Saturday, September 30, 2006

Making Congress Safe for Kids

At dinner last night, in the wake of Foley's resignation, my husband said that maybe it would be safer to just not let teenagers serve as pages anymore. Is that where we are? Can we not trust our elected representatives to protect our children? Apparently, not. It is interesting to me that Foley was a leader in passing tough legislation to stop adults from preying on our children. I have a working theory that the more tightly wrapped someone is on the outside, the more chaotic they are on the inside. Just a theory. So, what are your thoughts? Is Congress safe for our kids?

Friday, September 29, 2006

Threat to Judicial Independence

Justice Hunstein was our speaker for Politics and Lunch today in Macon. She was introduced by Judge Tommy Day Wilcox. In responding to a question about the greatest threat to judicial independence, Justice Hunstein said that without question it is the impact of 527 groups on the election process. She did a beautiful job of explaining that judicial independence was so very important to our founding fathers because when we were a colony, the King chose the judges and set their salaries, so he had a great deal of control over them. Our ideal is that judges be independent from the political process- judges who apply the law to the facts without regard to the party affiliation of those before the court.

Justice Hunstein also talked about the impact of big money on judicial races. It seems that a number of corporations have tossed large sums of money into the 527 that is backing her opponent. She talked about a judge in another state who decided not to run rather than be faced with raising an estimated 7 million dollars to fund her campaign. The Georgia race will not be quite that expensive, though she estimates needing more than a million dollars. (By comparison, Leah Sears spent about $700,000 on her race.)

Campaign budgets are inflated by the need to talk to the voters, "to get the message out," as some would say. That means, television, mail and other forms of voter contact, including those robo-calls we all love. Thanks to the 2004 election, we all know what the term "swiftboat" means. When used as a verb, it means attacking someone, without regard for the truth, in a way that makes their greatest strength their greatest liability. Well, expect Justice Hunstein to be "swiftboated." Are we going to just stand by and let it happen? Is there any race where integrity is more important? Write the judge a check, if you can, and if you can't volunteer for her campaign. This one is really important.

Medicaid crisis forum in Atlanta--Tues., Oct. 3

The Social Justice Ministry of First Iconium Baptist Church
October 2006 - Metro-Atlanta - Monthly Mass Meeting
The Poor, The Disabled, The Elderly, The Children
100,000 Jobs and Families are at stake in Georgia
Innocent Babies are at Risk of Dying
TUESDAY, October 3, 2006Time: 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Location: The First Iconium Baptist Church
542 Moreland Avenue, S.E. Atlanta, GA
Hear from Noted Speakers
Dr. Thaddeus Chapman, Peniel OB/GYN & Women’s Health Ctr.
Dr. Sharon Bent-Harley, Atlanta Women’s Specialty Group, Inc.Dr. Eric Brown, Gyn-Care Women’s Center, Inc.
State Rep. Howard Mosby, Grady Health Care Systems
Testimonies from patients who have lost services
The Rev. Timothy McDonald III will be presiding
For more information call 404-627-1371

Thursday, September 28, 2006

What's at Stake in November

If you are not already inspired to go vote in November, please read Monday's testimony of Army Major General John R.S. Batiste (retired) before the Senate Democratic Policy Committee. Major General Batiste retired in 2005 after 31 years of service to our country. He says that he walked away from a promising career because he found that he could do more for his soldiers as a civilian. His testimony is wrenching, real and well worth the read. Here's a portion:

I challenge the American people to get informed and speak out. Remember that the Congress represents and works for the people. Congressional oversight committees have been strangely silent for too long, and our elected officials must step up to their responsibilities or be replaced. This is not about partisan politics, but rather what is good for our country. Our November elections are crucial. Every American needs to understand the issues and cast his or her vote. I believe that one needs to vote for the candidate who understands the issues and who has the moral courage to do the harder right rather than the easier wrong. I for one will continue to speak out until there is accountability, until the American people establish momentum, and until our Congressional oversight committees kick into action. Victory in Iraq is fundamental and we cannot move forward until accountability is achieved. Thank you.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Most Important Race on the Ballot?

This quiet one may just be the most important race on the ballot in November. On Friday, Sept. 29th at noon, Justice Carol Hunstein, presiding Justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia, will be the keynote speaker for "Politics and Lunch," a monthly lunch and learn series in Macon. The luncheon will be held at Nashville Station, 1015 Riverside Drive in Macon. The event is open to the public, and the cost of $10.00 includes lunch. As you know, she opposed in her bid for re-election this year, and her opponent in this non-partisan race has self-identified as a Republican. If you would like to attend the luncheon, RSVP to (478) 741-1138 or

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Benedict Gets GAE Nod

The Georgia Association of Educators has endorsed Lauren Benedict in the race for Georgia House District 140. Benedict is running a strong campaign against freshman Republican Allen Freeman. Way to go, Lauren!

