A Republican consultant, not currently affiliated in the race, said, “Barnes concerns me. He’s a legitimate, viable contender. Republicans will be coming out of a brutal primary, a brutal runoff. Our nominee is going to be bloodied and broke. If Democrats face the same thing, we’re all in the same boat. But if Democrats are smart, they’d unite behind somebody.”
And the GOP may have handed Barnes the very issues he needs to run on, the GOP operative continued: “Republicans have played into his hands. He can go out and talk about property taxes, improving education, transportation. Meanwhile, Republicans have sent a convoluted message at the end of this session, with no clear message of what we’re for, and the governor’s offered little vision of where we’re going.”
A Democratic consultant had a completely different view. He, too, is unaffiliated so far in the race.
“Barnes is a great candidate, he can raise a lot of money and he’s a force to be reckoned with. But you’re not looking at a governor coming back from a race he barely lost. You’re looking at a governor who was thrown out by 100,000 votes by a candidate he outspent 10-1. That’s not a formula for a successful comeback. You can’t explain his loss away.”
And so far, it will be no cakewalk to the Democratic nomination for Barnes. There are three other candidates in the race, including Attorney General Thurbert Baker, who is an African-American in a primary in which African-American voters likely will constitute a majority of the vote.
While Barnes has strong relations with the African-American community and still is highly regarded for striking the Confederate battle emblem from Georgia’s flag, there are divergent opinions about how he would fare against an African-American candidate.
“That’s going to be the grand test in a post-Obama world,” said the Democratic consultant. “What does a qualified, competent, well-known African-American candidate do in a gubernatorial race? The answer is, nobody knows because we’ve never really seen it, not even when Andy Young ran (in 1990), because it was a completely different party. You’re now looking at a party in which 50 percent of the vote is black.”
Others, including an African-American leader, contend that Baker has problems among African-American voters because of stands he has taken on law enforcement issues, including the Genarlow Wilson case.
“He (Baker) isn’t reading the tea-leaves right,” the African-American leader said.
The Democratic consultant disagreed. “One of the great myths is that African-Americans are liberal on crime. The truth is, the most conservative attitudes on crime are found among African-American voters. The only time they will turn on you if you’re tough on crime is if they think you’re using it as a racial weapon.”
Barnes, meanwhile, is said to believe he can win the race if he decides to enter it, but that it still will be a hard fight. The calls he’s received from the business community have been instructive, but not necessarily determinative. Cagle’s withdrawal from the race doesn’t change his timetable for making a decision, but Barnes is said to believe that could make the general election race somewhat easier.
Towery added: “Roy Barnes is the toughest politician I have ever witnessed in statewide politics. Absent a true professional as his adversary, my guess is that he could easily roll over a GOP nominee leaving nothing but scorched earth behind him ... Let me warn everyone of this: I would rather have two root canals and open heart surgery than run against Roy Barnes for Governor."
In 2010, Barnes will have been out of office for eight years. But there are many who are anxious to see him run again, believing that, after eight years, the public will have had enough of Perdue’s vaunted “New Day in Georgia.”This got me thinking, if Barnes does enter the race & it looks more & more likely he will, what will that do to Thurbert Baker & DuBose Porter? I agree that the GOP have given not only Barnes, but other democratic candidates issues to run on in 2010. More & More I'm starting to get emails from folks hoping that Barnes runs because they think that he is the best candidate to put up against the GOP. I think very highly of Porter & Baker. I don't Poythress that well because he hasn't run statewide since 1998, so the jury is still out on him, but I would also like to see a unified democratic field. DuBose Porter has waited for this moment for a long time & the only way I see him dropping out of the governor's race & running for Lt. Governor is if he feels it's in the best interest for the party. With the likelyhood of Tim Golden (D) running for Lt. Gov, beoming more & more of a reality, I don't see Porter running against for Lt. Gov at all. Now I have various scenarios for a possible democratic slate of candidates: DuBose Porter, Governor Thurbert Baker Lt. Governor Shyam Reddy or Darryl Hicks, Secretary of State Rob Teilhet, Attorney General Terry Coleman or Alan Powell, Agriculture Commissioner Michael Thurmond, Labor Commissioner. Or: Roy Barnes, Governor Michael Thurmond, Lt. Governor Rob Teilhet, Attorney General Darryl Hicks, Secretary of State Mary Squires, Insurance Commissioner DuBose Porter, Agriculture Commissioner Thurbert Baker, U.S. Senate. But if I had to say right now on what the slate would look like it probably would be this: Thurbert Baker, Governor Tim Golden, Lt. Governor Rob Teilhet, Attorney General Mary Squires, Insurance Commissioner Darryl Hicks, Secretary of State Terry Coleman, Agriculture Commissioner Michael Thurmond, Labor Commissioner Michael Meyer von Bremen (could run for mayor of Albany in 2010) or Jim Butler, U.S. Senate.