Thoughts on Tuesday’s Election Results

May 22, 2014 11:23 am

by Jon Richards · 26 comments

They don’t call us pundits for nothing. What follows is my opinion on what happened Tuesday. Your mileage may vary, and note the disclaimers.

U.S. Senate:

Jack Kingston was able to pull off a second place victory and ensure his participation in the runoff due to a strong showing in South Georgia, and lighter than normal voting in metro Atlanta. Bill talks about this in another post today, but I’ll note that in Gwinnett County, Kingston placed third, with just over 14% of the vote, with David Perdue having 31% and Karen Handel 35%. There are two big questions for the runoff. The first is what will Karen Handel and her supporters do? Based on what I am seeing, it looks like many will line up on Kingston’s side. Erick Erickson, whose endorsement of Handel likely gave her a big boost announced his support for Kingston on Election Night.

A tweet earlier this morning by Insider Advantage hinted at the possibility of a Handel endorsement coming soon. Whether she endorses Kingston or not, it seems unlikely she would endorse Perdue, given his remarks about high school graduates becoming Senators. For the same reason, I’m not sure how many of her supporters would jump to the Perdue camp, either.

The second question is how negative this race will become over the next nine weeks. The long runoff campaign is something new in Georgia, and will change the way runoffs are run. Kingston had made a plea for party unity a part of his stump speech late in the primary campaign. The way the runoff is conducted may well determine how unified the GOP is against Michell Nunn after July 22nd.

Disclosure: I have volunteered for the Kingston campaign and have made in-kind contributions via buying pizza and drinks for volunteers. This volunteering, and especially my role as informal campaign photographer, gave me outsized access to the campaign and candidate.

The Tea Party:

Debbie Dooley’s Georgia Integrity Project effort to defeat Speaker David Ralston in his bid to be reelected in the 7th State House district was the most visible Tea Party effort of the cycle, rivaled perhaps by former Dalton Mayor David Pennington’s effort to unseat Governor Nathan Deal. In one sense, both efforts failed, as the incumbents were re-elected handily. ON the other hand, there is not doubt the Tea Party has had an influence on the races decided on Tuesday.

The Tea Party’s effort to influence the debate on the Common Core Standards for education also took a blow on Tuesday. Extreme anti-Common Core State School Superintendent candidates Mary Kay Bacallao and Nancy Jester failed to advance to the runoff election. In Gwinnett County, Tea Party candidate Jef Fincher was unable to unseat House Education Chairman Brooks Coleman, who won without a runoff, despite there being a third candidate in the race. Maybe Common Core isn’t as unpopular as some make it out to be.

Gwinnett Tea Party co-chair David Hancock failed in his bid to defeat Michael Brown for the open House seat left by Josh Clark. And in the aforementioned U.S. Senate race, Paul Broun and Phil Gingrey didn’t advance. I was somewhat surprised to see Gingrey with more votes than Broun. And, late endorsements by Tea Party groups for Karen Handel weren’t enough to get her across the finish line.

Tea Party candidates did do well in some races, however. Jason Spencer managed to keep his seat despite the opposition of the Georgia Coalition for Job Creation. And, Mike Beaudreau proudly wore the Tea Party mantle and received a first place finish in the 9th Senate district.

This Wall Street Journal editorial, Tea Party Agonistes, has a national focus, but frames the Tea Party / Establishment battle this cycle very well.

State Senate 9:

I admit I was wrong in predicting the outcome for this one. I thought Don Balfour was going to walk away with a victory on Tuesday with 55% of the vote and no runoff. Balfour and Mike Beaudreau blanketed the district with signs — Balfour with 4×2 signs in residential yards and in front of every area Waffle House, and Beaudreau with signs in front of every polling place. At one Lilburn precinct, I counted a dozen signs.

Instead, Mike Beaudreau received 38% of the vote, P.K. Martin received 33%, and Balfour ended up with only 29%.

In an AJC story, Balfour blames an anonymous attack mailer sent to district residents for the loss. Say what you like, but on balance, Senator Balfour has served the people and the state of Georgia well in his eleven terms in the Senate.

Keep Senator Balfour and his family in your prayers. Perhaps more important to him than losing his Senate seat, he found out Monday that his Son Trey, who has been serving in Afghanistan as part of Georgia’s National Guard, had been hospitalized and was sent to Germany for treatment. Trey Balfour is now out of intensive care, and that’s good news.

