Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Can Roy Barnes Win Statewide & in Rural Georgia One More Time?

That's the question being asked by some people as Barnes vy to become Georgia's governor once again this year. Let's go back to 2002. One of the biggest knocks against Barnes was his lack of a presence in rural Georgia back in 2002 when majority of Georgians thought he was a shoo-in for re-election against a obscure state senator from Houston County (George "Sonny" Perdue) with a $24 million dollar war chest at his disposal.

One of the main reasons for Barnes defeat was the changing of the confederate flag. That was the opening some say that helped Sonny Perdue win the governorship from Barnes. Part of perdue's strategy was to cozying up to the angry white rural voters, who wanted to bring back the state's Confederate flag. Barnes led the charge 9 years ago to shrink the battle cross that had dominated the state banner.

Many hounded the governor along the campaign trail, holding up Confederate battle flags whenever he went. They called themselves ''flaggers.''

Business leaders, who I say helped pushed for the removal of the confederate flag, fought against bringing back the battle emblem because they feared an economic boycott of Georgia. Perdue had promised a referendum on the state flag once he got in office, which he did, but only the old rebel flag wasn't included on the referendum.

Another reason for his defeat was the teachers who was against his education reform & in turned went to perdue. How did that work out? Barnes had pushed a more centralized approach to education and eliminated tenure for newly hired teachers. He also pushed through a controversial initiative to end social promotion by requiring students to pass a test before advancing to the next grade. Many teachers strongly disagreed with Barnes's criticisms of teaching methods and the education system as a whole. And the creation of a Northern Arc thru some of the North Ga counties was met with opposition by residents as well also contributed to his defeat.

The 9/11 attacks also was a factor as the country was angry as hell from being attacked by Islamic Extremist, in which one controversial vote by Max Cleland, who was a moderate democrat voted against the creation of Homeland Security. Cleland had voted 11 times against a homeland-security bill that would have given President Bush the freedom to set up the new department. The bill was co-sponsored by fellow Georgia senator Zell Miller (D). According to some accounts, Bush had discussed details of the bill personally with Cleland, and Chambliss, who went on to defeat cleland wrote him a letter prior to running his ad urging him to support the Bush version. Cleland still opposed it, setting himself up for the charge that he was voting with liberals against Bush and Georgia common sense.

Some of y'all may or may not agree with that playing a reason for Barnes defeat as well, but in my eyes it did.

This time around, Barnes has made a commitment to rural Georgia, campaigning in places such as Lakeland, Butler, Blakely, Americus, Reidsville, Rochelle, Swainsboro, Forsyth, & in other places in middle & south Georgia. As other democratic candidates have laid groundwork in rural Georgia like David Poythress, who has gone to towns smaller that the ones I've mentioned, Carl Camon, DuBose Porter, some wondered privately will Barnes make the commitment to rural Georgia in 2010. The answer is YES!

Two rural democratic lawmakers told me yesterday me Barnes can definitely win again here in the state, while one said if he makes the commitment to small town voters, he got a excellent chance of becoming again. The Govs race is shaping up to be a three man contest with Barnes, Poythress & Baker. Porter, who I think very highly of has been hampered by the legislative session & cannot raise money during the session. That in the end will hurt his efforts to make a serious run for the democratic nomination. Money isn't everything, but you need it to be effective. That's why its my hope that he considers Agriculture Commissioner, which no democrat has entered as of yet, of maybe some other statewide office. Democrats need Dubose somewhere n the ballot come November. It will be a shame if he weren't on the ballot somewhere.

It appears from the look of things that Roy has learned his lesson from 2002 & will be a better candidate this time around. But he will have to get past Gen. David Poythress, Attorney General Thurbert Baker, State Rep. DuBose Porter & Mayor Carl Camon, (there are questions whether or not Porter or Camon, or Both will even make it to qualifying) for the nomination.

Rural Georgians are more moderate/conservative that the urban & some suburban areas of the state. Agriculture dominate the region, so the Ag vote is crucial, as well as the christian moderates & conservatives, who cherish strong family & moral values. But just like everywhere else, jobs, the economy, education are front & center of the minds of rural Georgians.

Any Democratic nominee can win Rural Georgia if he or she can appeal to those voters, if they show respect for gun rights and avoid letting social issues define their campaigns. Whoever has the ability to expand their base to Rural Georgia & focus on kitchen table issues like education, economic development for example & not get caught up on social issues will have a great chance of becoming the next governor. Blue-collar workers like myself care about things like health care, education, job security. Democrats have to engage voters in a conversation about the future, particularly the future of rural areas, small towns and midsize cities like Perry, Cordele, Douglas, Thomaston. That's what Roy has been doing during the past 10 months. Not to say the others haven't done that, but Barnes seems to have gotten the message: You cannot ignore Rural Georgia.

1 comment:

J said...

I think he can definitely win statewide. Wikipedia says Sonny was the first Republican since Reconstruction.

Oxendine is a joke, at least if you're capable of though. He praised the confederate colors, and it's not the confederate part, it's just such a simple peaminded thought that makes me believe he'll be a good ol' boy rather than someone that will make things happen.

Georgia loves it's HOPE, Roy Barnes campaigning on restructruging it to ensure its viability I think will be a major draw.

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