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Leftovers from the election
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Unintended consequences: Sen. Saxby Chambliss would have won re-election without a runoff if his fellow Republicans in the Legislature had not messed with election rules in a misguided effort to help the GOP.
Democrats had set 45 percent of the votes as the threshold for avoiding an election runoff. The GOP insisted on moving the threshold up to 50 percent. Chambliss fell between 45 and 50 percent, thus forcing him into a runoff with Democrat Jim Martin.
Republicans also decided to change the waiting period between runoffs from three weeks to four weeks — another rule change that helps Democrats. The additional week gives the donkeys more time to campaign and turn out the vote.
And one more Republican invention turned out to be a Democratic bonus. The GOP instituted early voting to give busy suburbanites additional time to cast ballots. As it turned out, Saxby fell into runoff territory only after early votes were counted, meaning the early votes turned out to be a bigger boost for Democrats.
State Sen. Eric Johnson, R-Savannah, and other Republican leaders are already talking about scaling back early voting in the next election. Good luck. Such a change would require approval from President Obama’s Justice Department.
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A star is born — again: Eighth District Rep. Jim Marshall, D-Macon, held off another strong Republican challenge to win a fourth term in Congress.
Marshall even won heavily Republican Houston County, home of Gov. Sonny Perdue, against formidable Republican challenger retired Gen. Rick Goddard, until recently the commander of Robins Air Force Base. John McCain polled better than Barack Obama in Houston County by an 11,000-vote margin. Sen. Chambliss defeated Democrat Jim Martin in Houston County by 9,000 votes.
So how does Democrat Marshall win repeatedly in GOP territory against solid Republican opponents? It’s hard to say. He is mostly ignored by fellow Democrats in D.C. as being too conservative, but in the judgment of at least one Democratic strategist, Marshall has the right stuff to run statewide in Georgia.
He is a former Macon mayor, a Vietnam vet and a member of the Ranger Hall of Fame. “If you want to take control of Georgia from the neocon Republicans and the [House Speaker] Glenn Richardsons of the world, Marshall is the guy to do it,” says the Demo campaign expert.
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Relaxed Republicans: The GOP sighed with relief when Democrats mustered a net gain of only two seats in the state House and none in the state Senate. The reason: Democrats made only token candidate-recruiting efforts for House candidates and did nothing to sign up Senate contenders. Observers say the big turnout could have given the donkeys seven new House members and three new senators.
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Drop-off: Sen. Chambliss polled 200,000 fewer votes in Georgia than did GOP presidential candidate John McCain. Democratic Senate challenger Jim Martin polled 80,000 fewer votes in Georgia than President-elect Obama.
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Bad day for party switchers: Gray Conger was the Democratic district attorney in Columbus when he qualified as a Democrat to seek re-election in 2004. Then he tried to withdraw and switch parties. Litigation followed, Conger won in court and became a member of the GOP. On Tuesday, he lost his re-election bid to a virtually unknown Democrat.
Former Public Service Commissioner Lauren “Bubba” McDonald, also a party-switcher, made another try to win back his PSC seat, but he finished second and is in a runoff against Democrat Jim Powell. You remember Jim, don’t you? He is the candidate whom Republican Secretary of State Karen Handel tried unsuccessfully in court to keep off the ballot.

You can reach Shipp at P.O. Box 2520, Kennesaw, GA 30156, e-mail:, or Web address:
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