The two finalists in the race excel at talking tax reform, the debt and national defense, but seemed to find themselves on unfamiliar ground at Saturday night’s 11th District Runoff debate when asked, in so many words, what their pitch is to women voters in the district.
The 90-minute event featured former state Sen. Barry Loudermilk, of Cartersville, and former Congressman Bob Barr, of Smyrna, fielding questions from Republican National Committeeman Randy Evans of Atlanta and the MDJ’s Joe Kirby before a surprisingly large crowd of about 300 at the Bailey Performing Arts Center at Kennesaw State University. The crowd also was the recipient of surprise remarks from U.S. Senate candidate Jack Kingston, who spoke for several minutes before the actual debate started. Kingston’s runoff opponent, David Perdue, was said to be campaigning in south Georgia.
There is no Democrat in the 11th race, and the only female Republican who sought the seat, Tricia Pridemore of Marietta, was eliminated in the May 20 primary.
THERE’S NOT MUCH DIFFERENCE between the two runoff candidates, issue-wise. But they both proved less than fully fluent when given the chance to talk about “women’s issues.” As a couple of Republican U.S. Senate candidates proved two years ago, it’s a potential minefield.
Evans asked the two to “talk to us about the issues that are important to women, who are at least 50 percent of the voters. What is the message you have for them?”
Loudermilk began by noting that his wife and daughters say that “if there’s a ‘war on women,’ it’s coming from the left, not the right.” But he went on to say that he doesn’t “segregate the issues because we hear the same things over and over again from men and women.” He then listed the top such issues as Obamacare, overspending and overregulation.
Barr began his answer by referencing recently released Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl and the six soldiers killed while trying to recover the apparent deserter and talked about how the mothers of those six must have felt. He then went on to talk about how Obama’s policies are “destroying our future.”
DISSATISFIED with the answers, Evans tried again with a follow-up question. He said that well-known pollster Frank Luntz has noted that when asked, 70 percent of men judge the success of their lives by how their career went. On the other hand, 70 percent of women answer the question by saying they judge the success of their own lives by those of their children. That is, are their children able to find jobs, have good homes and find someone to love?
“So what, specifically, would you do to jump start the economy and help people find jobs and otherwise help those women understand that their children will have better lives than we did?” Evans asked.
Barr answered, saying “We have to stop looking to the government to solve every problem. … We need to stop the regulatory stranglehold … It’s a monstrosity that’s killing us.”
Loudermilk mentioned the need to repeal parts of Obamacare, then diverged into talk about the national debt and the need to pass a balanced-budget amendment.
Those arguably are good solutions to the challenges cited by Evans — but neither was “packaged” in a way to appeal to anyone other than the wonkiest of policy wonks or to the kind of woman who reads her Pocket Version of the U.S. Constitution for fun during breakfast.
As one politico was overheard telling Evans after the event was over, “I think your questions were better than their answers.”
APPARENTLY HOPING to make a dramatic entrance, Loudermilk was nowhere to be found as the event began, although he was in the building. That left Barr standing alone at one of the two lecterns for 20 minutes as moderator Scott Johnson introduced Kingston, the panelists, thanked those who put the event together and introduced Barr. It was not until Johnson began introducing Loudermilk that the candidate suddenly emerged from behind a closed door at stage right.
COMMISH RACE UPDATE: As most District 1 race-watchers expected, incumbent Northwest Cobb Commissioner Helen Goreham announced on Monday that she is endorsing former Acworth Councilman Bob Weatherford in the GOP Primary runoff race to succeed her next year.
Goreham’s three terms on the Commission overlapped most of Weatherford’s years as an Acworth alderman, and, said Goreham, “He has served his constituents with honesty, integrity and respect.”
“I have the utmost confidence that Bob will continue to uphold the Land-Use Plan and be a pragmatic voice on the Cobb County Board of Commissioners. Cobb County will be well represented if the voters elect Bob Weatherford as District 1 Commissioner on July 22nd.”
Goreham and the other finalist in the runoff, former Commission Chairman Bill Byrne, have been feuding publically in the last year or two over a variety of issues. Her presence at Weatherford’s Primary Night party at the Strand Theatre last month (along with Acworth Mayor Tommy Allegood and Kennesaw Mayor Mark Mathews) was a clear sign she intended to throw her support behind Weatherford.
BYRNE will host a fundraiser from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday in the upstairs room at Shillings on the Square.
SYNDICATED MDJ columnist Dick Yarbrough was made an honorary member of the Cobb County Retirees Association on Monday.
“I get no benefits or pension from the county, but I do get to attend the retiree summer barbecue and Christmas dinner — as long as I pay,” he quipped to AT. “I also think it means I don’t have to pay dues or serve coffee.”