SO THERE WAS an anti–incumbent wave pretty much all over the country last week.
While in last week’s elections the rest of the country underwent either a tumor removal or a lobotomy — depending on your political leanings and how you view the results — Savannah and Georgia opted for the status quo.
The Tea Party made a tepid brew locally. Veteran Democratic state senator Lester Jackson cruised to victory despite the hard–fought campaign of libertarian–leaning Republican Michael Gaster.
Democrat John “Barra” — whose folksy drawl in his TV ads seems to get more exaggerated with each election cycle — won reelection over Tea Partier Ray McKinney.
(For those keeping count, Barrow is one of only 28 “Blue Dog” conservative Democrats left in the House of Representatives, who saw their numbers slashed by over half in the red tide.)
Statewide, voters opted not so much for the Tea Party as for more of the Grand Old Party.
To serve as governor during a time of extreme financial difficulty, voters chose a Republican who is quite familiar with extreme financial difficulty: Nathan Deal, probably the first Georgia governor to enter office literally on the verge of bankruptcy.
Deal was not anointed by the Tea Party in this election. Their candidate was Karen Handel, former state secretary of education who scored the coveted Sarah Palin endorsement.
During the Republican primary, Handel’s supporters insisted Deal was “unelectable” because of the ethics problems which essentially hounded him out of the U.S. Congress. But he sure was electable last week, easily defeating former Democratic Gov. Roy Barnes.
Like the outgoing Sonny Perdue, Deal was a Democrat until the mid-’90s. And rather than marking a Tea Party sea change, there’s every indication that Deal will continue in Perdue’s footsteps as an advocate of corporate cronyism who papers over financial shenanigans with a thin veneer of “Christian” respectability.
Still, all that mattered was that Deal had that precious “R” by his name this time. Indeed, the label is so important to Georgia voters that in this disastrous economy they picked a Republican with a clear record of financial mismanagement rather than Barnes, who has experience managing a state budget. It’s amazing, really.
(As for Democrats who clearly have issues managing finances, please see Patrick Rodgers’ story this issue on the City of Savannah’s bizarre, budgetless budget meeting.)
Even more perplexing were the results of the Constitutional Amendment votes, which taken in total reinforced Georgia’s longheld reputation for cutting off our nose to spite our face.
In passing the misleading Amendment One, voters essentially cast their ballots in favor of indentured servitude — or in the euphemism on the ballot, “reasonable competitive agreements.”
Employers will now have an easier time writing and enforcing noncompete clauses in contracts, thus preventing us from exercising our basic right to make a living how we choose, or even to change jobs. Thanks, voters!
In rejecting Amendment Two, voters refused to pay an extra ten bucks a year to fund new trauma centers to relieve the huge burden on existing statewide trauma centers.
Civil War buffs will recall that Georgia is a state so stubborn that at one point it threatened to secede from the Confederacy, quite a concept when you think about it.
So it should come as no real surprise that voters in deep red rural Georgia — the very area where new trauma centers are most urgently needed — were most vocal in their opposition to said trauma centers.
I live a short drive from Memorial Health, one of Georgia’s few trauma centers, so it’s not my problem. But thanks for saving me ten bucks, rural voters!
Y’all drive safe now, hear?
The Amendment results, more than the actual candidate races, represented the true face of the Tea Party in action: 1) Principle is more important than practicality, and 2) no public service, however basic, is important enough to raise taxes.
But overall, Georgia dodged a bullet. For an election that was supposed to be all about jobs, victorious Tea Partiers around the nation soon showed their true colors on that front:
Within hours of winning, new Tea Party governors in Ohio and Wisconsin announced they’d follow through with promises to kill two rapid transit rail projects — for which funds already existed — to the tune of about 13,000 potential jobs lost.
Enjoy your tea, Ohio and Wisconsin!
The one bright spot that I think we can all agree was a good result came with the passage of Amendment Four, which authorized multiyear contracts for state–funded energy efficiency or conservation projects — a tinge of green to go with your sea of red.