Disclosure: I live in the district, and have volunteered extensively for Mike Beaudreau in his past campaigns for County Commissioner. I’ve also volunteered for P.K. Martin, and have informally advised him in this race.

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

South Fulton Guy May 22, 2014 at 11:42 am

Nat’l Republicans: Kingston & Perdue Provide a Stark Contrast to Nunn’s Rubber Stamp of Obama http://www.georgiaunfiltered.com/2014/05/natl-republicans-kingston-perdue.html

therightdirection May 22, 2014 at 12:37 pm

Jon, why didn’t you stick with Beaudreau this time around?

Jon Richards May 22, 2014 at 1:08 pm

It was a matter of timing. P.K. got into the race last year, before the outcome of Balfour’s trial was known. In my judgement, Mike wasn’t going to run for the seat, or at least it had been a long while since he had talked about getting in. So when P.K. wanted to get together and talk about running, I agreed.

Mike called me when he decided to get into the race over the winter, and I had to tell him I was already committed, and didn’t feel it was ethical to switch horses in midstream. I’ve not played a big role in the race, especially compared to previous Beaudreau campaigns. This is partially because of my previous relationship with Mike, and partially because I was spending time on the Kingston campaign.

John Walraven May 22, 2014 at 1:30 pm

” In one sense, both efforts failed, as the incumbents were re-elected handily. ON the other hand, there is not doubt the Tea Party has had an influence on the races decided on Tuesday.”

So the TEA Party loses:
1. In a landslide (and that’s being nice) after launching a bitter tirade against the Governor that went largely unnoticed and/or ignored by the GOP faithful for its immaturity and lack of depth;
2. In a landslide (again, being gentle) after renting a residence in the Speaker of the House’s district and offering free food and lodging to over 50 special interest groups, including those like GRTL, who have been literally “voted off the island” by their national affiliation, to come into the district and campaign against the incumbent. They launched the ugliest, most awful personal attacks against his character, his conduct as a lawyer and even about his honorable, late father before pouring a questionable $5,000 into the challenger’s wife’s pocket. I still don’t know one thing about his opponent’s record or why he felt better suited to represent the Seventh District;
3. To the Honorable Brooks Coleman, getting totally spanked by the locals that actually know this great public servant;
4. Every endorsed candidate in the U.S. Senate race, including Paul Broun’s thrashing, whom they deemed the only “real” pro-life candidate since he’s so excited about bossing rape and incest victims around;
5. Challenges to Sen. Mullis and Sen. Millar in the Georgia Senate and the race to replace Sen. Staton;
6. The all-important, be-all-end-all challenge to Rep. Greg Morris, to real conservatives like Rep. Mark Hamilton, Rep. Howard Maxwell and Rep. Don Parsons, and the aforementioned Gwinnett TEA Party Chairman’s loss, just to name a few; and finally
7. Lost every endorsed candidate for State School Superintendent.

So besides endorsing Jason Spencer, who I would imagine deserves most of the credit for winning his own re-election, what was the “influence” the TEA Party had any positive effect towards electing Republicans in November? The only influence I can see first-hand is a depressed turnout from the ear-bleeding frequency of the nasty, negative attacks launched in their bush-league campaigns.

I’m thankful that reasonable conservatives have sent a message that we are ready to campaign on the issues that matter to Georgians this Fall. The Democrats are serious. It’s time for Republicans to be ready to debate the issues.

Anyone But Chip May 22, 2014 at 1:48 pm

Agreed. While on a much smaller stage, Cherokee County had 4 BOE posts up for grabs and when Debbie Dooley’s darling Marlow was brought up on ethics charges she committed to finding TEA party candidates for each of the open seats. She did and all four tea party favorites lost. I’m not going to suggest that this was some decrease in the power of the TEA party in our far right county, but I will suggest that Common Sense Conservatism won this particular day.

saltycracker May 22, 2014 at 5:06 pm

The tea parties in Cherokee have been dysfunctional since inception and do not reflect a basic conservative principle of “do no harm” materially, financially or quality of life.

caroline May 22, 2014 at 6:47 pm

A lot of people do not like the tea party and their antics here in Cherokee. Don’t fool yourself into thinking it was just conservatives that voted them out.

