Posted: 6:27 am Tuesday, April 29th, 2014
By Greg Bluestein, Daniel Malloy and Jim Galloway
While Gov. Nathan Deal finished up his bill-signing and veto duties on Tuesday, GOP primary challenger David Pennington, the former mayor of Dalton, launched his first TV ad of his comparatively underfinanced campaign, leading with weatherman Al Roker’s declaration that the governor wrong on this year’s first snowstorm:
The Pennington campaign isn’t saying what kind of cash is backing the ad, but that they have purchased time on WSB-TV and Fox News.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is making its move in the Georgia Senate race, with a TV ad and statewide buy backing Jack Kingston in the Republican primary. “Consistent conservative” is the operative phrase of the 30-second spot:
The Chamber did not reveal the amount of the buy, but the Associated Press offers this larger picture of the move:
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is launching ads this week in North Carolina and Georgia in a crunch-time effort to help establishment-backed Republicans in crowded Senate primaries. It is also pumping money into commercials praising GOP hopefuls in Michigan, Montana and Alaska.
The powerful business organization’s ad buy is a clear attempt to tip the balance in Republican contests and help the GOP nominate viable general election candidates. In 2010 and 2012, tea party and far-right conservatives cost the GOP seats in Nevada, Delaware, Colorado, Indiana and Missouri and shots at Senate control, a fate Republicans are determined to avoid this November.
“We will aggressively support those candidates who plan to campaign on a free enterprise and growth agenda, have the courage to govern and the ability to win,” said Rob Engstrom, national political director for the Chamber.
The GOP needs to gain six seats to seize the majority in the Senate, and emboldened Republicans, pointing to President Barack Obama’s unpopularity, are bullish about their chances.
The North Carolina primary is next Tuesday, Georgia two weeks later. The Chamber will begin airing ads Wednesday for North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis and Georgia Rep. Jack Kingston.
The question is whether the U.S. Chamber’s entry will spur Club for Growth, an anti-Kingston group, to jump into the primary fray as well.
SurveyUSA is out with a new poll conducted for 11Alive, showing Gov. Nathan Deal at 41 percent and Jason Carter at 37 percent in a general election (MOE +/-2.5%). Voters who call themselves “moderate” break decisively for Carter, but there are a lot more self-identified conservatives than liberals out there.
David Perdue remains ahead of the Republican U.S. Senate field (+/-4.5%):
- Perdue 26 percent (down from 29 percent five weeks ago);
- Jack Kingston 20 percent (up from 19 percent);
- Karen Handel 15 percent (up from 10 percent);
- Paul Broun 13 percent (up from 11 percent);
- Phil Gingrey 6 percent (down from 12 percent);
The poll reached 501 likely Republican and 435 likely Democratic primary voters, via automatic recording or showing them a questionnaire on their smartphone or tablet.
Other GOP primary results:
– In the governor’s race: Deal 64 percent, David Pennington 11 percent, John Barge 10 percent (MOE +/-4.3);
– For state school superintendent: Ashley Bell 10 percent, Richard Woods 9 percent, Nancy Jester 7 percent, Mike Buck 7 percent, Allen Fort 7 percent, Fitz Johnson 5 percent (MOE +/-4.5%).
In the Democratic U.S. Senate primary, Michelle Nunn checks in out of runoff range at 57 percent, with Steen Miles at 13 percent, Todd Robinson at 7 percent and Branko Radulovacki at 5 percent (MOE =/-4.7%).
Among Democrats for school superintendent, Alisha Thomas Morgan leads with 19 percent, followed by Valerie Wilson in a virtual tie at 16 percent, Denise Freeman at 13 percent and Tarnisha Dent at 10 percent (MOE +/-4.8%)
WABE’s Michelle Wirth caught up with the King family to get reaction on a soon-to-be-signed law to place a statue of MLK at the statehouse grounds. Martin Luther King III said he was pleased with Gov. Nathan Deal’s support, but said it clashed with the broad gun rights expansion the governor signed into law last week. Said King:
“I’m honored that the governor would certainly sign legislation that creates a memorial to Dad, but I’m troubled or concerned about the new gun legislation that just passed, that was also signed, because you honor Dr. King, but it seems to me that’s an inconsistent policy. But that’s politics.”
In the New Republic, Sasha Issenberg, author of The Victory Lab, writes about the biggest challenge for Democrats across the country this year: Their base does not turn out in midterms. He offers a revealing look at how Democrats hope to change that:
“The real reason Democrats have embraced a progressive agenda has not been to energize their own base but to lure Reflex voters from the other side. Obama and his party’s candidates talk about the minimum wage in the hope that working-class whites skeptical of Democrats on other matters will become more ambivalent about voting Republican.