I hear that Rep. Freeman has a chart that clearly demonstrates how Sonny "did" put a billion back into public education. I wonder if the taxpayers in all those counties that had to raise property taxes have seen Freeman's Magic Chart?

Monday, September 25, 2006

Bush to campaign for Collins in Macon

I hear it was announced on WMAZ that President Bush will be in Macon on October 10 to campaign for Mac Collins. This came to me second-hand so I have no further details.

A Cigar Caucus?

In the the catagory of "things that make you go humm..." when I was looking for something else, I discovered that there is a cigar caucus in the Georgia House. Here's what Rep. Allen Freeman had to say about his affinity for cigars:

"It's much more private for me," Freeman said. "I have a little playhouse where I smoke, my shop. If I light one up, my family knows I have 45 minutes to myself." He also belongs to the "Cigar Caucus" of state representatives, but they're having a hard time finding a host location for their annual dinner because the Legislature passed a smoking ban at most restaurants, he said."

Better Be Careful What You Ask For...

You just might get it. That must be what many black leaders who are credited with getting Taylor through the primary are thinking. According the this article from the Associated Press, a number of leaders, including Joe Beasley and Rev. Timothy McDonald are expressing concern about Taylor's promise to seek a constitutional amendment to allow the death penalty for child molesters convicted for the second time.

The biggest problem for Taylor-and all the Democrats below him on the ballot-is captured in McDonald's words, "I want to support him, but there's not going to be a lot of enthusiasm if this is his message." If you are a Georgia Democrat that remark should've sent a chill down your back. This important base of support will not likely shift to Perdue, but people who are not enthusiastic tend to stay at home and not vote at all. That will hurt every single Democrat up and down the ballot. So, if after the dust settles, there are very few Democrats standing in November, Taylor's choice to roll the death penalty dice will rank high on the list of reasons why.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

An Open Letter to Bob "Swift Boat" Perry

Dear Mr. Perry:

I have received not one, but two offensive robo-calls bashing Jim Marshall from the "Economic Freedom Fund," a California-based group to whom you've already donated more than five million dollars. Neither call provided me with a required call back number. I'm just guessing that you may have a direct line. If you'd provide it, then I can let them know that very few of us in Georgia care what Texas billionaires and California marketing firms think about our politics. Seems to me, with the likes of Tom DeLay to deal with, you'd have enough to keep you occupied in Texas. But, no, you seem intent on playing in our election. Fine. Waste your money, but is it too much to ask that you at least follow the rules?

In today's AJC, Doug Moore with the Marshall Campaign said, "I'd like to get Bob Perry in a room and introduce him to the truth." Amen, but in the meantime, I'll take that phone number. Oh, and by the way, you might want to have someone check on how those robo-calls are targeted. A call bashing Marshall coming in to a household where no one has ever voted in a Republican primary just might be a waste of your hate money.

Amy Morton
A Real Georgia Voter

Friday, September 22, 2006

Martin is Lifeboat for Georgia Dems

It looks like Georgia Democrats might need a lifeboat. I don't know whether we can can elect The Big Guy, but it looks like The Decent Guy, Jim Martin, has a realistic shot.

If we didn't already know it, the recent news about Taylor's finances, his standing in the polls and his staffing challenges, make it clear as a bell. We still need to support Taylor, but we'd be wise not to put all our (scarce) eggs in one basket, and instead should spread resources to other viable races, including other constitutional offices and legislative seats. Among the other races that appear viable, Jim Martin's bid to become Lt. Governor might just be the most important. (No, I don't buy the logic that by helping Mark we help the rest. That's somewhat true, but not entirely.)

Consider this scenario: Taylor loses the general and Cagle is elected Lt. Gov. This potentially sets us up for not just four, but instead twelve more years of Republican control. On the other hand, if Perdue is re-elected, and Martin becomes Lt. Governor, then the Republicans will not have the advantage of an heir-apparent.

Plus, as internal and public polls indicate, Martin can win his race, especially if he has the money to get his message out. Even on that score, Martin may be in a better position that Taylor. While some estimate that Taylor will be out-spent four to one, the ratio in the Lt. Governor's race will probably be more like two to one. Still not great, but not such an overwhelming advantage. Yes, the top of the ticket tends to carry the ballot, so if Taylor wins, it helps everyone, but if we don't prepare to win other races even if Taylor loses, we'll have nothing but regrets on Nov. 8th.

I am impressed with the Martin campaign's ability to target voters and communicate a strong and winning message. Now we just have to make sure he has the money to get it done. A lifeboat doesn't do you much good if it's not inflated. You can donate by clicking here.

