Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Strength & Weaknesses of the Democratic Candidates.


Attorney General

Thurbert Baker

Background: Served in the state House (1989-1997) and as Gov. Zell Miller's floor leader; key supporter of the HOPE scholarship program and sentencing repeat felons to life without parole; appointed attorney General in 1997, elected three times.

Issues: Fighting violent crime and consumer fraud, open government.

Strengths: Experienced, knowledgeable; probably the second-best-known candidate for governor; will do well among fellow blacks - who typically compose about half of the turnout in the Democratic primary elections.

Weaknesses: Has not run in tough statewide races; some question whether Georgians would elect a black governor.

What would help: Roy Barnes doesn't run.

What would hurt: Barnes runs; any other Democratic black candidate runs.

Former Gov. Roy Barnes

Background: Served 24 years in the General Assembly before being elected governor in 1998 on his second try. Pushed through removal of the Confederate symbol from the state flag and a requirement that students pass a test before moving to the next grade. Lost to Perdue in 2002.

Issues: Has stressed reform of financial institutions in recent speeches.

Strengths: He has done the job; best-known candidate, vast knowledge of state government; prolific fundraiser, strong ties to Atlanta business community; widely seen as Democrats' best hope for a statewide comeback.

Weaknesses: Long record gives foes in both parties plenty of bones to pick.

What would help: Developments that make GOP-dominated state government look bad.

What would hurt: Teachers and their unions remember Barnes' statements blaming them for problems in Georgia schools.

House Minority Leader

DuBose Porter

Background: Editor and publisher, Dublin Herald; served in state House since 1982; was floor leader for Gov. Zell Miller; served as House speaker pro tem.

Issues: Improved transportation and water planning, more funding for schools and trauma care.

Strengths: Wide support among Democratic state House members; might run well in rural areas; publishes a newspaper, so he can endorse himself.

Weaknesses: DuBose who? (favored by 2 percent in recent statewide poll); will find it hard to bankroll a statewide campaign; long record gives foes in both parties plenty of bones to pick, though they're unlikely to bother unless he moves up.

What would help: President Barack Obama appoints one or more of his opponents to the U.S. Supreme Court.

What would hurt: At 2 percent, he's got nowhere to go but up.

David Poythress

Background: Lawyer and Vietnam War veteran has served as labor commissioner, secretary of state, deputy revenue commissioner and commander of the Georgia Army and Air National Guard; unsuccessfully sought party's nomination for governor in 1998.

Issues: Improving education, transportation, economic growth, air quality and access to health care.

Strengths: Has run statewide agencies; experienced campaigner at statewide level, wide and deep knowledge on Georgia issues; he's not Barnes.

Weaknesses: Despite having held statewide offices, he barely has made a dent in the public consciousness (favored by 4 percent in recent statewide poll).

What would help: President Obama appoints one or more of his opponents to the U.S. Supreme Court.

What would hurt: At 4 percent, he has almost nowhere to go but up.

Former Gov. Roy Barnes is the odds-on favorite for his party's nomination. But there's just one hitch: Barnes hasn't said yet whether he'll run.

He had a big lead over three other Democrats in a statewide Strategic Vision poll last week.

"Should Barnes enter the race, he appears unstoppable for the Democratic nomination," said Strategic Vision CEO David Johnson.

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