Friday, June 30, 2006

Barnes Dismisses Voter ID Lawsuit

The Associated Press is reporting that former Governor Roy Barnes has dismissed his lawsuit challenging Georgia's Voter ID law. The suit was dismissed because the plaintiff has voted by absentee ballot, (whoops) a method that requires no id. Barnes hopes to re-file with an appropriate plaintiff.

Doesn't it just take the cake that as the law now stands, I can walk into my local Board of Election, request and complete an application for an absentee ballot, be handed that ballot or the card for the machine, and vote on the spot- all with no reason necessary and no id of any form? Yet, the week before the election, I can walk into that same Board of Election and be required to present a narrowly defined form of id before voting. The rationale applied to requiring id at the polls is completely ignored when it comes to the absentee voting process. Why? Because Republicans drafted the law, and absentee voting is an effective part of their GOTV strategy.

I am not very charitable in my assessment of why the law was drafted in this way. The voters most impacted tend to be Democrats. Plus, Republicans make far better use of the absentee voting and early voting options than do Democrats. Last cycle in Bibb County two or three races literally turned on those absentee votes. The Democrat who had a slight lead, lost the election after the absentee ballots were counted. The new law is a win-win: for the current Republican majority only.

Most people who lack state issued id's are people who live on the margins of life- the poor, the disabled, the elderly and minorities. When a person lives on the margin, they tend to think about day to day survival, not about voting in an election two or three weeks away. It is a luxury of wealth and place in society to have the capacity to plan to vote and the ability to independently get to the Board of Elections to do so. Many Georgians don't have that luxury. Republicans purposely ignored the elephant in the room when they failed to pass a bill that addressed the potential for fraud in absentee ballots. But why not? They'd be crazy to mess with a winning election strategy just to insure access to the most basic of our liberties. Perhaps we should all celebrate the 4th by taking someone to vote.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Election By Litigation?

According to an Associated Press article that appeared today in the online version of the Macon Telegraph, a supporter of Taylor has sued Peter Jackson for defamation. The Cox campaign's response? "Another day, another frivolous lawsuit." I am not personally making any judgment about the merits of the man's case. I do note that the Taylor Campaign has itself already sued Cox over the open records request. And, according to the article, the supporter is represented by the Taylor Campaign lawyer, Lee Parks. Is that a coincidence?

I am not attracted to litigious campaigns. Some candidates consider running into the courtroom an acceptable campaign tactic. I think for most voters, it's a turn-off. We see what happens when courts decide elections. His name is "W." And he is still the President.

Negative Ads and Whisper Campaigns

I heard from a reliable source (neither campaign) that Cox and Taylor both have new ads, slated to air soon, and both ads are bare-knuckle negative. Cox told a group yesterday that this was going to be a three week street fight, and that she grew up in the country and knew who to fight. No doubt. Her prison labor ad is one of the hardest hitting political ads I have seen. Taylor's gotten in his share of licks as well.

Most people will say, me included, that they don't like negative ads. These ads are the sort of thing that make folks cynical about the political process. The kind of thing that makes people believe that all politicians must be corrupt. But, for the candidate, there's is Catch 22, and a stark truth. While a negative ad can blow up in your face and tank a race, for the most part, these ads are effective. Look at the way the polls tightened in the last two weeks. Does anyone really think that the ads had nothing to do with that? So, when it comes to these ads, I don't know whether to fault the candidates or the public. We seem to crave them and respond to the content. I guess it goes to the idea that it's easier to remember something bad about someone than something good. Too bad.

One of the other things that makes negative ads compelling is the frequent use of "whisper campaigns." You know, starting the rumor that you would never be able to broadcast on television- because the rumors are full of half-truths and outright lies. They don't pass the not-so-tough broadcast standards. Rumors about affairs. Rumors about someone's sexuality. Rumors that someone is a racist. It's tough to respond to a whisper campaign because it is covert, and sometimes candidates feel that the negative ad is their only recourse.

That said, I hate these ads, all of them. I'm just not sure who to fault- the electorate or the candidates.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Bad News for Georgia's Children

In Georgia, 21% of our children live in poverty, and more than one-third of children live in families where neither parent has a full-time, year-round job. This startling data was released today by the Annie E. Casey Foundation as preliminary numbers for the 2006 KIDS COUNT Data Book, a state-by-state study on child and family well-being. Overall, Georgia has fallen from 39th to 44th nationally. While trend shows improvement, many communities, particularly those in South Georgia lag behind the state averages. The full report will be available soon. Past data can be viewed at Georgia Family Connection Partnership. Click on "Kids Count."

Georgia's drop in the national rankings is due in part to escalating rates of child poverty (21% of Georgia children live in poverty), increasing numbers of low birthweight infants (9%/41st in the nation)and increasing numbers of children who live in households where neither parent has a full-time, year-round job (35% of all children). Our infant mortality rate, stagnant at 8.5 per 1,000 births places Georgia at 43rd in the nation and contributed to the drop in over all ranking.

There are a few bright spots, if you can call them that. On six indicators: teen birth rate, percentage of high school drop outs, percentage of teens who neither attend school or work, child death rate and teen death rate, Georgia showed improvement from 2005. Unfortunately, there was a lot of room for improvement. For instance, we continue to rank 41st in the nation on number of teen births, 48th in the nation for high school drop outs, 42nd in the nation for teens not attending school and not working.

None of this is good news for Georgia's families, and I expect that a fair amount of political hay will be made from it as we move toward November. My personal involvement in politics stems from my involvement in the community, not the other way around. Much of my professional practice and community service is focused on child well-being, and my political choices are directly impacted by how what politicians do effects families. Politically, I would love to just lay this data at the feet of Perdue and use it as a wedge to get a Democrat elected in November, but the reality is much more complicated, and the problem and the charge to find solutions belongs to all of us. We are facing a crisis for our families that defies political labels and calls us all to the table to seek solutions. What can you do?

1) In every Georgia County, there is a Family Connection Partnership. These groups bring together agencies and individuals to gather data, define problems and work together toward measurable positive outcomes. These programs are effective because the partnership is broad, including public, private, the faith community and individuals. And the results are measurable. For instance, in Georgia counties where the FCP targeted teen pregnancy, the rates declined as compared to counties that did not. Find your collaborative and get involved.

2) Educate yourself about the problems and what works to address them. There is a wealth of information on the state Family Connections website.

3) During session, look critically at legislation and ask whether a given bill will make these problems better or worse, and advocate for families, not for party loyalty.

Cast Your Vote For Governor Today

Blog for Democracy has a straw poll up on the Governor's race, the Lt. Governor's race and the Secretary of State's race. You can vote by clicking here. This poll was originally posted yesterday, but those results did not appear valid. BFG also posts the results of the invalid poll. It's interesting.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Taylor Supports "The 65% Deception"

My mouth dropped open this morning when I read a Morris News Service article by Walter C. Jones comparing the education platforms of Cox and Taylor. Among other things, the article stated that Mark Taylor supports Governor Perdue's 65% Deception. Legislation that every single education group in Georgia opposed. Legislation that came straight out of a right wing Washington, D.C. think-tank. Legislation that guts local control of education dollars. Legislation that The Macon Telegraph called "asinine" and an effort to "abandon public education." The AJC called it the equivalent of "Non-Dairy Whipped Topping."

I am truly shocked and have to ask whether polling is driving his position on this issue. For whatever flaws I might find, Mark Taylor, like Cathy Cox, has always been a friend to education. One of the reasons that I plan to support Taylor should he win the primary is that he has been faithful in that cause, and public education is near and dear to my heart. So, I cannot square his support of the horrible piece of legislation with his history of support of public schools. The only sense I can make of it is that while the legislation is awful, it polls very well because people like the idea of putting more resources in the classroom. Who wouldn't like that? The problem is that this legislation fails to accomplish that goal and it requires more than 15 seconds to explain why. It is interesting that I never heard Taylor speak in favor of this legislation during session

I wrote extensively about this bill during the session, but for a refresher course in what the problems are with the bill, see a copy, below of the Macon Telegraph editorial.

