You'll recall that then-little known Republican challenger Sonny Perdue jumpstarted his gubernatorial campaign in 2002 with a TV ad that depicted Democratic incumbent Gov. Roy Barnes of Marietta as a rat climbing all over the state Capitol. The ad also lampooned what some observers viewed as Barnes' imperial style of governing. Perdue went on to pull off one of the great upsets in Georgia's political history that fall.
Barnes is trying for a political comeback next fall and is considered the front-runner for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. Oxendine has served as the state's insurance commissioner since 1994, being re-elected four times. He's now among the best known of those seeking the GOP gubernatorial nomination for next year. And he has resurrected Perdue's "rat" attack.
Visitors to Oxendine's campaign Web site can click on a tab titled "Team Ox TV," which then directs them to YouTube and a 3:52-minute video titled "The Rat Vs. The Ox." (www.youtube.com/user /TeamOxTV#p/a/f/0/Xopdhv-tcPM)
The amateurish-looking video begins with a child's voice yelling, "He's ba-a-a-a-ck!" and is followed by the baritone announcer warning, "He can't let go of the idea of power. His liberal anti-business, anti-education, anti-agriculture policies were rejected by Georgia. (child's voice again, 'He's ba-a-a-a-ck!')
"He admits he didn't listen to Georgia. He admits he was impatient with Georgia. He admits he did not want to explain things to Georgia. He wanted everything his way. He alone changed our flag. He alienated our teachers. He expanded our government. And now he's back for even more ... (child's voice again, 'He's ba-a-a-a-ck!') ...
"Some just call him 'King Roy, the Rat.' He did let the power of the Gold Dome go to his head. He did forget the people. But he did not forget the lust for power ...'"
The video accuses Barnes of putting "politics ahead of the people," accompanied by a slide showing crudely drawn pictures of Barrack Obama, Bill and Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Nancy Pelosi and a depiction of a white-haired gentleman probably meant to be Joe Biden.
The video goes on to ask, "Who can stop King Roy, the Rat?"
Not surprisingly, the answer is Oxendine, according to the video, which goes on to show a drawing of a rat and a bull colliding head on.
The video comes as a surprise not only because of its crudeness but because of its timing. Such heavy-handed attacks usually are not seen until just before Election Day.
The ad had been viewed by 71,200 people on YouTube as of Monday afternoon. And it was getting less than stellar reviews from viewers there.
"I am an Oxendine supporter and I am imploring you to take the King Roy and the Ox video off of YouTube. I have never been so embarrassed for someone in my life. Whoever made that video needs to re-think their professional calling," wrote "Cheysmere."
"Someone should inform 'Team Ox' that seeing as how fifth graders aren't allowed to vote, they don't need to make ads so simple that anyone with a high school degree would feel patronized by them," wrote "Deebaser."
And wrote "Benreilly2009," "It sounded like the narrator said 'The Rat' one time, and the editor spliced it in for the rest of the video. I'm thinking this will be a drug-culture classic before long; it would go great with acid, weed or mushrooms."
Incidentally, it was not Barnes "alone" who changed the state flag, as the video asserts. That decision was approved by the state Legislature.
IN 1998, WHEN BARNES was elected governor, he lost Buckhead by a 51-45 percent margin to Republican opponent Guy Millner of conservative Buckhead. Barnes went down to the State Capitol Friday to endorse former Democratic state Sen. Kasim Reed in the runoff for mayor of Atlanta on Dec. 1.
Reed had 36 percent in Round 1 on Nov. 3, while frontrunner Mary Norwood had 46 percent. Will Barnes' endorsement energize black voters? Barnes has been out of office nearly seven years, and even in 2002, the black turnout was lackluster, despite the change in the state flag that removed the Confederate battle emblem. Barnes' move is probably more about solidifying the inner city voters. He did not win Buckhead in either 1998 or 2002 and probably is expecting Norwood, who is from that area, to win that portion of the city in the runoff. Some wonder if there's a quid pro quo - Reed endorsing Barnes for governor instead of Attorney General Thurbert Baker (who is black), who also is running for governor.
There are more registered blacks than whites in the city of Atlanta (by about a 13 point margin), but from all accounts, blacks had lower turnout rate here than whites on Nov 3.
POLITICAL PATTER: U.S. SEN. JOHNNY ISAKSON (R-east Cobb), is slated to give the keynote address to Georgia Gwinnett College students who graduate in December. Forty students are expected to receive their diplomas following the fall 2009 semester.
STATE SEN. JUDSON HILL (R-east Cobb) raised more than $25,000 at his fundraiser Sunday at the Atlanta Country Club Estates home of Tom and Peggy Cannon. Among those on hand was U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Marietta).
AT HEARS THAT MARIETTA'S DONNA GAMBLE is sharing a cell with former Georgia School Superintendent Linda Schrenko at the Federal Correctional Institution in central Florida.
Schrenko was sentenced to eight years in prison in 2006 after pleading guilty to fraud and money laundering.
Gamble, meanwhile pleaded guilty to 22 counts of theft in August 2008 stemming from $300,000 in charges made on a card issued to her when she worked at Georgia Tech. She's serving a 32-month sentence.
But her troubles won't end with her sentence. A Cobb grand jury returned an indictment against her in July on felony theft charges. She is accused in that case of helping herself to $12,000 from the Marietta Middle School Band Boosters account. She was the group's treasurer.
KYLE MCGOWEN OF U.S. REP. TOM PRICE'S OFFICE will be guest speaker at Wednesday's meeting of the North Cobb Business Association (formerly the Canton Road Business Association), reports group spokeswoman JoAnn Birrell.
The group meets at noon for lunch at Piedmont Baptist Church at 570 East Piedmont Road in northeast Cobb. Also, MDJ editorial page editor Joe Kirby will on-hand with copies for sale of the just-out book he co-authored with photographer Damien A. Guarnieri, "Marietta Revisited: Then & Now." In addition, the two will address this morning's meeting of the Lockheed Management Retirees' Association and this evening's meeting of the Cobb Genealogical Society.
THE COBB COMMUNITY POLICY COUNCIL ON HOMELESSNESS hosted its 16th annual Jack Vaughan Jr. Human Services Award luncheon. Thursday and recognized nominees from local Cobb County businesses and nonprofit groups. Ann Cramer, director of Americas of IBM Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs spoke, and Condace Pressley of WSB Radio was emcee.
Nominees were recognized for working with or volunteering with the homeless. The Council awarded Kerry Engle of MUST Ministries with the volunteer award and Jay Cantrell of Sweetwater Valley CAMP with the professional award work with NAMI South Cobb. The William E. "Bill" Hanson Collaboration Award was presented to Jeri Barr, CEO of The Center for Family Resources.
Volunteer category nominees included Kelle Lee, nominated by The Center for Family Resources; and Sam Smith, nominated by Opportunity Knocks for Youth. Professional nominees included J.J. Bremner, nominated by The Extension; Sarah Diamond, nominated by The Center for Family Resources; Andy Peabody, of MUST Ministries, nominated by Cobb Community Services Board; and Susan Williams, nominated by MUST Ministries.
Jack Vaughan Jr. was a state representative who showed unselfish dedication to public service. He strongly advocated for those less fortunate in our community.