Anyone But Chip May 22, 2014 at 10:20 pm

Good point caroline. I wasn’t fooling myself, I simply forgot to state (correctly) that the tea party makes it ever so easy for Independents and Democrats in Cherokee to select a Republican primary and vote for the more moderate / sensible candidates (since all the local elections did not have any Democratic candidates).

jeffincher May 22, 2014 at 4:25 pm

My friend Mr. Richards has a habit of labeling anyone that is not his brand of Republican a Tea Party person. I guess 4 years on the Executive Committee of the Gwinnett Republican Party trying to bring people together rather divide was an unworthy endeavor. Republicans have themselves to blame for the voter abandonment this Primary. It is hard for voters to know what a Republican really is when you have a 3 parties working against each other claiming to possess the Republican Holy Grail.
1. County Republican Party
2. State Republican Party
3. Elected Officials Party that is anything but Republican
Let’s see, I believe the State Republican Party has a Resolution that passed supporting Georgia’s removal from Common Core. Does my opposition to Common Core make me a Tea Party person? I guess it must. The Elected Officials Party, running on a platform of incumbent protection, spent tens of thousands of dollars funding their man, House Education Chairman Brooks Coleman. Yet another example of (OPM) Other People’s Money at work, as in it must be perfectly ethical to move campaign money from one elected officials campaign fund into Rep. Coleman’s to protect his seat. Is it any wonder why voters want nothing to do with the Primaries and why good candidates do not seek office?

c_murrayiii May 22, 2014 at 4:55 pm

Sour grapes. Its always other people’s money, or the Chamber, or whatever other bogeyman that cost folks an election, not the real culprit: the people who bothered to show up and vote. I expect, and I could just as easily claim, that the real reason turn out was low is because Republicans like myself are fed up with the Tea Party and the fringe folks who have laid siege to the GOP. And we’re equally disgusted that some sensible Republicans have played along with the fringe-wing. Balfour deserved a primary, but Ralston or Coleman, hardly.

Charlie May 22, 2014 at 9:12 pm

I think you may be confusing talk radio and those that scream “We are the silent majority!” very loudly in small groups in front of cameras with no sense of irony as the Republican party.

We had a Republican primary. The voters, not a bunch of insiders willing to give away four consecutive Saturdays to watch Ron Paul acolytes try to play Roberts Rules of Order as live action role play, are the Republican party.

They spoke, and Brooks Coleman and Common Core won.

Don’t be bitter. At least not at the majority of those who know they are Republican, even if they aren’t in agreement with you.

c_murrayiii May 22, 2014 at 9:46 pm
Tiberius May 22, 2014 at 9:53 pm

They lost despite being a low turnout. Imagism now they would if even more occasional voters showed up. Clearly, most need a special election in February to win.

Will Durant May 22, 2014 at 10:09 pm

“…why good candidates do not seek office?”

I would expect you to consider yourself a good candidate or you shouldn’t have run in the first place, however the voters considered Mr. Coleman the better candidate. I know Brooks well enough to know that had the tables been turned he would have shook your hand and wished you well. I don’t know any politically correct way to say something here that he wouldn’t, but I am not the gentleman he is, MAN UP!

Dave Bearse May 22, 2014 at 11:27 pm

Kingston making a plea for party unity a part of his stump speech late in the primary campaign, with the polling consensus placing him second, wasn’t rocket science.

jmacs12000 May 23, 2014 at 12:21 pm

I’m still amazed after living in Georgia for 14 years now with all that’s happened to the Country and Georgia, how some Republicans and media boy wonder wannna be’s continue to push Rhinos for Senator. Nothing really against Handel, but come on folks she’s was just another person desperately looking for a job. I’m sure she’s a nice person. Frankly her resume was very weak for the position of Senator. I’m sure the folks in Fulton County found her kind, spending taxpayer money. BUT, personally, I’m tired of folks getting elected then just collecting a paycheck. I want to see a little leadership to get after the problems facing the country. Somebody who’s not afraid to speak out and take a stand on issues. And has some experience running something. We have got to break this ruling class monopoly. Frankly, I’ve been very disappointed with the current GA Senators for their lack of what I just described. I’m tired of them hiding out for 6 years until election time. What ever you want to call this good old boy network of party hacks tied in with their media buds and business contributors, they have not served us well. We have all kinds of laws the executive branch selectively continues to ignore, you name it – government spending out of control, EPA, Depts of Education, Interior, Veterans Admin, IRS, State. Nobody speaks out for fear of offending this group or that group and nothing gets done except they spend more money. We are at the tipping point of taxpayers vs non-taxpayers. Maybe when the non-taxpayers become the majority things will fall apart faster, but I’d rather we start getting people in there who aren’t afraid to be a one term Senator. Their arrogance and sense of self importance once in office is appalling and why people feel there’s no difference between the parties. They don’t bother to vote anymore because nothing changes. All they do is talk.

