Both presidential candidates may be running on platforms of change. But the odds against change infecting Georgia’s congressional delegation on Election Day are at least 100 to 1.
When the ballots are counted, Georgia is expected to maintain a 7-6 Republican House delegation. However, the first round of House voting in Washington on the $700 billion Wall Street bailout left a confused picture of our federal lawmakers’ partisan loyalties.
All seven of Georgia’s GOP House members — usually staunch defenders of President George W. Bush — voted “no” on the president’s first package to rescue Wall Street.
Though the House Democratic leadership supported the plan, 5th District Rep. John Lewis of Atlanta, a member of the leadership, voted against it.
Thirteenth District Rep. David Scott, D-Atlanta, voted against the bailout. Oddly, several nonpartisan critics say Scott is part of the problem because of his past rock-solid support for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which will benefit from the bailout.
Only 2nd District Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Albany, and 8th District Rep. Jim Marshall, D-Macon, supported the Bush bailout in the initial House vote. Bishop is considered a good team player. Marshall usually avoids sticking his neck out unless he deems the exposure absolutely necessary.
So if you can make any sense in the state delegation’s mixed-bag stance on one of the most important issues it will ever consider, you qualify for a first-class punditry badge.
One thing certain about the vote: Maverick Democrat Marshall continues to be thorn in the side of the Georgia Republicans.
Just 18 months ago, Republicans had such high hopes of dumping Marshall. GOP leaders in Washington were almost giddy with joy after finally persuading retired Air Force Gen. Rick Goddard to challenge Marshall. Finally, the Republican strategists thought, we can cut into that pro-military voter base that allows Marshall to defy partisan gravity in rural Georgia.
Now the Republican election pooh-bahs are less than thrilled at the performance of Goddard, an ex-fighter pilot who may have spun out of control. The first signs appeared in June when Goddard assailed Marshall for embedding with Special Forces in Afghanistan. The general charged that the military foray caused Marshall to miss some debate on a bill in Washington that was already written and destined to pass.
More recently, the general was called out by a conservative outfit, Veterans for Freedom, for belittling Marshall’s military service.
“I spent 33 years in the military, not three or four years 40 years ago,” Goddard told the Jones County News. Marshall is in the U.S. Army Ranger Hall of Fame.
Goddard is now trying to make hay against Marshall for supporting the bailout, but he has a high mountain to climb. Marshall has out-raised funds against Goddard by a 3-to-1 ratio, and the general has only a light TV presence.
The Marshall-Goddard contest is one of the few Georgia battles worth watching in this election year. Democratic challengers are not faring well in the Peach State.
During qualifying, Democrats made a big deal out of their group of veterans banding together to take on the Republicans. Their number included Bill Gillespie in the 1st District, Bobby Saxon in the 10th, Bill Jones in 6th and Doug Heckman in the 7th. These long-shot campaigns in Republican districts have become even greater long shots as a result of virtually nonexistent fund-raising and uninspiring candidates, except for their military credentials.
One other interesting race: 3rd District Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, R-Grantville, looked like a shoo-in for re-election against a little-known challenger, Stephen Camp of Newnan until one day Westmoreland announced that he believed Sen. and Mrs. Barack Obama were “uppity.” The remark was seen as a signal to some of Moreland’s white followers to reassure them of his sentiments. Several black voters in Westmoreland’s district took note.
“Uppity” also gave General Goddard a bright idea. So on Sept. 4, he went on the radio in Macon and referred to NBC reporter Ron Allen as “uppity.” Allen, an African-American, is one of the most mild-mannered television personalities out there, but he does have an Ivy League degree and a Peabody award for broadcast journalism. That makes Allen fit the Southerner’s definition of uppity — from about 1950. Thirty percent of the voters in Goddard’s district are black, and now the GOP general who hails originally from Ogden, Utah, may have given the minority electorate in Middle Georgia another reason to turn out to vote — against him.
You can reach Shipp at P.O. Box 2520, Kennesaw, GA 30156, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, or Web address: billshipponline.com.