From Statewide Races

Libertarian Support Dissolves at the Polls

For all the speculation of a Libertarian candidate pushing two of the nation’s most-watched political races into a runoff, neither Andrew Hunt or Amanda Swafford were ever a factor in Tuesday night’s elections.

Libertarian support dissolved completely at the polls, allowing both Gov. Nathan Deal and David Perdue to cruise to comfortable victories.

As a result, Democrats in Georgia will continue to wander in the political wilderness for at least the next decade. Even with two election cycles between now and 2020, Democrats will not be able to gain enough clout under the Gold Dome to play an influential role in the next big political battle – redistricting, as mandated every time a Census is conducted.

For 2018, expect state Rep. Stacey Abrams and Secretary of State Brian Kemp to take their battle over voter registration to the governor’s race. Both have to be considered leading candidates in what will become an open gubernatorial contest in four years.

Republican Governors Release Ad in Georgia Gubernatorial Race

The Republican Governors Association released a new television ad on Tuesday, which it says “draws contrast between liberal Jason Carter, who put politics ahead of Georgia’s children, and Governor Nathan Deal, who has achieved real results on education.”

Georgia’s governor’s race continues to be one of the most-watched in the nation, with numerous polls showing the race a toss-up.

 

New Poll: Deal, Carter Headed to a Runoff?

“Stuck in the mud” is how a new poll released Friday describes Georgia’s gubernatorial race between incumbent Nathan Deal and state Sen. Jason Carter.

The new InsiderAdvantage/Fox 5/Morris News Super Poll shows Deal and Carter at 43 percent, with Libertarian Andrew Hunt at 4 percent.

“This race seems stuck in the mud and still appears headed for a runoff,” said pollster Matt Towery. “It should be noted that our poll weights African-American turnout at a higher rate than most other surveys. If that turnout is lower, Deal will take a bigger lead.”

Towery said the poll’s biggest news is that Carter has 32 percent of the white vote in our survey.

“That reaches the magic number that Democrats have failed to receive in recent statewide races,” he said.

In the Senate race, David Perdue leads Michelle Nunn, 47 percent to 43 percent, with Libertarian Amanda Swafford at 3 percent.

“Nunn has gained ground in recent weeks,” said Towery. “A key to this was the Perdue ad made by his campaign, using a leaked Nunn campaign memo. Perdue’s ad suggested that the non-profit Nunn ran aided terrorists. The ad appears to have blown up on the Perdue campaign.”

NY Times Laments Georgia’s Black/White Politics

Georgia’s high-profile, high-stakes elections caught the attention of another national media outlet late last week.

The New York Times reported on the Peach State’s November contests, saying that while Georgia has become more demographically diverse, its politics remain rooted in racism.

“The new Georgia [is] a state whose transformed economy has spawned a population boom and demographic shifts that are slowly altering its politics,” the article states. “With African-Americans coming in large numbers from other states, and emerging immigrant communities … Georgia is less white and less rural than it was a decade ago.

“Yet for all the changes … Georgia’s politics … are today playing out largely on the familiar terrain of black and white.”

The article actually does a pretty good job of profiling the challenges faced by both Georgia Republicans (maintaining their electoral grip) and Democrats (registering enough minority voters to loosen that grip). And it includes a good deal of history of the state’s politics.

What it misses, however, is arguably the state’s most important political chapter – how rural white and urban black Democrats coalesced for more than a century, dominating the state.

Practical-minded leaders like Tom Murphy, George Busbee, Jimmy Carter Carl Sanders and Zell Miller — and a progressive Atlanta business community realizing that green is the only color that matters — reduced the GOP to political insignificance for more than 100 years.

In the 1990s, though, the GOP began engaging in a massive, grass-roots recruitment. And when the Democrats’ liberal base took control of the party in the late 90s, a perfect storm ensued, most publicly manifested in the battle over the state flag and then resulting in Sonny Perdue’s stunning gubernatorial triumph. It took two more electoral cycles for Georgia Democrats to finally stop living in the past and re-build for the future.

But if what U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson says in the article is true – that “Georgia is a conservative state … it was a conservative state when … Democrats were in control” – it may not matter how many minority voters that Stacey Abrams and Rev. Raphael Warnock can register.

Kemp vs. New Georgia Project Makes National News

The controversy over some possible instances of voter fraud in Georgia made Fox News’ homepage on Friday.

Secretary of State Brian Kemp is investigating some allegedly fraudulent voter applications submitted by the New Georgia Project.

