Posted: 1:46 pm Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

A ‘major’ campaign announcement becomes must-see political theater 

By Greg Bluestein

Former Dalton Mayor David Pennington’s “major announcement” turned into one of the most bizarre events of the campaign season. It featured a hand-lettered sign, a few rather confused reporters, snickering Gov. Nathan Deal staffers and a made-for-TV interruption from the governor’s attorney.

In the end, Deal attorney Randy Evans actually spoke longer than Pennington (and that hand-drawn sign challenging Deal to a debate was at his side for part of it.) Here’s how it unfolded.

Pennington, surrounded by a gaggle of reporters and TV camera crews, stood just outside Deal’s second-floor statehouse office to challenge Deal to meet him for a debate or drop out of the race. He said Deal is so “poisoning the well” for state Republicans that Democrat Jason Carter could pull out a victory.

And he invoked the controversial sale of a salvage yard that was co-owned by Deal as reason to question the governor’s ethics. It was later revealed that the firm that bought the business, Texas-based Copart, was locked in a legal dispute with the state over as much as $74 million in back taxes.

“What Watergate was to Richard Nixon is what Copart records are to Nathan Deal,” declared Pennington.

From there, though, the event morphed into a spectacle. One reporter asked the tea party candidate what, exactly, his major announcement was. Pennington said he would leave a formal invitation to Deal to attend the upcoming debates and urged the governor to pack it in if he didn’t.

(We got word today the governor will skip a May 14 Atlanta Press Club debate, and his staff has said he likely won’t participate in other GOP events).

Evans, standing on the sidelines, jumped in to challenge Pennington to unseal federal court records related to a potential bankruptcy of a company he once ran. And he asked the former mayor whether he would release tax returns, which prompted Pennington to eventually agree to disclose five years’ worth.

The attorney then took the podium after reporters exhausted their questions for Pennington. Evans defended an email from Deal chief of staff Chris Riley, who said in that note that he wanted to take out the word “Gainesville” from a press release announcing the Copart sale and replace it with a vaguer mention of metro Atlanta.

Riley was responding to a question from an attorney involved in the Deal who was seeking guidance because it would effect the governor’s office. When pressed by reporters, Evans called it a move of “no consequence.”

But his most interesting retort came when asked why Deal refused to debate Pennington and Superintendent John Barge, another GOP challenger. Said Evans:

“Voters have a ton of information. The only thing that’s important here, is there information, are there issues that are sufficiently distinct that would merit a debate from someone who doesn’t suffer from these challenges. Candidly, there are some folks who are candidates for the sake of being candidates. They just want their name out there.”

 

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38 comments
SouthGeorgiareader
SouthGeorgiareader

The whole GA GOP has turned into a sideshow occupied by some bizarre  characters.  It's hard to turn away and not watch this craziness as it plays out. How could anyone vote for any of these folks, including the Guv himself?  It's embarrassing that we've allowed our state government to disintegrate into a pile of political rubbish.

honested
honested

When is randy evans going to be disbarred and spend a well deserved 'vacation' at taxpayer expense in striped clothing?

dreluv
dreluv

David Pennington keep on telling us more about Nathan Deal corruption..Nathan Deal need

to be in jail for all the corruption..David Pennington you are a true republican who knows Nathan Deal

Is a big liar and the worst governor in America..These back wood republican on here need to go check into the mental hospital when Nathan Deal lose.

taters
taters

Deal is a liar and a cheat...and Pennington is clueless.  He did nothing as mayor of Dalton to control the crime or the massive influx of illegals. The carpet industry is full of illegals who have taken jobs from real, honest Americans...and yet he turned a blind eye to it.  If he gets elected as governor the state will be in worse shape than with deal who couldn't find his butt-hole with both hands and a road-map.

PoliticalOutsider
PoliticalOutsider

ATTENTION RANDY EVANS:

Rule #1 of Politics: When your opponent is making a fool out of himself, don't interfere! And certainly don't try to outdo him.

