Editor’s Note: This guest post was written by Stephen Greenway, who is a rising sophomore at the University of Georgia, majoring in International Affairs. Stephen is also the Secretary of the Georgia Association of College Republicans. It is his take on where the Georgia Senate race stands as we head toward the election in November.
Both Nunn and Perdue are Anti-Politicians
Despite their politically powerful families, neither Michelle Nunn nor David Perdue showed much interest in entering Georgia politics before Senator Chambliss announced his retirement in the spring of last year; in fact, both candidates seemed content with their respective work in philanthropy and business. Michelle was serving as the head of a national volunteer organization spearheaded by Bush 41 before she became the democratic nominee; David was a management guru who specialized in reviving large corporations prior to deciding to throw his hat, and part of his self-made fortune, into GOP politics. Both nominees have achieved a great deal in their lives outside of the gold dome and outside of Washington, and it will be thrilling to watch the two of them, both without voting records of any kind, offer their plan of action for our divided nation.
Perdue does what it takes to win
It was surprising to see David Perdue take on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Georgia Republican Party, and win the nomination in the end. It’s obvious that Perdue’s team saw the pathway to 50.1% and went for it, disregarding county GOP straw polls and activists that they knew weren’t going to be on their side no matter what. Perdue didn’t win any big name endorsements, and he didn’t try to. He adopted the concerns of the people he was talking to at his campaign stops into his political platform, and targeted voters who would show up 9 weeks later to vote again. When attacking his opponent, he exposed not only figures that indicated Jack Kingston had fought for district earmarks, but he included data on other members of the Georgia congressional delegation, including former congressman Nathan Deal. He defied the rules, pissed off the party elite, and won.
Nunn will have to speak out
Michelle Nunn easily won her Democratic primary back in May. Leading up to the Republican runoff, Nunn has been busy raising cash and growing her statewide campaign infrastructure. With the general election matchup now set, Nunn will have to speak more clearly about her policy stances and draw clear contrasts between herself and David Perdue. In the past, she has been criticized for avoiding taking positions on issues of controversy and national importance.
With the national media tagging Georgia’s Senate Election as “the race to watch,” Nunn will have to show boldness and unveil the essences of her candidacy. She will undoubtedly attack Perdue’s business record, charging that he is an out-of-touch Romney who has spent his life in pursuit of corporate profits. But she should tread cautiously. Nunn herself was raised in Washington, D.C. Her Perry, GA roots are shallow, and she’s much more associated with Midtown, Atlanta than with the peanut farms of rural Georgia. If she pushes the “too rich and too-out-of-touch” card too hard, it could backfire on her campaign.
Truth be told, there’s no good ole boy or hometown country girl in this race. It’s a sprint between two ivy leaguers and two people who have used their life experience, instead of their political expertise, to win over an incumbent-exhausted electorate.
What kind of race will this be in October?
It is the joy of many politicos to break down each election cycle and try to draw grand conclusions about our nation’s political compass from the races. However, this year’s results have been scattered. From the outcomes of the primaries, there is no neat analysis of where Democrats and Republicans stand in the eyes of the public.
I truly believe the country is in a flux of doubt and cynicism about our world and our government’s ability to deal with extremely complex policy problems that involve billions and affect millions. The outflow of bureaucratic failures from the Obama administration has created cynicism about our national future and disenchantment with both parties. Apolitical citizens have tuned out; the politically engaged are digging in and drifting to opposite extremes.
Where is the silent majority? And who do they support? What kind of government do they wish to have? It is unlikely that Georgia’s Senate Race will reveal all the answers, but it is certain that Georgia will be the battle field on which both sides compete in an election in which the vast majority of voters don’t believe that voting will make a difference. The candidate that convinces Georgians otherwise will win.