* Can Gov. Sonny Perdue run again, and if former Gov. Roy Barnes wins, could he seek re-election in 2014?
In 1998, Barnes was elected as Georgia's eightieth governor. Since the adoption of the Constitution of 1976, Georgia has limited its governors to one second successive four-year term.
Barnes was the first and only governor to not be re-elected to a second succeeding four- year term. Instead, in 2002, Perdue denied Barnes a second term and became the first Republican elected as Georgia's governor since 1868.
Under Georgia's Constitution, governors are not actually limited to just two terms. Instead, Section I, Paragraph I of the Constitution limits Georgia governors to serving only two successive four-year terms at a time.
Only after serving a second successive four-year term must a governor sit out four years. Then the governor can run again and serve two more four-year terms.
So, if former Gov. Barnes is elected, he could serve a full four-year term beginning in 2011, and then, if re-elected, succeed himself for a second successive four-year term. Interestingly, if Barnes did win, Perdue could run against him in 2016, setting up a rematch of the 2002 election.
* If Attorney General Thurbert Baker, Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine or Secretary of State Karen Handel were to resign, how would a replacement be selected and would the replacement get to run as the incumbent?
Because of some quirky restrictions in Georgia's rules governing political fundraising, there is significant pressure on current officeholders to either resign from their state office or forego their gubernatorial campaign at the end of this year.
Specifically, state office holders in Georgia cannot raise money for their campaigns while the Georgia Legislature is in session.
Effectively, this means that state candidates who stay in office (like Attorney General Baker, Commissioner Baker and Secretary Handel) cannot raise money for their campaigns for the first four months of the 2010 election year.
However, gubernatorial candidates who are not state officeholders (like former Barnes and Congressman Nathan Deal) can raise money during the same time period.
Recognizing the implications of a "no fundraising" blackout for effectively four months of the election year, GOP gubernatorial candidate and former President Pro Tempore Eric Johnson resigned from the Georgia Senate on Sept. 15, ending his 17-year career in the Georgia Legislature.
Now the focus will inevitably turn to Baker, Oxendine and Handel as the end of 2009 approaches.
Under Georgia's Constitution, if one of them resigns, then it will be Perdue who gets to pick the successor - with no Georgia Senate confirmation required. His selection will then serve the full unexpired term through the end of 2010.
Of course, there is an election for each of these offices in 2010.
Under Georgia law, if she or he qualifies as a candidate in 2010, then Perdue's appointee will be listed on the primary ballot as the "incumbent," and if she or he is the nominee, on the General Election ballot. That is no small thing.
Candidly, it is unlikely that the attorney general, insurance commissioner or secretary of state would weather the fundraising blackout period and then resign.
So, the most likely and indeed trickier point will be for resignations that occur at the end of this year or the beginning of next year.
Here is why it is so tricky. The governor appoints a new attorney general, insurance commissioner or secretary of state in January 2010. That person will then face a primary election just seven months later on July 20. For four of the seven months, the new appointee cannot raise money because she or he is an officeholder and the General Assembly is in session. Indeed, unless the appointee contributes her or his own money, the appointee cannot even start up a campaign. And yet, she or he must mount a re-election campaign against announced primary and general election opponents who have been running for months.
Tricky indeed. The fact is that this whole political business just sounds easy.
Between now and the beginning of the Georgia General Assembly there are so many moving parts that not even the most inside insiders can figure it all out.