Sonny Has An Al Gore Moment

Have you seen Sonny's latest ad? The one with Mary Perdue at the kitchen window talking about how worried she is about Internet predators harming children? It gives me the creeps. I have heard versions of that opinion from several other women. It's just a little too intimate. As one friend said, "If he'd just kissed her, he've had an 'Al Gore Moment.' " No kidding.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Hot Off the Presses: New Georgia Polling Numbers

There's good news and bad news for Georgia Democrats. James Salzer with the AJC is reporting that while a new poll has Gov. Perdue widening his lead over Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor (52% to 32% with 6% for Libertarian Garrett Hayes and 10% undecided), but Jim Martin is within one point of Casey Cagle (37% to 36%, with 6% going to the Libertarian Allen Buckley and 21% undecided). Cagle must be sweating bullets. One of the most interesting things in these numbers is that Martin at 36% has more voters committed to him than does Taylor at 32%. Wonder which voters are supporting Martin but not Taylor? Women?

For Democrats, Martin's numbers are certainly the silver lining in this poll. This independent poll, conducted by Insider Advantage, show numbers remarkably similar to Martin's own internal polling released last week. The most exciting part of this for the Martin campaign is that the overall trend of the race is in his direction. Apparently, Georgians really do like the "Decent Guy." Jim Martin can win this race in November, and tomorrow, I'm going to tell you why it is so important that we help him do just that.

...And Your Little Dog, Too...

After watching more than my fair share of Sonny Perdue and Mark Taylor ads, I am up to my neck in the various promises they have made. However, I know that Sonny and Mark really want to make promises that are more sweeping that those that have been put on TV. Here is a sampling of those more extreme policy statements:

Mark on the death penalty: apply the death penalty to my political opponents. I am sure this one would have strong bi-partisan support.

Sonny on the "state" of Georgia: If elected, Sonny will give every citizen a pair of ruby slippers that you can click together three times and be magically transported to the Georgia Sonny says we live in.

Mark on education: he invented it, well all except the internet, we know who invented that.

Sonny on education: we encourage as many of the "bad" kids to drop out of school as possible, test scores are bound to go up.

Mark on crime: let's get a city where no one wants to live, oh, the one where all the sex offenders are living now, and put a big fence around it and dump all the criminals in it. Its just like "Escape from New York".

Sonny on immigration: illegal aliens are coming through the fence of your backyard to practice gay marriage with your children.

Mark and Sonny on taxes: no one has to pay any taxes - funding the government? - we'll think about that later. I will be waiting with baited breath to see if Sonny and Mark rise to the occasion.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Gov. Barnes Steps Up

If there is a statesman in the Democratic Party of Georgia, his name is Roy Barnes. After Gov. Barnes was defeated in 2002, he was not the most popular Democrat in the state, but since that time he has voluntarily taken on a powerful role that is seldom acknowledged. As a former Governor and a lawyer, fresh from the 2002 election, when he probably could've had his pick of plum "of counsel" positions with prestigious firms, instead he chose to offer his services pro bono to needy clients who otherwise could not have afforded an attorney. In that role he led the fight against the predatory lending industry. More recently, he has been at the tip of the spear in the fight to overturn Georgia's unconstitutional Voter ID law.

From his actions, it is clear that being a Democrat means something to Governor Barnes. Since leaving office, he has continued his fight to make government work for everybody, not just for the rich, the powerful and the well-connected. And, he enlists others in that fight by helping Democrats who are running for office, get elected. To deserving candidates at all levels, he has frequently offered counsel and financial support. His endorsement means something: just ask Greg Hecht. In November, there are a number of Georgia Democrats who will owe him thanks when they win their races.

I once heard Barnes tell a candidate that "politics is a bloodsport." He's right, but when he got tackled, he stood up, and we are all better off for it. Thank you, Gov. Barnes, for all that you do for Georgians.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

A few notes on the Georgia Democratic Convention

I enjoyed attending the convention as a delegate this past Saturday. That convention center in College Park is a fine facility. The convention was a spirited event and I enjoyed seeing all the candidates. Here's one large worry that I have. I know all the PR experts say that repetition of main points (HEAD ON! APPLY DIRECTLY TO THE FOREHEAD!) is what it takes to get a message over to the public. Now I have got the message about Hope and criminals and health care, and I agree. It has been applied directly to my forehead. Now I would like to hear about some other stuff. Examples:
Well, you get the idea.

Monday, September 18, 2006

The (Political) Ten Commandments

These days, politicians love the Ten Commandments almost as much as they love being tough on crime and lowering class size. I do think that in this political season some seem to have their own interpretation of the rules. Find below, The Ten Commandments GPV (Georgia Politicians' Version).

#1: You Shall Have No Other Gods Before Me
That's right. I'll interrupt your favorite show and call you on the phone at dinner time. I'll call you at the office and ask for money. And you'll like it, because, get used to it, it's all about me.

#2: You Shall Not Make for Yourself a Graven Image
Except for those campaign commercials I intend to play as many times as possible. And yard signs- with flags.

#3: You Shall Not Take the Name of the Lord Your God in Vain
Certainly not at the public forum or on the House floor. Afterwards, at that dinner hosted by lobbyists or in the hospitality suite at the Landmark? Now you've gone to meddlin'.