“Democrats’ renewed interest in women’s issues—including a defense of Planned Parenthood and embrace of equal-pay standards—is also designed with defections in mind. In 2012, the Obama campaign’s entire direct-mail program on women’s issues was targeted at reliable voters who leaned Republican: Field experiments in the first half of that year had showed that the messages were most persuasive among voters whose likelihood of voting for Obama previously sat between 20 and 40 percent.”
The article also draws on numbers from Democratic data firm TargetSmart that illustrate the massive undertaking Democrats will go through in Georgia to change the face of the electorate. TargetSmart calculates that in Georgia, Democrats’ “win number” – the number of raw votes it must have to beat a strong showing by its opponent – is 1,472,509. The number of core voters they can expect to come out and vote Democrat: 808,810. That leaves a yawning gap of 663,699 voters they must find before November.
On Thursday, Cherokee County school board member Kelly Marlow, GOP political consultant Robert Trim and Barbara Knowles, secretary of the Cherokee County GOP will be sentenced for making false statements to police. The trio had accused Superintendent Frank Petruzielo of trying to hit them with his SUV. A statement from Cherokee GOP chairman Rick Davies, sent to party members last night, includes this:
“I, like many others in the community, have followed this recently concluded court case. This country was built upon the bedrock of our founding fathers wisdom and amongst that wisdom was a belief in the rule of law and the tenet that anyone accused of a crime is innocent until proven guilty. The Republican Party, not only here in Cherokee County but also at the national level, supports the individual’s right to a fair trial and a decision rendered by a jury of their peers.
“As such, earlier in the year, the Cherokee County Republican Party Executive Board cast a vote to not act in haste regarding the removal of two members who sat on the Full County Committee and to await a verdict rendered by the above-mentioned jury. With this verdict having been reached, I have received and accepted the resignation of Barbara Knowles from her position as the Secretary of the Cherokee County Republican Party, effective this past Saturday evening.
“It is my sincerest hope that from this point on all Cherokee County Republicans can now move to fulfill the core ideals of the Republican Party platform and work, diligently, towards the upcoming primary on May 20th to select qualified Republican candidates to represent us on the ballot on November 4th, 2014.”
It wasn’t unexpected, but Democrat Valarie Wilson’s campaign for state school superintendent was endorsed by the Georgia Association of Educators on Monday. The group has the ear of thousands of teachers across the state. Wilson’s chief opponent in the Democratic primary is state Rep. Alisha Morgan Thomas, who was closely tied to the 2012 charter school referendum.
Concerned Women PAC, which seeks to elect conservative women, has endorsed Karen Handel in the Georgia U.S. Senate race. From group CEO Penny Nance:
“Karen Handel has shown courage and conviction in her personal and professional lives demonstrating that she can rise above adversity and that she will be a true fighter for conservative principles. She is fearless, as amply demonstrated when she took on the pro-abortion giant Planned Parenthood.”
Allen Buckley, the Libertarian Party of Georgia’s U.S. Senate candidate in 2004 and 2008, on Monday endorsed two Republicans in the upcominhg May 20 primary. In the U.S. Senate race:
“Art Gardner is the only candidate in the race who has proposed significant changes to major entitlements, at a time when those entitlements are bearing down on our nation. They threaten the ability of the country to survive. Art’s opponents talk tough, but recommend nothing of substance. The time for such actions has passed.
“His opponents’ backing of the Fair Tax shows they either have little knowledge of the subject and federal finances in general or are attempting to mislead the public.”
On the race for governor:
“David Pennington is a fiscal conservative, and I believe he will make prudent financial decisions regarding problems coming to the fore in the near future like public pensions and other post-employment benefits. While I don’t agree with all of Mr. Pennington’s positions, I agree with the vast majority of them. Mr. Pennington appears to be superior to Governor Deal in terms of ethics. Finally, Governor Deal’s refusal to debate the other candidates is inexcusable.”
Speaking of debates, Democrat Michelle Nunn has apparently ticked off Chuck Williams of the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer for skipping a regional, televised debate of U.S. Senate candidates in his bailiwick. In part:
But in a strange move, she was here a week before the debate at the Whitewater Express office right next door to the Columbus State University theater where the debate took place.
Her people were trying to get coverage for that and other Columbus events. But then she ducks the debate where she and her handlers can’t control the questions or environment.
That is insulting.
Secretary of State John Kerry’s reported comments that Israel could become an “apartheid” state caused a stir Monday. Rep. Paul Broun jumped on the outrage train by calling for Kerry’s resignation – following the footsteps of the rabble-rouser he hopes to join in the Senate.
About the Authors
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He joined the newspaper in June 2012.
Daniel Malloy is the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Washington Correspondent, covering the Georgia Congressional delegation and other D.C. goings-on that affect the state since 2011. He's a zealous fan and proud graduate of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.