Skip to comments.Immigration, war grip Ga. race for Congress
Posted on 06/17/2007 5:22:31 PM PDT by Politicalmom
In what could be a harbinger of next year's congressional campaigns, Iraq and immigration have dominated the special election to replace deceased Republican Rep. Charlie Norwood in northeast Georgia.
Ten candidates _ six Republicans, three Democrats and a Libertarian _ have lined up to represent the 10th congressional district, which includes Athens, home to the University of Georgia, as well as Fort Gordon and parts of Augusta.
The election on Tuesday is the first congressional contest since the Democrats won control of Congress last year and it will be watched closely for any clues it might provide to the high-stakes 2008 elections. A strong Democratic showing in the GOP-leaning district could spell more trouble for Republicans next year as the war in Iraq continues to loom.
It's quite possible a winner won't be chosen right away. Unless one of the candidates breaks away from the pack and pulls more than 50 percent of the vote in Tuesday's election, the race will be decided by a runoff July 17.
The race's odds-on favorite is former state Sen. Jim Whitehead, a small businessman from Evans, just outside Augusta, who has lined up the support of much of the Republican establishment.
The blunt-spoken Norwood _ who died in February after battling cancer and lung disease _ is still beloved in the district he represented since 1994 and Whitehead has won the critical endorsement of his widow, Gloria. In an ad running on local radio, Gloria Norwood extolled Whitehead as "a friend."
"He's as conservative as Charlie and almost as independent," she said.
Whitehead has also sought to tap into the passions of "Dawg Nation," peppering his remarks with references to his days playing football for the University of Georgia and putting up an ad featuring legendary Bulldogs announcer Larry Munson, who says the former offensive lineman "is looking doggone good."
But Whitehead has made some verbal fumbles that have been seized upon by opponents. The most notable was his comment that "Iraq has not been a big thing in our district."
The top Democrat in the race, James Marlowe, of Lincolnton, has hammered away at Whitehead for minimizing the war. Marlowe, an Internet businessman who had once worked for Yahoo!, is seeking to capitalize on discontent with the war, even among Republicans.
"The quicker we have an honorable exit from Iraq the better," Marlow said.
The state Democratic Party has taken the unusual step of endorsing Marlow, although there are two other lesser-known Democrats running _ Evita Paschall of Evans, and Denise Freeman of Tignall. Party Chairwoman Jane Kidd is hoping that party unity will catapult Marlow into a runoff. His base would be the Democratic stronghold of Athens.
Still that will be no small feat in a district that tilts heavily Republican. Marlow hasn't missed an opportunity to cast himself as an independent Democrat. His Republican opponents are having none of it. He was quizzed at a recent televised debate about whether he could see himself voting for Nancy Pelosi for speaker of the House.
And the candidates have tripped over themselves to appear tough on immigration, many denouncing the compromise plan being pushed by President Bush.
Nate Pulliam, a Republican from Conyers, called the bill "the George Bush, Saxby Chambliss, Johnny Isakson amnesty bill," referring to the state's two Republican U.S. senators who have both supported the measure.
Also in the race is Athens doctor Paul Broun. The son of a popular former Democratic state senator from the area, he has high name recognition and is running as a Republican.
Also lining up on the GOP side are Mark Myers of Loganville, Bill Green from Braselton, Erik Underwood of Atlanta.
Jim Sendelbach of Conyers is running as a Libertarian.
Alan Abramowitz, a political science professor at Emory University in Atlanta, said the results will largely hinge on turnout, which is expected to be low with only the party faithful likely to go to the polls.
The Secretary of State's office predicts turnout at only about 10 percent. As of midday Friday, 7,832 absentee ballots and early voting ballots had been cast, representing 2.2 percent of the district's 340,562 registered voters.
Abramowitz said that while the district is heavily Republican, it is not as much so as it used to be. That's because in 2005 state lawmakers redrew congressional lines to make the neighboring district of Democratic U.S. Rep. John Barrow more competitive for a Republican. Republican lawmakers took liberal Athens out of Barrow's district and placed it in Norwood's. Despite the move, Barrow narrowly won re-election last year.
"It's interesting because if a Democrat does well, or pulls off some kind of upset, the Republicans will have themselves to thank for it," Abramowitz said.
Just say NO to Illegal Alien Amnesty!! Keep calling!! Its NOT OVER!!
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White House comments: (202) 456-1111
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Although we shouldn’t have anything to fear in this district, the awful climate that’s being created over shamnesty thanks to the leadership and the President could diminish turnout.
So, if I’m reading this correctly, Whitehead is for the President’s amnesty legislation? This is very bad if that’s true.
Yes, check out Whitehead’s support for amnesty here:
This Tuesday? The 19th?