#4: Remember the Sabbath Day and Keep it Holy
Yes, and on that day, I'll visit your churches and ask for your vote. But forget that part about working six days. That's a bit much. Oh, and I might not show up at church again until the next election cycle.

#5: Honor Your Father and Your Mother
Sure, I'll honor your father and mother. How big a check can they write?

#6: You Shall Not Kill
But character assassination is another matter all together, especially if the character is my opponent.

#7: You Shall not Commit Adultery
And get caught. Remember, plausible deniability is a necessity in politics.

#8:You Shall not Steal
But it's okay to use my office to make myself rich or avoid taxes, isn't it? That's just being creative.

#9: You Shall not Bear False Witness Against Your Neighbor
My opponent is not my neighbor. Plus, if that 527 is in Texas, I can't help what they say. (Again, see plausible deniability.)

#10: You Shall not Covet
My neighbor's house? Only for the purpose of redistricting it. His wife? Is she cute? His ass? What are you insinuating?

Jim Martin Closing in on Cagle

Jim Martin is a definite bright spot on the Democratic ticket this fall. He emerged from his ugly contested primary with Greg Hecht wearing the mantle of "the decent guy." Not a bad place to begin a race with Cagle, who threw as many punches as he caught in the Republican primary! Today, Tom Crawford is reporting that Martin's internal polling shows a tight race with Cagle having only a slight lead (38/34) and with a large number of undecided voters.

Many of us under-estimated Jim. Cagle may be making that same mistake. I think that as Georgians get to know Jim Martin, they will like the stand-up guy who served his country and since then has devoted his life to serving the people of Georgia. He really is a decent guy, and I am proud to have him on the ticket this fall.

It is interesting to note we have heard no pleading from Martin for Greg Hecht to show up and support him. (Greg was not at the DPG Convention yesterday. No one talked about it. It was a non-issue.) Based on his poll, the strategy of controlling what you can and moving on from the rest appears to be paying off. I predict that Martin will surprise us all in November. He is one smart cookie.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Jim Nelson for PRESIDENT

Wow. With his passionate and on-point speech today, Rev. Jim Nelson was the highlight of the DPG convention. I wish that we could clone this man. He had the crowd on their feet, not because they were being polite, but because his remarks were so right on the money, no one could stay in their seat.

I hear that fundraising has not gone great for him. I also wish that a good fundraiser had gotten their hands on him early. I don't know whether he can win the race he's in (1st congressional district), but I hope, regardless, this will not be the end of his political career. Here's the money quote: "I am not not running as a democrat despite being a Christian; I'm running as a democrat because I am a Christian." You go, Jim!!!

Friday, September 15, 2006

Just for Fun on Friday

Jon Stewart thinks Bush could use an interpreter, and who better than Georgia's own "Little Richard" to fill that spot? Here's the result:

Freeman Mute on Debate Invitation?

As of today, Allen Freeman has not responded to Lauren Benedict's invitation to debate. Four debates, one in each county sounds like a refreshing way to get the information to the voters. I would certainly prefer it to negative ads and robo-calls.

Here's a letter about the invitation that appeared in today's Telegraph. It seems that someone thinks it's a grand idea. Here's the editorial as it appears in today's paper:

Refreshing idea

I have just learned that Lauren Benedict, Democratic candidate for Georgia House Seat District 140, is challenging Allen Freeman, Republican incumbent, to four debates, one in

each county in the district.
What a refreshing idea and a great way for an incumbent to speak to his or her electorate about his actions or inactions on issues facing his district and the state of Georgia. This also give the challenger an opportunity to inform constituents how he or she would address the issues facing our state.
Let's hope all incumbents, when asked, are willing to face a challenger in a debate, and at

the same time be held accountable for his or her public service.

Betty Phillips


Perdue Leaves Schools Begging

Perdue calls it the "Truth in Class Size Act." I think what we really need is a "Truth in Funding Act." That's right, legislators and others who govern should not be allowed to pass cute, sound-bite ready laws unless they have provided the money to pay for their campaign-friendly programs. According to today's Telegraph, at least five Georgia school systems have asked for relief from the new class size law, and it appears that Bibb and Peach are soon to follow. For a group of folks who claimed to be all about local control, the Perdue team seems bent on telling local school systems how to spend their money.

Tell me this: would you rather have your third grader in a class with 22 students and an excellent teacher or with 11 students in a "portable classroom" with a sub? That's not a hard question for most parents.

There are problems with the law, just as there are with most quick-fix solutions for complex problems. First, though politicians (Democrats and Republicans) don't want you to know this, there is no conclusive research that supports the idea that just by reducing class size, students will learn better. In fact, one of the keys to student achievement is having a highly qualified, experienced teacher in the classroom. Because of the shortage of teachers, with the new law, many times when a class divides because of reaching the arbitrary limit, the school is forced to put a part of the students with a less qualified teacher, or a substitute. Second, because of the devastating cuts to education funding and the increased unfunded mandates, districts are cash strapped and have difficulty with the inflexibility of the class size mandate.

