There’s Still Time For A Surprise Entrant Into GAGOP Gubernatorial Race

Kyle Wingfield penned an opinion piece Monday (warning: paywall) that pointed to an issue that Republicans don’t want to admit: the 2018 mid-terms will be a tough election.  The fact is that Democrats are galvanized by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s stinging loss in 2016.  They tried, and failed, to convince constituents of Georgia’s 6th district to elect a Democratic congressman who lived outside of the district, but their fortunes turned last week with wins in New Jersey, Virginia, and, more locally, here in Georgia.

Okay, I hear a lot of conservatives beating the “oh, NJ is a liberal state…VA always votes against the majority party in DC.”  Yes, those are valid arguments, but let me submit this to you: the morning of Election Day, Republicans held a comfortable super-majority in the Virginia House of Delegates.  By that night, that super-majority evaporated leaving the Democrats with a 1 seat majority.  That’s a very large swing in legislative control, and I’m afraid a lot of my Republican friends are downplaying it as not a forecast for 2018.  I’m not saying that it will happen in Georgia, but I’m sure the Virginia Republican Party wasn’t expecting to lose control of the House either.

Here in Georgia, Republicans lost the super majority in the House and a Republican-leaning seat in the Senate during special elections last week.  The fact is that Republicans were out-motivated by Democrats.  President Trump was a factor to a point.  That motivation for Democrats will no doubt carry into 2018 who will try to nationalize every election to make it a referendum on Trump.  Of course, the Democrats have their own hurdles to clear with the tension between State Representatives Stacey Abrams and Stacey Evans.  Republicans, at this current moment, have the choice between Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle, Secretary of State Brian Kemp, former State Senator Hunter Hill, Senator Michael Williams, and political newcomer Clay Tippins.

With Governor Nathan Deal in his penultimate year, there hasn’t been a clear, defined heir-apparent to be the next governor of Georgia…unless that person will qualify as “Undecided”, which currently leads the field with around 43%.  There is concern among Republican stalwarts.  From Kyle Wingfield’s piece:

Party loyalists are worried. I hear little faith in the two biggest names, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Secretary of State Brian Kemp. There were high hopes for state Sen. Hunter Hill, and it’s not over for him, but nor has there been a surge in his direction. State Sen. Michael Williams is running as Donald Trump, but without the money, fame or charm. A political newcomer, Clay Tippins, doesn’t seem to be catching on (or these panicked conversations would be going differently).

The anxiety is even spreading to ordinary voters I hear from. If Democrats can field a strong candidate (which isn’t a lock) and if the national political tide turns in their favor (which looks more likely), they might break through in a race that still ought to favor the GOP.

Cagle is dominating the polls, but he’s only in the 30s.  Number two and three are in single digits with only six months until the Georgia General Primary, so there’s understandable concern as Kyle points out.  There’s no excitement at this point with the current field.  Big political names haven’t really made much of a wake in the current makeup of thhe gubernatorial pool.  Six months is still plenty of time for a new entrant to gain traction.  I’ll point out that Governor Deal’s campaign was all but written off at this point in 2009.  Republicans probably didn’t expect to see the former Congressman come from behind to win a hotly-contested primary and become one of Georgia’s most-effective governors.

Kyle drops the name of Congressman Doug Collins as a potential entrant.  Collins hails from the same geographical area that Deal represented in Congress.  He understands the issues that surround rural Georgians as well as the needs of a growing Atlanta metro area (as it moves up GA-400 in Forsyth, up I-985 in Hall, and into surrounding counties).  Broadband access is one issue that comes to mind.  There is also another prominent elected official in Collins’ district: Lieutenant Governor Cagle.

Will the Congressman decide to jump into the fray?  Anything is possible.  Heck, it could be a congressman, former or current, another elected official, or a citizen.  One thing is for sure, the next governor will be inheriting a state that is in much better shape than it was in 2009.  Republicans should be proud of the job that Governor Deal has done leading our state.  Georgia Republicans should think seriously on who can excite conservative voters to turn out in November 2018 and continue the work to make Georgia a great place to call home.

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Andrew C. Pope
Andrew C. Pope

I’m not surprised that this field is failing to generate any excitement: 1) Casey Cagle has been Lieutenant Governor since 2007. I can’t, for the life of me, name any of his initiatives or accomplishments. Most of that is attributable to the limitations of the office of Lt. Governor, but part of it is attributable to Cagle’s inability to be memorable in any way. 2) Building off of that, I’m not really that sure he’s a great campaigner or candidate. In 2006, his main selling point was that he wasn’t Ralph Reed. Can he distinguish himself from opponents that aren’t… Read more »

Dave Bearse
Dave Bearse

Casey did delay an increase in taxes for transportation a couple of years, inflicting millions on motorists in expenses on Georgia’s at the time pot-holed roads during that time, so he’s got that and religious liberty going for him.

dunwoodymoderate
dunwoodymoderate

When you stretch the map so much to attempt to create a super majority you create many 55-45 districts. As Virginia republicans found out, when there are a few more years of demographic changes since the map was drawn and when the other side is far more motivated than you, those districts all fall at once. There are many similar districts in Gwinnett, Henry and even Cobb that in a year of down turnout for Republicans can cause a similar wave here. Tom Taylor’s announcing he won’t run in 2018 for his Dunwoody House seat has far more to do… Read more »

Dave Bearse
Dave Bearse

My recollection was that Ossoff carried 7 of 13 Dunwoody precincts. I disagree about the DUI though. Taylor would be seeking re-election if it hadn’t occurred—incumbency in Georgia is a very potent force. SD40 will be a race to watch. It went solidly for Ossoff (and the portion outside CD6 is close to a GOP-Dem wash), and typically Millar has to contend with a wing nut or two in the primary.

xdog
xdog

You mention broadband access. Cagle and Kemp have mentioned it too. So did a local house candidate.

But I have yet to hear the first detail about how such access will be created, which leads me to believe the idea is merely a talking point designed to appeal to rural voters with no intent to implement behind it.

Benevolus
Benevolus

Josh Mckoon will be on the ballot. That should liven things up a bit.

xdog
xdog

I guess it’s too early to expect a Tom Price comeback.

Benevolus
Benevolus

Probably right. I think one is supposed to write a book at this point. He could call it “Rude Awakening”.

augusta52
augusta52

Last week was the first election for Virginia House of Delegates (under post 2010 census redistricting) with a Republican president (Obama of course was president during the 2011, 2013 and 2015 election cycles there), so a political “correction” might have been overdue up there. Still, the Democratic gains were impressive—15 seats at last check—while a gain of maybe a half dozen would have made for a decent night for Democrats. Republicans hold a slim 21-19 majority in the Senate up there—but the Senate is elected to 4-year terms and will not next be up til 2019; the GOP in that… Read more »

Will Durant
Will Durant

Late to the game on this one but reading all of the recent fallout from the Harvey Weinstein triggered avalanche let’s not forget the elephant in the room. Will Cagle’s inability to tie his own shoes surface or was it sufficiently nipped in the bud? Does his candidacy have the potential to blow up a la Judge Roy Moore? If he becomes the Republican nominee with a 99% chance at this point that he will face one of the two Staceys this could be more than the usual two-party thing and has the potential to be a male-female thing. I’m… Read more »