Monday, July 31, 2006

Open Thread: District 1

Got an email in the ol’ inbox the other day. Fella who is a regular reader (didn’t know we had those, really) wants us to do some open threads about each race. Now, y’all are going to talk about what y’all are going to talk about, and these things usually end up digressing, but never let it be said that we don’t give the people what they want. (Unless, you know, what they want is daily posting or something.)

Anyway, we’ll kick it off with a race we haven’t paid much attention to yet: District 1. James Garland, who is a frequent visitor here, is squaring off against Doug Lowry and Jim Ponsoldt.

Here’s what I know about these cats.


James Garland is sometimes off-puttingly wonky (and that’s saying a lot coming from me), but he’s also responsible for one of the classiest things I’ve ever heard a pol say. Those of you in know remember that Garland ran against Charles Carter in 2002 as well. Issues-wise, Garland wants to lower our property taxes, which as a property owner, I’m actually ambivalent about. He also feels like some of the development-related ordinances (particularly stream buffers) are restrictive, which bothers me somewhat, since I kind of like streams and creeks.

However, Garland is also saying a lot of good things that I do like. He’s opposed to the smoking ban, for starters. He also thinks that the county’s definition of family ordinance is crap. But the best thing James Garland is saying is something that a lot of folks on the Commission would prefer not be said at all. If you live outside the old (pre-unification) city limits, you’ve been consistently screwed since unification started, especially if you live in North Athens. So, Garland says we need to make sure that every person in ACC has access to the same services – meaning fire protection, water and sewer, etc. For what it’s worth, I agree. But, you can’t do that and lower property taxes, in my opinion.


Jim Ponsoldt is also a heckuva guy. He’s a law professor and is involved in various progressive causes around town. Ms. Publius had him for a class once. She liked him. Jim Ponsoldt doesn’t really care for John Barrow (esp. since Barrow went all Sean Hannity clone on us), although Ponsoldt did give him some money in 2004. (Barrow that is, not Hannity)

Doug Lowry I don’t know at all. I’ve seen him in public maybe twice. So, here’s what I know. He’s running for Commission, and he has the bitchinest ‘stache in the race.

Garland is the only one who has reached out to us over here, for whatever that’s worth to you. He’s working the blog community and keeping us in the loop on his press releases, etc. So, I guess if there’s any lesson to be gleaned from that it is that if you reach out to us, we’ll actually talk about more than whether you like John Barrow or not, or how cool your ‘stache is.

Whatever. Get to work – we want to know what you think, kids.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

An AthPo Caption Contest! Maddox needs a new slogan.


So, Hillary and I were talking this afternoon (yeah, candidates, we bloggers do talk amongst ourselves quite frequently), and I learned that she hadn't yet seen Charlie Maddox's campaign literature. A quick tango with the scanner, and behold.

If you haven't seen Mr. Maddox's pushcard yet, it's terrible. As in, comparable to his website in quality. (To be fair, the actual piece is in color.)

Hillary and I and Mr. Brown were trading snarky slogans to accompany the terrible picture. Long story short, she suggested we open it up for the Athens politico-sphere in general. Herein, please find the picture from Mr. Maddox's hand piece. Go nuts. Whosoever writes the best caption gets to make out with the anonymous poster of their choice. I'll lead off.

"Isn't it time we had a Mayor who isn't afraid to stand up to the giant eagles? Isn't it time for Charlie Maddox?"

(One other note. Athens voters aren't stupid. Put some damn issues on your literature.)

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Lt. Gov. - The Dirty Tricks Brigade Strikes

Well, if you thought the race for Governor was getting dirty, just take a look at the next race on the ballot.  Certainly, Greg Hecht has shown no mercy going after Jim Martin with some fairly distorted and disingenuous attacks, and of course, Casey and Ralph are scuffling around in the mud as well.

But the Lt. Gov. race has taken a turn for the nasty.  According to an email from a loyal reader, someone is going after Jim Martin anonymously.  Sez our source:

“This evening (Sunday) at around 8:00 PM, I answered my phone at our familyresidence in Winterville, GA and got what was either the most politically suicidal automated call that a candidate running in Georgia has ever authorized or a disgusting example of gutter politics at its sleaziest.
The ‘caller’ identified himself as ‘Orlando Jones’ and his voice had a mincing, lisping… delivery that was straight out of a bad, late-night sketch comedy show. "Orlando" went into great detail into how one of the Democrats running for Lt. Governor (Jim Martin) was finally a candidate that the gay and lesbian community could wholeheartedly support.  The call claimed that Martin was working tirelessly "to legalize sodomy" and was leading the fight for gay marriage. It wrapped up with a remark about how, with Martin as Lt. Governor, gays and lesbians would finally have someone in office that they could count on to take their side on every issue.