"It was too much to expect from the Georgia Legislature to get through the 2006 session without doing something really stupid. That said, they have out done themselves.Thursday, the House passed its version of Senate Bill 390, 102-70, which requires the state's 180 school systems to spend 65 percent of their revenue in the classroom. Proponents say the 65 percent rule will put $192 million in the classroom instead of going to pay for administration and other items.On the surface the 65 percent rule appears to be a good idea. Lawmakers speaking for the bill talked about bloated bureaucracies siphoning off money that should have been spent in classrooms for education. They pointed to the 64 systems already meeting the 65 percent threshold as examples of higher SAT and CRT scores. Again, it sounds really good.Most citizens are probably unaware that the state already mandates where money can be spent, and, according to opponents of the measure, the percentage spent in the classroom has little relationship with higher scores.Here are some of the expenses the bill, which has to go back to the Senate for minor tinkering, would count toward the 65 percent rule: Teacher salaries. Costs for supplies and instructional materials. Physical education, including athletic competitions. Music and art instruction, field trips and tuition paid to out-of-state school districts and private institutions for special needs students.More interesting is what does not count toward the 65 percent mandate: Administration, principals, guidance counselors, social workers, librarians (Media center specialists) and school nurses. Transportation, maintenance costs and plant operations. Food service. Teacher training.Here's the question that proponents of the bill have failed to accurately explain: Since salaries make up the majority of any school system's expenses - will the remaining 35 percent a system can spend for what the state deems as "non-classroom" expenses - be enough? The simple answer is "no."Citizens should ask their legislators a few simple questions: Why include athletic teams and field trips and not the buses to get students to their off-campus activities? How can costs for materials count and not the janitorial services needed to keep the buildings clean or to pay the power company to keep the lights on?Whether the state allows systems to count school lunches or guidance counselors or media specialists or principals really isn't the question legislators were dealing with. They understand that those expenses will still have to be met. The real question they were grappling with is, "How can we appear to promote education without paying for it?"They also know that this effort, while couched as a way to "improve" education, is a power grab. The state mandate applies to all funds school systems receive, local, state and federal. So much for the local control espoused by Gov. Sonny Perdue in the past. He obviously doesn't have faith in that concept now. PAGE, GAE, the National PTA and the Georgia PTA, oppose the bill.In a letter to teachers from his office dated Feb. 15, Perdue said: "As excited as I am about this proposal, I am concerned about some of the e-mails and letters we have received from educators about the proposal. One of the most frequent assertions we have heard is that this bill is intended to tell local systems how to spend their money, but this claim simply cannot be supported. In fact, if a school system is making student achievement gains and meeting benchmarks, they are exempt from the 65 percent requirement all together. The "Classrooms First for Georgia" simply encourages school systems to examine their budget and determine where efficiencies can be made so that most of the resources go into the classroom. Also, within the 65 percent and 35 percent categories, school systems are free to spend the dollars as they wish."I also want to reassure you that the great work of our support personnel such as media specialists, counselors, and nurses does not go unnoticed. These valued employees should not feel excluded by this proposal. Everyone certainly understands that no education is complete without instructional support personnel; however we also can all acknowledge that teachers and paraprofessionals are on the frontlines for educating our youngsters."The double-speak included in that letter is almost silly.Also silly were statements made by House Speaker Glenn Richardson, R-Hiram, when he angrily stepped into the well Thursday and said, "Don't ask them," meaning people in the gallery watching the debate and opposed to the measure. "Ask the mamas and daddys," he said.Mamas and daddys may send an answer he doesn't expect once they realize what the state is really up to: Abandoning public education."

Below is an portion of the Morris News Service article that outlines the platform of the two candidates:

Cathy Cox:
* Reduce class size.
* Hire additional teachers, relieve them from non-instructional chores, and give them extra pay for additional training.
* Hire more guidance counselors in elementary and middle schools and require them to draft a individual plan for each sixth grader.
Mark Taylor:
* Fully fund the per-pupil allowances specified in law that have been underfunded in the aftermath of the latest economic recession.
* Give Georgia teachers the highest annual pay raise in the nation.
* Maintain the "65 percent rule" that requires no less than 65 percent of local school-system budgets be spent inside the classroom.

Straw Poll Vote

Check out this site for a straw poll vote onsome state offices.

Monday, June 26, 2006

"Street Money" and Georgia Politics

There's an 800 pound gorilla that sits squarely in the middle of Democratic politics in Georgia. Virtually daily, I am hearing about who is being paid by whom to do field work for various candidates. Real field work is a legitimate, legal and necessary campaign expense. But whether it's called "Street Money", "Gas Money", or "Walking Around Money", sometimes with a wink and a nod, politicians or those who work for them sometimes put large sums of money in the hands of key political contacts to facilitate voter contact and GOTV. Too often, a great deal of that money stays in the contacts possession while little actually trickles out to the street.

Candidates sometimes get what they pay for, and other times, their signs end up in the dump and their literature never makes it out of the car. (I know of one situation where people were paid to canvass and produced tracking sheets showing contact with a recently deceased person, not yet purged from the voter file.) In any given community, locals who are plugged in politically know who the folks are who do this work and know the benefit in paying them and the price of not playing the game.

Some who do this work are really very capable and experienced. They hit the street, touch the voters and get them to the polls. This is a valuable skill at election time and not one taught in your Poly Sci 101 class. Some, however, take money and never intend to do much work, or worse, some take money and consider that payment for not taking your signs down. And sometimes it is a game, with people holding out for the highest bidder in any given race. The question is, where's the line between paying for voter contact and buying voter loyalty? And beyond what line is the candidate actually buying votes?

The idea that a person will be loyal, politically, to the candidate who is willing to put money in their hand is disgusting to me. But, I am a realist, and know that some people can be bought. When I raised this issue with a friend of mine, she said, "You can't be squeamish and stay around politics." She then informed me that when a certain Democrat ran for President, the money came into Georgia in brown paper bags. And I believe her.

Campaign finance reform can never touch the shadowy world of Street Money. While this can be done legally, and legitimately, I suggest that often, it is not. What do you think about this political tradition, and what would you do if you discovered that a candidate you supported was putting money in the bank accounts of the "right" people in order to secure loyalty? Is this an unseemly "given" of Georgia politics?

Rainy days and Mondays

For the past few months, Amy and I have been tracking the IP addresses of the most active commentors to our blogs, and some interesting patterns have emerged. The most vehement anti-Cox comments aren’t coming from grassroots supporters (as the Taylor camp would like you to believe), but from the Taylor campaign itself. The two IPs consistently linked to 5 identities are registered either to Mark Taylor for Governor or Mark Taylor for Lt. Governor.

But wait there’s more. They even have their own blog. The users kimberlysmith and JennyB trace (via IPs embedded in emails and comment logs), to one of the Taylor IPs. Naughty “girls”. Not that we needed software to figure that one out. No female over the age of 12 would put that many curlicues on anything, and the design and content were completely incongruous from the start.

Is this illegal? I don’t think so. Is it unethical? I don’t know. Is it hypocritical? Yes. It also doesn’t bode well for a potential Taylor run against Perdue if clumsy blogging and goofy videos are what constitute work product at Taylor HQ. Beyond that, it’s dangerous to allow unskilled kids to engage in astroturfing. Let’s face it, if Amy and I can figure this out, anyone can.

We know about 90% of our blog traffic comes from campaign offices, party offices or political junkies. We see the same screen names and IPs pop up repeatedly from blog to blog. This is a very tiny bubble we’re in and (to borrow a phrase from a recent news story), it’s way more aspirational than operational. As much as I’d like to claim otherwise, no one is reading but you, and maybe a few curious reporters. There are no votes here, or on any other blog.

For this reason, I don’t consider this some big revelation or breaking news story. I’m just stating what we’ve all known for a while, even before we had proof.

Even so, I’m not without empathy. This primary has been difficult for everyone. I completely understand the desire to push back against what sometimes seems like wall-to-wall netroots support for Cox. I’m sure it’s been demoralizing at times, and almost impossible to resist responding, especially here. But much has changed in recent weeks as two genuine metro bloggers have turned, not toward Taylor, but away from Cox. And that may be the best Team Taylor can hope for in the way of honest netroots support. Well, that and Andre.

In three short weeks we’ll all be Democrats again, and that can’t happen soon enough for me. When that day finally comes and Amy turns her formidable voice against Perdue, you’ll be glad she’s on your team. Until then, it’s time to focus on your respective campaigns, party duties and real websites (especially you TaylorTroll*). The tone and temperature of comments has spiked lately, and it’s time to give it a rest before real damage is done.

