The biggest winner, obviously, was Gov.-elect Nathan Deal. He was almost unknown outside of his northeast Georgia district as the year began, and a dark-horse for his party's nomination. Yet he outmaneuvered the others and survived a runoff for GOP nomination, then waged a dogged campaign as his party's gubernatorial standard-bearer. He overcame questions about his finances and ethics that would have sunk many candidates, and simultaneously managed to connect with rank-and-file Republicans in a way that predecessor Sonny Perdue never quite managed to, even after eight years in the Governor's Mansion. Moreover, Deal did it on his own. It was no secret that Perdue preferred former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel for the job, and even after Deal garnered the nomination, Perdue did little in the way of campaigning for him.
Meanwhile, the biggest loser, just as obviously, was Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Roy Barnes of Marietta. Had the race taken place in 2008, with Barack Obama atop the ballot, Barnes might well have won. But with disgust with Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid running rampant in most Georgia precincts, Barnes and other state Democrats became Republican voters' de facto substitute targets. Look at it like this. Barnes swam against an ever-stronger anti-Democratic tide all summer and fall, yet still garnered 43 percent of the vote statewide. Had the race taken place in a more conventional political year, Barnes might well have prevailed.
Barnes tried to be an unconventional Democrat, taking fairly conservative positions on immigration reform, criticizing Obamacare and even hinting he might vote for the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate. But Barnes could only go so far in that direction without depressing the turnout by his Democratic base, and there weren't enough independent/undecided voters to make it worthwhile for him to go any further rightward and portray himself as the "Republican Lite" candidate.
As he said Tuesday night, "It was a tough year to be running as a Democrat."
Indicative of Barnes' challenge was his inability to win a majority of the votes in his home county. His 84,316 votes (40 percent) in Cobb were well short of the 116,361 (55 percent) that Deal got here.
Other winners include:
* Gainesville/Hall County, which can claim bragging rights as the home of both Deal and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle.
* U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), who lucked out, big-time. Unlike U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), whose re-election race came when anti-Republican sentiment was at an all-time high and Obama was on the presidential ballot, Isakson's re-election cycle coincided with a historic surge of motivated Republican voters eager to repudiate the Obama agenda. Chances are that the popular Isakson would have won even had that not been the case, but he made it look easy on Tuesday.
Incidentally, Isakson got the biggest share of Cobb votes (64 percent) of any of the candidates running statewide on Tuesday.
* Attorney General-elect Sam Olens. Almost unknown outside Cobb as the race began (with the exception of metro-area politicians and policy wonks), Olens proved, among other things, that his non-Georgia accent and his Jewish faith were not barriers to acceptance by voters statewide.
* Tricia Pridemore of Marietta, Cobb chairman of the Deal for Governor campaign, who along with lobbyist Jay Morgan was appointed by Deal to head his inauguration committee.
* Former Perdue chief of staff John Watson of west Cobb, who'll be serving on the Deal transition team.
* Political newcomer Sam Teasley, who bested incumbent state Rep. Pat Dooley (D-Marietta) in a district that has bounced like a ping-pong ball from party to party for the past decade. As you may recall from last week's Around Town, Dooley sent out an election-eve mailer sloppily accusing Republican Teasley of having voted "88 times this year" to raise taxes. The only problem was that Teasley was not an office-holder - she was. Teasley will no doubt vote at least 88 times next year - but we doubt many, or any, of those votes will be to raise taxes.
* Cobb school board member Alison Bartlett, who thanks to this summer's primaries and Tuesday's balloting, will have at least two and possibly three fellow reformers on the board - which is ripe for reform. Elected this summer were Kathleen Angelucci and Scott Sweeney. And elected this week was Tim Stultz, who may prove an ally - and who almost certainly cannot prove to be more in favor of the system's status quo than the member he replaces, Holli Cash of Smyrna. And let's hope that this year's contingent of reformers do a better job of living up to their campaign promises than the so-called "reformers" they replace.
Other losers include:
* Cobb school Superintendent Fred Sanderson, who lost his biggest cheerleader when Cash got the boot from voters.
* Cash herself, who'll have to do her cheerleading at football games from now on.
* Georgians, who were deceived by the deliberately vague wording of Amendment 1 into passing a pro-employer, anti-employee change to our state Constitution.
THIS ’N THAT: Marietta Councilman and senior assistant Cobb District Attorney Van Pearlberg is said to be seriously considering a run for Cobb Superior Court if Judge Dorothy Robinson, the senior member of the Cobb bench, retires as expected in 2012. …
Smyrna’s Veterans Day ceremony at 11 a.m. Thursday at Brinkley Park, 160 Legion Drive (behind the American Legion off Concord Road) in Smyrna will feature speakers retired Army Col. Ben Malcolm, a Korean War Special Forces veteran; and retired Army Lt. Col. Bob Lanzotti of Smyrna, a Vietnam War helicopter pilot. Music will be by the 116th Georgia Army National Guard Band. Singing the National Anthem will be Maryline Blackburn of Smyrna.
Malcolm is author of “White Tigers – My Secret War in North Korea” and was the subject of a one-hour documentary film on The History Channel. Lanzotti racked up more than 1,000 hours of combat flying in Vietnam and earned two Distinguished Flying Crosses. He is the author of “Flying Through the Years: A Trilogy of Short Tours and a Collection of Short Stories.” …
Power failures in Marietta are becoming a bad habit. The power went out for at least three hours in parts of the city on Saturday, Oct. 23, and again on Tuesday afternoon.
Power also went out last Friday evening during the end of the first quarter of the Walton/Marietta game, prompting the coaches to consider postponing the game until the next day, although they ultimately resumed playing just before 10 p.m. that night.
Mayor Steve Tumlin, who chairs the Marietta Board of Lights and Water, said the city-owned utility is “a 24/7 company.”
“We want to be excellent. We want to be 24/7. That’s our goal,” Tumlin said.
The power outages don’t exactly help the city’s case for raising its rates in the coming months. Tumlin has estimated that the BLW may call for a 9 percent increase in your electric bill, a 9 percent increase in your water bill and a four to 6 percent increase in your sewer bill in January or February.
A town hall meeting on the subject is slated for 6 p.m., Nov. 29, at City Hall. …
The mules have moved. Cobb’s spokesman Robert Quigley reports that Jack and Jill left Cobb a week ago via trailer, destined for their new home in Canada …
Christmas cheer. For the 33rd year, the Kennesaw Police Department will help less-fortunate families in the Kennesaw and Acworth area through the Jerry Worthan Memorial Christmas Fund.
Last year, the Kennesaw Police Department was able to help more than 51 families, including 131 children.
Donations of money, food, or new toys would be greatly appreciated. Toys and food can be dropped off at the Kennesaw Jail.
Monetary donations can be made payable to the Jerry Worthan Memorial Christmas Fund and dropped off at the Kennesaw Police Department, Monday – Friday 8 a.m until 6 p.m., or mailed to Kennesaw Police Department, Attn: Officer Scott Luther, 2539 J.O. Stephenson Ave., Kennesaw 30144.
The deadline for donations is Dec. 17.
Board members are Chief Bill Westenberger; Deputy Chief Jean Tolbert; Officer Scott Luther; Bobbie Duke — 911 Director/Secretary; Officer Grumbein — Police Chaplin; and honorary members Dianne Worthan (Jerry Worthans wife) and Wendy Cunningham (Jerry Worthans daughter).