YDATL Blog NOTE: The opinions expressed by our individual bloggers are their own, and not necessarily those of Young Democrats of Atlanta.
Saturday, March 25, 2006
Putting all our eggs in the governor's race
I was talking with a friend today, and I casually asked, “Do you think Guy Drexinger can beat John Oxendine?” The answer I got was “I think our state candidates will live and die by the governor's race.”
That answer is worth thinking about. If, indeed, our downballot candidates will need the winner of the Mark Taylor/Cathy Cox battle to pull out their own elections, they will have to navigate treacherous strategic waters. A key question will be whether to endorse Mark, Cathy, or neither: the wrong answer could cost them support among the Democratic base and from the gubernatorial nominee. Downballot candidates will have to find a balance between working to secure the critical victory of the gubernatorial nominee and fending off the Republican challengers in their own races. Many of our state candidates may find riding on coattails difficult – most of them do not have recent service under the Gold Dome to link them to Mark and Cathy.
The short answer, then, is that if my friend were right, our state campaigns would be an uphill battle. But I don't believe Democrats must necessarily lose the downballot state races if Sonny Perdue prevails. Obviously, if Ralph Reed is the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor, our chances will be good regardless of how Mark and Cathy fare. But I don't believe we must beat Perdue before we can beat Casey Cagle. Both Greg Hecht and Jim Martin can position themselves favorably on many issues. For example, Cagle's own education “plan” makes only token reference to the HOPE scholarship program – an obvious weakness in his record and therefore in his campaign. Cagle has his strengths, of course, but there is nothing to prevent Jim and Greg from capitalizing on his failures and using them to promote the Democratic agenda of a real focus on education.
I believe Cagle is representative of the Republican candidates as a whole – that is, critically vulnerable, alone or in collusion with Perdue. Obviously, defeating Sonny Perdue must be the top Democratic priority in 2006. But I reject the idea that we are powerless if he wins – throwing up our hands in the face of an impending Perdue victory would be tantamount to giving up, and I hope that Georgia Democrats are not ready to give up without fighting for every seat.