In fairness, I’ve also checked for the Cox HQ IP and have found 4 comments in the last 5 months, none of which mention Taylor. But then, Team Cox learned a hard lesson about IPs a few months back. Apparently Team Taylor is a little slower.

*TT doesn't blog from Taylor HQ, but from an even less appropriate place.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Mark Taylor is No "Tough Guy"

If today's article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution is any indication, Taylor is trying to rescue the floundering "Big Guy" slogan and transform himself into the "Tough Guy." Uhmm....I don't blame him, but I just don't think that it quite works. Mark Taylor is no tough guy. There's certainly nothing tough about being born with a silver truck in your mouth and having things you need in life handed to you on a silver platter. And there's nothing tough about Taylor repeatedly avoiding a face to face debate with Cathy Cox. This "tough guy" is running from a girl.

Again this weekend, Taylor spurned two such opportunities to appear with Cox. First, at GABEO, Taylor's "plane was late" preventing him from sharing the stage with Cox. She spoke first, and then he followed, later. I wonder if there's any truth to the rumor that Cathy's speech was recorded and Mark viewed it prior to speaking himself? Probably not. Mark Taylor is the King of Fair Play and would never take unfair advantage of such a situation. Tomorrow, GMA has invited the candidates to appear, and once again, Cox will be there, and Taylor will be absent.

This has become a pattern, and there's nothing tough about it. Cathy Cox, on the other hand has repeatedly shown up to share a stage with an empty seat. She is more than willing to have an open discussion on the issues- a discussion that Taylor is running from. It's easy to hurl allegations when the person you're accusing is not there to respond. Don't we need a Governor who will show up for the tough questions? Don't we want to elect someone who honors that responsibility to the voters?

It is hypocritical for Mark Taylor to avoid early debates when some are transporting voters to Boards of Elections (beginning now) to fill out absentee ballot requests and vote immediately. These voters and those who participate in early voting will not have the opportunity to hear all the televised debates prior to the election. But that is not important to Tough Guy Mark Taylor.

There's also nothing tough about sending surrogates out to do your fighting for you as Taylor has repeatedly done through the course of this campaign. Can he not speak for himself? Has someone heard a commercial where Mark Taylor looks at the camera and tells the voters what he will do?

Mark Taylor is a child of privilege. He's no tough guy. He's just a Fat Cat that scratches the back of other Fat Cats, and we've had enough of that in Georgia politics.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Taylor: Gopher for Zell Miller

Here's the video I promised from 13 WMAZ news last night. HOPE, Savage says, was Miller's from the beginning and while Taylor was one of two senators who sponsored the bill, Taylor was Miller's "gopher." Hmmm...Miller who now supports Perdue. How is Taylor going to make this play in a general election?

Friday, June 23, 2006

Taylor Ad Fails Pulitzer Prize Winning Reporter's "Truth Test"

Tonight on 13WMAZ evening news, Pulitzer Prize winning reporter Randall Savage put Mark Taylor's "Always" attack ad to the Truth Test and gave it a failing grade. Beginning with Taylor's claim of providing Pre-K for every Georgia child, Savage points out that more than 200 Bibb County children who applied for the program were turned away because of the lack of slots. Bear in mind that this only reflects those children who applied. Many families do not apply, so the actual number of unserved four year olds is much higher. This is a common scenario across the state of Georgia.

Savage also makes it clear that while Mark Taylor has supported education, he is not "the only one" who has done so. In fact, Savage took particular exception to Taylor claim of sponsorship of HOPE saying that this was Zell Miller's program from the start and that while Taylor was one of the two senators who sponsored the bill, he was actually Miller's "gopher."

Regarding the attack on Cox, Savage says that these claims are "questionable at best" pointing out that Cox was not in the legislature when the vote on the lottery was taken and citing the statements from Toole refuting Taylor's claims. Toole, Savage said, had written the Taylor Campaign asking that the ad be pulled, but the Campaign has not done so. I will post this video soon. Stay tuned.

GWV Welcomes New Front Page Posters

We are growing and adding front page posters. You have already heard from Kristina Simms, a Middle Georgian who is a retired educator and advocate for mental health care- among many other wonderful attributes. She has an opinion or two on these issues and the education and experience to do more than speculate. Soon you will begin hearing from Mel who will bring to GWV the "metro" perspective. Thanks to both of you for being willing to take the time to broaden our perspective around here!

Letter From Cathy

Hello friends & fellow MH and disabilities may be interested in this email I just received from Cathy Cox, Georgia's Secretary of State, who is a candidate for governor. Please feel free to share it with others who may be interested in knowing her point of view.
Kristina Simms
NAMI member, mental health advocate
Perry GA
Thank you, Tina, for your support. I greatly appreciate your advocacy for people with mental illness and other disabilities. Like you, I believe in a strong community mental health system. Coming from Bainbridge, which formerly served as home to one of state’s institutional mental retardation facilities, I understand the importance of moving institutional resources to the community while still ensuring that we maintain the important safety net that hospitals afford our consumers and their families. I have helped families and advocates transition many consumers to community settings and supported increased resources through facility downsizing. Those kinds of transitions make sense and can be effective – if the resources do in fact follow and stay with the consumers.

Tragically, over the past four years, the resources coming to the community mental health system have been slashed. Now, we have neither the resources to support consumers in the community nor the institutional services to intervene when crises do occur. Forcing our mental health and substance abuse consumers into a medically-oriented managed care system may further fragment services. The criminal justice system is fast becoming the “front door” for services for our citizens with mental illness – and this approach is totally wrong.

The recent symposium at the Carter Center highlighted that the state of Georgia ranks 43rd nationally in per capita expenditures for mental health services. A gap analysis conducted by the state’s own vendor found that Georgia’s system was serving only 20% to 40% of those citizens who need mental health services. And, the children’s mental health system is in total disarray.

A strong, adequately funded community mental health system with an appropriate array of hospital services must be provided for Georgia’s families and consumers. The community mental health system must be built as a seamless partnership of public and private providers to be successful. We need to direct our resources to services, versus management contracts and out-of-state for-profit companies. And, we need to have a firm vision of leadership and parity for our citizens with disabilities. President Bush’s New Freedom Commission outlines many strategies to improve state mental health systems. Should Georgia have anything less than the best for our citizens? The current administration has treated the mental health system as an after-thought – or worse a piggy-bank to be raided. On my watch, we will work to shore up the resources in the mental health illness, involve families, consumers and communities in leading systems’ change, and focus on services and results that promote recovery, parity, access to care, work, and stability. Thank you for giving me a chance to provide my views on this critical issue for our state. Please feel free to share it with any friends you think may be interested in my position.

Cathy Cox

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Taylor Campaign Surfing the Blogs

While the Taylor Campaign surfs the net, Cox is gathering momentum. As incredible as it is to me that the Taylor Campaign spends time camping out on the blogs, (have they nothing else to do?), today we see a re-emergence of their alliance with Georgia Republicans in the blog-sphere.

Just before 1pm, the Taylor Campaign sent out an e-mail titled, "Taylor for Georgia Campaign Update." (The sub-title should've been: Desperate:Taylor Campaign Scrapes the Bottom of the Barrel.) The short e-mail goes on to direct voters to go to view a patched together video that appeared on the Internet yesterday, first on You Tube at 7:26 am, then on Peach Pundit at 12:05 pm, then on Georgia Politics Unfiltered at 12:42 pm. Interesting track from anonymity to a Republican Blog to a Taylor-supporting blog, to a Taylor campaign e-mail. Probably just a coincidence, don't you think? Well, maybe, except that Dent previously admitted, rather proudly I thought, that campaign staffers created a video parity of Cox that was then provided to Peach Pundit. These guys are positively chummy.

I can understand why Taylor would rather have voters focus on Internet mischief than the real issues in this campaign, but I think that he underestimates the ability of Georgians to know BS when they smell it.

Mark Taylor wants one set of rules for the Big Guys, and a different set of rules for everybody else. First, Taylor calls for a debate on the issues, yet he ducks opportunities to debate. Then, after Cathy pushes back, he cries uncle and asks for a suspension of the mud wrestling, yet today he sends out a campaign e-mail that tosses mud by the bucket. It's tough, but I'm beginning to understand. Taylor doesn't want the negative campaigning to stop. He just wants Cathy to stop holding him accountable. What hypocrisy.

