Fireworks Expected at Senate and Governor Debates

With early voting starting on Monday and the election four weeks from today, debate season gets underway tonight in Perry. Supporters of Nathan Deal, Jason Carter, Michelle Nunn and Devid Perdue are expected to descend en masse on the Georgia National Fairgrounds in Perry for the two debates.

And indeed, part of the excitement of the first debate is the huge crowd, and the cheering and booing from the attendees as the candidates make their cases. The AJC provides a preview of what to expect.

The rowdy debates provide a jarring contrast with the face-offs that will be held over the next month in sterile TV studios. With four weeks until Election Day for a pair of races that are drawing national attention, voters will get to take stock of the U.S. Senate and gubernatorial hopefuls side by side.

It’s the first true turnout test of the general election, and the campaigns are working to pack the place with their fans. Audience participation is more important than ever in Perry, where there’s little attempt to control a crowd that can — and often does — interrupt candidates with applause or boos.

The festivities get underway at 7 PM, with Senate candidates Michelle Nunn, David Perdue and Amanda Swafford. Then at about 8:10, it’s the candidates for Governor, with Jason Carter, Nathan Deal and Andrew Hunt.

If you are not among the hordes headed to Perry, some of our most annoying contributors will be live-tweeting the event, using the hashtag #gasen for the Senate debate, and #gagov for the Governor’s debate. We will also have some interns at the fairgrounds providing local color.


  1. Will Durant says:

    I propose shock collars that the moderator can employ when they stray from the question at hand to their preferred talking points.

    • Lea Thrace says:

      So you want to see shocks every 5 seconds cause you know that its going to happen with great frequency.

      I think it would be greatly entertaining though…

    • seenbetrdayz says:

      Only if we make those collars permanent so we can shock ’em when their votes stray from their campaign promises.

  2. WeymanCWannamakerJr says:

    Why would the interns be going to the fair with the exciting Go Fish Museum nearby?

    I agree with Dan Carlin that modern debates have devolved into just “contests for zingers”.

  3. 7:14pm: and “Dismal”… “DISMAL!!” just lost this for Swafford.

    7:15pm: Perdue notes using one-line taken out of context is ‘desperate’. So…what does the terrorist comment about the campaign plan say?

  4. George Chidi says:

    I tire of hearing ISIS invoked as a current border security issue. It’s absurd to suggest that a domestic ISIS strike could be averted by border security when hundreds of ISIS supporters are American citizens and are almost certainly present already.

  5. tribeca says:

    So, um, David Perdue is kinda getting rocked here. I don’t think the “17 priorities” thing really carries a lot of heft.

  6. seenbetrdayz says:

    If Perdue blows this it’s gonna be primarily due to the over-invoking the name of Obama. They say if you say something often enough and loud enough, it becomes accepted as true. But anything beyond that and it becomes, well, annoying.

  7. 7:33pm: Yeah, everyone understands why Perdue tries to tie Michelle to Obama at every turn, but it’s really working against him here. His delivery is off, and it looks more like the guy on the field who whines to the ref when the other player is simply better. His deflection makes him appear weak… just sayin’.

  8. NoTeabagging says:

    7:45pm. Oh right Perdue, we need to remove all regulations, frack the crap out of America, and sell all that Oil and Gas overseas as fast as possible so private companies can make a big profit, instead of keeping it here for future energy independence.
    7:52pm. He said it again. Sell our energy to save the economy.

  9. George Chidi says:

    Perdue, hyper-connected business insider, talking about a “level playing field” is rich.

    A level playing field in his world would have Americans working at the same poverty rates of pay as the countries we’re outsourcing jobs to.

  10. NoTeabagging says:

    Perdue embarrassingly blames all troubles, financial and otherwise, including jobs going overseas (that started leaving decades ago BTW) on Obama. Republicans keep saying it all started as soon as he took office. Can Republicans finally wake up and realize no one buys this anymore?

      • Baker says:

        “Republicans keep saying it all started as soon as he took office.”

        That is definitely not true and I don’t really hear republicans saying that. Republicans certainly believe he has made it worse.

        • NoTeabagging says:

          It still resonates on Fox and Schlock radio I guess. They did have a collective amnesia about who created the deficit, debt crisis, overspent on wars, and anything else negative in America. This started after the election and was a major soundbite for the first four year term.

