Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Election post mortem

So, primary elections are sort of over, save for a pesky run-off in the Democratic Senate nomination race. My takes on the only interesting ballot items around:

MARTA and Gwinnett: Gwinnett voters don't want a $.01 sales tax for MARTA. The AJC notes that the vote was split along partisan lines, with Dems in favor of GOP voters against. Combined, the vote was 53%-47% against expansion. You can see the breakdown of votes at right. (Click for larger image). Source: AJC

Anecdotally, there is still a question of whether Gwinnett GOP voters oppose transit, taxes, or if this is simply a matter of regional politics:
However, sentiment against the proposal seemed to center less on whether rail should come to the county —- although that was an issue —- but rather on distrust of MARTA and concerns that the agency would use tax revenues collected in Gwinnett to support operations elsewhere in its system.

Some transit proponents had worried that linking the question of rail in the county to MARTA could doom the straw poll's chances, a scenario that may have played out.

"The last thing I want to do is give more money to Atlanta," said Wharton Smith, who voted with his wife, Annette, at the Duluth City Hall.
Still, a 53-47 vote isn't that bad, considering that MARTA did virtual zero campaigning in support of the referendum. I for one would be in favor of scrapping MARTA for a regional-based government structure if it meant expanding transit into Cobb, Gwinnett, Henry, and Clayton counties. Gwinnett and Clayton actually have representatives on the MARTA board. I wish the poll had been able to differentiate between MARTA, transit, and taxes. These are really three separate issues, and the distrust of "Atlanta" is strong enough in Gwinnett to muddy the waters.

Democratic U.S. Senate race: This was generally a snooze-fest, and I did my best to ignore it. But, I'm a Dem, so I figured I'd go ahead and vote for someone. Despite my disappointment with his campaign, I voted for Jim Martin. He's the only guy I think is actually qualified to be a Senator, even though I thought Josh Lanier and Rand Knight might be better campaigners.

So, at the end of the day, it's a run-off between Martin and Vernon Jones. Primary run-offs are generally won by whoever has the best organization, so I'm tempted to give the nod to Martin. However, if I recall Denise Majette trounced Cliff Oxford without much a campaign structure. Jim already has Dale Cardwell's endorsement, but he'll need to do some serious ground organizing before Aug. 5.

I for one an completely unenthused by Martin's candidacy - I think he needs a haircut, and I think he needs to have ads that attack Saxby instead of blather about how nice and honorable Jim is. I'm sure he is all of these things, but to beat Saxby he'll need to be a lot more aggressive. He is currently playing into stereotypical "Dems are weak" cliches. If he wins the nomination, I expect he will get lost in the shuffle come November. The only way he wins is if Obama carries the state and Jim catches a ride.

While Vernon Jones comes off as a bit of a snake to me, he might actually have a better shot at the general election. He's tacking to the center constantly, talking about Reagan Democrats, etc. He voted for Bush twice. Of course, the lawsuits alleging he wanted to fire white people to create a "darker administration" for DeKalb will undoubtedly surface in a direct mailer of some sort. He's in many ways a larger than life figure, so I suspect he'd get more free press and attention than Martin. Vernon would certainly make things interesting.

The problem is I'm not sure if I could vote for Vernon in a general election. So here's hoping Jim Martin wins the right to be a sacrifical lamb.

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