Republican David Perdue is former CEO of Dollar General and Reebok and also is the cousin and business partner of former Gov. Sonny Perdue.
Democrat Michelle Nunn was the CEO of the Points of Light Foundation until last week and is the daughter of former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn (D-Ga.).
DAVID PERDUE’S deep pockets give him a degree of independence that many candidates can only dream about and he promises to be “the largest investor” in his race. But whether his personal wealth will help him or hurt him with voters is anybody’s guess. Multi-millionaire Guy Milner ran as a Republican for Georgia governor in 1994, U.S. Senator in ’96 and governor again in ’98. He had enough juice to win the primaries but lost all three general elections. Georgia was still a predominantly Democratic state back then.
Perdue probably prefers to see multi-billionaire Michael Bloomberg as a model. Bloomberg is in his third term as mayor of New York City.
Meanwhile, speaking of NYC, still waiting in the wings of the Republican gubernatorial primary field here is businesswoman Kelly Loeffler, VP of Intercontinental Exchange. That company operates global commodity and financial markets and is in negotiations to purchase the New York Stock Exchange. Loeffler also is co-owner of the Atlanta Dream women’s basketball team and is said to still be seriously considering the race for Senate.
MICHELLE NUNN is the proud bearer of what future historians will no doubt describe as one of the most vaunted names in late-20th century Georgia politics. The current question, though, is how much sway that name will have with next year’s General Election voters. Keep in mind that Sam Nunn left office at the end of 1996. By fall 2014 it will have been 24 years since the name “Nunn” appeared on a ballot in this state — a lifetime in politics. Looked at another way, it means that the 18- to 22-year-olds voting next year — voters who typically tend to favor Democratic candidates — were not even born yet when Nunn exited office. It will take more than the Nunn name to make an impression on them.
In addition, Georgia’s voter demographics have changed dramatically since Nunn’s heyday, with the Republicans now holding every statewide elective office. Nunn was considered a conservative Democrat in those days. Will his daughter be able to successfully paint herself as a moderate, like he did? Her challenge will be much harder than his in this era of heightened partisanship, ever-shorter news cycles and blanket media coverage.
AND is Michelle Nunn a moderate? She offered abundant words of praise last week for former Republican President George H.W. Bush and his family (when was the last time you heard any Democrat do that?), which has been heavily involved in the Points of Light Foundation. But she has never run before and has no public record.
She declined to say last week how she would have voted on the recent Senate immigration bill that both Chambliss and U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) opposed. But she says she supports the “pathway to citizenship” embodied in that bill. And she declined to say whether she supports a renewal of the ban on assault weapons or heightened background checks for firearms purchases, but said she supports abortion rights.
PLF’s board is headed by President Bush and its Advisory board includes Bush’s son, Neil Bush as chair. But other Advisory Board members include Howard Dean, Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington and former Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.
So not surprisingly, the National Republican Senatorial Committee already is painting her as “a liberal in the mold of Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama, who supports ObamaCare, higher taxes and a bigger, more invasive government.”
Meanwhile, a press release from the Georgia Republican Party made light of her status as an Atlanta-based candidate little known to the rest of the state.
“We wish you safe travels as you venture outside of Atlanta on your tour of the state. Don’t forget your map!” it jabbed.
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THE COBB CENTRAL LIBRARY now has a new name — the Charles D. Switzer Public Library — that honors a key figure in the growth of the county library system.
Switzer was the county’s longest-serving volunteer board appointee at the time he stepped down last year from the Library’s Board of Trustees. He was appointed to the board in 1982, as a replacement for Dr. Lewis A. Ray. Switzer became chairman of the Library Board in 1999, replacing the retiring Dennis Kemp.
During his tenure on the board the system opened the Central Library and the East, West and South Cobb Regional Libraries plus several smaller ones, expansions funded in large part by the board’s success in persuading the public to approve a bond referendum in 1986. South Cobb native Switzer is a Georgia Tech grad, a Lockheed retiree and retired lieutenant colonel in the Air Force Reserve.
SPEAKING of books, author Doug Frey and photographer Jim DiVitale will be signing copies of “Marietta: The Gem City of Georgia” at the dk Gallery on Marietta Square during Artwalk on Friday. The Cobb Landmarks publication highlights 50 of the city’s most historic homes.
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REPUBLICAN Senate hopefuls Reps. Phil Gingrey of Marietta and Jack Kingston of Savannah will speak at this week’s First Saturday Breakfast sponsored by the Cobb GOP. The two will not debate, but will have 35 minutes each to address the crowd and answer questions.
The 8:30-10 a.m. event will be at the party HQ, 799 Roswell St., across from Roswell Street Baptist Church. Cost is $10 per person.
THE ARMY AVIATION HERITAGE FOUNDATION will be selling rides in a Bell Huey UH-1H Helicopter from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday at the Marietta Museum of History Aviation Wing on Atlanta Road at South Cobb Drive. Cost to ride is $75 per person. The AAHF will be in Marietta that day in support of the Vietnam Dust-Off Association Conference and Reunion at the Marietta Conference Center through Sunday, reports Wing spokesman Bob Williams.
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HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Jeannette Hunter, owner of Hunter Realty, widow of former Marietta Mayor Dick Hunter and the mother of 12 children (after doctors once told her she would be unable to have any at all), who is turning 87.
Mrs. Hunter is a veteran member of “The Political Hags” — a dozen or so of Marietta’s most ardent Democratic women. They have been a fixture here for decades, meeting weekly to tell jokes, share gossip and trade zingers at Republicans’ expense.
The Hags got their unusual sobriquet courtesy of playfully acerbic state Rep. (and later Mayor) Joe Mack Wilson, back when the power-lunch eatery du jour for the courthouse crowd was “Jimmy the Greek’s” on Roswell Street just off Marietta Square.
“The name stuck and they are proud of it,” explains Gwynn Flournoy Ross, a self-styled “petite Hag” and daughter of longtime Hag Pam Flournoy, mother of Superior Court Judge Robert Flournoy.
Other Hag mainstays include Mary Francis Williams (daughter of late Mayor Red Atherton), Martha Darden, Mary Agraz, Connie McManus, Rusty Sternagle (daughter of Mrs. Hunter), Susan Plaster, Cathy Bruning, Diane Waldrop and Mrs. Hunter.
The Hags now meet at Doceur de France on South Marietta Parkway. And that’s where today, they’ll be wishing one of their own, Mrs. Hunter, a Happy Birthday.