Taylor Silent As Voting Crisis Looms

On Monday, in her role as Secretary of State, Cathy Cox sounded the alarm saying that thousands of Georgians, many of them poor, elderly or minority, will have their right to vote effectively suspended because of red tape they are not responsible for. Cox is advocating for the rights of these voters while Republicans are criticizing her for even uncovering the problem and, even in the face of this crisis, are joining with others in Congress to try to stop the renewal of The Voting Rights Act.

I expected this from the Republicans, after all, many have long been suspicious that the Voter ID Law is nothing more than an effort to disenfranchise African American voters, but where is Mark Taylor's voice in this issue? Has anyone seen a recent statement he has issued?

As Lt. Governor, can he not applaud Secretary Cox for taking the necessary steps to uncover this new evidence and join her in supporting the rights of all Georgia voters? Is he afraid to join hands with Cox on this issue because it might hurt his campaign? Aren't the rights of Georgia voters more important? He had certainly had no trouble sending surrogates out to talk about this issue when he thought that it might work to his advantage. But now, less than a month before voter head to the polls, Taylor is silent.

Mark Taylor says that he cares about a lot of things, and maybe he does, but, over and over, it seems that he only "takes care of the Little Guy" when it benefits the Big Guy.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Taylor: All Talk, No Action

Yesterday, Rick Dent sent Cathy Cox a letter that looked like a note kids would pass in Middle School. The letter included this line:

"We only ask that you stop the personal attacks and join us in an honest and thorough debate on the issues. If you really care about the voters of Georgia, you will do just that."

What a hypocrite. A real debate on the issues instead of continuing with advertising that is misleading to voters sounds good to me, but there's just one little problem: Mark Taylor has fled every opportunity to debate Cathy Cox. Georgia Chamber Debate? No Mark Taylor. Georgia Press Association Debate? No Mark Taylor. GMA? No Mark Taylor. If he's so anxious to have an honest and thorough debate on the issues, then why is he ducking every opportunity to do so? Once again, what the Taylor campaign says and what they do are two different things.

No wonder Mark Taylor is hiding from any real debate on the issues. He hides from a record he can’t defend publicly. He hides from voters still trying to decide whom to support. He hides from Cathy Cox.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Georgia's Own "Fight Club Politics"

While this is actually the name of a book by Juliet Eilperin, when I heard the phrase tonight on The Daily Show, I thought Stewart was about to do a piece on our Georgia politics. Eilperin's book is about how partisanship and careful alliances to insure the durability of incumbents is destroying government. Sound familiar? I want to read this book!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Taylor, Take it Down

If you're tired of politics as usual in Georgia, then click above to tell Mark Taylor to take down his misleading ad. Visit for the facts on Cathy Cox's support of education in Georgia. Here's some of the information from the site:

Mark Taylor: It's time for you to hold yourself to the standard that the
hard-working men and women around this state hold themselves to every day.-- Cathy Cox, 6/17/06
Mark Taylor, it is time to take down the false and misleading attack ad you are spreading across the airwaves of Georgia. Your charges about Cathy Cox's record on education are one big lie. In fact, even the man you yourself quote to support your claim has spoken up to refute your twisted misinterpretation of the facts, calling your ad a political fabrication and saying that, without a doubt, Cathy didn't say she voted against the lottery in Georgia.(Toole)

Taylor Looks Desperate

Today, in typical "Big Guy" fashion, Mark Taylor continues to dispense political pabulum to us "Little Guys." (I still can't figure out where the gals are in this equation.) In a desperate e-mail missive over the signature of Rick Dent, Taylor tells Georgians, "We'll keep this simple and direct so you will easily understand...".

The condescending, paternalistic tone of the e-mail is no real surprise. It is consistent with the theme of the campaign. Taylor seems to think that Georgia voters are just not smart enough to look at complex issues and make decisions. Instead of being partners in governing our state, we are all just a bunch of little babies who need the Big Daddy to take care of us. Taylor seems to think that "Little Guys" need the Fat Cats in Atlanta digest information and tell us what to think. I've got news for him: we don't need a babysitter to tell us what to think or how to vote, we need a Governor who will lead and work with us toward solutions to the tough problems our state faces.

Our public schools are in a state of crisis. Cathy Cox and Mark Taylor have both always supported HOPE and Pre-K and the lottery that funded them, but these programs are not nearly enough to address the problems. Unlike Taylor, Cox has a written, detailed platform for the future of education in our state. Taylor continues his typical focus on the past and ducks opportunities to answer the hard questions.

It is offensive to the voters that today Taylor again chose to focus on semantics and thirteen year old news paper articles, while avoiding any discussion of the future of education in this state. Perhaps he is engaging in this distraction to hide the "record" he claims to run on.

What has happened during his tenure in legislative office and as Lt. Governor? Well, only about 65% of our children who begin high school graduate on time. In 2005, on an assessment of math and reading skills, Georgia's fourth and eighth grade students failed at a higher rate than the national average and, in 2004, only 30% of fourth graders were at or above proficient by national math standards. In 2005 we were tied with South Carolina for last in over all SAT scores. I'm not proud of these results, and Mark Taylor shouldn't be either.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Cox Says Remember the Number "98"

When thinking about the solution to our four in ten dropout rate in Georgia, Cathy Cox says, "remember the number 98." Yesterday, in a show of strength in Perdue's home county, Cathy Cox welcomed more than a hundred supporters at a fundraiser at the Perry Ag Center. (The Macon Telegraph has the full story here.) Cox detailed her plans for improving Georgia schools and sited as an example of the innovation needed a high school in Newnan that allows students to graduate with both a high school diploma and a technical degree, ready for the work force. Cox said that when she thinks of that program, the number 98 stands out in her mind because that's the percentage of students who begin the program in 9th grade and graduate. She proposed replicating proven programs like this throughout Georgia as a way of actually addressing our horrible dropout rate.

Cox also focused on healthcare and in particular access to health insurance. Instead of talking about a huge, costly government bailout, she described her vision for using a smart business model that would create a buying pool so that all Georgians could have access to more affordable healthcare and using bulk purchasing to leverage lowering the cost of prescription drugs for Georgians. This approach will have far more appeal to moderate voters in the fall than Taylor's "PeachKids", a program that only addresses a narrow slice of the uninsured population and does so at a high cost to taxpayers. (Republicans are already calling PeachKids "socialized medicine worse than anything Hillary Clinton ever thought of." You can see where that's going- nowhere.)

Cox's support in the midstate is steady, strong and diverse. Last week, the Telegraph reported that Taylor attended a fundraiser at an old friend's home in Monroe County that only drew forty-five supporters. Cathy is in Macon today visiting three churches and will be back tomorrow for three events, including an evening fundraising reception where more than sixty hosts will welcome scores of supporters at there Georgia Children's Museum.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

The Big Guy's Looking Awfully Small Today

Taylor's desperate attempt to attack Cox blew up in his face today when Terry Toole, the editor and publisher of the Miller County Liberal (Taylor's source) issued a statement calling the ad, "a political fabrication." Cox called a press conference at noon today, and in the strongest of terms refuted Taylor's claims, calling the it "the Big Guy's Big Lie" and referencing Toole's written statement. Her full statement can be found here.

Is Taylor willing to say anything to get elected? How can we trust anything he says? If this is a sample of what's to come, we'd better hook a lie detector up to the television set for the next month. Is GAE going to sit by and allow him to use their name in a commercial that spins such fabrication? This certainly reflects poorly on their organization.

Here's the statement from Terry Toole.

June 16, 2006

I can see why Cathy Cox would be upset that Mark Taylor would use something that she said in 1993, that was published in the Miller County Liberal, to damage her image by taking it out of context. Cathy didn't say she voted against the lottery in Georgia. Cathy was speaking to the Colquitt Lion's Club as a newly elected state representative, updating us on what was happening in the state. She let us know that she had nothing to do with voting the legislation in, since she was not in the legislature when the law was voted on.

Cathy could not have voted as an elected official for or against the lottery question. She said that she would be watching what happened with the lottery proceeds to make sure they went to education and scholarships as any good, honest public servant would be expected to do.