Jefferson1776
Jefferson1776

Deal,  a pauper when elected is now a millionaire again,   somebody been berry berry goot to him.

dreluv
dreluv

Who let the dog out...Well Nathan Deal is running scare..Nathan Deal did more corruption then Karl Rove.

The_Centrist
The_Centrist

Are any Pennington supporters here just a little embarrassed that he sent out a media alert yesterday of a "Major" announcement, and then did this desperate/ silly publicity stunt?

MikeMcNary
MikeMcNary

Good analysis TC but Deal's ethics violations coupled with the Food Stamp debacle and his blockage of 200,000 Georgians from receiving ObamaCare may take a toll.

NOlongerRepublican
NOlongerRepublican

You have to always remember Deal does NOTHING if it doesn't benefit him or his cronies. NOTHING. That's why he dragged his feet on snowjam, medical marijuana, and a host of other issues. He won't debate because it does nothing for him, it could only hurt him. Deal is only interested in what he can get out of anything, Georgia voters be damned.

td1234
td1234

So in other words, Evans believes that Dr. Barge (running on an Education platform) is not a legitimate issue to run on. 

The_Centrist
The_Centrist

Desperation in politics is ugly and sad.

There is no way Pennington and Barge will get a debate from a relatively popular incumbent Governor when neither are viewed as a competitive threat.  It is just an unwritten rule of politics.

By the way, Karen Handel is not going to get her wealthier competitors to offer income tax returns because of her desperation, either.  At least Dr. Rad has more class and will be defeated quietly.
 

SmartAleck
SmartAleck

@dreluv  

What grade did you pass?  Did you get through the 3rd grade?  

AuntieChrist
AuntieChrist

@The_Centrist  "Are any Pennington supporters......"

Retired Soldier gave us his view point, we're still waiting to hear from the other two pennington supporters out there.

SmartAleck
SmartAleck

@MikeMcNary

What about the people who WILL vote for Deal for keeping them from getting STUCK with the bill from Medicare scam. 

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@MikeMcNary  Hey, Mike, my grandmother's family were the McNarys.


You are so right about ND, and there are other things he has done that are as bad.


Mr. Evans needs to keep his mouth shut, or he will choke on his foot!

SmartAleck
SmartAleck

@NOlongerRepublican  

Uhhh.....why/how did dragging his feet on snowjam help him? Or medical marijuana?  

You're not making sense....just looking for an excuse to criticize. 


Baumer_1
Baumer_1

Why would Mr. Barge think running on education is a legitimate strategy?

Georgia has one of the least successful education systems in the country, and he has done nothing to improve it.

Retired-Soldier
Retired-Soldier

@td1234


If you check a dictionary for the definition of elitist you will find the name Randy Evans. 

Retired-Soldier
Retired-Soldier

@The_Centrist I support Pennington and so my opinion is biased. But not to participate in debate is flat wrong and very elitist. It really pisses me off when incumbents won't debate because from a electoral point of view they don't think they need to win the election. Debates are to inform the public and any candidate that won't debate deserves to be defeated. That goes for republican or democrat.


In fact, if Deal does not debate I'll vote for Carter to kick his sorry butt out and believe me the fact that Carter is more liberal won't be a factor.


BTW that applies to Nunn too because she won't debate her democrat opponents.

dreluv
dreluv

@SmartAleck do you have a life you stay on here all day blogging as a lonely backwood

republican..You lonely republican in Georgia going get a rude awaken when Nathan Deal lose in November.

dreluv
dreluv

@GaConservative you the only idiot republican troll worrying why no one likes Nathan Deal he a liar..David Pennington keep on attacking Nathan Deal so the republican can crossover to vote for Jason Carter.

CuriousPrime
CuriousPrime

@Retired-Soldier  Nunn only has one opponent, so your spelling and your grammar is incorrect.  ...she won't debate her Democratic opponent!


Most debates are a frace, especially those where the candidates cannot be fact checked, or where questions are not relevent to public policies that need to be addressed.

