“All politics is local” is an adage attributed to former Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill. This year, however, Tip’s belief is being flipped on its head. Local politics has become all about Obamacare and the other massive spending projects coming out of Washington.
What was always widely acknowledged to be a difficult year for the Democrats is now rapidly becoming a tsunami. This tidal wave of Republican challengers and voter discontent threatens to sweep record numbers of incumbent Democrats out of the capitol… both Atlanta and Washington.
In a gubernatorial race that should be an easy win for Democrats due to Nathan Deal’s checkered past and state economic pain, Roy Barnes has run consistently behind and is currently trailing by almost ten points. Barnes’ main problem is his party link to Barack Obama. Voter anger at incumbents in general, but Democrats in particular, eliminates much of Barnes’ personal advantage.
Barnes’ lack of a coherent economic plan has also been a disadvantage. While Deal has had his pro-business tax reforms posted on his website for months, Barnes only recently unveiled his detailed economic plan. When his plan was released, it was reminiscent of President Obama’s stimulus program with lots of spending and temporary, targeted tax cuts.
Additionally, the specter of Obamacare is also dragging Barnes down. The governor’s office will be able to control Georgia’s participation in the state lawsuit against Obamacare. Many Georgians undoubtedly question whether Roy Barnes would continue the state’s effort to overturn the unpopular law. This is especially true since Attorney General Thurbert Baker, a Democrat, refused Gov. Perdue’s request to file the lawsuit on Georgia’s behalf.Perdue was forced to appoint a special attorney general to proceed with the lawsuit. There are no such doubts about Nathan Deal, who voted against Obamacare while he was in Congress.
The Senate race between Johnny Isakson and Mike Thurmond is even more tied to President Obama and Washington. Isakson is generally popular in the state and also voted against Obamacare. Thurmond, the Democratic challenger, has been somewhat evasive on how he stands on the issues. This is partly due to the shortage of campaign funds to get his message out. However, it is also likely due to the fact that his views would be unpopular with Georgians if they were known. For example, Thurmond has hinted that he would not support a repeal of Obamacare and believes that the law is constitutional.
Further, several of Georgia’s traditionally Democratic US House districts may fall into Republican hands. The seats of Sanford Bishop and Jim Marshall are close enough to be considered toss ups. The seat of John Barrow is considered likely safe, but is threatened.