It looks like The Big Guy is grasping at straws stating that Cathy is against what the lottery money has done for education. That is just a political fabrication.

Many of us were against bringing legal gambling to Georgia. More were for the legal gambling. I personally still think it will, and has, hurt more Georgians than it will ever help. If anything good comes out of the lottery, it will be what it does to help educate our young people. No one is against helping fund our children's education. Some of us just hate to see people who can't afford to lose their money spend it on a sure losing proposition.

It looks like it is throat-cutting time in the race for the governor's office. Seems if the throat of an opponent can be cut by taking a 13-year old news article out of context, the throat is still cut. This doesn't make The Big Guy look too big in my eyes, or in many of the eyes of Georgia voters. If that is all I could drag up on my opponent, I believe I would try to run on my own record.

There is a saying about people who live in glass houses throwing stones. If I were a betting man, I would bet that some glass is about to shatter.


Terry Toole, Editor & Publisher
Miller County Liberal

Friday, June 16, 2006

Cathy Cox is On a Roll

The Cox Campaign is steadily gathering momentum and will roll through Middle Georgia again this weekend. Both in terms of staff and time spent personally, Cox has made a significant investment in the region. On Saturday, dozens of Middle Georgians will host a fundraiser and BBQ at the Ag Center in Perry from 3 pm- 5 pm, and on Monday, Cathy will join more than sixty hosts and other supporters for a fundraiser at The Georgia Children's Museum in Macon from 6-7:30 pm.

Plus, last night I attended a women's event for Cathy in Atlanta, and, despite Taylor's claims, her support among women is strong and growing. More than 350 people attended this event and raised over $100,000.00. Cathy may not have a trust fund to bank on, but she can count on Georgia women to support her historic campaign.

Speaking of making history, can you imagine the paradigm shift that would occur if, in November, the national headline read: "Democrat Cathy Cox Defeats Perdue to Become Georgia's First Female Governor." I can almost hear the national republican machine grinding to a halt. No, we shouldn't vote for Cathy just because she's a women, but, instead because this smart, competent women will make the best governor and is the only democrat who can defeat Sonny Perdue. Remember: it doesn't matter who wins in July if they can't beat Perdue in November. Cathy can.

Taylor Throws a Punch and Misses

I know that it's been a rough couple of days, but perhaps things are worse than I thought for the Taylor campaign. Tonight I saw a rather desperate ad that questions Cathy Cox's support of the lottery that funded the HOPE scholarship. Give me a break. It's clear that the gloves are off in this race, and that's fine, but let's look at the facts about Cathy's support of HOPE.

When Cathy Cox was a member of the Georgia House of Representatives, she voted to increase school funding and to expand the HOPE scholarship. Not only did she vote for the first and second round of funding for HOPE, but she also voted to remove the eligibility cap on family income and to enact safeguards to protect the scholarship. She also toured South Georgia in support of the program. If you doubt any of that, here's the record:

Cathy Cox voted for budgets increasing education funding.

HB 202, 1995, HB 1375, 1994, HB 259, 1993: Cathy Cox's 1993 budget vote funded the first HOPE scholarships.

HB 202, 1993: Her 1995 budget vote removed the income cap on HOPE scholarships.

HB 202, 1995: In 1994, Cathy voted for SB 710, which mandated that no program started with funding from the lottery would be continued with general funds and for SB 711 which created a lottery reserve fund.

In 1995, Cathy was one of five state legislators that toured South Georgia touting the Democrats' record on HOPE. The Democratic presentations were focused on the technical details of Gov. Zell Miller's proposals to fund pre-kindergarten programs and the HOPE scholarship program.

Those are the facts that make it clear that Cathy Cox has always supported HOPE. Unfortunately, HOPE did not solve all the problems our schools face. We are still near the bottom in test scores and four in ten of our children disappear between ninth grade and graduation. It is almost obscene to brag about our accomplishments in education when faced with such grim results. This begs the question: What good is HOPE if you never graduate? Cathy Cox has put forward a detailed plan for the future of education in Georgia. Perhaps if Mark Taylor can stop staring in the rear view mirror long enough, he can tell us what "hope" he offers for the future.

Give The (Big) Guy a Break!

Gentle, please! Both the press and Cathy Cox have been just a little rough on the Big Guy over the last couple of days, and while he may appear big and strong, he does have that softer, feminine side and deserves a little TLC.

First, it seems that some Taylor supporters think that "Big Guy" refers to Taylor's girth, and that Cox's new ad is just too tough. Come on, Cathy, that's his best campaign slogan. So what if most Georgians are tired of Big Guys who only scratch the backs of other Big Guys? So what is most of us want government that works for everyone? Just be nice, Cathy, and leave poor Mark alone.

Plus, the press has been totally unfair about Taylor's disappearing act for the GPA debate and his absence at the Georgia Chamber debate. After all, he had to attend the fundraisers to keep those babies on the air. Raising money is much more important than answering a few tough questions for Georgia voters. So, back off. After all, he just might get his feelings hurt, and we wouldn't want that. After all, this is just a race for governor.

It had to hurt today as Taylor woke to headlines like these:

I don't see what all the outrage is about. We don't really need to hear from the Big Guy. Perhaps he should just skip all the debates. The babies are cute, and that's all that matters. At least, I'm sure that's how voters will see things on July 18th: Big Time!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Dent Ducks, Taylor a No Show

Tom Crawford reports that when Rick Dent was confronted about whether Taylor intended to show for the GPA debate today, Dent reached for his cellphone to "absolutely confirm" that with his scheduling staff. Apparently, even Dent didn't know whether Taylor intended to show.

If Taylor cannot honor his commitment to show up for this important opportunity to set forth his plan for Georgia, then how can we trust him to honor his commitments to the voters? How can we know whether he has a plan at all? Would he have us just take him at his word?

If Mark Taylor is afraid to face a few tough questions from the Georgia press, then, clearly, he is not ready to be Governor. His failure to show up demonstrates a lack of leadership, courage and character.

Taylor to Bail on Debate?

Sonny Perdue is not the only one who doesn't want to face Cathy Cox. Mark Taylor apparently doesn't want to either. According to The Atlanta Journal and Constitution's "Political Insider,"The Georgia Press Association is gathered in Savannah expecting to hear from the two candidates today, but as of last night, the word was that Taylor did not intend to come.

On the one hand, I am not surprised. I never thought that Taylor would do well in a debate with Cox, and apparently, he doesn't think so either. On the other hand, I am astonished that Taylor apparently thinks that he can hide from voters. I have yet to hear a Taylor ad where he speaks. Is this what he offers voters? The silent treatment?

My mother used to say "never buy a pig in a poke, you don't know what you're getting." Taylor is hiding from the voters. Hiding behind babies. Hiding behind slogans. He ought to be ashamed of himself, and Georgians ought to send a message that if he can't show up for a real discussion of the issues, they're just not buying it.

Here's a portion of the article. The entire piece can be found here.

"Savannah — The Georgia Press Association is assembling here this Wednesday evening, and word is spreading that Mark Taylor, the Democratic candidate for governor, has nixed his scheduled debate with primary rival Cathy Cox.
It was supposed to happen Thursday. The reviews are not pretty. “We’ve been snubbed by better candidates,” fumed one publisher.
They shouldn’t feel singled out. Taylor was a no-show at last month’s gathering of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, also on the coast."....

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The Crop Shop?

I find this interesting. Carey Wooten's editorial was also carried in the Americus Times Recorder.

That paper took the shears to the letter, cutting out every reference to Cathy Cox. Editorial license? One thing Wooten's words, even this edition, make perfectly clear: just because the leadership of an education union endorses a candidate, it does not mean that they either speak for all teachers or even asked their opinion.

Here's the letter as printed in the Americus paper.
GAE just another special interest

I am writing to express my discontent, and downright anger, with the Georgia Association of Educators (GAE) for last week’s announcement by representatives who declared their support for Mark Taylor in the Democratic bid for governor. As a current member of GAE, I nor any other members were ever surveyed about our opinions on the governor’s race.

Those who support Mark Taylor are elected representatives, lobbyists, who have done little or nothing to even present the candidates or a forum to discuss relevant issues to the teachers of this state. Increasingly, GAE has become afraid, just another lobby group representing the political interests of a select few (most of whom no longer teach or work in school systems).

