By his own admission, Barnes "didn't do enough listening" during his earlier term (1998-2002) in the Governor's Mansion, managing to amass a long list of constituencies he had irked. Conventional wisdom also had it that Barnes was too much of an "activist" governor, trying to do too much too quickly. That may or may not be correct, but what is unequivocally true is that after eight years of the do-nothing Sonny Perdue administration, most Georgians are eager for a governor who will step to the fore and finally show some leadership on such topics as improving public schools, traffic congestion, protecting the state's water supply and economic development.
It is not Perdue's fault that Georgia's economy is in a deep recession, but there's no question but that Barnes is the candidate best equipped with the leadership and other tools to lead the state out of it.
Yes, Barnes is a die-hard Democrat, but he also has shown his willingness many times to cross the political aisle to reach solutions. During his decades representing south Cobb in the state Legislature, Mableton native Barnes always made what was best for Cobb and the state his top priorities - not what was best for his political party.
He has a wealth of political and business experience that should serve the state well in times like these, and also boasts a populist touch that has been much in evidence in his recent TV commercials and throughout his career.
Moreover, Barnes has taken the unprecedented step of releasing 25 years worth of his personal tax returns. And never in his long political career has he ever been tainted by even a hint of personal or political scandal. He's living proof of the value of a good education, and a reminder that the greatest achievements usually come the "old-fashioned way" - that is, courtesy of hard work.
Three other Democrats are seeking their party's gubernatorial nomination: state Attorney General Thurbert Baker, former Georgia National Guard Commander Gen. David Poythress and House Minority Leader DuBose Porter. All are good men and good candidates. But none of the three appear to have caught fire with the public or exciting voters in the way Barnes has.
Roy Barnes has served Cobb County and the State of Georgia very well during his four-decade political career, and he is the clearly the superior choice to carry his party's banner in this fall's race for governor.