Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Pete McCommons of the Flagpole.Com Seems to think that Michael Thurmond will Run for Lt. Gov.

Wakeup Call

Carol and DuBose Porter, the mom and pop team running for lieutenant governor and governor of Georgia, respectively, are enjoying their well deserved 15 minutes of fame. They are both attractive, bright, savvy people who would, if elected, make a great team of administrators grounded in ideas rather than ideology.

Whether they can be elected is the real question, and the ambiguous answer to that question is the reason Ms. Porter is in the race. They have nothing to lose by their novelty act. Had Dubose been the frontrunner in his race for governor, they would not have introduced this attention-getter. As it is, he needs all the notice he can get.

It will be interesting to see how the polls react to the dynamic duo. The last Rasmussen poll showed each of the three top Republican gubernatorial candidates ahead of the only Democratic candidate with a chance: Roy Barnes. In the previous poll Barnes was running even with all three. Now he has slipped behind them. Will the next poll show the Porter team gaining visibility, or will they, even in tandem, still be off the radar?

The wild card in all this early-election jockeying for position has yet to be played. So far, the polls have been telling us that Porter is out of it and Barnes is slipping. If the new polls show that by teaming up the Porters have made themselves contenders against potential Republican candidates, then that may be the (Democratic) ball game. That doesn't look likely, though, because this is still Georgia, and Georgia is still a heavily Republican state. To put it more clearly, Georgia is still a heavily conservative state (it's the social issues, stupid), and the Republicans these days better reflect that Georgia conservative white majority.

Did I say white? Hmmm. Attorney General Thurbert Baker, who is African-American, is polling poorly and running a lackluster campaign and is not likely to be the Democratic nominee. But with King Roy slipping against three nutcase Republicans, what would it take to boost his numbers?

Yes, Michael Thurmond, of course! The state labor commissioner has the potential to rally some semblance of the large African-American turnout drawn by Obama that would not come out for Barnes. Thurmond is aware, too, as are the rest of Georgia's Democratic leaders, that recent Democratic losses in Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts came in elections with low African-American turnouts. A Barnes-Thurmond ticket might just have the moxie to look attractive to moderate and independent white Georgia voters while bolstering the turnout with more black voters than usual. And a Barnes-Thurmond campaign would offer experienced leadership not burdened with the bankrupt Republican ideology of dismantling our state government in the face of unprecedented economic crisis.

Yes, but is Mike Thurmond going to run? Of course he is. He is not going to miss a chance like this, where the Democratic Party and the Barnes campaign need him in the worst way and the Barnes campaign can help him in return. If he doesn't jump into this race, his next-best choice will be to grow old gracefully as Georgia's beloved labor commissioner, a fixture around the Capitol, handing out lollipops to school children. With a real shot at winning the lieutenant governor's race and keeping his options open beyond that, there's little chance he'll opt for the lollipops.

Mike says he has a few initiatives underway that he's got to finish up as labor commissioner, not as a candidate. After that, in his own time, he'll announce, and there will be a whole new story line grabbing the attention.

Of course, if the new polls show the Porters running off with it and Barnes continuing to sink, who knows? But if the Porters don't rise, and Mike gets in, will Carol, who urged Mike to run, get out? We all want what's best for the party, of course. For that matter, might there come a time when DuBose would get out of the race? Whatever. No matter who among these bedfellows get the nudge as the Democratic candidates, they're already grabbing attention. And if they win, in whatever combination, we can begin to wake up from the long nightmare of Republican misrule.

So is Pete right about this? What do you think?

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