Carey W. Wooten, Ellaville

Teacher Objects to GAE Endorsement of Taylor

The letter below appeared in today's Macon Telegraph and reflects not only the objection of a Georgia teacher to the GAE endorsement of Taylor, but also provides some important about their endorsement process. She makes it clear that Georgia teachers who are members of GAE were not surveyed and did not "vote" on this endorsement. The letter can be found here. Here's the full text:

Object to GAE endorsement
I am writing to express my discontent and downright anger with the Georgia Association of Educators for last week's announcement by representatives who declared their support for Mark Taylor in the Democratic bid for governor.
As a current member of GAE, Neither I nor any other members were ever surveyed about our opinions on the governor's race. Those in GAE who support Taylor are elected representatives and lobbyists who have done little or nothing to even present the candidates or a forum to discuss relevant issues to the teachers of this state.
Increasingly, GAE has become, I'm afraid, just another lobby group representing the political interests of a select few (most of whom no longer teach or work in school systems). As a classroom teacher with 22 years experience, I am supporting Cathy Cox and urge other educators to do the same. Unlike the other candidates who react and respond to the needs of "a select few" - elected boards, lobbyists, and the like - Cathy Cox has a real interest in the needs of everyday Georgians.
Carey Wooten Americus

From the Comments: The Irrational Radical Right

There have been a lot of good comments on the HPV post, and I want to particularly
thank "Bezerko"for the following comment. This offers good resources and additional information about why this is such a destructive way to approach public health policy
and should inspire you to write that letter to the CDC before June 28th!
(And I have fixed the link in the previous post.)

Hi Amy,

I think it's important to note that, though not totally necessary at birth -

that is a good idea if it is possible(?) to administer the vaccine after birth,
this vaccine has to be given to young girls before they become sexually
active, and therein lies the (IRRATIONAL) rub. Somehow, and I'm
speculating here because I haven't heard their arguments against it -
and what possible rational grounds could the fundy community argue
against this - administering the vaccine would be tacit approval of sexual
activity for underaged girls. This is an irrational and unreasonable position,
not to mention INSANE! Further proof that the Fundamentalist Christian
community is out of control and lost all touch with and any concept of REALITY.

I'm glad you posted something about this, I clicked on the Hill article

and the link was no good. Is this -

- the article?.

There was a good article last year in an issue of American Prospect

Katha Pollitt points out Oklahoma's fundy nutcase Tom Coburn is in a
difficult position on this, he has counseled for years that the HPV can be
transmitted even with condom use, but if there's a vaccine to prevent the
HPV, then this argument, on scientific grounds, is pointless.

Also, there was an article posted on Alternet

I haven't had the chance to read this one.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Cervical Cancer is NOT a Family Value

Women who have sex should face deadly consequences, or at least, that's apparently the position of some republicans. So, now, we may have a cure for one of the primary causes of cervical cancer, HPV, but religious zealots who have found their way into the halls of power are "concerned" that the availability of the vaccine may encourage sexual promiscuity. This is, by the way, the same warped mentality behind attempts to limit access to birth control. I submit that their objections have nothing to do with curtailing male sexual behavior and everything to do with keeping women "in their place."

According to The Hill, Merck has developed a vaccine, Gardasil, that is 100% effective against common strains of human papilloma virus (HPV). HPV is a sexually transmitted disease that causes cervical cancer. Often, symptoms of HPV are silent, and even so, the virus can be transmitted. HPV is so common that some estimate that 50-75% of the sexually active population will be exposed to at least one strain of on the virus, and so common that a person can have few sexual partners and still contract the virus.

Yet, republicans like Dr. Reginald Finger (the former medical advisor to Focus on the Family) worry that if the FDA approves the vaccine, then the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices could issue guidelines that would undermine "the abstinence-only message." The ACIP has been considering this vaccine since 6/2005. I wonder how many women have become infected in that same time frame? I wonder if those "expressing concern" care? Democrats fear, and rightly so, that this vaccine is on the same bumpy road faced in trying to get emergency contraception approved as an over the counter drug. (Little tough to get "emergency" contraception when you have to first have a doctor's appointment and obtain a prescription.)

Women need to make their voices heard on this issue. The ACIP guidelines are important because they will be used by states to decide whether the vaccine will be among the services health insurance companies are mandated to cover. They are accepting comments until June 29th, and you can submit your written comments to:

Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
1600 CLifton Road, NE
MS E-05
Atlanta, Georgia 30333

Republicans may wish to consider getting control of their fringe elements that drive their agenda so far to the right most of us can't relate. Here's a news flash: women do vote, and while religious extremists are successful in getting some women to trumpet their cause, most women are offended by efforts to take away control of our own bodies. And, by the way, we know exactly what the game is really about. Whether it is through limiting access to contraception or, as in this case, making sure that if we choose to have sex we face potentially deadly consequences, be certain of one thing: this battle is not about morality: it's about POWER.

With attempts to further restrict abortion, efforts to restrict access to contraception and relaxation of insurance mandates, we have already seen this begin to play out in Georgia politics, and the time to stop it is now. When I read things like this I know why it is so critical that more democratic women find their way into elected office. In fact, how appropriate that we are having this discussion on the same day WIN List will announce our endorsed candidates. If you, like me, are tired of ploys for power that are wrapped in the flag and the Bible, then let's get behind these women who actually live their "family values."

Monday, June 12, 2006

The Solution: Part I

Yesterday, I issued a SOS for Georgia Democrats to roll up their sleeves and get organized at the local level. (That, by the way, implies that local parties/organizations would connect to and support each other and the State Party and visa versa. More about that a little later on.)

Because part of the solution to our current woes is recruiting great candidates, I want to invite you to come to the Selig Center tomorrow night for an amazing event. At a fundraising reception, Georgia's WIN List will announce our list of endorsed candidates for 2006. This year WIN will endorse more women than ever before!

Georgia's WIN List

Presents Our

2006 Endorsed Candidates
Special Appearance by Gubernatorial Candidate Cathy Cox

Please Join Us
Tuesday, June 13 , 2006
6:00 to 8:00 pm


The Selig Center

1440 Spring Street, NW

Atlanta, Georgia 30309
$100 per person minimum
$500 and above for VIP Reception with Endorsed Candidates and Event

If recruiting and supporting great candidates is one of the keys to re-invigorating the Georgia Democratic Party, then this is an event you don't want to miss!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Not So Fast, Mr. "Big Guy"

Those darn babies. Some political insiders have christened Taylor's baby ads as among the best political ads ever done. Financed by his sweetheart of a deal million dollar loan, they did the job as far as moving the polls in May. And, after all, what's not to like? Well, according to the editorial board of the Augusta Chronicle, the answer is, "plenty." Today, in a staff editorial titled, No Thanks, Big Guy , the paper does a good job of putting into words what I've been feeling all along. I don't want a governor who acts like a parent and treats citizens like dependent infants. Instead, I want a governor who will partner with all citizens and other elected officials, of both parties, to move this state forward.

Here's a portion of the article. It is definitely worthwhile read.
"The ad couldn't be more condescending or insulting to the Peach State citizenry. The clear implication is ordinary folks are little guys who can't take care of themselves, but that the Big Guy can. So vote for the Big Guy, and all your worries will go away."

This message is very different than Cathy Cox's message of making government work for everyone and bringing to the table everyone with a good idea for Georgia. I do not want to be bound to a governor who will take care of me, I want the freedom to participate in a government that allows equal access to the halls of power. I want a governor who does not have to check her donor list before she makes decisions or before she answers a call. I want government that is inclusive, not exclusive, and that's why I'm supporting Cathy Cox.

With the baby ads, Taylor paints a visual picture of himself towering over everyone else, a benevolent dictator who knows what we need and will provide it so long as we are loyal to him. Yuck. This is the same old brand of "I'll take care of you if you take care of me" politics that has kept our state from moving forward, and I want no part of it. It reminds me of the mill villages I grew up around in North Carolina where folks lived in the mill-owned houses, shopped at the mill-owned store, and were taken "care of" day to day but were hardly ever able to save any money or become independent. And they certainly were not part of decision-making. That was left to the backroom deals, and only the Big Guys had access. As you can imagine, most of the decisions benefitted not the little guys like you and me, but the "Big Guys" or "Fat Cats" as my father called them. Even the decisions that somehow helped the regular guys and gals seemed to also have a huge upside for those with the power and the money that gave the access to the process. That's not what I want for Georgia's future.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Paging Taylor, Cox and Kahn: We're Losing the Battle

On the homepage of the Democratic Party of Georgia, there is a tab marked "Get Involved." Go, there, click on that tab, and this is what you will find this:

Coming Soon
This section of the site is under construction and should be available in the next couple of days. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please feel free to call our office at (404) 870-8201 and we will be glad to assist you.

