Former GOP candidate for Governor David Pennington will not be supporting Governor Nathan Deal. This should come as no surprise given that Pennington has been critical of Deal and the GOP since his primary defeat back in May. Pennington went so far as to say that since taking over in 2005, the GOP has “presided over what is arguably the largest economic decline, relative to the rest of the country, since the Civil War.” Jason Carter couldn’t have said it better.
The AJC reported this afternoon that Pennington will formally endorse Libertarian candidate for Governor Andrew Hunt tomorrow:
Pennington plans to announce his support for Hunt at a press conference scheduled Friday in a move that could bolster the third-party candidate’s plan to play spoiler in this year’s race for governor. Hunt told my AJC colleague Nicholas Fouriezos that Pennington came to his aid because he believes in “cost effective government.”
“When he was mayor, he was able to cut taxes in the budget every year and still provide as good or better service,” said Hunt, adding: ”It’s an honor to have someone like that want to endorse me.”
Will this hurt Deal and help Hunt? Probably, but in my opinion not all that much. It’s good news for the Libertarian and has already generated earned media crucial to any candidate, especially one without the funds his two opponents have.
The ever snarky Bryan Thomas, spokesman for the Carter Campaign, sent this tweet in response to the Pennington news:
— Bryan Thomas (@brythomas) October 2, 2014
I don’t speak for everyone on Peach Pundit, as we are the most politically diverse political website in Georgia, but here is my response: The TEA Party is not monolithic and David Pennington endorsing Andrew Hunt hardly equates to the “TEA Party rallying against Gov. Deal.” There were TEA Party folks who voted for Pennington but others who did not. Thomas’ comment reflects how little he knows about a rather significant slice of a state his candidate wishes to govern. It also demonstrates how he and far to many political operatives think these days. It’s time we in politics stop putting people into little groups that can be either pander to or ignored.
Some TEA Party activists will follow Pennington out of the GOP and toward Hunt but I suspect those who follow Pennington were unlikely to vote for Deal anyway. Thomas’ candidate on the other hand, will scare some folks back into the GOP with his talk of how more money is the solution to all that ails us.
I don’t think endorsements matter to all that many people. In November of 2003 I attended a GOPAC Conference in DC. While there I sat in on a press conference with Haley Barbour who had earlier that week been elected Governor of Mississippi. A member of the press was questioning Barbour on the importance of an endorsement he had received in the waning days of the campaign from Vice President Cheney. Barbour however said something I haven’t forgotten: endorsements are good for encouraging your supporters and volunteers but they rarely change people’s minds. He went on to say he had received the endorsement of a Mississippi born NASCAR driver and that endorsement was probably the only one that attracted new voters to his campaign.
Sorry folks, but I don’t think David Pennington’s endorsement of Andrew Hunt makes much difference in this race. Nor do I think Zell Miller’s endorsement of Michelle Nunn is very important, nor my endorsements of Governor Deal and David Perdue. Voters will do as they always do and make up their minds on their own.