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Greg BluesteinDaniel Malloy
Jim Galloway

Rain may not be the only thing that dampens GOP runoff fervor

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The weather gods are forecasting a 50 percent chance of rain on Tuesday, which is likely to depress voter turnout beyond already meager expectations for tomorrow’s runoff contests. A single-digit showing is possible.

But something else may be sprinkling cold water on GOP excitement.

Your daily jolt on politics from the AJC's Political insider blogThis morning, Gov. Nathan Deal held a conference call with a small group of Republican state senators – and one of your Insiders, who listened in.

See the full report here. A taste:

[Deal] told more than 50 GOP legislators that they would suffer if Carter, the grandson of former President Jimmy Carter, were to wrest control of the governor’s mansion. Said Deal:

“He will use the bully pulpit of the governor’s office to beat you into the ground and you will have no opportunity to respond. He will pick you off, one by one if necessary, until he regains control of the Legislature … He will set you up as the target of demagoguery.”

The brimstone message was sharp, but keeps the storyline of his troubles alive for yet another day – perhaps to the detriment of Republican candidates in runoffs.

Here’s what GOP consultant Eric Tanenblatt had to say on the topic on Friday’s “Political Rewind,” the new radio show hosted by Bill Nigut on WRAS (88.5FM):

“We have next Tuesday, a runoff that will likely select who I believe will be the next U.S. senator from Georgia. That doesn’t happen very often. We should have been spending this past week talking about the differences between Jack Kingston and David Perdue.

“Instead, the media has been dominated – and we can talk about what the reasons are – but it’s been focused on this ethics issue. And I think it’s been a total distraction from what I think should be on the top of the minds of Georgia voters now.”

***

Last week’s WSB/Landmark Communications poll showing Democrat Jason Carter (49 percent) ahead of Republican incumbent Gov. Nathan Deal (41 percent) and Libertarian Andrew Hunt (4 percent) surprised not only many Republicans, but quite a few Democrats.

Part of Carter’s upward movement can be attributed to the media storm over a revived ethics scandal involving Deal’s staff.

But there’s more to his levitation than that. Last month, the SurveyUSA poll used by 11Alive in Atlanta put Deal at 44 percent, Carter at 38 percent, and Hunt at 7 percent. But that poll also had a turnout model that set the African-American vote at 24 percent.

I asked Mark Rountree of the Republican-oriented Landmark Communications how he weighted last week’s survey. Here’s his reply:

“One difference between polling companies is that the Landmark poll more correctly gauges likely black turnout based on historical modeling, which also historically increases the likely voting support for Democratic candidates.

“Landmark believes that polls conducted by other companies have understated the likely black turnout, with more recent ones setting it at just 24% of the electorate, but ours more accurately gauge it at 30% of the electorate.”

Rountree added to his explanation this morning:

“The percentage of the black vote has increased from around 19 percent in 1996 (Bob Dole vs. Clinton) to about 30 percent today, steadily increasing an average of a little more than a percentage point (net) per each election cycle.

“While there was obviously an uptick in 2008 with Obama’s election, the trend line was already in place prior to that.”

By coincidence, Alan Abramowitz of Emory University on Sunday sent these stats that underlined Georgia’s shifting demographics – and reinforces Rountree’s point of view:

abramowitzchart2In addition to affecting surveys conducted in Georgia, these numbers also make the state GOP effort to regroup in every county from the bottom up all the more understandable.

***Carter Backdrop

The bespectacled man looking over his shoulder in the above picture is a public school teacher named Dana Kling. And he’s none too happy about being used in a GOP ad targeting Democrat Jason Carter’s stance on education.

Kling said the irony of the image is that it was taken at a question-and-answer session regarding the 2012 charter school amendment, which passed easily over Democratic objection. He said he was surprised – to say the least – that his likeness was used and praised Carter as the candidate who is “good for teachers and good for Georgia families.”

***

U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston last week left the door open to pursuing the impeachment of President Barack Obama. His runoff rival David Perdue did the same over the weekend.

Perdue told WMAZ in Macon that he could back Obama’s impeachment if the offense was “egregious enough.”

Said Perdue:

“I’m not up there, I don’t have the facts. But right now, one thing I know, is if he is violating his oath of office to a degree that is egregious enough to do that, I’ll be involved in that. But right now, my focus, if i were to be elected would be to do the things I’m talking to people about doing right here in the real world.”

Perdue spokesman Derrick Dickey had earlier told the Washington Post he was opposed to impeachment.

vernonpic***

This morning, interim DeKalb County CEO Lee May, Clerk of Superior Court Debra DeBerry, former DeKalb County sheriff Thomas Brown, Dunwoody Mayor Mike Davis and several others held an event to underline their support for Jeff Mann in the county’s nonpartisan runoff for sheriff.

Their appearance was in part a response to this bit of racially charged bit of artwork (at right) being sent around by the Vernon Jones camp. Who knew that the Georgia Gang’s Dick Williams was a puppetmaster?

***

Speaking of bitter local contests, former Cobb County commission chairman Bill Byrne is in a runoff with Bob Weatherford, the Acworth city councilman, for the western District 1 spot on the county commission.

Back in the 1990s, when Byrne headed up Cobb County government, he and other commissioners passed a resolution condemning “the gay lifestyle.” The 1996 Olympic movement bypassed the county as a result.

But times change. From the Marietta Daily Journal:

“When asked whether he would vote for the resolution today, Byrne said he would not, saying it was a “nasty point in time” for those involved and citing the resulting strained relationship with his openly gay daughter.

“It was something that was hurtful personally. It hurt my family, and it has followed me for years; to the point that two of you are asking me questions about it for something that happened 22 years ago,” he told a panel of journalists who asked the candidates questions during the debate. “No, I would not support something of that nature today.”

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