Not exactly what I was hoping to see. In defense of the Party, the site is new, and much improved, but let's face facts: in Georgia, and nationally, republicans beat us on the ground in 2002 and 2004, and they are set to do it again if democrats do not develop a coordinated field campaign. I'm not suggesting that no one is out there trying. But I am saying that we have not accomplished establishing the coordinated, effective network of local volunteers necessary to carry the fall election. And if we don't do something soon, all the television in the world is not going to win this critical contest.

In 2002, I recall sitting with others at the Bibb County Board of Elections watching the numbers roll in on the governor's race. We were stunned when the race was called for Perdue. Perdue, the guy from Bonaire who we couldn't quite believe made it out of their primary. Perdue who had been out-spent, by what? Five to one? More than that? Perdue who had never been ahead in any poll. Sonny Perdue was going to be governor. You could've knocked me over with a feather. What did it? Teachers? Flaggers? Maybe, but I'm going with the Ralph-Reed-created stealth network of loyal volunteers that day after day rang the phones, knocked on the doors and beat the bushes for Perdue.

And they're at it again. Several weeks ago Perdue announced that he is the only candidate in the race with a chair in every Georgia county. Today, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports that local Perdue supporters gathered this morning in Dalton to vote on 23 precinct captains and to fill other positions in the local Perdue organization. I'll bet this is not the only county where that's happening, and as a side note, these folks are taking the time to organize despite the fact that in 2002 Perdue carried 69% of the vote in Whitfield County. Their goal this time is to add another five points.

I'm trying to imagine what it would be like here in Bibb (a traditional democratic-as in we voted for Kerry-stronghold) to have to hold an election for precinct captains. Hell, I'd be pleased if one person from each precinct showed up for a meeting.

This year, the republicans will have both the money to run the media and the volunteers to get out the votes. And there-in lies our problem. No matter how wonderful our candidates are. No matter how poor a job Sonny's done. No matter what ethical questions plague Reed. This time around, the Georgia Republican's potent punch of money and local, grassroots networking will be the demise of Georgia Democrats this November, and we will wind up with Governor Perdue and Lt. Governor Reed, unless we act right now to put in place local, well oiled teams of volunteers.

So, I am ringing the alarm bell today. I'm not pointing fingers because I see this as every democrat's challenge. I'm not suggesting that Taylor and Cox are ignoring field work. It is a key component of Cox's plan, and and I impressed with what I have seen so far. I am sure that Taylor is addressing it, too. At the level of the state party, we have spent a lot of time planning, a lot of time trying to define grassroots, and there have been efforts to recruit and train at the local level, but at this point, I'd have to say we still have a lot of work to do, and the election is less than six months away. So, if you are a Georgia Democrat, and believe as I do that this is a watershed, must-win election, then pick up the phone and call your local party, or call the State Party at 404-870-8201. If we hope to win in November, we have to do this right now.

Friday, June 9, 2006

The Un-Sonny

Those of you who are over 40 remember those commercials about the "Un-Cola," 7 UP, right? It seems to me that what we need in Georgia right now is the "Un-Sonny,"and that is Cathy Cox.

Unlike Sonny, Cathy Cox is ready to reach out to all Georgians, inviting everyone who has a good idea to come to that table and work together. What was Mark Taylor's response to republicans wanting a place at the table in a democratic controlled legislature? "Cry me a river."

Unlike Sonny, Cathy Cox favors fully funding our public schools and giving our teachers the support they need to do their job. She has detailed and innovative plans for the future of our schools while Taylor reflects on past accomplishments and speaks in generalities.

Unlike Sonny, Cathy Cox has a detailed proposal to move Georgia to the front of the line in the development and use of bio-diesel. Taylor's response was to criticize Cox for campaigning while offering nothing to move Georgia toward energy independence.

Unlike Sonny, and unlike Mark Taylor, Cox has pledged to do away with the backroom, wink and a nod, "I'll scratch your back if you'll scratch mine politics" that helps a few, excludes the masses and risks brokerage of the people's office for a government that is not equally accessible to everyone. This brand of politics, epitomized by Taylor's sweetheart of a deal, million dollar loan, is just one example of why Taylor is too much like Perdue to defeat him in November.

If you want the same old political games, vote for Perdue or Taylor, but if you are ready for a change that works for everyone, try the Un-Sonny: Cathy Cox.

Thursday, June 8, 2006

GAE Picked the Wrong Cox

In 2002, many of us who are advocates for public education in Georgia were left with our mouths hanging open when the Georgia Association of Educators endorsed Katherine Cox, a teacher with little if any administrative experience, over Barbara Christmas, a career educator with a resume that fit the job description. That same year, GAE opted to give no endorsement in the governor's race, and many believe that this act served as a cue to educators to go to the polls and vote against Barnes. To the amazement of many "Kathy with a K" rode the coattails of Perdue and the positive name id of the "real" Cathy Cox to victory in November. To say that Kathy Cox's tenure of service has been less than stellar is an understatement. And Perdue, the governor GAE got because of their failure to get behind Barnes, has been an adversary instead of an advocate for our public schools. Needless to say, GAE does not always back the right candidate.

Today, my phone has not stopped ringing with questions from educators wondering why GAE again endorsed Kathy Cox, yet missed the opportunity to endorse the "real" Cathy Cox. It is clear that many teachers support Cathy Cox and are excited about her plan to improve not only their pay but their working conditions by making sure that they have an opportunity to teach instead of pulling bus duty, and an opportunity to eat lunch instead of monitoring the hallways.

GAE was wrong in 2002, and they're wrong now. Why? "Kathy with a K" Cox sat silent while GAE, PAGE and every other education group in Georgia tried to tell the Governor that his 65% plan was a recipe for disaster. Kathy Cox assumed office in a state near the bottom in every measurable outcome and, yet, one of her first priorities was to try to re-insert creationism into our children's science textbooks. She sat silent while Governor Perdue and this republican-led legislature slashed 1.25 billion from our neighborhood schools. "Kathy with a K" joined Perdue in setting benchmarks so low for standardized testing in Georgia that the national media accused them of cheating students by setting standards too low. And yet, she was given the GAE endorsement while the union passed on the one person, Cathy Cox, who is both an advocate with a plan for our schools and who has a reasonable shot at un-seating Perdue. Go figure.

Tuesday, June 6, 2006

Is This How the "Big Guy" Takes Care of "The Little Guy"?

Over the last several days, the Taylor campaign has begun grumbling about Cathy Cox, as Secretary of State, engaging in an aggressive campaign to educate Georgians about the dangers of investment fraud. This is very old news. The State of Georgia had received 5.4 million dollars in settlement of a lawsuit involving such fraud, and Cox used the proceeds of that settlement to pay for public service ads and other educational efforts targeted to meet the needs of Georgians, particularly, senior citizens. The first people to attack her on this, in 2005, were Republicans who were afraid that in the process of serving the people of Georgia, Cox would also develop positive name id. Now, Mark Taylor seems to be beating that same drum. What a yawn.

I can't imagine anyone who fits the bill of the "Little Guy" better than Georgia seniors who are often targeted by heartless criminals who want to take the money they have worked a lifetime to save. Now, Taylor has apparently joined the Republicans in saying that it doesn't matter whether the program helped our seniors- all that matters is whether it hurt his chances of winning. It's good to know that we can always count on the "Big Guy" to take care of himself.

Again, it is clear that Mark Taylor and Sonny Perdue have at least one thing in common: they both want Taylor to win the primary, and that's why they are both attacking Cox.

Monday, June 5, 2006

When Does Personal Become Political?

When I was writing the post about Gingrich, I began to wonder again about what is fair game in politics and what is not. I think that we can all agree that discussion of the conduct of a candidate's children is out of bounds. What about the candidate's personal finances? Is that fair game? What about infidelity or failed marriages? In bounds or out of bounds? I mean, did the nation have a right to know what Clinton did with an intern? What about personal history of treatment for mental illness or substance abuse? Is that fair game? Certainly criminal charges are legitimate for discussion.

