ATLANTA – This November, Georgia will elect a new governor. The current governor, Sonny Purdue, Georgia’s first Republican governor since reconstruction, has been in office for two- terms, and under Georgia law, cannot run another term.
The national spotlight will be on Georgia when voters go to the poll this November to convey a message to Washington. Georgians are faced with many challenging issues; however, like the rest of the nation, their number one concern is the growing number of unemployment. Newton Citizen, a local newspaper, reported on Aug. 12, that Georgia’s official unemployment is 10%, while the national unemployment is 9.5%. But this is not the only issue shared by Georgians.
Another issue the voters would like to address is additional federal funds to ensure quality education. This year, due to a deficit in Georgia’s budget, teachers had to take three furlough days. A local newspaper, Gainesville Times, reported August-2008, Georgia ranked near bottom in SAT scores. Also, Georgia has a high percentage of high school drop-outs especially among minorities.
Comparing Georgia to the nation regarding the housing crisis, Georgia Real Estate Blog, reported during the month of May 2010, Georgia’s foreclosures jumped 31% taking its place as the sixth highest in foreclosure rates.
Georgians will also express their concerns for adequate and safe drinking water. Currently there is an ongoing water battle between two southern states (Florida and Alabama). January 20, 2010, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Georgia may appeal a lower judge ruling that declared Metro-Atlanta could not tap into a local lake (Lake Lanier) to support its water supply.
The Democratic Nominee, Roy Barnes, was a one- term governor of Georgia from 1999- 2003. He lost his bid for governor in 2002. Many believe his defeat for a second-term as governor was due to his success while in office in removing the confederate emblem on Georgia State Flag, and his proposal to reform Georgia’s education. His defeat in 2003 did not only surprise millions of his supporters but Roy Barnes as well. He is running a vigorous campaign that began in Jan. 2009 when he announced his candidacy of the Democratic Party’s nomination; moreover, he won easily in the Georgia’s Primary Election without a runoff allowing him more time to plan and solidify his base which may give him an edge over his republican opponent.
Nathan Deal, the Republican Party nominee, is a former United State Representative who represented the 9th congressional district of Georgia prior to resigning in March 2010 to run for governor. He was once a democrat until 1995 when he switched to the Republican Party. Unlike Roy Barnes, he failed to win 50% of the vote during the primary. He was victorious, after the runoff election, however, winning by approximately 2,500 votes. Perhaps this close race may have been attributed by the support his opponent received from Sarah Palin, or perhaps the outcome was due to Newt Gingrich and Mike Huckabee’s endorsements for Deal.
Both candidates will engage in many debates over the next eleven weeks. They must address the above issues and more such as health care, immigration reform, and transportation. In viewing each candidate party’s affiliations, profile, and political record, the upcoming November- election could very well be summarized as conservatism versus liberalism.
Atlanta Business Chronicle June 10, 2010
Newton Citizen News August 12, 2010
Gainesville Times August 30, 2008