Sunday, June 8, 2008

Why if Must be Martin

The Georgia race for U.S. Senate is not just a Georgia race anymore. The race has national implications, and the stakes are high as we choose our nominee. The GOP hopes that Saxby will be their southern firewall, but if Saxby falls-and he may-democrats are likely to occupy sixty seats in the U.S. Senate. Why does that matter? According to Walter C. Jones:

By holding at least 41, the GOP would prevent the majority party from the 60 votes required to end filibusters and to push an unpopular bill to a vote on the floor through the cloture procedure."With 41 votes in the U.S. Senate, you can (1) block bad legislation, and (2) you can make the majority respect the minority's rights. And you can help craft good legislation," Ensign said. "If the Democrats were able to get to 60 votes - literally even if they get to 57-58 votes because they always seem to pick off a couple or three Republicans on a lot of votes - and if they win the White House ... they will be able to do pretty much whatever they want."

It will surprise no one when I say that Jim Martin is far and away the best-I would argue the only-candidate who has a chance to unseat Saxby. I've made the case before. And, it's not because he has the most money, though there is no doubt that it will take a significant investment to cut through the roar of the republican attack machine. It's because he is simply the best candidate. Certainly, he got into the race late, and that explains why he's needed time to ramp up the campaign. But, his experience running a statewide race will help him. Frankly, I think that what he's accomplished in a few weeks is impressive. He's put together a campaign team, raised a sizable amount of money, and has begun communicating with voters. During the month of June, I've heard that he has hundreds of events scheduled all over Georgia. Hundreds.

I respect Jim's lifetime of public service and his willingness to swim against the tide to do what's right. It's hard to describe Jim's life's work without using the word "service." He is anything BUT an "establishment" candidate. What, exactly, is the definition of an "establishment" candidate? Is it his resume' or his supporters? The truth is, attaching this label to someone like Jim Martin is just politics as usual in Georgia. (Some will argue that raising the money necessary to communicate with voters in a statewide race is "politics as usual," but unless you have a way for him to sit in several million living rooms over the next few months, he has to raise the money.)

In fact, the record reflects something quite different than allegiance to the status quo. Jim has spent his time in public service swimming against the tide. He was a leader in the fight to create PeachCare. That might seem idea like the "establishment" position now, but at the time, it was an upstream swim. He's been an advocate for women, for children and, in general, for those who had no voice. During his eighteen years of service in the Georgia House, Jim authored and passed more than 60 major pieces of reform legislation in the areas of health care, family law, civil and criminal justice, education, probate, business law, environmental law, labor law and tax policy. Whether fighting his way through polio as a child, fighting for his country in Vietnam or fighting for the least and the last in the legislature, Jim has displayed his characteristic courage, humility, strength of character and determination to do the right thing, especially when it's not the easy thing. As an attorney, Jim spent his career fighting for the rights of everyone-including criminal defendants-to have access to the justice system. Does that really sound like the resume' of an "establishment" candidate?

Since it can't be his record that makes him an "establishment" candidate, it must be his supporters. I'd be careful with that judgement, though. Many Martin supporters are also Obama supporters, and I don't think Obama is the "establishment" candidate. Or, maybe it's just because he was able to raise a lot of money in a short period of time. But, then, Obama didn't make it to the nomination on a wing and prayer. And, if you take a look at other seats democrats have taken back, their campaigns were well-funded. Take a look at the Mississippi, Louisiana and Illinois races-winning takes a full-on campaign. Grassroots, yes, but grassroots isn't free. And, if you think that the national money needed in this race will show up post-primary regardless of the candidate, think again. Martin is the only candidate in the race who has a chance of convincing democrats around the country to invest in a filibuster-proof senate.

One last word. Policy statements are great, and the lack of those statements on Martin's website is a legitimate beef. I am sure we'll hear more on platform from Martin, but all I have to do to know what Jim Martin believes is to look at how he has lived his life. Words are easy. As far as I'm concerned, a lifetime of service is the most credible policy statement.

If Obama is headed to Georgia, as Galloway and Company predict, it's for good reason. Thanks to Obama, Georgia has moved to the bubble in the presidential race and scores of down ballot candidates, including our senate candidate, will benefit. We can beat Saxby. We can take the 60th seat, but we need Martin to do it.


steve said...

You must not have been at the forum yesterday.

Amy Morton said...

No, but I have had in depth policy discussion with Martin both for this and during his Lt. Governor's race. For what it's worth, I initially liked him but did not support him in the Lt. Gov's race. He won me over. I know him. I know his work and his character. He embodies everything democrats ought to stand for, and Georgia would be graced to have him serve us in the Senate.