Kerwin Swint, a political science professor at Kennesaw State University, believes the most talked about race in Cobb County is the one for the 11th Congressional District seat.
Based on poll numbers, money, endorsements and community buzz, Swint listed former U.S. Rep. Bob Barr of Smyrna, former state Sen. Barry Loudermilk (R-Cassville) and state Rep. Ed Lindsey (R-Buckhead) as the frontrunners.
“I would say in that race you have at least three candidates: Barr, with his high name recognition, Loudermilk has done really well, has got a lot of support, and you can’t count out Lindsey either,” Swint said.
Former Georgia Republican Party Chairman Chuck Clay of Marietta said many are predicting
a runoff between either Barr and Tricia Pridemore of Marietta or between Loudermilk and Pridemore.
Any race where the winner doesn’t receive 50 percent plus one vote heads to a runoff scheduled for July 22, said Janine Eveler, director of the Cobb Board of Elections.
“I don’t think it’s going to be Loudermilk/Barr because it’s too much pulling from the same conservative base,” Clay said. “So my sense is either Bob or Loudermilk will be perceived to be the most conservative. And then I do think if Tricia has the money and keeps the campaign up, then with the women vote and a lot of good positive work, I think that she is the other candidate — doesn’t want to be seen as the liberal candidate, and please don’t put that in my mouth, because that’s the kiss of death in a Republican primary — but I think, just by the nature of the politics, Barry and Bob want to be that conservative.”
Whether the chosen conservative candidate is more of a libertarian conservative like Barr or a social one like Loudermilk depends on who turns out to vote, Clay said.
Yet, don’t count out Lindsey, who will attract many of the same voters Pridemore does, Clay said.
“They’re going to be vying — I hate to use these words — but generally (for the) more middle, traditionally economic, pro-growth, job conservative,” Clay said of Lindsey and Pridemore.
The other two candidates in the race, retired Army Col. Larry Mrozinski of Woodstock and Allan Levene of Kennesaw, Clay said he doesn’t see “on the radar.”
Cobb Board of Education races
Three of the seven seats on the Cobb Board of Education are on the ballot.
John Adams, executive director of Educators First, a professional teacher association, said in the race to replace retiring Post 4 board member Kathleen Angelucci, Educators First has endorsed both David Chastain, a logistics management analyst for Lockheed, and retired principal Bill Scott.
Based on what he’s seen, from campaign signs to name recognition among the PTA groups, Adams gives the lead to Scott at least for the moment.
“PTAs can be very powerful in a school board election and he seems to have a lot of built in name recognition,” said Adams, who noted he was not involved in his group’s endorsement process. Endorsements were decided by the group’s political action committee made up of teachers and others.
Cobb school board Post 2 member Tim Stultz is being challenged in the Republican primary by former Cobb School District administrator Susan Thayer and Wells Fargo lending officer Jeff Abel.
Adams said his group’s political action committee endorsed Thayer in that race. He predicts a runoff between Stultz and either Thayer or Abel.
But the winner of the runoff won’t necessarily be elected. First he or she must challenge Democrat Kenya Pierre, an attorney with Kimberly-Clark Corporation, in the Nov. 4 general election.
With Smyrna being a competitive district for Democrats and Republicans, the race could go either way, Adams said.
Cobb school board member Scott Sweeney of east Cobb is being challenged by Republican Kevin Nicholas, senior director with PGi.
Adams said Educators First endorsed Nicholas over Sweeney.
“I think that they thought Nicholas was more credible and was part of a voice for change on the board, and he obviously hasn’t been embroiled in the kind of controversies that Sweeney has been,” Adams said.
Sweeney did receive an endorsement from the Cobb County Association of Educators.
But without any polls to go by, Adams said it’s tough to say who will win.
“I think obviously Scott knows that he’s got a real fight on his hands,” Adams said. “I think at first it seemed like he had it locked up and now he’s in a hard fought campaign as evidenced by the articles in the paper and the competitive debates.”
Who will succeed Chambliss?
Of the seven Republicans hoping to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, Swint believes businessman David Perdue, U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Savannah) and former Secretary of State Karen Handel are the ones to watch.
“Perdue has had good poll numbers, he’s got a lot of money. Kingston also,” Swint said. “Handel has got a couple of recent endorsements. She may have some momentum on her side right now. A lot of people would say Perdue and Kingston are headed to a run off.”
Pundits expect the winner to face Democrat Michelle Nunn on Nov. 4.
Clay believes metro Atlanta, which has the largest Republican base in the state, will put either Handel or Gingrey in the runoff.
“Then the question becomes, at least in my humble view, does a David Perdue, who has a lot of good will, name ID, both inherited and purchased, very attractive, articulate — does a businessman with no political experience capture the primary voters’ imagination or does the conservative, traditional, veteran politician who’s done great things for Georgia, a Jack Kingston, come in and be able to pick up enough of that vote to be a Kingston versus whoever the metro candidate is,” Clay said.
Time will tell.
“Everybody is raising money,” Clay said. “Perdue has gotten out with what most people at least tell me has been a very fine early buy TV ad, and whether it’s because of that, his background or name ID, has run well. He’s got his hard numbers throughout the state. Jack, does it hurt or help to be a 20-something veteran of Congress right now? We’ll find out.”
To learn more about the candidates who are being challenged in the May 20 primary, see the voters guide in today’s MDJ.