colleagues simply laugh at him.

oldman45 January 30, 2013 at 9:09 pm

How come no mention of Tom Graves? If he can get the Tea Party nationwide funding his campaign he could make a run.

Charlie January 31, 2013 at 11:25 am

From DavidC above:

“Interesting that it’s considered a good spot to run for Governor from. In the 65 years that Georgia’s had a Light Guv, only three have ever been elected to the top chair, and only one in the last 54 years. Marvin Griffin in 1954, Ernest Vandiver in 1958 and Zell in 1990. Most of the Govs have come straight out of the legislature (Purdue, Barnes, Harris, Busbee, Jimmy, Sanders).”

When you buy a mutual fund, there’s always a disclaimer that past performance is no guarantee of future results. And in Georgia’s case, things have changed and forward looking statements probably aren’t best to be made using the model that we worked under most of those years.

Something I’m working on for a column for (probably) next week is the shift of institutional power within the state, and not just political parties. During much of that timeframe, Tom Murphy hand selected most of the Governors. There was also more than a century of one party rule, which fairly well established a power pecking order.

Look at how things work now, and there’s a Republican primary of 5+ serious contenders every time there’s a major office open. While it’s clear you don’t have to be Lt. Gov to be elected Governor, it’s the most likely stepping stone in the current environment.

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