What we really need is a substantial investment in teacher training, and incentives for teachers to come to certain districts. We need to recalculate the way we determine which systems are classified as "low wealth" and allow local districts some flexibility in implementation of mandates. Common sense has a place in education policy, and I for one do not want local board members to simply act as a rubber stamp for policies generated in Atlanta without much regard for the impact on rural Georgia.

As Lynn Farmer, Bibb School Board member, said, the sound-bite is great " until it's your child with two extra students in the classroom pulled out and put into a classroom with a substitute that doesn't have as much experience. I hope politicians begin to understand the reality of that."

Me, too.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

"Backwards and in High Heels"

"Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did. She just did it backwards and in high heels." That's what Gov. Ann Richards said, and as Texas' second female Governor, she danced into the national spotlight and into our hearts. Richards, who never met a stereotype she could conquer, routinely bucked conventional wisdom. She did not begin her political career until she was in her forties, and once she did aimed for the Governor's mansion. Once there, she opened the doors of power not only to women but to minorities.

Like so many women, Richards did not limit her efforts to help women get elected to her own campaign, instead helping to found "Annie's List" in Texas. Like Georgia's WIN List, Annie's List is a group that helps qualified pro-choice democratic women get elected. Recognizing that helping women get elected to public office is this generation's equivalent of the suffrage movement of the early twentieth century, Ann Richards was a trailblazer who never let them see her sweat, a role model who opened the door to political office to countless other women, and an women who seemed to have a knack for saying exactly what she thought, and getting by with it. Godspeed, Gov. Richards.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Benedict Fundraiser Big Success/Invites Freeman to Debate

I attended the fundraiser for Lauren Benedict last night, and it was a huge success both in terms of dollars raised and diversity of support. Keep up the good work, Lauren! I understand that she has invited Rep. Freeman to participate in four debates, one in each county of the district, and that she proposes having the debates at a public school in each county, since education is the issue at the top of the agenda for voters in the district. She is waiting for a response to her invitation.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

An Open Letter from Cathy Cox

If there was ever any question about whether Cathy Cox supports Georgia Democrats, this letter, sent by Cathy to our last WIN List event, should put concerns to rest. Cathy Cox is a person of integrity who has been "showing up" for Georgia Democrats for a long time. She is a gracious mentor and role model to countless women who have chosen to run for elected office.
True to her convictions, she continues to stand up for Georgia Democrats today.

Here's the letter:

I am very sorry not to be with you tonight, but I wanted to join you in celebrating the victories of so many Democratic women in this summer’s primary elections. I am excited about the prospects of adding more women to legislative and state offices – and especially the likelihood of keeping a good Democratic woman in the office I now hold, Secretary of State. WIN List played a crucial role in all these victories – so I congratulate you all.

It is more than a little overwhelming to think of how far Georgia’s WIN List has come – from the vision that Melita Easters and others had not too many years ago of electing more Democratic women in Georgia, to the reality today that dozens of Democratic women will win tough races and take on top leadership positions. And while that accomplishment alone is important, it is what comes with electing these women that matters most.

I believe that it is by putting more and more Democratic women in office that we will bring significant change to Georgia politics and policies. It is only by electing more Democratic women to state offices that we will realize the potential in this state – and only with more women in powerful positions will we seize the opportunity to provide first-class education for all children, assure access to first rate health care for Georgians of all ages, care for the most vulnerable in society, protect women’s rights to make their own reproductive choices, and address so many other quality of life issues that really matter to Georgia families.

To my WIN List friends and family, you were there with me from the very start of my campaign to become Georgia’s first female governor and I will be eternally grateful for your strong support. You believed in the possibilities we could achieve, and you were willing to buck the old-boy system of Georgia politics to seek real change. While we didn’t prevail, your support helped erase forever the doubts about women as serious gubernatorial contenders – and I am hopeful that one of the candidates standing before you tonight will go on to finish the race I started and put a woman in the governor’s office of our state one day soon.

I had the pleasure a couple of years ago of introducing former U.S. Secretary of State Madeline Albright to an Atlanta audience, and she said in her comments something that has stuck with me ever since. She said, “ There is a special place in hell for women who won’t help other women.” You, the women – and men – who support WIN List and WIN List’s candidates, have surely taken her words to heart. You’ve taken the risk and supported these brave, risk-taking women. You’ve helped us all reach for our dreams; you’ve given us strength to take on tough battles; you’ve pushed us to break that political glass ceiling; you’ve supported us all in our quest for equality at the tables where policies are made. By supporting WIN List, you have helped move Georgia forward – and I thank you.