“There’s somebody clearly doing something wrong,” Kemp told Fox News.  “And we want to figure out who that is, and try to make sure that we stop that.  And bring charges against those people.”

“You don’t have to wear a hood — you don’t have to be a member of the Ku Klux Klan to be engaged in voter suppression,” said Rev. Raphael Warnock of Ebenezer Baptist Church. “We know voter suppression when we see it.”

J. Carter: Georgia Dems’ Last Hope for Political Relevancy

Forget about the Senate race. Georgia’s big battle is for governor in 2014 … and the stakes are much higher than simply winning West Paces Ferry’s big house.

For Georgia Democrats to return to political relevancy, Jason Carter has to become governor this year. Here’s why:

Let’s say Carter wins in 2014. He then has one midterm legislative election (2016) to increase his party’s numbers at the statehouse. That’s also a presidential election year, so turnout is going to be higher than usual.

Then, Carter no doubt runs for reelection in 2018; another legislative election to grow the Democrats’ presence under the Gold Dome.

Let’s also say Carter wins reelection. He then has one final ballot – 2020 – to elect more Democrats to the state House and Senate.

The next political battle? The biggest one of all: the 2020 Census and the new legislative and congressional maps that will come out of that process.

No doubt here; whichever party controls the governor’s mansion and the Gold Dome when those new maps are drawn, controls Georgia’s political future until 2030.

But if Carter loses, Georgia Democrats wander in the wilderness for another decade. Even if a Democrat wins the 2018 governor’s race, that hardly leaves enough time for him or her to make any substantive effort to elect more Democrats to the House or Senate. Democrats won’t regain anything close to a significant political presence in just two years. That effort has to start now.

So if you’re wondering why House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams and Ebenezer Baptist Church’s Raphael Warnock are working so hard to register minority voters — and why Secretary of State Brian Kemp is giving them such a hard time about it — look to the 2020 Census. That’s the end game in this year’s elections.

And it’s a big one.

Nunn Accepts Five Debate Invititations

Georgia U.S. Senate hopefuls Michelle Nunn and David Perdue may appear in as many as five debates between now and election day.

Nunn, a Democrat, announced on Tuesday that she has accepted invitations from various organizations around the state.

Perdue and Nunn have already met each other once on stage, two weeks ago at a congressional luncheon held in Macon.

Emory political scientist Merle Black told NewsRadio 106.7 that Nunn put in a better performance than Perdue.

“You’d think Perdue would’ve had a slight experience advantage,” Black says, noting Perdue debated several other GOP contenders during a crowded Republican primary. “But in that first encounter, Nunn turned the tables on him. What we’ll have to see if whether Perdue learns from that experience.”

Will Zell Tip the Balance for Michelle?

No question that Zell Miller is one of Georgia’s legendary political figures, right next to 20th-century titans like Herman Talmadge, Tom Murphy, Sam Nunn, Richard Russell and Carl Vinson.

I remember some colorful stories and tall tales from a former Miller campaign supporter, Francis Holland, who briefly ran John Russell’s U.S. Senate bid way back in ’86, a campaign on which I worked.

Georgia’s longest-serving lieutenant governor rode a single issue – the Lottery – into the governor’s mansion, and from there, he went to the U.S. Senate. Who can forget his electrifying keynoter at the ’92 Democratic National Convention?

Twelve years later, Miller thrilled members on the other side of the aisle, keynoting the 2004 GOP convention and endorsing George W. Bush for re-election over Democrat John Kerry. To top it all off, the next day he challenged MSNBC’s Chris Matthews to a duel (!)

Miller was also a huge fan of the old Atlanta Crackers baseball team, a subject with which I’m somewhat familiar. I had the privilege of speaking at the Governor’s Mansion to a group he’d assembled to launch a scholarship honoring the team’s all-time most popular player, Ralph Brown, also known as “Country.”

Now, the man known to some as “that damn Zell” is back in the news, endorsing Michelle Nunn last week in her U.S. Senate campaign.

Miller’s endorsement likely won’t mean much to Democrats; they’re going to vote for Nunn regardless. But Nunn is riding Miller’s endorsement for all its worth because she needs disaffected Republicans to abandon David Perdue and come over to her side.

Will it work? Since the GOP Senate runoff, Perdue’s campaign has been relatively quiet. Sure, Georgia GOP honchos held a media confab to show unity the day after Perdue’s win over Jack Kingston defied virtually every poll that was out there. Outside of that, he’s run a low-key campaign everywhere but on TV where, right now, he believes it matters most.

