Sunday, August 17, 2014

More On the Miller Endorsement of Michelle Nunn

Political endorsements for a candidate are like getting a letter of recommendation for a job interview. 

I wrote a blog post a while back stating Michelle Nunn should pay a visit to the North Georgia Mountains and I wasn't talking about for a vacation. I was talking about securing an endorsement from probably the most popular politician in the history of the state Zell Miller. And not to my surprise he came out and endorse her candidacy for the U.S. Senate.
(D) Michelle Nunn with former Governor (D) Zell Miller

It’s a familiar refrain among politicos: Endorsements often don’t matter. On a national level, the endorsements that garner the biggest headlines are often the awkward ones—nods from celebrities or endorsements from former opponents. It’s not that they’re completely meaningless, but it just  endorsements are often much harder for campaigns to parlay into real help on the campaign trail. But on the state and local level, endorsements can pay big dividends.

On Thursday, Former Georgia Governor and Senator Zell Miller came out and threw his support behind  Michelle Nunn (D) a non-profit executive who headed the Points of Light Organization, founded by former President George H.W. Bush and who is a underdog against David Perdue, a former corporate CEO.

Much was made about how little Miller's endorsement of Nunn will matter from both Republicans and liberal Democrats who are still upset by Miller's appearance at the 2004 RNC and his unabashed conservative views that are out of line with today's Democrats. Had Miller come out and endorsed David Perdue, you better believe republicans would be jumping for joy and be singing the praises of the former marine.

Now endorsements in fact really doesn't matter... however some endorsements can end up having a larger impact than others. The trouble is, like other factors, it’s hard to know ahead of time which ones will have the biggest impact. It just depends on who’s doing the endorsing and how much credibility the person has and how vigorous the endorsement is on the other hand it can be weakened when the endorser is not universally popular in the party or when a voter’s opinion is split, but this endorsement from Miller will have a positive impact for Nunn going forward towards November. How will it help Nunn? Well it help her in courting rural swing voters, disaffected Conservative Democrats, Seniors, groups that still hold the former governor in high regard and even with moderate Republicans. However, it may not have that much of a impact in and around Metro Atlanta, but believe me, in small towns across Georgia and among misinformed voters and voters who don't follow politics, it will carry some weight. The question I have is will the former governor, who's been battling health-related issues make a few campaign appearances on behalf of Michelle Nunn? That remains to be seen.

But the dirty work and the negative ad campaign from outside GOP groups will continue against Nunn, and likely gain ferocity as we near the fall season and the best thing Nunn can do at this point to improve her chances is to work on her statewide grassroots ground game.


Sunday, August 10, 2014

Small Talk With Small Town Georgia Voters

Courting country folk has been no easy task for Democratic candidates going back to 2006, let alone those from the Democratic enclaves of Metro Atlanta. Most of these rural areas were once democratic  are now Republican or very republican because democrats have failed to compete in these areas, and what Democrats need to do is try to minimize the damage or score a few upsets in some of these places.

As I traveled to the Democratic Party State Convention over in Dublin yesterday, I made stops in Jeffersonville, Vidalia and Montrose just to ask rural resident their thoughts on the upcoming elections.

I asked Sam Garrett, a 59-year-old self-employed lumber dealer about who he may support in the upcoming governor's race between Nathan Deal and Jason Carter, he says "issues such as the lack of adequate jobs, access to rural health care and refusal to expand medicaid will not win Deal many friends in my neck of the woods, so Jason Carter is getting a serious look from folks around here because of his support of medicaid expansion.

Next I approached Deb Jackson a 49-year-old woman from Montrose about the Carter-Deal race as she was pumping gas at a station in Twiggs County, she stated "Carter (Jason) speaks to people around here as she recited her list of important issues, including gun ownership which she says she is a proud gun owner and brought up Carter's A rating from the NRA she saw on the Internet. Carter needs to increase his presence in middle Georgia as the General Elections nears in November she goes on to say and as for the Nunn-Perdue Senate race, she says she haven't made up her mind as of yet on that race, but she likes the prospect of having a woman in the Senate.

But it wasn't totally about the top two races on the ballot this year, there was interest in who was running for School Superintendent and Agriculture Commissioner as well, so that tells me that voters are starting to become more engage in this years elections as the campaign season starts to heat up.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Campaigning is Different in Rural Georgia

He didn’t shake my hand, she didn't ask for my vote, so I’m not going to vote for him or I'm not going to vote for her. For a long time, I've often-heard this remark by voters in various rural areas of Georgia. That's what I hear now when the name of Michelle Nunn or any other candidate comes up. Political campaigns and races in rural counties have often been decided by just such seemingly whimsical reasoning.

Roy Barnes appearance in rural Berrien County in 2010 during his run for governor
However, if you’ve spent any time in rural areas, then you have some grasp of how small town people and farm folks look at elections and politicians. On the surface, that remark may seem foolish but rural residents reasoning runs much deeper and more serious than that statement may seem. Longtime residents of metropolitan cities here in the state probably think that’s a silly reason for voting or not voting for a candidate. But, having spent the majority of my life in a small town I understand the reasoning. It goes to character.

Yes, it says something about the candidate’s character but it also raises the question of the depth of the candidate’s character. While, metro residents may seem to be more attuned to issues, small town and rural folks put a lot of stock in a candidate who has the gumption and, yes, strength of character, to look a man in the eye, shake his hand and ask for his vote. I know how important this is, I seen it first hand two years ago while working on a campaign for State House. Numbers, of course, play a major role in how a candidate and his campaign people approach the race. If the area to be represented is sizable in both population and/or geographic area, much of the candidate’s appeal will be directed through appearances at events catering to candidates and through advertising and mass media messages to the electorate.

But, a candidate who dismisses the press-the-flesh/knock on- doors approach as too time-consuming, colloquial and lacking depth is usually making a major mistake. And, to think that a voter who wants to look you in the eye probably doesn’t know what the issues are, is usually a misjudgement by a candidate and his campaign workers. A voter who wants a candidate to shake his hand and look him in the eye, can probably tell from the candidate’s reaction if the politician is committed plus confident in his depth of knowledge of the job and the issues. (Again I go back to 2012 when I worked for Thomas Coogle campaign for State House 139...that kind of outreach works!)

Rural and small town folks have always done a lot of handshake business so they generally have a good feel for a person’s sincerity and honesty. Of course, there is a difference between a politician and someone you see and do business with regularly. Naturally, if the pol is local, he/ she understands that they have to face most voters frequently. Maybe they see them shopping every week or go to the same church or hold civic club membership in common.

That kind of exposure will go a long way toward ensuring a candidate’s honesty. He or she knows they have to look the same people in the eye daily or weekly and there are less places to run and hide.

For statewide candidates, especially democratic candidates, this is a MUST! They may not go door to door, but attending those summer festivals across Georgia and during the fall, attending friday night football games offer a valuable opportunity for them to connect with voters. Already I've seen candidates such as Liz Johnson (Insurance Commissioner) visit Coffee County, Chris Irvin (Agriculture Commissioner) visit several rural counties such as Early, Peach, and Crisp Co for example and Robin Shipp (Labor Commissioner) trek to Sumter and several other rural counties since announcing her candidacy.

The Top Two Candidates, Jason Carter and Michelle Nunn need to do more of this as we now are into August, especially Michelle Nunn who really needs to raise her profile in rural Georgia ASAP!

This is a Rural Blog that provides views & insights from a Conservative Georgia Democrat

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