In the Republican race for the U.S. Senate seat from which Saxby Chambliss is retiring, 18 percent of voters sampled by InsiderAdvantage said they were undecided. This means any one of the top three, if not top four, could wind up in a runoff, meaning second spot was very much in flux.
The poll showed David Perdue, the former Dollar General and Reebok CEO, had 27 percent, Rep. Jack Kingston of Savannah 19 percent, former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel 17, Rep. Paul Broun of Athens 10 and Rep. Phil Gingrey of Marietta 9 percent. The poll’s 2.9 percent margin of error meant Kingston and Handel were virtually tied. Ditto for Broun and Gingrey. So, the runoff spot was very much in play.
Early on, Gingrey — Marietta’s own Dr. Phil, as in OB-GYN — polled well enough to run third. In a March 16-18 poll by SurveyUSA, before the frontrunners began pumping big money into their campaigns, Gingrey had 12 percent, trailing Kingston with 19 percent and leader Perdue with 29 percent. Broun had 11 and Handel 10 percent, a virtual tie. Since then, Dr. Phil has been slipping.
Whether Gingrey can stage a near-miraculous comeback to leapfrog to a runoff spot depends on how effective his recent slew of attack ads have been, combined with the attack ads of the top three candidates against each other. Obviously, if Dr. Phil gets a huge vote in his home county and the 11th District he represents in Congress, he might squeak into the runoff. But realistically, the chances both Georgia’s U.S. senators will hail from Marietta are zilch if last week’s poll holds.
“Conservative” is the favorite word in the pile of campaign flyers, folders and other mailers delivered to our mailbox recently. Candidates for state, county and local offices are going to extremes to out-conservative each other. Gingrey has pulled out his rhetorical scalpel with ads ripping Perdue, Kingston and Handel as faux conservatives, while declaring Dr. Phil is “a true conservative.” A full-color mailer from Handel asserts she is “the only true conservative” in the race. Likewise, Kingston and Perdue claim the conservative label.
In the race for Gingrey’s congressional seat, six candidates are vying to out-conservative each other. A few examples: Barry Loudermilk says he is a “real conservative.” Ed Lindsey says he’s “a proven conservative.” Tricia Pridemore says she’s a “real world commonsense conservative.”
In the race for the District 1 county commission seat being vacated by Helen Goreham, five candidates are also trying to out-conservative each other. But the big question is whether former chairman Bill Byrne’s infamous 2008 outburst that “The last thing I want to do is live in Cobb County” — after moving to Polk and trying to run for the commission there — will do him in, his arch-conservative talk notwithstanding.