The genesis of my trip to Georgia was a short phone interview concerning the IRS chief revelation that the government would seize tax refunds of people who fail to buy insurance.
Even more incredible was their reaction concerning the Media. The were fed up with it, they concluded that they were not getting the true picture from the MSM. As they put it: “Truth Matters!”
If you are getting the NAACP deciding that the Mainstream media can’t be trusted then the seminal change I was discussing is upon us. The same issues, regardless of race, face all.
Here is my take on the trip:
The district includes North Atlanta, Tucker, Rockville, Decatur, Lithonia, Stone Mountain, it is overwhelmingly Black and democratic, and located to the East of the city.
The People of district 4 that I ran into were primarily middle class regardless of race. They seem a deeply religious people although
]there is a vast choice of religion to deal with. Mostly protestant but with some Catholic, Islamic and Orthodox in the mix They are friendly, and once comfortable with you are willing to speak about what is on their mind. They are polite and will usually do their best to not offend. They will not,
particularly in public talk about the personal faults of others. It is not a community that is hurried. There is a large amount of folks who are transplants from other locations. It is very hard to find people above the age of 40 who have lived there all their lives.
The Issue on every set of lips was jobs jobs and oh jobs. People who don’t have them want them, people who have them are
worried about keeping them. Above all other issues this is paramount. Keeping things easy for business to grow is also an issue. There are some other issues such as water that are significant but to more to the politicians. Bottom line for everyone is the economy. Until the jobs issue is addressed everything else is on the back burner.
I know this is a tired old horse but if I didn’t mention it people would be wondering why. From what I saw it reminded me of
Fitchburg back in the 60’s and 70’s. You had an Italian Section of Town, a French Section, a Finn section a Yankee section etc, there would be some crossover but not a lot. It seemed to be pretty much the same, different ethnic groups tended to congregate together while various areas were mixed. In terms of jobs and entertainments people work side by side. In terms of taste people have their own cultural and culinary tastes but there is cross over. As a rule the younger the people were the less history bothered them. This is a very good thing but because of the history people are still very aware and sensitive.
And now the Meat and Potatoes of the Matter:
There are three democratic candidates. The first being congressman Hank Johnson, he is the prohibitive front runner. In terms of policy his positions are standard left and pretty much in line with both Cynthia McKinney and Denise Majette who followed her but with none of the abrasion that McKinney was famous for. In my time in Georgia I did not meet a person who personally disliked him. This includes republicans. The big question on Johnson is his health. Depending on who you talk to he is either “courageous” in publicly dealing with his illness that isn’t slowing him down or practically on death’s door. Usually the answer is based on who you are supporting. He does have a new committee assignment on the transportation committee which considering the issues concerning MARTA certainly can’t hurt.
Next comes Vernon Jones. There are two constants concerning Vernon Jones. Every voter I talked to says he is smart and dynamic and more than capable of doing the job. Also every person I talked to in Ga-4 had the same reaction when I said his name. Everyone smiled a big wide grin like there was an inside joke that everybody knew but nobody wanted to say aloud. The adjectives used to describe him included “interesting”,
“active” and quite a few more. Of the democratic candidates He has the best chance of unseating Johnson but in a district that is a very religious one Jones issues might be too much to overcome but his message of Jobs First is exactly the right message in this district and has played well with business owners.
Connie Stokes: Most voters I talked to didn’t even remember her name. This is a bad sign if you want to go to congress. Her campaign has nobody talking, at least nobody I heard.
I think this primary turns on Congressman Johnson’s health. The most knowledgeable unbiased source I talked to said he is clearly not himself but didn’t think it would be enough to derail him. A healthy Johnson beats both Jones and Stokes without much trouble, all indications are that a Johnson even with health questions will win this race unless those questions become so pronounced that he can’t function. Jones is known as a street fighter but he wasn’t able to take DeKalb county during the democratic primary for Senate. With tougher times his jobs message is a good sell but Stokes gives people who are unsure of Johnson another place to go if they are not comfortable with Jones.
My prediction: Johnson wins without a runoff.
The most interesting fact about this race according to people experienced in Ga-4 is that there IS a race. This is one of the “majority-minority” districts that has been a double edged sword for liberals. The fact that four candidates are going for this
nomination is a sign of what his happening all over the country.
Liz Carter has been campaigning hard in the district, and has impressed a lot of people even on the other side of the aisle. She has a strong presentation, a good grasp of the issues and is utterly fearless. Her willingness to fight to get her message out to the black community shows a fearlessness that is necessary if you are going to be a republican and win in such a district. Her push on financial issues and jobs is an excellent message for the times and it is no secret that I was and am impressed by her.