Now, we must join together to help our WIN List candidates win big in November. Please be generous with your time and your money to help us bring change to Georgia in a way that only women can achieve. While I won’t be on the ballot with you, I’ll sure be there pulling for you, praying for you, and pondering the possibilities for our state when women win – and WIN big! Go get ‘em – Georgia wins when women WIN!

Cathy Cox

Cathy Cox: Not Running

That's right. I know that this comes as a shock to many Georgia Democrats, particularly bloggers, but Cathy Cox is not on the November ballot. Whether she should've been, or not, is a discussion for another day. The point is, she's not, and her friends and former supporters do not take her choice not to attend the DPG convention as a slap at Taylor. We are not looking for smoke signals from Cathy about whether to support Taylor. Generally, we are a pretty independent minded group. That's one of the reasons we supported her in the first place. Taylor has bigger problems than Cathy not coming to Atlanta on Saturday, and solving them is where the focus should be. Move on.

Saturday, September 9, 2006

Nice Coverage for a Georgia Dem

"I believe in straight talk and I'm always willing to listen," said Lauren Benedict. Below is a copy of an article that appeared in the Jones County paper on Thursday. This is great coverage for a promising candidate. Check out the story in the Jones County News.

Lauren Benedict greets Jones Countians at Chevy’s Café
Candidate seeking to reclaim Georgia House District 140 for Democrats


Debbie Lurie-Smith

The Democratic candidate for Georgia House District 140 visited Jones County last week to share her ideas and political platforms with a group of supporters at Chevy’s Café.
Political newcomer Lauren Benedict is challenging Republican incumbent Allan Freeman in November’s election. Freeman is completing his first term, and Benedict did not hesitate to state her case to the group gathered August 29.
“The needs of the district are not being represented,” she stated. “Rural districts are being ignored, and Metro Atlanta is in the forefront. I believe you need to be representative of all the people and available all the time.”
Benedict lives in southern Bibb County. She pointed out that District 140 is a very large district and said Jones County is a huge part of it.
“The southern portion of the county included in the district represents one-third of the county’s entire population,” she said.
Ike Liston was one of the coordinators of the event.
“I felt the people in the community needed to have both sides of the story,” Liston said.
Benedict is a lawyer and specializes in social security, disability and worker’s compensation.
“My clients are mostly from catastrophic injury or illnesses. I think government needs to be there when that happens to make sure the basics of life are available.”
Benedict said good education and a trainable workforce are needed to attract industry, and added that when she is elected, she will focus on basic issues.
“Teachers and law enforcement need to be adequately compensated. We need to give our sheriff’s departments help to retain good officers,” she commented.
The candidate also talked about the need to address healthcare issues, emphasizing that local sheriff’s departments are currently the state’s largest providers for mental health housing. She said healthcare resources are shrinking, and doctors have had to lay off medical staff because of changes in Medicare and Medicaid.
Benedict also recognized Jones County’s growing tax base and tax digest.
“Because of this tremendous growth, we need to bring in One Georgia funds to help with infrastructure.”
She said it is obvious that the county has lots of issues.
“I believe in straight talk, and I’m always willing to listen. Elected officials should represent the people, not their political party,” Benedict commented.
Benedict said she was born in Florida and attended Florida State University. She came to Macon to attend Mercer University School of Law in 1994.
“I fell in love with Macon, and I stayed,” she remarked.
The candidate said she attended public schools and came from a family of educators. Her mother taught special education.
“Education has always been important to me,” she remarked.
The candidate acknowledged her challenge running against an incumbent, but she is confident of her chances for a victory.
“My opponent won the 2004 election by 80 votes, and I hear people want a change. It will be hard work, and we need to talk about issues,” she said. “What we saw in 2005 and 2006 is an absolute squeeze in education with unfunded mandates and a cut in education funding. School systems had no choice but to raise taxes.”
In a recent press release concerning education cuts, Benedict listed the costs of state education cuts to local systems over the past four years.
Bibb County schools have seen cuts of $20,212,051 with a cut of $818 to the average county student, Jones $4,012,648 with a cut of $793 to the average county student, Twiggs $2,758,191 with a cut of $894 to the average county student, and Wilkinson $1,503,893 with a cut of $944 to the average county student.
School systems across Georgia have had to freeze teacher pay, stop hiring new teachers, increase class size and cut classes and programs for students as a result. Those cuts come even as property taxes rise in many districts to try to make up for the cuts.
In the past three years, Twiggs property taxes have increased by $255 and Jeffersonville property taxes have increased by $101 for every $100,000 in taxable assets; Jones County property taxes have increased by $425 for every $100,000 in taxable assets; and Wilkinson County property taxes have increased by $162 for every $100,000 in taxable assets.
In four years, over $1.25 billion has been cut from Georgia’s local schools, forcing nearly 100 districts to increase property taxes. Countless other districts cut educational programs for the students of Georgia.
On average, $828.68 has been taken away from each student in the state of Georgia.
“Transportation cost taken out of government funding means it is put on the community. The 65 percent initiative is a lot of smoke and mirrors used to put the squeeze on education,” Benedict stated. “How can we make education better in our community if our leaders in Atlanta fail to provide necessary funding for even the basic essentials?”

