Tuesday, November 08, 2005

ABH Political Roundup

ABH journalistic gadabout Blake Aued celebrates election day 05 by writing a preview of what you're going to see on election day 06. Premature? Nah, not if you're into politics. Besides, you're going to have a lot of big decisions to make next year. We thought that we'd take a few moments of your time and make a few predictions on some of the races you'll be obsessing over next November.

  • We'll start with an easy one. George Maxwell, David Lynn, and Kathy Hoard will win, even if there is opposition.
  • In District 8, States McCarter has already hand-picked his successor (David Hamilton), and there's no one else in the race, although we expect that will change. Anyone know what Annette Nelson is up to these days? A smart candidate would be talking to the La Puerta del Sol folks and making some inroads into that organization, and we would predict that zoning is going to be the issue here. But Hamilton is the prohibitive favorite, since he'll be bringing the teeming masses of Cedar Creek along with him to the polls.
  • District 9 is a toss-up, since there are no announced candidates yet. C'mon people, get it together.
  • District 1 is going to be interesting. You've got James Garland (by the way, Blake, the elections are non-partisan, so should you really broadcast the candidates' party ID's? We're just sayin') who has been a consistent thorn in the Commission's side, as well as a frequent writer of letters to the ABH, and a former columnist for the now-defunct Athens Weekly News. To be honest, we don't know much about his opponent, Doug Lowry. If you do, drop us a line. Right now, we believe that this race is going to break for Garland. He's got experience as a candidate, connections within the community, and, even though the election is technically non-partisan, Garland will have the ACC Republican Party on his side. (Think the ACC Republicans are a joke? Think again. They pushed the nonpartisan elections referendum through, while the local Democrats sat around trying to increase Jane Kidd's majority.) Considering the ongoing moderation of District 1, as well as the non-partisan factor, we're predicting Garland wins by 5 points.
  • In Mayoral action, no one knows whether Heidi Davison will run again or not, which makes making a prediction pretty tough. If she runs, we think she'll find that her base has, shall we say, eroded in the last four years. We're betting she knows that already, hence the hesitation to run. If Davison runs, look for a similar outcome to 2002, with a runoff between the incumbent and a challenger, with the incumbent losing. If Heidi bows out, it's anybody's guess. Tom Chasteen has decent name recognition, but also has managed to alienate the progressive, politically active base that he would need for a win. We don't know much about Keith Johnson or Charlie Maddox, although a friend of ours speaks very highly of Maddox. And that leaves us with Andy Rusk. Andy's the wild card in this race. He could be a spoiler, and say what you will about his "from-the-hip" style, he's got ideas and he's not afraid to use them. If Andy gets the right folks helping him out, folks who understand how to win on a shoestring and use grassroots action, then he has a shot at this thing.
  • In State House District 115, incumbent Jane Kidd is stepping down to run for State Senate. (More on that later.) This is a safe Democratic seat, so the battle is in the primary between Doug McKillip and...well, maybe no one. Former state Rep. Scott Dix is mulling over a challenge, and minister Dan Maxey was in and then out. Democrat wins, but which Democrat is anybody's guess.
  • In State House 114, things are starting to get interesting. Rumors abound that Keith Heard may retire, and confirmation abounds that if he does, former ACC Commissioner Alvin Sheats is running for the seat. Interesting dynamic to note: Sheats and current ACC District 3 Commissioner George Maxwell are not exactly buddy-buddy, so the normally taciturn Maxwell should be strongly courted for an endorsement by anyone who wants to run against Sheats. Of course, all of this is contingent on Heard's retirement. For what it's worth, unless he's got some skeletons that are about to pop out of the closet, we think he'll run again. If he does, he wins, and the status quo is preserved.
  • In State Senate action, Jane Kidd, as mentioned above is running, as is her 2004 opponent for State House, Bill Cowsert (R). Here's the thing on this race. Kidd is a good legislator, but kind of a lackluster campaigner, and in this race, she doesn't have the luxury of ignoring the swing votes. The numbers in this district are neutral at best, possibly even leaning Republican, given Oconee County's high turnout. For what it's worth, we hope she will get a bump from a hard-working candidate for Congress (more on that later), but it probably won't be enough. Our prediction, Cowsert in a squeaker.
  • Two Congressional races to watch, although only one represents Athens. We're concerned about John Barrow's chances in the new 12th Congressional District. The GOP wants the seat back, the Democrats want to keep it, but the new districting makes it lean a little more right (albeit still slightly Democratic) than in 04. Problem is, in a district that went about 55% Democratic, Barrow only got 51.8%. This could cause him some angst come next November against Max Burns. Right now, we predict Burns in a close one.
  • In the 10th Congressional District, Charlie Norwood seems unstoppable but we're not so sure. We'll submit a comment that we posted earlier today to give you our take. Right now, it's Norwood's to lose, until a Democrat jumps in.
Publius said...

