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Georgia Democrats plot a takeover for 2010

Okay. Here’s the plan.

Former Gov. Roy Barnes and Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond, considered the two strongest Democrats in the state, would run as a ticket. Barnes would run for governor. And Thurmond would run for Lt. Governor.

The question is whether this plan is a Democratic Party pipedream or an actual strategy for Democrats to regain control of the state capitol.

On paper, the plan has merit.

Although he lost re-election, Barnes still has a following across the state, particularly in metro Atlanta. He is viewed by many influential business and civic leaders as a governor who was willing to address the tough issues of transportation, land-use and green space preservation.

Thurmond, who has strong name recognition across the state and has been a popular labor commissioner, would be able to help bring out the African-American vote.

Last year’s primary election showed that Democrats can win when African-American voters show up at the polls. During the primary, Barack Obama solidly won among Democrats. And there were more people who voted as Democrats in the primary (when there was a hotly contested race among the Republican presidential candidates) than there were Republican voters.

And on election day, when Obama was on the ballot and when there was a third party candidate, incumbent U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-Georgia) did not get a majority of the votes cast. As a result, Chambliss was forced into a run-off, which he won decisively.

But this shows that Georgia may be becoming more purple, despite the fact that most of the statewide elected leaders in the state are Republicans (both U.S. Senators, the governor, lieutenat governor and speaker).

Barnes obviously is flattered by the attention he’s been getting from folks begging him to run for governor. But he is coy about whether he would run. He probably is waiting until the end of this legislative session to decide whether he wants to enter the governor’s race.

And it’s likely Thurmond is waiting to get a signal from Barnes.

All Thurmond would say this week was: “Because of the severity of this crisis, it’s important for me to stay focused on this job. I literally can’t take my eye off the ball.”

But that doesn’t stop the rest of us from speculating.

Maria Saporta

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.



  1. Daisy Duke March 11, 2009 8:56 pm

    I agree, a Democrat can certainly be elected Governor in 2010, but it ain’t King Roy Barnes. A Barnes’ candidacy would be a Republican dream come true. For the good of Georgia, Barnes needs to get over himself and put his money and mouth behind a Democrat that can be elected.Report

  2. North Georgia Democrat March 12, 2009 6:06 am

    Roy is a good guy, but I think he’s happy in life right now. David Poythress has a full campaign going as it is, and would stand a very good chance of winning a general election, something Roy Barnes failed to do in 2002. I say we unite behind Poythress to win in 2010.Report


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