There was no "paid for by the friends of" or "authorized by." There was no phone number for further information or how to volunteer. It was a stink bomb, pure and simple.”

So there you have it.  For clarity’s sake, the call was a “robodial,” an automated call where a recorded message is played for whoever answers the phone.  Now, having worked with a couple of robodial providers in past lives, I can tell you that they are notoriously close-mouthed about their political client lists.  While most political consultants and vendors love to talk up their client lists, phone vendors keep them under wraps – in many cases because they make a good bit of money off of these types of calls.  For what it’s worth, most of these calls don’t carry a “paid for” disclaimer, although disclosure laws do apply to them as well.  Thing is, they’re usually untraceable.  By the way, a friend who also got the “Orlando Jones” call verifies the content.  

Never ones to avoid a good conspiracy theory (I just finished reading “Crossfire” by Jim Marrs), here are a few scenarios to speculate about who was behind these calls.

Martin’s main opponent in the primary, ex-Sen. Greg Hecht:  (Odds – very likely)
When looking at dirty tricks like this, suspicion naturally turns to the opponent.  (Or the butler, if it happens to be an Agatha Christie novel.)  Cui bono?  In the short run, definitely Hecht.  Observers are saying that Hecht’s early momentum is a thing of the past, and Martin is ahead in the polls.  We have no way of telling what the various campaigns’ internal polls say, but Martin has been picking up some momentum, with endorsements by ex-Gov. Roy Barnes, Andy Young, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  A series of robodials tying Martin in with the politically volatile gay rights movement could stall his surge and help Hecht.  It should also be noted that Hecht hasn’t really proven himself to be shy about going after Martin.  (Apparently, Jim Martin single-handedly murdered a bunch of kids or something – we don’t know.  We didn’t get that mail piece.)

One of the GOP hopefuls, Ralph Reed of Casey Cagle: (Odds – somewhat likely)
Ask yourself again, Cui bono?  In the case of Reed or Cagle, for either of their campaigns to do this would indicate some extremely scary polling about Jim Martin.  I don’t think that polling is out there, although Martin probably does stack up well against Reed.  Question is, is Jim Martin so intimidating to either Cagle or Reed, they feel forced to resort to this tactic this early?  Jim’s a good guy, and he’s run a good campaign thus far, but no Democrat is that intimidating this early.

One of the other Democrats running for Lt. Gov.: (Odds – unlikely)
Robodials are cheap, but why would someone polling as far behind as the other candidates for Lt. Gov bother?  There’s no way this moves them into a runoff situation.

A gay rights group, such as Georgia Equality: (Odds – not very likely)
While the gay rights lobby usually resembles the Keystone Kops more than an actual political force, this is just too heavy-handedly gay to be their work.  (Remember, I didn’t get the call, I’m just going off sources here.)  But seriously – there are smart politicos in the gay rights movement, and they know how much something like this can hurt a campaign.  Plus, “Orlando?”  Lispy voice?  Legalizing sodomy?  That sounds a lot more like what someone who doesn’t associate much with gay people expect them to be.  Too stereotypical for Georgia Equality.

The Jim Martin Campaign: (Odds – highly unlikely)
I include this scenario in the interests of fairness.  It’s not unheard of for a campaign to do this, so that they can play the martyr card.  In this case, however, it’s just not very likely.  As mentioned above, Martin has run a smart campaign thus far – and for them to do this for the sympathy vote is beyond boneheaded.  Any possible positive press hit is far outweighed by the damage this does with moderates – not to mention any damage in the presumptive general election.  Also, most observers think that Martin is sitting on a lead right now – so why squander that on something this risky?  Besides, anyone with a lick of sense will tell you that this probably isn’t much of a story in the press, and even if it is picked up, the angle is not “poor Jim Martin,” it’s “Holy Geez, politicians are getting sleazier.”

Some other person or group, not directly tied to any campaign (Odds – very likely)
When shit like this goes down, the unconnected groups are the best bet.  Remember everyone’s favorite 527c, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth?  Stuff like this happens all the time, and the lack of a direct connection to any campaign makes it easier to do.  Odds are, though, we’ll never know.

But don’t let that stop you.  Bug your local journalists, and get the investigative resources of the ABH (I tried to type that with a straight face, I really did) on the case.  And by all means, speculate away in the comments.  

Oh, and by the way, if the name “Orlando Jones” sounds familiar, here’s why.  7-up anyone?  