These questions stirred when I read the following bit about Gingrich from the now infamous Wikipedia:

While in high school, Gingrich started to date his geometry teacher, Jackie Battley. On June 19, 1962, they were married. Their first child was born the following year.
In 1980, Gingrich separated from his first wife. Battley developed cancer: while she was in the hospital recovering from surgery, Gingrich tried to discuss the terms of a divorce. It has been reported that Gingrich served Battley divorce papers in the hospital.
[7] In February 1981, the divorce was finalized, and in August 1981, Gingrich married his second wife, Marianne Ginther.
In December 1999, Gingrich divorced his second wife, Marianne, after she discovered that he had been carrying on an affair for the past five years with a House aide twenty-three years his junior, Callista Bisek.
[8] Critics such as David Corn noted that this activity was concurrent with his leadership to impeach Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal and ascension to speaker on a family values platform. On August 19, 2000, Gingrich married Bisek as his third wife.

I can't say whether this article is accurate (again, we all know about Wikipedia) but some people in Georgia are more aware of what Newt supposedly did to his wife than about his alleged ethics violations. Whether we are talking about Newt or any of the Georgia candidates this cycle- where's the line? When does your personal life become fair game for political discussion?

Like it or not, fair or not, I think that how someone conducts themselves in their relationships of trust does tell us something about their character, and many voters say that they will vote for the candidate they like and trust. Your thoughts?

(By the way, this is intended as a discussion of this issue, only. Please don't take this opportunity to spin any rumors about any specific candidates.)

Another Georgian for President?

Sometimes Democrats are accused of nominating candidates that are so far removed from the mainstream, they have no hope of getting elected. Fear not, we have nothing on the Republicans. Buzz over at Peach Pundit reports that a Georgia Boy, good ol' Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House, who resigned (after his predicted thirty seat pick up ended in a five seat loss in 1998) was the top vote getter in a presidential straw poll of Republican party activists in Minnesota. By the way, the Washington Post offers an interesting catalogue of The Gingrich Ethics Probe. If I had that kind of baggage, I wouldn't be running for dog catcher. But, hey, why not? He'll fit right in with Scooter, Dick, Tom, Rove and the rest.

Newt for President? I really don't think that dog will hunt, but maybe the important point is that party activists seldom reflect the pulse of the average voter. Some of the things that get our attention matter very little to the guy on the street. For example, I have talked to several people today, some even elected officials, who have no idea who is running for Lt. Governor.

We can predict all we want. Unfortunately, most Georgians will not vote in the July primary. Of those who do, they will not tune in until about two weeks before the race, and they're going to vote for the candidate they "like" the best.

Sunday, June 4, 2006

Hecht, Lotson, Martin, Miles: Who is Favored for Lt. Gov.?

Cox and Taylor have filled the Georgia political headlines lately, but other races that deserve our attention have been well below the radar. Here's your chance to weigh in. Who do you think is favored in the race for the democratic nomination for Lt. Governor of Georgia? Why do you think so?

Based on $$ and organization, I think Hecht might have the edge at this point, but that's very much a Middle Georgia perspective. What does this race look like inside the donut?

Steen Miles is from DeKalb. What sort of factor will she be in this race? Will there be a run-off? If so, who will be in it.

And the last big question: Which one, if any, can beat Ralph Reed?

Please post your predictions. We'll call this an informal "poll."

Greg Hecht has been busy in Middle Georgia. He has a field team here and has been to the region on numerous occasions. In fact, he was here on Friday hosting a "free" fish fry at Central City Park. I understand that the weather may have impacted attendance. Jim Martin has been here as well, but I don't know whether he has a ground team in place. He is having a fundraiser here on the 15th. I hear that Jim has a fairly active organization in Atlanta. I have also seen Steen Miles at one event, The Viola Ross Napier Celebration.

Cathy Cox Connects

Oftentimes, those who live outside the Atlanta Metro area feel less than appreciated by statewide candidates. That's why I found it refreshing to find gubernatorial candidate Cathy Cox walking the streets of Macon last Friday shaking hands and doing some old-fashioned campaigning. Apparently, I wasn't the only one that was impressed. Over and over, I saw people of all ages, races, and genders responding positively to a candidate who seemed genuinely concerned about the needs of all Georgians, not just those in Atlanta. One thing was also very clear to me, voters are truly concerned that our current Governor and legislature have abdicated their responsibility to take actions that truly benefit Georgians and address the real problems and needs of this State. If last Friday was any indication, Cathy Cox appears to me to be the only candidate for Governor who can really connect with a broad cross-section of voters. Based on what I saw, Mark and Sonny should be worried.

Friday, June 2, 2006

New Poll: Did Taylor Overplay His Hand?

For the last two weeks, the Taylor campaign has been claiming a "21 point lead" based on a poll conducted by Alan Secrest and paid for by the Taylor campaign. Today, an Insider Advantage/Majority Opinion Pol, conducted for Southern Political Report shows Taylor with a lead of only seven points, with margin of error of +/- 5 points. On the surface, it appears that the first numbers reflected Taylor's unanswered early ad buy, and that once Cox went up on the air, his support began to soften. I also noticed today that the earlier poll is no longer on the front page of the Taylor website.

The best news for the Cox campaign is the large number of undecided voters: 39%.
Female voters, who are expected to make up as much as 60% of the voters in the democratic primary, are trending toward Cox by a ten point margin. African American voters are trending toward Taylor by sixteen points. I wonder what the break-out is for African American women?

Cox Takes Macon By Storm

I have been around a lot of political campaigns, but I have never witnessed anything quite like Cathy Cox's visit to Macon tonight. Not only did voters welcome Cathy, dozens volunteered to work on the campaign. This is the third time in seven days that Cox has visited the city, first for a volunteer canvass, then to attend Soul Jam with David Lucas, and today for First Friday. She has also hired staff and opened a campaign office in Macon.

The skies threatened rain, but tonight, the only storm in town was Cathy. Moving from venue to venue, she spent more than four hours downtown talking with voters while volunteers were busy distributing bumper stickers and campaign literature. She began at the Georgia Children's Museum, where she was greeted by many supporters including City Council President Anita Ponder, Ann Carol Daniel, Robert Reichert and Rep. Robert Ray. Next, she visited with Mike and Lynn Cass at Macon Arts. Then, she was a guest of Jami Gaudet at the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame where the Gaudets were celebrating the twentieth anniversary of The Gaudet Baseball Clinic. When she stopped by The Georgia Music Hall of Fame, a visitor called out "There's the next Governor of Georgia!" Her last stop of the evening was The JazzPlex where she was welcomed warmly.

So, what's remarkable about that? The diversity and the commitment of her supporters. Black and white, young and old, men and women- not only were they ready to vote for Cathy, person after person made it clear that they are ready for change in Georgia. They not only responded to creating a government that responds to all the people, but they offered to volunteer to help Cathy spread that message. These folks are ready to roll up their sleeves and do what it takes to get her elected.

And by the way, the single most common comment I heard was "are you going to take care of our teachers?" She responded with a resounding "yes", noting that her sisters are teachers.

Cathy had a great evening in Macon- a great media coverage, too. I'll sum it up with the words of a gleeful supporter she greeted at a sidewalk cafe'. He said, "Forget those babies on TV, now this is what I call a campaign!"

Thursday, June 1, 2006

Meet Georgia's Next Governor!

Join Cathy Cox in Macon


Join Cathy Cox, Democratic Candidate for Governor
for Macon's First Friday celebration!

Meet Cathy Cox at the Georgia Children's Museum, located at 370 Cherry Street, at 6:30 PM tomorrow evening,
June 2, 2006

From there she will make her way down Cherry Street, listening to what the people in the Heart of Georgia expect from their next Governor and sharing with them her vision for Georgia's future. You can help make that vision a reality by joining Cathy for this event. Meet her and other supporters in front of the Children's Museum at 6:30 PM, and then plan to stay and enjoy First Friday festivities!

Spread the word to all your friends and family! Everyone is welcome for Macon's montly First Friday Celebration!
Meet Georgia's Next Governor, Secretary of State, Cathy Cox!