|On July 15, Georgia held its primary election, which included a five-way Democratic primary for the 2008 Senate nomination. The result was the promise of a run-off on August 5 between DeKalb County CEO Vernon Jones, who took about 40% of the vote in the primary, and former state legislator and 2006 Lieutenant Gubernatorial nominee Jim Martin, who earned about 34% of the vote in the primary.In the days since the primary, fellow candidates journalist Dale Cardwell (who scored about 16% in the primary) and ecologist Rand Knight (who scored about 5% in the primary) both endorsed Martin. (The fifth candidate in the primary, Josh Lanier, who took about 4%, said that he’d support either man in the general election.) In the weeks leading up to the primary election, one of the most incisive endorsements was that of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which wrote of Martin:
That endorsement is Martin’s second from the AJC in as many election cycles. Their endorsement of him in the 2006 Lieutenent Gubernatorial race is also quite glowing:
A military veteran, state legislator, state Cabinet official for Governors of both Parties – an independent voice for Georgia with a commitment to children and to transparent, responsive government. That’s quite a profile. As mentioned above, Martin was also the 2006 Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor. While Martin was not successful in that bid, it is worth noting that he significantly outpolled the Democratic Gubernatorial nominee, then-Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor, 887,506 votes for Martin and only 811,049 votes for Taylor.
Martin also had a very quick start to his campaign. He entered the race in mid-March, and, in his first thirteen days on the campaign trail,raised nearly $350,000. Again, that’s $350,000 in under two weeks.
Martin’s opponent in the run-off will be Vernon Jones, who brings tremendous personal baggage and a political perspective out-of-step with Democrats from any state in America. To quote again from the recent AJC endorsement of Martin:
While the contents of the first two paragraphs are enough to give a political observer great pause, it is the content of the third paragraph that should truly disqualify Jones from consideration by any Democratic primary voter. If Jones is seeking the support of pro-Bush Democrats in Georgia, it may earn the vote of Zell Miller, but it shouldn’t merit him the Democratic nomination for Senate.
So how are both Martin and Jones doing on the money front? As of the end of Q2, Martin had $330,000 on hand against Jones’ $150,000. Martin also had a much better Q2 as he brought in over $430,000 in that three-month period against Jones’ $153K.
And how do both Martin and Jones match up against the Republican incumbent, the vile Saxby Chambliss? Rasmussen Reports has been tracking the Democratic primary challengers against Chambliss, and Martin has routinely polled much closer than Jones.
Vernon Jones has been unable to break 33% against Chambliss nor has he been able to get within 20 points of Chambliss. Jim Martin has been closing the gap against Chambliss and is on the verge of getting over the 40% mark and pulling Chambliss under the 50% mark.
And, for the cherry on top of the anti-Vernon Jones sundae, leading up to primary day, Vernon Jones was caught trying to suggest to voters that he had gained the support of Barack Obama when he certainly had not:
Jim Martin has the superior profile, the superior experience, the superior polling, the superior fundraising, and the superior integrity. Senate Guru is proud to endorse Jim Martin in Georgia’s 2008 U.S. Senate race.
Further, Senate Guru is adding Jim Martin to the Expand the Map! ActBlue page and heartily encourages you to consider a contribution to his campaign to assist his victory in the run-off on August 5 and to equip him for the general election against Spineless Saxby Chambliss.
Some might argue that the 2008 Georgia Senate race is too steep an uphill climb for a Democrat, even against a Republican as craven as Saxby Chambliss. Some might point to Chambliss’ $4 million bankroll and throw their hands in the air. While this is no doubt an uphill climb, I would urge you not to surrender the Georgia Senate race for a number of reasons.
First, Martin has, as shown above, closed the gap against Chambliss since May from 21 points to 16 points to 13 points. A bump from the primary victory could very well put Martin within single digits of Chambliss. That alone makes this a race to watch.
Second, third Party candidates will play a big role in Georgia on Election Day. The Libertarian nominee for President this year is former Georgia Congressman Bob Barr. While Barr obviously can’t shave votes directly from Chambliss, the Georgia Libertarian Party is alsorunning a Senate candidate, attorney Allen Buckley. Buckley was the Libertarian nominee for Lieutenant Governor in the same 2006 election in which Jim Martin ran. Buckley scored 3.6% of the vote. With Bob Barr creating a higher profile reason for disenchanted Republicans nationwide (and in Georgia particularly) to leave the GOP for the Libertarian ballot line, Buckley can expect to do even better in 2008. And, of course, it’s very reasonable to expect that voters for the Libertarian Buckley would more likely have voted for Chambliss than for the Democratic nominee. Buckley could shave four or five or, heck, maybe eight or nine points off of Chambliss’ right wing.
