Saturday, July 28, 2007

Bongs For Broun!

Broun Votes To Ease Up On Medical Pot:

"U.S. Rep. Paul Broun offered Democrats a peace pipe and sent Republican leaders' hopes that he'd toe the party line up in smoke this week by voting to ease federal restrictions on medical marijuana laws."

Get a load of Blake and his "peace pipe" allusion.

"The Republican congressman from Athens was sworn in Wednesday and cast his first vote in the House of Representatives late that night in support of an amendment to stop the U.S. Justice Department from prosecuting people who distribute medical marijuana in states where it is legal.

"The measure failed 262-165, but Broun said he fulfilled his campaign promises to respect states' rights and be independent by bucking GOP leadership and joining just 14 other Republicans who voted for the amendment, proposed by Reps. Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y, and Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif."

The real laugher? "Rep. John Barrow, D-Savannah, a former Athens-Clarke commissioner, voted against the amendment, as did Georgia's six other House Republicans besides Broun."

[snicker] I have no idea what's in store the next 18 months, but I can predict two things from this: number one, that vote would never have been cast by Charlie Norwood. And number two, Broun just picked up a, er, significant voting block here in Athens.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

A Victory For Athens

If the results hold true (as Billy reports below Paul Broun is extending his lead), then this really is a victory for Athens-Clarke, no matter how you slice it. And you have Jim Whitehead and his anti-Athens strategy to thank for it.

Since I wrote last week, I can't tell you how many people I've heard from the past few days saying that Paul Broun, Jr. was the only choice, and that there was no way we could "let that (fill in the blank) from Augusta tell us what to do here in Athens." Over and over, even from friends who would have preferred death to voting for a Republican. Several even said they were forgoing the "none of the above" strategy in favor of the hometown Broun.

Throw in the MCG satellite campus brou-ha-ha, and Broun targeting Democratic voting households with calls and mailers, and I think we saw an "Athens surge" at the polls yesterday. Coming on the heels of ACC Dems failure to put Marlowe in the runoff, this would suggest we're still a force to be reckoned with, no matter how much Ralph Hudgens et al want to draw us out of existence.

As Mike-el pointed out in comments "Broun taking A-CC 5,122-601 is just staggering." And if the vote count holds, it is the reason Mr. Broun will go to Washington.

Let's just hope the Republican Broun remembers the largely Democratic "Athens surge" that put him there.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Broun Extends Lead

98% reporting, and the lead is now 371.

Meanwhile, they are debating not so much Iraq, but whether the all-night session is or isn't a stunt, in the Senate.

Not So Fast!

Well, well, looks like we may have spoken too soon in the comments. With 95% of the votes in, Broun is leading by 271 votes. In fact, Peach Pundit is calling it for Broun. I don't know about all that, but Broun is once again outperforming expectations.

Since we're gonna try to stay up and watch the Iraq debate, or whatever it is they're planning to do all night in the Senate, we'll put up news as we come across it.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The '08

Tomorrow we will have the runoff special election between Jim "Did I say that out loud?" Whitehead and Paul "Sure I live in Athens" Broun, Jr. So that's what we should be talking about here on AthPo, right?

Nah. If I go and hold my nose and pull the lever for Broun tomorrow, it will only because of Whitehead's "Augusta v. Athens" comments; otherwise I may sit out my first election in years. This election isn't much of a choice, is what I'm saying.

But I'm operating under the theory that neither can do too much damage in the year or so before the election next year. By the time they get settled in and get a staff hired, they'll have to start thinking about that election. And, since it's kinda what we do here (or what used to be done here, anyway), I thought we'd go ahead and think about it now.

Question 1: Which Democrat(s) will challenge whoever wins tomorrow?

Will Marlow be back? Despite the woe-is-meism of a lot of Democrats after Marlow failed to make the runoff, I still think Marlow could make a run at it. If the state party continues to build on some of the inroads they're trying to make in the rural parts of Georgia (including of course the mountains of the Northeast that make up a lot of the 10th), and if Marlow starts early with a bona fide ground attack up there, he could make a race of it (especially if Broun is his opponent).
If not, the Dems need a true star. For example, is there any chance we'll ever see Don Johnson run for anything again? I would love it, but I don't know if it will happen.

Question 2: Should Democrats vote for Broun because he will be easier to beat in '08?

The conventional wisdom seems to be that the national Republicans will put much more money and energy behind getting Whitehead reelected than Broun.

While that makes sense to me on an intellectual level, I've got a bit of a psychological problem with "wishing" for a particular opponent. I guess it comes from watching sports playoffs; it seems like when you wish for the easier opponent, they end up beating you. They are, after all, the one that won to get there in the first place.

But then again, it does reinforce my other reason for voting for Broun.

Give your thoughts on these and other questions regarding the '08 10th race in the comments (and I guess if you must talk about the runoff, you can do that too).

[In the spirit of full disclosure, and in case it's not obvious from this post, I am (like my predecessors on AthPo for the most part) a Democrat and a liberal. I am from Athens, after all (although we're not all both of those things)].

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Allow Me to Introduce Myself

As you may have noticed over on the right, I am the first to take advantage of Blackfin's cry for help. I am Billy Merck, and you may have seen me over at Athens World. I also have my own legal blog, The Georgia Law Blog.

I have been following AthPo since the La Puerta del Sol days, and if I can do anything to help get that kind of discussion going again on here (that or 50+ comment threads on whether or not people should post anonymously, either way), I'll consider my tenure here a success. I look forward to it, and I hope you do too.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Help Wanted...

Well, obviously, we are not contributing to this blog as we used to. In response to some of the complaints/comments, we going to try to open up a bit by inviting some fresh blood to be front pagers.

If you're interested, send a "resumé" to

"Resumé" can mean whatever you think is important for us to know about you and why you want to get involved, but obviously things like occupation, time in Athens, political leanings and shoe size will be helpful.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Whitehead: "I Don't Know A Lot Of The Political Ins And Outs"

Scrolling around the Daily Planet's Voter's Guide to the 10th District Congressional runoff next week, I was surprised to hear Jim Whitehead admit in one of the posted audio clips that, since he's only been in politics for "twelve years, basically," he "doesn't know a lot of the political ins and outs," concerning when to show up for a debate and when not to.

Not a very comforting thing for the leading candidate for Congress to admit, is it? He also admits in another clip that he "never said I-raq wasn't an important isha." Oh.

So where are the AthPol readers lining up (yes it's been dead around here, yes we've been slack, mea culpa, etc.)? I've been hearing rumors from Clarke and Oconee Democrats that many are planning on going to the polls next Tuesday, putting in their voting machine card, not selecting a candidate, then hitting "cast ballot", which apparently will tally up as a "vote for neither" or none of the above.

Sounds interesting, but largely a waste of time to me. Isn't the same thing achieved when you just don't show up?

Frankly, this may be the first congressional election I've ever taken a pass on.