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?