Numerous polls show businessman David Perdue as the frontrunner in the race for the GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate, with the real battle now boiling down to whether his runoff opponent will be U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston or former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel. The InsiderAdvantage/Fox5/MDJ poll released late this week by Matt Towery showed Perdue at 27 percent, Kingston at 19 percent and Handel at 17 percent, with Paul Broun (10 percent) and U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey of Marietta (9 percent) lagging far behind.
The two finalists will meet in a July 22 runoff for the right to oppose expected Democratic nominee Michelle Nunn in November. She’s expected to easily top Vinings Dr. Branko Radulovacki and former state Sen. Miles Steen on Tuesday.
THE MARQUEE MATCHUP in Cobb has been the race to succeed Gingrey as 11th District U.S. Rep. Former Rep. Bob Barr (R-Smyrna) has the most name recognition and is considered likely to make the runoff.
Opponent Barry Loudermilk went negative this week with a flier reminding (or you might say “informing”) voters Barr had written a letter of recommendation for Democrat Eric Holder as U.S. Attorney General in early 2009. That likely came as shock to some, but Barr’s long political career has been so full of zigs and zags and unexpected deviations that those already inclined to vote for him probably took the news about Holder without much more than a batted eyelash.
Loudermilk is counting on a surge of votes from Bartow and Cherokee counties to put him in the runoff, and he also has been making inroads in Cobb, picking up the valuable endorsement of state Sen. Lindsey Tippins (R-west Cobb), for example. His decision to “go negative” could have been a sign he was trailing and had nothing to lose.
Marietta’s Tricia Pridemore has run a dynamic and well-funded campaign. She has very strong support in Marietta, but the key point will be whether she is competitive elsewhere in the district as well.
The fourth top-tier candidate in that race, former state House Majority Whip Ed Lindsey of Buckhead, has battled gamely and with good humor to raise his profile in the rest of the district, where he was all but unknown previously. Had he started his “getting to know you” push 18 months ago, instead of six months ago, he could well have been in the catbird seat by now.
AND THAT BRINGS US to the two county commission races. Northeast Cobb District 3 Commission incumbent JoAnn Birrell is expected to best challengers Mike Opitz and Joseph Pond without a runoff. But the bigger challenge is trying to crystal ball what will happen in Northwest Cobb District 1. Former Commission Chairman Bill Byrne has run a vigorous campaign and, due to his name-recognition advantage, is predicted by many to be assured of a runoff slot. On the other hand, that district has been the fastest-growing in Cobb over the past two decades and many residents were not there during Byrne’s 1990s tenure as chair. But, considering the baggage he drags from that era, that might be to his advantage.
Byrne ran for chairman again two years ago and nearly knocked off incumbent Tim Lee. Many voters, though, were voting against Lee and not necessarily for Byrne. This time, Byrne shrewdly has painted one of the other four other challengers in the race, former Acworth Councilman Bob Weatherford, as a surrogate for Lee and the Cobb Chamber of Commerce.
Will that race come down to a Byrne vs. Weatherford runoff? Or Byrne vs. someone else (Angela Barner? Glenn Melson? Scott Tucker?) Or will Byrne and Weatherford even make the runoff? Stay tuned.
PEOPLE: Oprah Winfrey, who will star in the film “Selma,” part of which is soon to be filmed in downtown Marietta, will visit the Marietta/Cobb Museum of Art later this month and be presented with a 9x8-foot portrait of herself now on display there by artist Alexi Torres, according to museum director Sally Macaulay.
“Alexi came up to me at the opening of the show, and said, ‘If you can ever get Oprah in here, tell her I’ll give her the painting,’” she told Around Town. “That was on a Saturday night. The following Tuesday a location scout for ‘Selma’ came into the museum and saw the painting and was knocked out by it.
“So I told her what Alexi had said — and that the painting is worth $48,000 — and the scout said, ‘We can make that happen.’”
IF YOU’VE EVER WONDERED about what might happen if a Cobb State Court judge was ever a guest on the TV show “Family Feud,” check out Irma Glover’s recent appearance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EiGOt4Tz6l8&list=UUt8jfvd9skBAOT6XJwc_mJg. It will get your day off on the right foot!
YOU CAN SAY THIS about the candidates who took part in the Citizens for Governmental Transparency-sponsored debate at the County Administration Building Thursday night: They know how to read poll results.
A day after poll results were released, showing wide support in north Cobb for the Atlanta Braves’ move to Cobb — but also showing deep dissatisfaction with the way the move has been handled and with the fact that tax dollars are being used to subsidize it — all of the four District 1 candidates in attendance were sharply critical, with three saying it should be put to a referendum.
The Braves’ move, as expected, was a focus of Thursday’s event at the County Administration Building. The CGT is a coalition of diverse groups — including the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Atlanta Tea Party and Sierra Club — that coalesced last fall to block or delay the county’s decision to help build a $672 million stadium for the team in the Galleria area.
Candidates Barner and Weatherford, the most supportive of the move, skipped the event. It followed the release of two polls by Lincoln Park Strategies. The first asked 400 likely voters in District 1 about the move and the second asked a like number of voters in District 3 the same questions. The results were essentially the same. A majority (59 percent in District 1) support the stadium. But when asked if they support using “taxpayer money” to help build the stadium, only 30 percent answered “yes.” And in an ominous sign for the proposed $494 million BRT line from Kennesaw to Midtown, the polls found only about a fourth of respondents in favor.
THOSE RESULTS seem to give Thursday’s candidates all the confidence they needed to be critical of the move.
Melson: “I’d like them to slow down. Let’s take a look and have more public hearings. We really need a public referendum before we spend $300 million up front, more millions a year servicing that debt and millions on capital maintenance and whatever other costs they’ve got built in there.”
Tucker: “Do you let people invest your money without you having any input into it or knowing anything about it? No. I think we can move forward, but not until we get the citizens involved.”
Byrne: “You do not use taxpayer dollars in the middle of a recession to subsidize a professional baseball franchise owned by billionaires. And at the same time, you can’t pay our police officers, firefighters or sheriff’s deputies a livable wage.
“We have committed to pay $300 million to the Braves to come here. In reality, over 30 years, that payback will exceed $600 million with a commitment of $18 million a year to pay it down. That’s obscene! The only way that you can commit that kind of obligation with public funds is with their authorization, and I would have required that that be a referendum.”
Democrat Derrick Crump said he too favors a referendum.