Brown vs. Staton??

The Macon Telegraph reports that today, Georgia Republican candidates for statewide office will gather in Macon with none other than "Mr. Voter ID" Cecil Staton for what he calls "a big Kum Ba Ya party." Doesn't sound like a whole lot of fun to me.

We have an interesting dynamic in Macon. The two state senators, Robert Brown and Cecil Staton, who represent the largest portions of Bibb County, could not be more different. Brown, a Democrat, has a wealth of experience and is known for carrying power quietly. It would be fair to describe his work in the senate as benefiting the everyday working people. He has been a vocal opponent of the Voter ID Law, a pet project of Senator Staton. Staton's district includes portions of Bibb as well. He is a ultra-right wing conservative and his legislative agenda has benefited wealthy developers. From Voter ID to the nasty secrecy legislation to legislation that would give taxing authority to private developers, Staton, who is in a "safe" district for Republicans, has been tapped to carry some of the most controversial legislation the Georgia GOP could come up with, no, check that, copy from other states. (There's not an original thought among them.) Brown and Staton, neither of whom have opposition in November, will be squaring off none the less as Brown works to get out the vote for Democrats in the Mid-State and Staton works for the Republican ticket. It should be an interesting match.

Thursday, September 7, 2006

Women Know When They've Been Lied To

Shannon McCaffrey, with the Associated Press, reports that Southern women are "breaking up" with President Bush. McCaffrey focused on women in Middle Georgia who voted for Bush, but who are now voting for the Democrat in their congressional district race. I know several of the women who are quoted in the story. This really is not complicated. Women are not stupid. We know when we've been lied to.

This trend is also benefiting candidates in local races. Lauren Benedict, candidate for State House District 140, is excited that Republican women are crossing party lines to support her candidacy. As Benedict has met and talked with voters in her district, she has already found support among some of the same Middle Georgia women highlighted by McCaffrey, and she expects this crossover vote to be a significant factor in her favor this November.

"People are clearly ready for a change," said Benedict. "Voters, women and men alike, know when they've been lied to. They know that you cannot support education by cutting 1.25 billion dollars from classrooms statewide. They know that you can't solve a healthcare crisis by creating more bureaucracy and denying necessary medical services to those who need them most. When it comes to these critical "kitchen table issues", voters are less concerned about party labels and more concerned about electing someone who is ready to be their voice in Atlanta."

Sandy Rubin, a public school teacher who voted for Bush, is one of those interviewed by McCaffrey. Rubin says that she is supporting Benedict. "I live and work in Lauren's district, and I'm voting for her because she cares about the things I care about - good schools and good opportunities for my children, said Sandy Rubin. "In my job as a public school teacher it is clear to me that my current representative is not working for the things I care about."

"The people of Middle Georgia deserve better," said Benedict. "They deserve a representative who will give them straight answers to tough questions, and who will work for the things important to them."

Mac Zilla vs. ???

Mac Collins has a serious problem. He doesn't know who he's running against. Nancy? Ted? Hillary? Cynthia? From his ads, you'd think so, but the answer is "none of the above." Jim Marshall has about as much in common with Nancy, Ted, Cynthia and Hillary as Mac does. If this is the best Mac's got, Congressman Marshall must be feeling pretty good about his chances. Unless, of course, those illegal immigrants sneak through the fence in your backyard and steal the election. Right...

Taylor Ahead in GWV Poll

Yes, Taylor is leading in the Georgia Women Vote poll by a resounding 84.5% to 8.5%. The poll will be up through tomorrow, but for now, if only this was the actual election result... Click here to cast you vote today.

GWV Poll
If the election were held today, who would would favor for Governor of Georgia, Sonny Perdue or Mark Taylor?
Sonny Perdue (6 Votes) [ 8.5%]
Mark Taylor (60 Votes) [ 84.5%]
Undecided (5 Votes) [ 7.0%]

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Taking it Back: Benedict Can Win!!

