"Oxendine won't be the nominee," Johnson declared. "There are significant concerns about his ability to win a general election."
Johnson, a former state senator from Savannah - who Monday was sporting cowboy boots each embossed with the State of Georgia seal - conceded that if the party primaries were being conducted today rather than July 20, Oxendine and former Gov. Roy Barnes of Marietta would be the winners of the Republican and Democratic primaries, respectively.
"I'd be No. 3 or 4," he added. "But John peaked last year and his numbers have been dropping since then and will probably drop even more. (My numbers) haven't moved much, but we haven't spent much on advertising yet, either."
Johnson, who reported $1.7 million in contributions on hand during the most recent reporting period, said he has made only one small advertising buy on cable TV last month. He hinted that he's hoarding his stash to roll out a last-minute ad blitz in July.
"And I think only Oxendine and I will be (advertising) on broadcast TV," he said. "The others can't afford it."
Also seeking the nomination are former Congressman Nathan Deal of Gainesville and former Fulton County Commission Chairwoman Karen Handel - both of whom have been ahead of Johnson in most polls - and several minor candidates, Jeff Chapman, Ray McBerry and Otis Putnam.
Oxendine has high name recognition based on his long years as the state's insurance commissioner. But Johnson pointed out that, "His only (contributions) are coming from people he regulates. You don't find the traditional Republican contributors giving him money, and you don't see the kind of money going to him that you normally see flowing in to a front-runner."
Meanwhile, echoing an argument that conservatives used against presidential candidate Barack Obama in 2008, Johnson, an architect and civil engineer, noted that he's the only one of the four major candidates to have spent the bulk of his career working in the private sector. The other three have a combined 37 years on the public's payroll, he pointed out.
Johnson also used the visit to reiterate his belief that illegal aliens should not be admitted into Georgia's public colleges and tech schools, and his support for passage here of an immigration law similar to the one recently passed by Arizona. The candidate added that he will have more to say on that topic on Wednesday, but summarized his thinking as "More money for enforcement and more penalties for violations."
SPEAKING OF THE GOVERNOR'S RACE, can Barnes win in a state that these days is overwhelming Republican? Yes, wrote Atlanta pundit Matt Towery on his InsiderAdvantage.com website on Monday, but added that "it will be an uphill battle."
He notes that another polling firm (not his) has produced numbers that show Barnes equal to or losing to generic GOP candidates. But such polls are a waste of time, he warns.
"They simply reflect the huge swing back to the GOP among the electorate. They discount the power of Barnes as a candidate."
"Here is the hidden secret to the Barnes campaign. It is a general election campaign being run during a primary. This is perhaps the most brilliant strategy I have ever witnessed. Barnes is hoping to lure some white independents into the Democratic primary. That won't happen. But what will happen is that those who vote in the GOP primary might take another look at Barnes - not as a Democrat, but as a strong former governor.
"Barnes knows all too well that self-described independent voters are trending GOP. But they are also strongly backing candidates who do not represent the status quo."
Towery also notes that even though Barnes must face state Attorney General Thurbert Baker, former state Adjutant General David Poythress and state Sen. Dubose Porter in the Democratic Primary, he is already running a general election-type campaign focused at all voters, not just his Democratic base.
MARY AND DON GILLIS and Patti and Van Pearlberg will co-host a fundraiser for Barnes on Thursday from 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. at the Gillis home at 453 Church St., Marietta.
COURTHOUSE CAROUSEL UPDATE: Courthouse insiders are focused on two names as having the inside track to be appointed by Gov. Sonny Perdue to succeed Cobb State Court Division I Judge Beverly Collins, who is resigning this fall before her term expires at year end. Those two are State Court Division II Judge Carl Bowers and State Court Division II Judge Maria Golick. Bowers is son of former state Attorney General Mike Bowers. Golick, meanwhile, is wife of Perdue floor leader state Rep. Rich Golick (R-Smyrna). The salary for State Court judges in Division I is $156,954.