Third, playing into the second reason, some conservative Georgia Republicans are rather disenchanted with Saxby Chambliss over some prominent issues. First, and perhaps most notable, is his early support for the Kennedy-McCain immigration bill. Chambliss got loudly booed by Republicans at the Georgia Republican Party’s 2007 state convention while discussing his support for immigration reform. (There is even some wonderful audio of the chorus of boos.) Following the round of boos from the GA-GOP, Chambliss displayed his trademark political spinelessness and abandoned his support for the legislation. And immigration is not the only issue over which Georgia Republicans have become displeased with Chambliss. Chambliss’ support for the Farm Bill has also drawn the ire of the GA-GOP and led some Republicans to consider voting for the Libertarian Buckley over Chambliss:
Fourth, it will be a stark comparison to measure Martin’s military service against Chambliss’ military, um, background. While Martin served in Vietnam, Chambliss totaled six deferments from military service to his country, five student deferments and one 1-Y medical deferment for allegedly bad knees. (It’s worth noting that Chambliss allegedly bad knees have not slowed down his golf game, even at the age of sixty-four. Chambliss, allegedly bad knees and all, was ranked the 33rd best golfer among the Washington power elite by Golf Digest at the age of sixty-one in 2005.)
Fifth, building off of the fourth reason, and certainly most visceral to me, Saxby Chambliss may be most notoriously remembered among Democrats (and among, well, anybody with a conscience) for his utterly despicable attack ads against former Senator Max Cleland in their 2002 race. Senator Cleland not only fought in Vietnam, but he left three limbs on the battlefields of Khe Sanh. As noted above, Chambliss snagged six deferments to avoid service in Vietnam. And, still, Chambliss displayed the shamelessness to call into question Cleland’s patriotism and had the audacity to air Cleland’s photo following the visage of Osama bin Laden, as Chambliss’ ad declared, “Max Cleland says he has the courage to lead. But the record proves… Max Cleland is just misleading.”
Chambliss the cowardly draft-dodger questioned the patriotism of the courageous war hero Cleland. To call Chambliss loathsome is to let him off easy.
Sixth, there is reason for optimism in turnout numbers. When one looks at the results of the recent primary election, one can note that over 483,000 voters turned out for the Democratic primary while less than 392,000 voters came out to support Chambliss in the primary. Of course, the Democrats’ contested primary would naturally draw more interest, but it’s not like Republicans didn’t have contested primaries for other offices turning out voters. Further, Barack Obama’s candidacy is widely expected to heighten turnout considerably for Democrats, further benefiting the eventual Democratic nominee for Senate. It also doesn’t help Chambliss that McCain vs. Obama in Georgia is beginning to look like a single-digit affair.
Seventh, Chambliss has been a prominent rubber stamp for George W. Bush, supporting Bush well over ninety percent of the time. Bush’s approval in Georgia as of Election Day 2006 was already noticeably under the 50% mark. Bush’s approval in Georgia wassubsequently clocked at 38% in April of 2007. One can only wonder how low it has dropped, but tying Chambliss to Bush’s failed policies should hurt Chambliss’ chances for re-election.
Eighth, the DSCC has a massive financial advantage over the NRSC. The NRSC can’t afford to pour money into Georgia at the expense of other states, but the DSCC could help neutralize Chambliss’ money edge if Martin demonstrates an ability to further close the poll gap.
NRSC Chair John Ensign has stated that keeping Saxby Chambliss in the Senate is critical to keeping Democrats from winning a 60-seat, filibuster-proof majority in 2008:
Let’s help Jim Martin tear down the Republicans’ firewall.
Readers of the blog know that there is no Republican Senator I more want to lose his or her seat in 2008 than Saxby Chambliss. Jim Martin has the potential to oust him. Are you as disgusted with Saxby Chambliss as I am? If you are, please support Jim Martin in the August 5 run-off and please make a contribution to his campaign via the Expand the Map! ActBlue page.
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