(Updated Host List)
Hon. Roy Barnes
Teresa and Hon. Mike Cranford
Mary and Hon. Jerry Modena
Hon. Floyd Buford
Aurelia Adams
Tracey L. Dellacona
Charlotte McMullan
Hon. Joe Allen
Hon. Earl Dennard
Hon. Filomena Mullis
R. Lars Anderson
Zack Dozier
Dr. Peggy DuBose & Bob Rush
Amy & Daryl Morton
Hon. Tommy Barnes
Melita Easters
Rudolph Patterson
Dr. Catherine Bomberger &
Henry Gallimore
Hon. Betty Phillips
Duke Groover
Mike Gardner
Hon. Anita Ponder
Wendy & Russell Boston
Mercedes & Dr. Carlos Giron
Hon. DuBose Porter
Hon. Tom Bordeaux
Melanie Goux
Katie & Jeff Powers
Hon. Dianne Brannen
Hon. Sam Hart, Sr.
Hon. Nikki Randall
Palmira Braswell
Rev. Camille Hegg
Carmel Sanders
Hon. Robert Brown
Yolanda & Terrill Hill
Gene Shinholster
Hon. Floyd Buford
Terry Holland & Jeff Logan
Nancy Terrill & Camp Bacon
Melanie & Chuck Byrd
Hon. Ike Liston
Shelly Tice
Lynn & Mike Cass
Mary Long
Dr. Mary Wilder
Hon. David Lucas
Joni Woolf
Hon. Willette Hill-Chambliss
Hon. Elaine Lucas
Hon. Brenda Youmas
Tiffany & David Cusson
List in Formation
Please join us for areception to elect
Lauren Benedict
to the
Georgia House of Representatives

Tuesday, September 12, 2006
6:00-8:00 p.m.

At the Home of Duke Groover and Dr. Catherine Bomberger
2417 Clayton Street 31204Macon, GA 31201

$100 suggested minimum contribution

RSVP to Amy Morton at (478) 741-1138or by emailing

Tuesday, September 5, 2006

Taylor or Perdue?

Mark? Sonny? Undecided? Cast your vote now. The poll is on the Georgia Women VOTE! homepage, in the left margin, near the bottom of the page.

Monday, September 4, 2006

Marshall's Momentum

Someone said, "it's hard to out-republican Jim Marshall." That may be close to the truth, and, I'm laying my bet today that Marshall will be re-elected. Yes, despite the fact that as a result of re-districting his new district only contains 1/3rd of his old district and now includes the hometown of this opponent, Marshall's going back to congress. He may just be the surest bet on the ballot this fall.

Tonight, I saw the first negative ad against him. It was a weak attempt to associate him with Hillary Clinton, Ted Kennedy and Cynthia McKinney. That's too funny. I often disagree with Jim, especially on Iraq. He enjoys significant crossover support from Republicans, and it's a safe bet that even the most liberal Democrats would rather have Marshall than Collins. A retired Army Ranger, Jim has often been an apologist for the President with regard to the war in Iraq. That doesn't sit too well with me, but I'm betting his support is part of the reason that when Bush comes to Georgia, it will be to campaign for Burns, not Collins.

I continue to hear a rumor that Jim might one day be interested in the Governor's office. That's an interesting thought. I would characterize Jim as a Zell Miller Democrat. That will take him back to congress, but would it play in a Governor's race? I know, I know. Focus on '06. I'm just asking for your thoughts.

Sunday, September 3, 2006

Not Smart Politics

There was a moment on Friday when I thought that Georgia Democrats were about to join hands and sing Kum Ba Ya, and then Rick Dent opened his mouth. President Carter got involved in brokering a settlement in the lawsuit filed by the Taylor campaign attorney against the Cox campaign spokesman, Peter Jackson. That settlement was a step in the right direction, but then, apparently, Dent took the opportunity to poke a stick in Cathy's eye by claiming that Carter's involvement was focused on getting the Cox folks to sign an agreement that had long been on the table. Funny, up to this point, Dent's response has been that the Taylor campaign had nothing to do with the lawsuit, so I'm wondering why he felt the need to comment at all, and especially to do so in such a manner. Couldn't he have just said, "We’re pleased that this is now behind us"??

According to the AJC, Mark Dehler, Cox's husband and the attorney representing Peter Jackson, was "infuriated" by the Dent response that he called a "blatant falsehood", and said that the agreement went through a number of "incarnations" and that significant changes resulted from Carter's involvement. If that's accurate, I don't blame him for being angry. What did Dent expect? There are issues of integrity here that transcend this election.

But even if Dent's version is correct, what possible gain was there from him saying what he said? Why risk again alienating Cox and those who supported her? Good grief, folks. Give it a rest. The primary's over. Taylor should aim his missles at Perdue, not Cox.

Crisis in Georgia's MH Delivery System

Read more about the crisis in Georgia's mental health delivery system at
Our representatives and candidates urgently need to address this matter.

Friday, September 1, 2006

Nobel Peace Prize Winner Heals the Rift?

Tom Crawford is reporting that, with the assistance of President Carter, the lawsuit filed by Taylor supporter, Ben Cawthorn against the Cox Campaign's communication director, Peter Jackson has been resolved. Cawthorn was represented by the Taylor Campaign attorney, Lee Parks and Jackson was represented, pro bono, by Mark Dehler, Cathy Cox's husband. No money was paid in settlement, but Jackson did provide a statements retracting his earlier statements and apologizing to Mr. Cawthorn and his family. Not exactly the Middle East peace accord, but close.

I have only two words: Thank God.