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Democratic Gubernatorial Debate

Did anybody catch it? Met the two "not real" candidates at Bishop Park at the Dem Spring Fling a while back. Mac is a hoot, but Bolton is just batshit crazy (I actually found myself agreeing with Mac a couple of times, like when he said the teachers needed a big pay raise). I thought the Big Guy got the best of it, although that may just be because I've already decided to vote for him. Thoughts anyone?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Jane Kidd - Now with 40% more fundraising!


Just a quick correction if you happened to read this story in Tuesday's ABH concerning fundraising in the State Senate race for District 46.

According to the ABH's article, Jane Kidd raised $24,888.00. However, Kidd's disclosure reports indicate that the actual figure was
$34,888.00. Sure it was just a typo, but seriously.

Anyway, in fairness to Jane, we thought we'd point it out.



Monday, July 10, 2006

The AthPo Straw Poll


I thought it might be kind of interesting to take the temperature of your local bloggers on where they stand on certain races coming up, so I sent around a quick email to AK from AthensWorld, JMac from Safe as Houses, Hillary from Antidisingenousmentarianism, and GAP from the now-defunct Daily Douchebag. Not everyone had a choice on every race – for instance, A.K. only weighed in on the governor’s race. By the way, thanks to everyone for jumping in on this one.

By the way, these aren’t endorsements. None of us are opinion leaders, nor do we pretend to be. This is just who we’re voting for, and it’s meant to spark some conversation. And since none of us are really what you’d call Republicans, we were less inclined to think on those races. If you’re interested, I’ve put a special Republican section at the end of the post.

Here’s who we’re voting for (by the way, we’re only talking contested races here, so you Mac Rawson, Jane Kidd, and Chuck Jones fans can simmer down. Your time will come.) Finally, don’t take our word for it. We’ve linked to a few websites – make up your own damn minds.

The Straw Poll Results:
Mark Taylor beats Cathy Cox, 4 to 1.
Jim Martin beats Greg Hecht, 4 to 0.
Shyam Reddy beats a passel of other Democrats (including Gail Buckner), 3.5 to 1 to 0 to 0 to 0 to ad nauseam.
Carlotta Harrell and Denise Majette tie, 2 to 2.
Bill Overend beats CR Chisholm and Brian Patterson 3 to 0.

Governor (Democrats):
Hillary: Cathy Cox
JMac: Mark Taylor
GAP: Mark Taylor
A.K.: Mark Taylor
Publius: Mark Taylor

Comments: A.K. sez, “Cathy Cox has affected my life in a bad way. She has apparently neglected her duty as Secretary of State while focusing on her gubernatorial campaign. Her office has gone from fast and efficient to five weeks behind…I have checked out Mark Taylor's website, and I'm not comfortable with him wearing religion on his sleeve, but if he isn't going to stand in the way of productivity and progress, then I'd rather vote for the guy who just does his job.

Lieutenant Governor (Democrats):
Hillary: Jim Martin
JMac: Jim Martin
GAP: Jim Martin
Publius: Jim Martin

Comments: Hillary sez, “[H]is health care plan for small businesses seems like a smart move, and he doesn't try to cover all the bases.

Secretary of State (Democrats):
Hillary: Leaning towards Gail Buckner
JMac: Leaning towards Shyam Reddy
GAP: Shyam Reddy
Publius: Shyam Reddy

Comments: Publius sez, “Shyam is almost too slick, but he’s a fundraising machine, which makes him a better shot to beat Bill Stephens or Karen Handel.

State Superintendent of Schools (Democrats):
Hillary: Carlotta Harrell
JMac: Carlotta Harrell
GAP: Denise Majette
Publius: Denise Majette

Comments: No direct quotes this time, but no one was super excited about this race.

ACC Solicitor-General:
Hillary: Bill Overend
JMac: Bill Overend
GAP: Bill Overend

Special Bonus Section for our Steely-Eyed Republican Zealot Friends:
Voting in this section was light, but here’s the consensus. JMac prefers Ralph Reed to Casey Cagle in the Lieutenant Governor’s race. I like Reed, simply because he’s easier for Jim Martin to beat in November, and because Reed drags the statewide GOP ticket down. It’s strategery, bitches.
In the Ag Commissioner race, JMac loves him some Gary Black, while I, if I were a Republican, would cast a vote for local-boy-done-good Brian Kemp. Doesn’t matter. Tommy Irvin has been Ag Commissioner since dirt was a baby, and no one beats Tommy in November.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Open thread

Per Hillary's request. Qualifying is done, primaries in two weeks. Talk about candidates. Here's a speculative set of questions. Who wins Athens, Taylor or Cox? Has Cox's support in Athens dwindled in recent weeks?