To answer the question a few comments ago, as to why Democrats should run far away from that particular district, I can tell you that the numbers aren't very encouraging, even with the addition of Athens to the district.

You've got two major metros in the district, Athens and Columbia County. While Athens is solid D, it usually breaks about 60-40, which isn't nearly enough to balance the votes coming out of Columbia County (suburban Augusta), which usually breaks about 75-25 for the GOP. That means that any Democrat running in the 10th will have to do extrememly well in Athens, and clean up un the North Georgia rural counties just to have a chance against the Columbia County GOP base. On top of that, add in the 10,000 or votes that are going to come out of Oconee County, and you can see why it's a daunting district for Dems.

Which isn't to say that the District isn't winnable by a Democrat. But, to win, the Democrat would have to be well-funded. I'd mention here that, from a fundraising standpoint, Norwood has not had serious competition since 1996 (David Bell was the Democrat then). His last challenger, Bob Ellis, raised a paltry $113K, which was the most anyone has raised since that 1996 race. In 2002, Norwood's challenger raised less than $20 (if memory serves), and in 98 and 2000, his challenger raised significantly less than $100,000.

So, show me a Democrat who is committed to spending hours every day for 11 months asking strangers for money, and I'll show you someone who can win that district, or at least make it interesting.

That's it for now, except to say this. If you are a candidate, or you know a candidate, put them in touch with us, ok?



Dan Matthews said...

well written and predicted

monticello_pres said...

As always, a good summary with excellent points.

I do agree that Blake's references to Republican and Democrat (in the post Charles Carter 1st District race) were a bit out of place. I assume he is aware of the non-partisan elections in A-CC.

As an observer with an admitted conservative lean, I am a bit concerned about the Kemp-for-Ag-Commissioner move. Without disrespecting Cowsert, I think this is a huge risk at giving up an "R" in the state Senate. And for no good reason, really. I don't think 85% of Georgians know (or care) that Tommy Irvin is Ag Commissioner. He has been there since Agriculture was created... sometime around Genesis 2. While Republicans needed to remove long-standing Tom Murphy from his power seat to garner real House control several years ago, I just don't see this race as mattering enough to risk the Senate seat. Maybe I'm wrong.

On the flip side, maybe the Democrats worry that Jane Kidd jumping at this Senate seat costs them some legislative strength in the bicameral. Afterall, she is an average campaigner (at best) and Cowsert gave her a strong run in the House without the Oconee Republican block. His chances are much better in this race in this district. Anyone replacing her in the House is a legislative step down for the Dems.

Last point for the evening, if Max Burns unseats John Barrow... maybe the next election should be decided by a 15 minute, Texas-strap, cage match officiated by Ole Anderson. I get the impression that these guys really don't care for each other and might enjoy that. Heck, it could even be a PPV event held at the Athens Arena. Proceeds go to the Charlie Norwood health fund.

Dawg Corleone said...

Ole Anderson?

Now THAT is old school!

Anonymous said...