The_Centrist
The_Centrist

@Retired-Soldier - Deal will likely debate Carter, but probably only once.  Nunn will have to offer to debate the Republican nominee since she will be the underdog.

Debating minor competitors only has a downside, and there is little doubt that Deal's competitior(s) would keep going back to personal attacks since they are so far behind.

DannyX
DannyX

@The_Centrist said, " Although I am but a reluctant Deal "supporter" "


You really think you are fooling people with your bs?  You are a Deal cheerleader.  You have a melt down every single time this column contains something about Deal that you don't like.  Every single time a candidate other than Deal gets a little attention you throw a fit.  You down play his horrible ethics and turn everything into a paranoid conspiracy.



Retired-Soldier
Retired-Soldier

@The_Centrist @Retired-Soldier


The great thing about elections is the unknown. You may be correct, but Deal absolutely needed a challenge in the primary, particularly from the right. I have been to several Pennington functions and he has been impressive. There is no doubt in my mind Pennington would be a better governor.

The_Centrist
The_Centrist

@Retired-Soldier - Although I am but a reluctant Deal "supporter" because of my view of the quality of opposing candidates, this leftist blog is not patronized by the majority Republicans.  It will remain silent, although Deal will easily win the primary without a runoff.

Retired-Soldier
Retired-Soldier

@CuriousPrime @Retired-Soldier


See above smart alec

The_Centrist
The_Centrist

@aneilecage - I skip over the poster you replied to, but also now notice he incorrectly complained about spelling and grammar.  Maybe he would tell us if he really meant "frace".  It has a pretty ugly meaning via the Urban Dictionary.

aneilecage
aneilecage

@CuriousPrime There are 4 Democratic US Senate candidates.  Dr. Rad, Michelle Nunn, Steen Miles, and Todd Robinson.

The_Centrist
The_Centrist

@Retired-Soldier - Yea, like they will EVER agree to that.  Thankfully our forefathers got it in our Constitution for POTUS, and states for Governor.

Retired-Soldier
Retired-Soldier

@The_Centrist


Frankly you are correct to a certain degree, Deal appears to be worse (subjective) than most. All the more reason for term limits.

The_Centrist
The_Centrist

"Personally I am sick and tired of all these career politicians that only have a singular issue, themselves."

I can't think of any politician that does not fit that category - except they also look out for their cronies, family, friends, and biggest campaign contributors.  Major part of the job description.

Retired-Soldier
Retired-Soldier

@The_Centrist @Retired-Soldier Not the point, if Deal's republican opponent was Sister Mary Goodheart of the Little Old Ladies of the Poor, the Governor should debate.


I have my standard and you have yours. Personally I am sick and tired of all these career politicians that only have a singular issue, themselves. The public be damned. (Again I mean both R's and D's) 

Trackbacks

  1. […] Yesterday, David Pennington’s campaign issued a presser saying that he had a major announcement. We now know what that announcement was, and apparently there is a lot of intrigue. From the Political Insider over at the AJC: […]

  2. […] From Greg Bluestein at the AJC’s Political Insider: […]

  3. […] Yesterday, David Pennington’s debate released a presser observant that he had a vital announcement. We now know what that proclamation was, and apparently there is a lot of intrigue. From a Political Insider over during a AJC: […]

  4. […] in Albany, Gov. Nathan Deal was pressed about why he’s refusing to debate his GOP opponents. It came after the strange dispute between former Dalton Mayor David Pennington, a GOP challenger, and Deal attorney Randy […]

  5. […] aftermath of David Pennington’s ill-fated “major announcement” came to light on Friday: He hired more help to corral us […]

  6. […] anything, a Pennington event hijacked by Deal attorney Randy Evans reinforced that notion with Deal’s aides. The governor said Monday that he views his regular […]

  7. […] Dalton Mayor David Pennington’s hijacked “major announcement” last week forced him to take a step he wasn’t quite expecting: A pledge to release five years […]