Nunn, meanwhile, has had her share of headlines, good and bad. But right now, she’s dominating the news cycle, the only drawback being is that she might be peaking too soon. It’s still a long way to November.

The big question is how much pull Miller still has among modern Georgia Republicans who may not recall his contrarian streak. And for those who need a little refresher, here’s a small one –

Are Pollsters Taking the Cheap Way Out?

With so many polls wrong about Tuesday’s GOP runoff, one political scientist may have an explanation.

“I don’t think any of the polls in the primary or runoff were live interviewer calls,” said Alan Abramowitz of Emory University. He told Newsradio 106.7 on Thursday that, “Live interviewer calls, where you can call both landline and cell phone lines, is generally the preferred method of doing these polls, but its more expensive.”

Abramowitz also says its a big challenge to get people to answer their phones when they see a number they don’t recognize.

Does Unity Begin Today for the Georgia GOP?

That seems to be the message, as Gov. Nathan Deal, Senate nominee David Perdue and Georgia GOP chairman John Padgett are holding a media event at 11 am Wednesday.

The event is being held at the party’s state headquarters in Buckhead.

Analysis: Party leaders know they need to unify the GOP base if Perdue has a chance of defeating Michelle Nunn in November. As expected, the GOP senate runoff was brutal and bloody, as is virtually every high-profile, high-stakes runoff. The 2006 Democratic gubernatorial race between Mark Taylor and Cathy Cox resulted in the destruction of two political careers and a cakewalk for Sonny Perdue’s re-election.

General consensus among Republicans is that Perdue has some fences to mend and wounds to heal, if he’s going to attract the conservative, Kingston/Handel constituencies. Those voters have to be enthused enough to go vote for him in November. If they don’t, Perdue faces the prospect of a loss exactly like the one Mitt Romney endured: enough Republican votes out there to win, but not enough being cast.

And there’s another candidate in the race, Libertarian Amanda Swafford. Peach Pundit contributor Jason Pye told me last night on Newsradio 106.7 that if Swafford siphons enough conservative votes from Perdue, we’re looking at a runoff, in which Georgia voters will hold the fate of the U.S. Senate in their hands.

National Review Reporter: Nunn Campaign Sloppy

The reporter who broke the story of the Michelle Nunn fundraiser that was co-hosted by an ex-felon and former Black Panther says the campaign made a sloppy mistake.

“It certainly indicates an extreme degree of sloppiness from her and her campaign,” said Eleana Johnson of the National Review. “Ultimately, the buck stops with her.”

Johnson made her comments on Friday morning’s Michael Graham Show on NewsRadio 1067.

As Peach Pundit mentioned Friday morning, Virtual Murrell was convicted in 1994 on bribery charges. He was also an early member of the Black Panther organization back in the 1960s.

Johnson says she doesn’t believe Nunn herself knew about Murrell’s criminal background or his previous statements about America’s “racist, ethnocentric, imperialistic” government.

“I don’t believe if she had known that he was an ex-felon that she would have sent out fliers advertising that he was a co-host of her fundraiser,” Johnson said.

Nunn: Unaware of Supporter’s Criminal Background

One of the co-sponsors of a Michelle Nunn fundraiser earlier this week was Virtual Murrell, who was convicted in 1994 on bribery charges.

The AJC is reporting that Murrell now owns a government relations firm in Washington, D.C.

According to the National Review, Murrell was indicted in 1994 by a federal grand jury on charges that he solicited and received more than $37,000 in bribes while serving as an aide to an Oakland city councilman. Murrell pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a year in prison.

Murrell was also a member of the Black Panthers in the late 1960s. Archival news footage from a San Francisco TV station shows him arguing that blacks should be exempt from military service:

“I’m due to report for induction tomorrow morning for the purposes of being drafted into the United States Army … If this racist, ethnocentric, imperialistic dog forces me to go, I have no other choice other than to sabotage your arsenal and to arm black people to use [arms] against this racist power structure to defend themselves.”

Nunn spokesman Nathan Click says, “Our campaign was unaware of Mr. Murrell’s criminal history and disagrees with his comments.”

Kingston and Perdue Neck and Neck in New Poll

A new poll released Thursday by InsiderAdvantage and OpinionSavvy show Jack Kingston and David Perdue virtually tied in the GOP Senate runoff.

Fox5 Atlanta is reporting the survey of 1,278 likely voters and voters who have voted early was conducted by phone and online July 7-9.

Here are the results:

Jack Kingston: 42%
David Perdue: 41%
Undecided: 17%

It is weighted for age, race and gender. The “SuperPoll” has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.7 percent and a confidence level of 95 percent.