Give me a break, folks, the non partisan referendum means there aren't any r's or d's by the candidates names, ON THE BALLOT.
But you'd better believe we're going to be shouting out who the democrats are from the rooftop, on all the literature we create for anyone or any entity, and on the air and in print whenever we get the chance. We will be aggressively branding our team, over and over again, so there is no place for chicken shit republicans who think they can lie to us and still get elected.
We'll all know our enemies, lol and none of us will be stupid enough to vote for them.
A couple of notes re District 1:
Doug Lowry is a great democrat... he may not be a huge advocate for bike lanes, but his district is rural, in fact, almost agricultural. He is however, a hard working candidate, who has not missed a commission meeting in months, attends most hearings on issues relevant to his district, and who has been up to his elbows (sits on the board, I believe) of the Economic Justice Coalition. He is also a proud member of the Democratic Committee. His heart's in the right place.
And in the ninth district, Jim Ponsoldt, who came within a very few votes of kicking Tom Chasteen's butt 4 years ago, is considering running again. He too, of course, is a DEMOCRAT. A damn good democrat, at that. Vote Ponsoldt!


monticello_pres said...

Wow, that kind of blind party loyalty is just heart warming. And sad. All at the same time. It is disappointing that anyone - anonymous or named, far right or far left - would vote for the letter by a name rather than the name itself.

Having said that, I would expect the campaign for any party to advertise their party affiliation. I would also expect the candidate to make that known. My only point was that Blake jumped out on that one race with the "R" and the "D"... and I'm not sure if "he" is part of "we" when he is at work. I suppose that is part of that whole bully pulpit arguement. Is the media unbiased or is it prudent for them to wrap their ideology into the "news".

Wrapping back into the non-partisan thang... I suppose it's akin to the voter ID debate. There is obviously a party - or a portion of a party - that gets hurt by letters not appearing on a ballet. Or by people not being able to use "their" utility bill to vote. It's funny to watch 2 sides battle to weaken or empower the least common denominator.

Just sayin...

DoubleDawgDareYa said...

I agree with you Monticello about the Ag/Senate/House race thing. I don't understand the rationale behind either Kemp or Kidd attempting to move up. (Well, I sorta understand Kidd trying to get the Senate seat since Kemp is giving it up, but it's questionable whether she's up to it or not).

Party line aside, Jim Ponsoldt is a great guy, intelligent, thoughtful, and engaged with local issues (also a pretty damn good crim pro professor). If he runs, he'll have my support.

Dawg Corleone said...

I am a Republican. I would vote for Ponsoldt. Not because I agree with him--I frequently don't.

But because he's smarter than I am. Genuinely smarter. Not the smarmy psuedo-intellectual know-we're-smarter way most Dems try to pull off (see: John Kerry), but in a real way. I like that in a candidate.

monticello_pres said...

Couldn't agree more about Ponsoldt. Don't know enough about Lowry to have an opinion.

I suppose my logic on the voting-by-party-line is this. Any logic that would require me to vote for Doug Haines against anyone with a pulse is flawed. And to be fair to both sides, any logic that would require me to vote for Bob Barr against anyone with a soul is flawed. I think the man (or woman) is more important than the letter beside their name. And, heck, we've all seen that the letter isn't permanent.

Publius said...

What's your beef with Haines? In any event as far as I know he isn't running, so it's kind of a moot point. As far as Bob Barr goes, my opinion on him has moderated slightly, now that he's proven his more libertarian street cred. I'll put him in the same category as Ron Paul; I don't agree with him, but at least he's consistent.

DoubleDawgDareYa said...

Here's the thing on the party line...

Yes, in the abstract I agree with you. The individual candidate, his or her positions on the issues, and his and her overall character and values, should matter more than the letter next to their name. But the thing is, 90% of the time that letter does give you a least a ballpark estimate on those things. Also, the other side certainly isn't playing that way; they are obviously united with a game plan to destroy Democrats, and they will succeed if Democrats don't play the same way (and have already to a large extent precisely because Democrats are not playing that way). So if I care about progressive issues, I have to care about getting Democrats elected, plain and simple. It's not that I unthinkingly support anyone with a D next to their name, but are there times when I have to vote for somebody with a D next to their name who I don't exactly care for because, wow, I really don't care for that R they're running against? Absolutely (example, John Barrow in '04). On the whole, the issues I care about will stand a better chance if Democrats are elected than if Republicans are elected. If there happens to be a R that has positions I can live with running against a douchebag D, then by all means I'll vote for him/her; but that doesn't happen a lot quite frankly.

So anyway. I'm just saying.

hillary said...