Charlie May 23, 2014 at 12:41 pm

I quit reading at “Rhinos”.

jmacs12000 May 23, 2014 at 1:47 pm

Too bad Charlie I’m jut an average voter who pays his taxes – perhaps more than my share – who are you?

Charlie May 23, 2014 at 2:08 pm

I’m an average voter who pays his taxes.

Also, I’m someone that doesn’t have time for other people whining about how they can’t win elections but prefer to blame everyone else instead of taking some time of introspection and figuring out what it takes to win. Hint: It’s not name calling of people who aren’t 100% like you. It’s about getting people to disagree with you to vote like you. Because in politics, if you don’t win, you lose.

Come back when you’re prepared to win. It’s two less letters than whine.

Will Durant May 23, 2014 at 2:48 pm

C’mon now Charlie, between Walmart proliferation and Viagra we don’t have any dead peter benches to rant from anymore.

jmacs12000 May 23, 2014 at 3:14 pm

Who’s whining/winning – sounds like you. My guy won and will win. You must either love to waste more of your money on big government or have some utopian vision that we will all be equal when we are all poor. Certainly not a Republican vision, I hope. We, Republicans espouse equal opportunity not equal outcome.

Charlie May 23, 2014 at 3:24 pm

I have an 8 year track record of writing here. Those that have been around a while will understand exactly why your continued whining is rooted in ignorance, fear, and denial of your own responsibility to affect change.

Be sure to always cast dispersion on those who don’t immediately agree with you or give you a ribbon/hug as a participation trophy. Because in politics and life, that’s guaranteed to get you far.

jmacs12000 May 23, 2014 at 8:03 pm

Sorry Charlie – never heard of ya. We will effect change, but change does not mean spending/wasting more taxpayer money or electing ineffective wanna be’s I’ve been writing here about 5 hours and I’ve yet to here anything from you to answer anything I wrote. Besmirching me and refusing to acknowledge what I say tells me squat and that’s about what I think of you. Hope you and your minions enjoy the upcoming election results. Feel good about your eight years as a very important writer – sorry I missed them. I was busy defending my country. Enjoy the weekend and just remember your ilk will be claiming in a few years we just needed to pay more – that would’ve solve everything. Right – Go back and read my original post – past the RHINOS part and maybe for the first time you may learn something about this country and its people. Big government is a failure and the founders knew that 300 plus years ago. So keep writing/posting your drivel – your eight years doesn’t mean squat in that regard either. You’ve learned nothing probably because you never learned to listened to what others were saying.

Jon Richards May 23, 2014 at 9:14 pm

Jmacs, let me tell you something I’ve learned over the years. Politics is the art of finding common ground, and hoping you can move the needle a little to the right each time. That’s what Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson have tried to do over the years, and is what Jack Kingston and David Perdue would like to do as well.

Your problem is you want to get to where you want to be without delay, and without compromise. Given the nature of how our Republic is set up, that’s not likely to happen. Between the House, Senate, the President and the Constitution, there are a lot of obstacles that stand in the way of change.

You can be a stick in the mud, refusing to work with other people unless they agree 100% with you. The problem there is that you will be ignored. Legislation will continue to pass despite your efforts. Why should another legislator work with you if he knows you won’t listen to him unless you are 100% on his side? This is essentially what the career of Paul Broun has been.

Instead, be grateful for those who can reduce spending $1 billion at a time. Yeah, that’s not much in a multi-trillion dollar budget, but it’s progress. Do that enough times, and you’ve really started to shrink government.

saltycracker May 24, 2014 at 8:31 am

In charging this hill of more spending and bigger government I just got anxious of being fragged by a jmacs12000.

c_murrayiii May 24, 2014 at 3:27 am

Jmacs, first thank you for your service. Second, its RINOs, not RHINOS. Republican In Name Only. Finally, while its good to get new blood in the party, I have had it up to here with folks who come in and call folks who have been working to move the needle right for decades RINOs. You folks should love John McCain, his efforts over the years to eliminate earmarks have finally accomplished something, yet, to most of the fringe, he’s the biggest RINO in the Senate. The Ron Paul’s and Paul Broun’s of the world may sound good on talk radio, but in the real world of politics, they accomplish nothing.