Cory Ruthis exactly what the Republican party needs more of. A young self made black man who is enamored with basic conservative principles, who looks to the future rather than the past. His mantra that if the government would get out of the way of people in general and of the black community in particularly it can excel. Ruth also has deep connections within the black community that would be a big advantage in a general election but in a district where most of the black community are registered democrats doesn’t help much in the primary but as I saw, his support is not confined to the
southern part of the district.
The race really comes down to Carter and Ruth, both have strengths for the general election, both are impressive candidates but Liz Carter has run the stronger campaign and it has gained notice even with those on the other side. With an open primary system in Georgia, Cory may be able to draw on independent black voters particularly those who are concerned about Johnson’s Health
and Jones’ reputation. There is also the pragmatic factor in terms of both winning the general election and re-election in 2012 in a majority black district that has driven some republican support his way. Liz however has already demonstrated willingness to fight for black voters and the contested contest on the democratic side may be too much of a draw for voters. I think Carter’s efforts here pay off.
My Prediction: Carter wins without a runoff.
I will not make a prediction in the general election as it is too far away, although just as you had to favor Coakley in Massachusetts early so must give Johnson the advantage in this district. You can’t count out a candidate like Liz Carter who is willing to fight for the black vote. The off year election with President Obama not on the ballot and the economic woes favor her. I’d say his has an 70% shot at re-election but the fact that any republican has a 30% shot in this district is at least as incredible as Scott Brown in Massachusetts. If Johnson’s heath takes a turn for the worse all bets are off.
The real interesting question in this race is Vernon Jones. If he wins the primary it shakes things up tremendously. If he loses does he look to 2012 and act accordingly? And what about Cory Ruth? Say I’m wrong and he wins the primary, does he have the gravitas to beat Johnson? Does his reputation in the community outweigh Jones’ street smarts in a general election? And if he doesn’t win, is he a stronger candidate in 2012 with one campaign under his belt?
For a district and a race that should be all but settled, a lot is going on and I’ll tell you what. It won’t be boring.
Here is my complete collection of posts on the Georgia Trip:
Calling all Atlanta Area Conservative Bloggers: A suggestion that we have a night out together, I’m free tonight (Tuesday) and/or Friday
Fedora now in Dixie (the I’ve arrived post)
Voices of Georgia: Rochelle (my first interview and I comment on sedition back home)
Breakfast in America Mamie’s Kitchen ga-4 (I talk to patrons of a local coffee shop)
A talk with the Crossroads News (The Rather extraordinary Jennifer Parker talks to me about the district)
Voices of Ga-4 my pal Vinnie: (He looks nothing like Joe Pesci!)
My quick take on the UPCCA Forum.
The Curse of the Fedora or how the Red Sox went on a winning streak when I left
Video from the Varsity (onion rings awesome, burger so/so)
A very good sitdown with the Champion Free Press
My old friends and me
A Doraville thankyou post.
A church Tale where I talk about some of the churches I visited
Chief/Col John King’s Afganistan deployment post. (MUST WATCH!)
A Thanks to Hank Johnson’s staff
Liz Carter in Doraville
My funny CNN post (well I thought it was funny)
The Republican Ga-7 candidate forum (had a very bad time uploading them for some reason)
Matthews’ cafeteria roundup
A busy day
Indictments in the 4th district
My Cory Ruth video
A photo illustrating the one thing wrong with Tysinger’s forum.
Looking for a cup of Peach Tea: My link to the examiner article on what I saw (or rather didn’t see) of the tea parties
A Reception in Doraville: The reception for Chief King after the presentation.
My Lunch with Cory Ruth: A rundown of my long Lunch with candidate Cory Ruth
Voices of Ga: Kelly Nguyen (r) Ga-5: Kelly Nguyen makes her case for ga-5
Latest Examiner Article: Breakfast without Tea: My Examiner article on the Tysinger Breakfast
The Tysinger Breakfast a great idea: My blog post on on the Tysinger Breakfast including several video clips
Voices of Ga Allen Williamson (I) Ga-82: My final Georgia voice from the trip
And of course my posts about the forum in Ga-4 that I did from here:
Ga-4 Forum: No Irish Whites need apply? The initial post on the subject
Ga-4 Forum: Statement of Newsmakers live Journal: Posting the forum’s hosts statement on the matter.
GA-4 Forum: Cory Ruth Statement: Cory Ruth’s statement on the matter
Liz Carter allowed to participate… the resolution.
The Ga-4 Forum story makes the news: and the coverage by the MSM
And that is what I did on my Georgia trip.