          • Baker says:

            No. One of the big reasons for the civil war in the Republican party right now is because Tea Party folks and others refuse to believe establishment-type Republicans learned the lessons of the overspending Bush years. The stimulus and all that nonsense was going down right along with the election and that certainly helped to contribute to the anger out there.

            Conservative folks definitely think Obama has overspent but feel so strongly anti-establishment because of the same thing that we ended up losing multiple senate seats because they nominated insane people (Christine O’Donnell) rather than status quos.

            • Baker says:

              A little bit of relevant background/perspective:

              “As this is written, what should be a sure thing race in Kansas — where moderates went out of their way to defeat a conservative in a primary because he was a supposed sure-loser — are busy losing the seat in one of the nation’s reddest states to a Democrat-Obama donor-turned “independent.” And after insisting on a moderate in North Carolina, said moderate is trailing in the polls. Over here in the New York Post John Podhoretzis already hedging the moderate bets by saying that if defeat comes in winning the Senate it’s all because — ready? — “Democrats are vastly superior when it comes to the mechanics of American politics.” Right.”

              • NoTeabagging says:

                Let me clarify and apologize. I meant to say “Republican Politicians” are/were making these accusations. I certainly don’t believe every Republican parrots these notions. I did see enough soundbites trotted out from ’09 forward that stick in my mind. They left me with a distinct impression of denying responsibility for current economic woes that accrued during their administration. Apologies again if those impressions are not true. Darn media.

    • Will Durant says:

      Studio debates may not be as exciting but likely will contain more substance. Bring back Busbee’s work horse, not a show horse mentality. I’m not interested in who bussed the most people in.

      • NoTeabagging says:

        I’ve have been severely disappointed in the staged studio debates. Lame questions, too much focus on spinning campaign blather. When in doubt, candidates go off topic.

        • Will Durant says:

          There were a couple of lame questions last night as well. Or rather, lets call them setup questions. Galloway wasn’t pulling punches on any of them though. The moderator did not do his job and it appeared there were a couple of rebuttals outside of the given format along with losing track of the order in questioning. I really didn’t pay attention but was anyone really forcing the candidates to adhere to their time limitations? As to staying on topic, see my comments above regarding shock collars because it will never happen. Given the circus (fair midway?) atmosphere I guess this was the best that could have been expected, very little substance, no surprise there either.

  11. David C says:

    “If we’d interfered in the investigation we would have been indicted.” – Nathan Deal

    Feds don’t indict in election years. Doesn’t mean they won’t later–look at the McDonnells in Virginia.

  12. Michael Silver says:

    Jason Carter, “I BELIEVE … straw man … we need a Governor that … does something that Gov. Deal did already.”

  13. Michael Silver says:

    I BELIEVE …. Deal won handily.

    Carter is filled with “I BELIEVE”, consultant driven soundbites and strawmen.

    Andrew Hunt is a maroon who doesn’t know that the University System is part of Government. His brain will explode when he hears the Board of Regents claim they are a 4th branch of Government unaccountable to the other 3.

    • Jon Lester says:

      Voting for Hunt, Swafford and the other Libertarians isn’t necessarily something we do because we expect them to win. It’s to show the others that they haven’t earned our votes (certainly not on the bases of convictions and principles), and it’s to help a third party build a brand. I would vote for a Green for the same reasons.

      • NoTeabagging says:

        Libertarians need stronger ideas if they want more “protest” votes. The brand is a bit scary for me. I can’t vote Green Party EVER after they propped up Cynthia McKinney as their Pres. candidate. Credibility zero.
        I am waiting on strong Independents to really make a change. I am patiently waiting.

        • Jon Lester says:

          That might have something to do with why Georgia Greens haven’t even updated their web site since 2012. As for Libertarian ideas, I should hope that Americans will tire of paying to create new refugee crises around the world before becoming completely apathetic to joint Democratic and Republican complicity in foreign policy. That might not be relevant to Hunt or the other candidates for state office, but you’re right, in that Amanda Swafford should be talking against intervention and not so much about the “Fair Tax,” which will never become reality.

  14. benevolus says:

    Reinforced the stereotypes that Dems are unicorns and rainbows and Repubs are the serious adults who have to make the tough decisions.
    Deal reminds me of Dick Cheney.
    Where’s the middle ground?

