Saturday, August 11, 2018

Georgia Governor- Race of the Day

87 Days Until Election Day

Georgia Governor

Status: Republican Open
2016 Presidential Result: Red State (South)

Outlook: Leans Republican

Often, those who are elected Governor differ from those who seek federal legislative office in the sense that they are less purely ideological and more open to the concept of reaching out to the opposing party in order to get things done. The nominees in Georgia this year though seem to be running towards their respective bases though and the divisions between them are very harsh. In some ways, both nominees are going to do better in this election because their opponent is so unpopular with the other side. That cannot change the overriding factor though that Georgia is a pretty conservative state and one that has become very difficult for any Democrat to carry statewide.

After two terms, Republican Governor Nathan Deal is term-limited. Both of his Gubernatorial victories were expected to turn out a bit closer than they actually did. In both instances though, Deal received over 50 percent of the vote, meaning that a runoff would not be required, as is mandatory in the state if someone in a general election finishes below a majority. Democrats had hopes that a coalition of the state's high number of African-American voters, plus a burgeoning Hispanic electorate, plus the votes of upscale young whites who located to Georgia in recent years from places outside the Deep South, would be enough to maybe turn Georgia blue. That has not been the case thus far.

Two Democrats wound up competing for the Gubernatorial nomination this year, and they were both named Stacey. Former State Senator Jason Carter, the grandson of the ex-President and the once highly touted 2014 nominee decided he would not seek another chance and other Democrats who received mention including Sally Yates ,the Obama Justice Department official, who received much notice when she was fired by Donald Trump as Acting Attorney General early in his Presidency also did not run.

So, it was Stacey A. vs. Stacey E. The latter, Stacey Evans was a former State Representative who came from the Republican leaning suburbs of Atlanta while Stacey Abrams also served alongside her in the State House at around the same including the position of Minority Leader. Abrams represented heavily African-American areas of Atlanta and nearby areas.

While both women are close in age to one another, they represented a difference not only as it came to race but ideology. Evans ran as a Bill Clinton-era "New Democrat" of sorts and focused on her ability to win Republican votes and govern effectively. Abrams ran as an unapologetic progressive who supported liberal policies across the board. The 1990s were clearly over, as even Hillary Clinton lined up to support Abrams, as did many Democrats from around the country. Her candidacy to become the nation's first African-American female Governor became a cause celebre. Abrams' campaign was very well-funded, but nearly 60 percent of her financial support came from out of state. Evans had the backing of Democrat stalwarts such as former Governor Roy Barnes and former U.S. Senator Max Cleland, but in the end, it was not even close in the May primary, as Abrams blew away all polling expectation and won by more than 3-1.

Republicans were having a more crowded and closer contest all the while. As Georgia Democrats were clearly putting emphasis on liberalism, Republicans were pushing for a conservative as Governor. Several candidates ran and stressed their right-wing bona fides and in some cases, loyalty to Donald Trump (which is not necessarily the same thing.) State Senator Michael Williams, whom was among the earliest Trump backers for President, finished the primary with just five percent of the vote He ran an ad in which he presented a "Deportation Bus" designed to round  up criminals and return them to Mexico. Businessman and former Navy Seal Clay Tippins stressed his political outsider credentials and won 12 percent. Hunter Hill, a former State Senator, also with a military background, received some national conservative support, for his bid but at 18 percent fell short of making the runoff.

That meant that while Abrams advanced to the general election, the top two Republicans would compete for the next two months in a runoff-campaign. Those participants were the ones most expected to advance. The front-runner for the nomination had been Lt. Governor Casey Cagle who had been in that position since 2006 and had the support of outgoing Governor Deal. The first round of voting had him easily in first place with 39 percent of the vote. His campaign received the most notice when acting in his capacity of Lt. Governor he threatened to strip Georgia-based Delta Airlines of tax breaks when they discounted a membership discount program for the NRA in the wake of gun control debates in the news.

In second place in May, with just over a quarter of the was Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who was finishing up his second term in statewide office, where he was mostly considered a mainstream Republican. In his campaign for Governor though, he took steps to appear more in sync with the populist right. In one of his own ads, he posed with a pick-up truck and said he might need to might need to "round up criminal aliens and take them home." He also featured another ad in which he held a gun and appeared to threaten harm to an actor playing the role of someone who wanted to date his teenage daughter. It seems as if Kemp was even exaggerating his southern accent in these tv spots and playing what amounts to a right-wing cartoon character.

After the primary, most expected that Cagle would ultimately prevail, even if the battle might get ugly, and despite the fact that the defeated Williams, Tippins, and Hunter all endorsed Kemp. After all, the Lt. Governor back in 2006 won a major upset victory in a runoff for his current job when he bested nationally prominent Christian conservative activist Ralph Reed. In 2018 though, news stories surfaced that questioned Cagle's financial relationship with a lobbyist and a "secret recordings" were unearthed in which the candidate came across as unprincipled and disrespectful of primary voters.

All of this began to quickly take a toll but the coup de grace to the Cagle campaign was when Donald Trump Tweeted his endorsement of Kemp days before the runoff. Based on the results, it looked like Kemp was already on pace to win, but the Presidential seal of approval might have turned into a laugher. Kemp won 69-31. I cannot think of any other runoff circumstance where the first place finisher of the primary fared worse percentage wise in the second round.

From now until November, Georgians will see Stacey Abrams and Brian Kemp attack each other as radical, out of the mainstream, unacceptable choices. Many might wind up believing it about both, but at this point at least, there does not seem to be a third party candidate on the ballot who looks certain to get enough votes to cause a general election runoff in December. That is not out of the realm of possibility though.

Neither party nominated a candidate with the most potential statewide appeal. Even despite the bad publicity he received, Cagle would likely be a solid favorite over Kemp. If Evans had somehow been chosen by the Democrats, she might have a real shot against Kemp. Polls from July in regards to the actual race though show what amounts to a dead heat. Whatever the final result, this will be a good deal closer than it otherwise would have been with another candidate on the Republican side.

If Abrams is able to beat Kemp in November, it might be the upset of the night and one of the top headlines nationwide. Many on the left firmly believe it can happen, while others believe that racism and/or sexism is destined to doom Abrams from the start. The bottom line is that no Democrat in Georgia has won statewide in some time and Abrams is to the left of pretty much everyone who ran. African-American Democrats have won lower statewide office in Georgia before, indicating that plenty of whites are able to overlook the matter of race.

By virtue of the one on one primary voting, both parties have expressed a clear preference for nominee and the contest for Governor is now placed before the voters. In many states, Abrams' standing as a very left-wing black woman would not prevent her from beating a candidate like Kemp, but in Georgia, Republicans still hold the most sway. Even moderate or suburban Georgia Republicans, who might fear what could become of the state economically, are probably going to wind up voting for Kemp over Abrams, even if they feel uneasy about the whole thing.

Gubernatorial Races predicted thus far:

4 D,  (1 Safe, 1 Leans, 2 Tossup) 5 R (2 Safe, 2 Leans, 1 Tossup)

Total with predictions thus far:

11 D (7 holdovers, 1 Safe, 1 Leans, 2 Tossup), 12 R (7 holdovers, 2 Safe, 2 Leans, 1 Tossup)


At 1:45 PM, Blogger Steve Boudreaux said...

Corey: Kemp wins by double digits (56% to 40%) & it will NOT be close.

The Peach State is just NOT going to have an African American in the GA Governor's Mansion anytime soon.

Her ethnicity is going to HURT her including her liberalism. You can bet Kemp will tie her to the TOXIC former POTUS Obama, whose despised in GA.


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