Judges Bowers and Golick are among 25 people nominated to succeed Collins.
The others are Cathy M. Alterman; Fred Bentley Jr.; Eric Brewton; Judy Greenbaum Croy; James P. Dirr; Jason Fincher; Stephanie Glymph-Ramsey; Alexander Gordon; Reuben Green; Peter Gross; Scott M. Halperin; Thomas D. Harper; Rebecca Hulsey Keaton; Luke Kill; Marsha S. Lake; Robert D. Leonard; Thomas L. Maddox; Janne Y. McKamey; Dana Norman; Crystal Payne; Joyce Hall Pelphrey; Kevin J. Rodgers; Louis M. Turchiarelli Sr.; and David R. Yood. Green and Lake are campaigning for the seat of Division II Judge Nancy Campbell, who does not intend to seek re-election but plans to serve out her entire term. Among those running for that seat are Green, Lake, temporary magistrate Judge Angela Brown and assistant Cobb prosecutor Fincher.
The presence on that list of nominees of "Red Fred" Bentley caused more than a few raised eyebrows around town, considering that Bentley is a name partner in one of the most successful practices in Cobb. He says he has no idea who nominated him and told AT he's not interested in the job. But he added that upon hearing of the list, his father/partner Fred "Bowtie" Bentley, called him up and joked, "Son, is there something I need to know?"
If Perdue picks Bowers or Ms. Golick for the Division I judgeship, he would simultaneously create an opening at the Division II level that he could then fill with another appointment. Division II judges earn $134,454.
One of those on the list of nominees, Rebecca Keaton, also is reportedly telling people she may run for one of the three Cobb Superior Court judgeships that will be on the ballot this November - those of incumbents George Kreeger (who is fully vested in the retirement plan but who insists he plans to run for another term), Jim Bodiford and Rob Flournoy.
AROUND THE TURN of the 20th century, Cobb was a rural county. Families were large, sometimes by necessity for tending the crops. Parents would struggle to find names for all their children.
That was the case with D.C. Newton. His wasn't necessarily a large family, there being five boys and two girls. He was simply named "D.C." by his parents, Fred and Pauline Newton. Every year on Memorial Day Week, D.C. brings Associate Editor Bill Kinney photos from that era. This year he brought photos of himself and three other brothers who were in service in World War II.
Marine Pfc. William Newton, who served on Saipan, Tinian, and Iwo Jima after joining Dec. 12, five days after Pearl Harbor. Henry A. Newton rose to staff sergeant while serving in the Army in Germany. Another brother worked at the Bell Aircraft Plant in Marietta.
D.C. was too young to serve in World War II, but in 1950 served first with the Army in Germany and then later pulled Navy duty aboard the U.S.S. Albany in the mid 1950s.
EVENTS: The Edge Connection CEO and Executive Director Patricia Harris will speak at the Cobb Executive Women luncheon on Friday at 11:30 a.m. at The Georgian Club. Cost to attend for CEW members and guests is $20 online and $30 at the door. To register, visit www.cobbchamber.org ...
Author Marie Conliff will sign copies of her children's book, "Muddy Tracks," from 2 to 4 p.m. on Saturday at Waldenbooks, located at 400 Ernest Barrett Parkway in Kennesaw.
CLARIFICATION: Editorial Page editor Joe Kirby's column on Sunday about the Marietta City Council's efforts to gut the budget of the Marietta Museum of History and sell off part of its collection contained a big blooper - sort of.
The column began with a list of treasures at the Smithsonian that would bring hefty prices if they were ever to be sold. Among those Kirby cited was the Mona Lisa.
Well, yes, the Mona Lisa is part of the collection in the Louvre in Paris, France, not the Smithsonian. But Kirby did indeed see the painting at the Smithsonian's National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., after first lady Jackie Kennedy prevailed on the French to let the masterpiece be displayed there and at Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 1963.