    • Charlie says:

      the middle ground is the stripe where you find the road kill.

      Sometimes you have to decide if you want the innocent wonderment of being a child or the experienced heavy hand of a gruff and less than tactful adult.

      Life’s a bitch sometimes, because we all want to be the child, but we all need an adult or two around to keep us safe on the playground.

      …or something. this is the bourbon typing.

      • David C says:

        Ah, yes, the adults. The adults that assure us that they couldn’t have anything to do with a $3 million coverup, because hey, “they haven’t been indicted” yet. The adults that completely botched TSPLOST because they couldn’t dare raise taxes to fund transportation without larding it up with gimmicks. The ‘adults’ who, as you pointed out on Twitter, had zero to say about sources of new funding and haven’t dealt with it after 12 years in power under the gold dome. The ‘adults’ who couldn’t be found when the state was paralyzed by storms last winter. The ‘adults’ whose biggest contribution during eighteen years in Congress was finding ways to advance his own business interests. The ‘adults’ who’ve seen us drop to last in the country in unemployment, behind even Mississippi, and who respond by touting business magazines. Those adults? Making tough decisions? Really?

  15. Three Jack says:

    On election day, this debate will have no bearing because over 95% of GA voters did not know there was a debate tonight. And it wasn’t available via live broadcast. Nice boost for Perry economy, but nothing more than a whimper on the campaign trail.

    • David C says:

      Much as we have sport about it, you’re completely right. Rule #1 in debates is don’t say something that can be turned into a gaffe or a campaign ad. Unless “Hey, I haven’t been indicted” has legs, (it seemed the clumsiest soundbite for me in a complete non-defense on his ethics from the Gov) tonight didn’t accomplish much that’s lasting for either candidate.

        • Will Durant says:

          “If we did, we would have been indicted by somebody.” was likely the most glaring faux pas of the evening. Deal’s experience at this did show however and without the debate dwelling on ethics he was able to make hay on Carter’s inexperience. Carter and Hunt need to steer it back to ethics in future debates. While I normally prefer candidates to tell me why to vote for them, this is a case where frankly the need to vote against a candidate overrides all else.

    • WeymanCWannamakerJr says:

      Will over 5% of GA voters watch a live broadcast? They are all just trying to come up with a focus group approved zinger for the media to use as a sound bite for the low information voters who will never watch anyway. Though I presume “Make no mistake. I’m running against Barack Obama and Harry Reid.” is as clever as Perdue appears to think it is.

    • seenbetrdayz says:

      I’m pretty sure I was watching something hosted by 13wmaz last night involving some politicians screaming at each other at the Perry Fairgrounds.

  16. Jon Lester says:

    I used to like drinking beer and watching debates, but I think I’m glad I drank beer and did other things last night. I know my mind wouldn’t have been changed by either spectacle, and I doubt if that of any other witness was, either. Thanks to all of you for relaying the highlights.

  17. If Perdue doesn’t win the election, I think he could make a nice living in Georgia’s new hollywood economy by playing pompous cheneyhead corporate executive guy.

    he has that down to a “T”

  18. Charlie says:

    Rebecca Burns (Atlanta Magazine) take:

    With four weeks until the election, and with the U.S. Senate and gubernatorial races essentially tied, can someone tell me why last night’s debates from the Georgia National Fair in Perry weren’t broadcast outside of Macon? As it turned out, though, there are probably two people who woke up this morning relieved that it wasn’t: David Perdue and Jason Carter. Both men—Perdue, the Republican running against Michelle Nunn for Senate, and Carter, the Democrat looking to unseat Governor Nathan Deal—came across as unprepared to cite specifics and unwilling to make the case for themselves. –

    See more at:

    • Baker says:

      Good piece and great question.

      Tragically, Why wasn’t it broadcast? Because people don’t care. The people that do care likely already know who they are voting for and the people that don’t care would NEVER watch.

      • benevolus says:

        I think normal people don’t really watch debates much. They just wait for the news the next day to tell them what happened.

        • Will Durant says:

          Yeah, WSB-TV at noon today 15 minutes into the broadcast. One sound bite each from the top 4 candidates. End of story.

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