I agree. I'm not saying my votes are determined by the letter, but when people won't actually be clear about their positions, it helps to have it there to give one some idea of what those positions might be.

Anonymous said...

my take is that the non-partisan thing was a huge mistake but a win for the Republicans and the DINO bloc.

I'm learning a lot about the folks who post here and some of these postings on this subject are very revealing. For example, the postings on Ponsoldt. Are you kidding me?! This guy is a moron. He seems to actually believe what he reads in the ABH and that's all the proof of idiocy that I need. Blake Aued is a bad joke! Most of the commissioners I know don't want to have anything to do with him because he has a very nasty habit of quoting them without ever taking a single note so you can count on about 75% of his quotes as being 75% fabricated. He's a disgrace.

Next, so many of you think that Andy Rusk is an actual viable candidate. What are you smoking? And, you keep mentioning Keith Johnson as though he is a serious candidate, too. OK, get a grip. These 2 guys won't get into the double digits, percentage-wise, combined. If you're still thinking that either of these guys is anything more than a fringe, protest candidate, then you may safely consider yourself as one who has no understanding of our local electorate.

Heidi's base may have cooled or even slightly eroded but if the only alternative is Tom, then, it's over. No way will any of them see Tom as a better choice. So, unless some really great new candidate enters the race, Heidi is mayor if she wants it. If she doesn't want it, it's Tom. Charlie Maddox is a Republican puppet-boy with a closet full of skeletons. He may not qualify as a fringe candidate but he won't survive. Without Heidi, Tom may actually win without a run-off. That would suck for Athens but, you get the government you deserve... At least Tom is such a lazy sod that we can count on pretty much nothing being done at all for 4 years. Anyway, anybody who thinks Heidi would chose not to run based on some fear she might lose has not been paying attention for the last 4 years. When have you ever seen her run from a fight? The only thing that might keep her in the race would be the thought of a lame-ass like Tom being mayor. Scares me just to think about it.

I think Jane Kidd has made a fatal mistake. I agree that she is a weak campaigner and can't do any better than Becky Vaughn even with her name recognition. She'll win Clarke County easily but not by enough votes to cover the losses in the other counties.

I think Kemp will lose, too but, who gives a tinker's damn?! He's a lying sack'o'shit and needs to disappear from public life, anyway so I don't care how it goes out as long as he goes out!

Almost forgot about Garland. He may win and that would be just bad news. He's the raving, right-wing, Carl Jordan with a healthy dose of States McCarter mean-spiritedness. That's one district that has been non-partisan for years since most of the Republicans have supported Charles Carter (even over Garland) all this time.

back to work...

DoubleDawgDareYa said...

I hope that you will continue reading despite your "discovery" of the fact that I'm somehow indirectly a moron because Jim Ponsoldt reads and refers to the local paper.

I stand by my assessment of Ponsoldt, by the way.

And I don't think anything that anybody has said on here was meant to suggest that Andy Rusk or Keith Johnson were frontrunners in the mayor's race. Clearly the frontrunners are Davison, if she runs, and Chasteen. We've simply been discussing all of the announced and speculative candidates, like any good blog should do. And, yeah, I like Andy. That doesn't mean that I think he will win, although one can dream...

Back to work for me as well...

Anonymous said...

One question (she said, neatly sidestepping the nastiness in the previous posts)... Does Keith Heard live here or not? Do we care? Who can get a definitive answer from him on this? And yippee to him for taking on Hiedi as discussed in online Athens today. Hiedi has been working with the Chamber of Commerce? to correct poverty? sheesh...
She's fallen down on her first promise to us, and has left that platform open for Tom to co-opt. I've spent a lot of time talking to Tom about the issues of poverty, and now regret trying to turn him into a compassionate human being, becuase they're all just words to him. (Note his anti transit vote on the budget.)
But I agree completely, she's A: running and B: going to win, if only because given a choice between her and Tom, even the angriest and most disillusioned of us would rather have Hiedi back... unless of course, we can all get behind potential front runner Andy Rusk...lol. Well hell, y'all, at least Andy is in the race to raise the issues and make sure that Tom and Heidi can't sidestep every durn matter of importance!

aquariusrizing (D)