Mostly quiet on the Ge­or­gia front

The Covington News - - News -

Both pres­i­den­tial candidates may be run­ning on plat­forms of change. But the odds against change in­fect­ing Ge­or­gia’s con­gres­sional del­e­ga­tion on Elec­tion Day are at least 100 to 1. When the bal­lots are counted, Ge­or­gia is ex­pected to main­tain a 7-6 Repub­li­can House del­e­ga­tion. How­ever, the first round of House vot­ing in Wash­ing­ton on the $700 bil­lion Wall Street bailout left a con­fused pic­ture of our fed­eral law­mak­ers’ par­ti­san loy­al­ties. All seven of Ge­or­gia’s GOP House mem­bers — usu­ally staunch de­fend­ers of Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush — voted “no” on the pres­i­dent’s first pack­age to res­cue Wall Street. Though the House Demo­cratic lead­er­ship sup­ported the plan, 5th District Rep. John Lewis of At­lanta, a mem­ber of the lead­er­ship, voted against it. Thir­teenth District Rep. David Scott, D-At­lanta, voted against the bailout. Oddly, sev­eral non­par­ti­san crit­ics say Scott is part of the prob­lem be­cause of his past rock-solid sup­port for Fan­nie Mae and Fred­die Mac, which will ben­e­fit from the bailout. Only 2nd District Rep. San­ford Bishop, D-Al­bany, and 8th District Rep. Jim Mar­shall, D-Ma­con, sup­ported the Bush bailout in the ini­tial House vote. Bishop is con­sid­ered a good team player. Mar­shall usu­ally avoids stick­ing his neck out un­less he deems the ex­po­sure ab­so­lutely nec­es­sary. So if you can make any sense in the state del­e­ga­tion’s mixed­bag stance on one of the most im­por­tant is­sues it will ever con­sider, you qual­ify for a first-class pun­ditry badge. One thing cer­tain about the vote: Mav­er­ick Demo­crat Mar­shall con­tin­ues to be thorn in the side of the Ge­or­gia Repub­li­cans. Just 18 months ago, Repub­li­cans had such high hopes of dump­ing Mar­shall. GOP leaders in Wash­ing­ton were al­most giddy with joy af­ter fi­nally per­suad­ing re­tired Air Force Gen. Rick God­dard to chal­lenge Mar­shall. Fi­nally, the Repub­li­can strate­gists thought, we can cut into that promil­i­tary voter base that al­lows Mar­shall to defy par­ti­san grav­ity in ru­ral Ge­or­gia. Now the Repub­li­can elec­tion pooh-bahs are less than thrilled at the per­for­mance of God­dard, an ex-fighter pi­lot who may have spun out of con­trol. The first signs ap­peared in June when God­dard as­sailed Mar­shall for em­bed­ding with Spe­cial Forces in Afghanistan. The gen­eral charged that the mil­i­tary foray caused Mar­shall to miss some de­bate on a bill in Wash­ing­ton that was al­ready writ­ten and des­tined to pass. More re­cently, the gen­eral was called out by a con­ser­va­tive out­fit, Vet­er­ans for Free­dom, for be­lit­tling Mar­shall’s mil­i­tary ser­vice. “I spent 33 years in the mil­i­tary, not three or four years 40 years ago,” God­dard told the Jones County News. Mar­shall is in the U.S. Army Ranger Hall of Fame. God­dard is now try­ing to make hay against Mar­shall for sup­port­ing the bailout, but he has a high moun­tain to climb. Mar­shall has out-raised funds against God­dard by a 3-to-1 ra­tio, and the gen­eral has only a light TV pres­ence. The Mar­shall-God­dard con­test is one of the few Ge­or­gia bat­tles worth watch­ing in this elec­tion year. Demo­cratic chal­lengers are not far­ing well in the Peach State. Dur­ing qual­i­fy­ing, Democrats made a big deal out of their group of vet­er­ans band­ing to­gether to take on the Repub­li­cans. Their num­ber in­cluded Bill Gille­spie in the 1st District, Bobby Saxon in the 10th, Bill Jones in 6th and Doug Heck­man in the 7th. Th­ese long-shot cam­paigns in Repub­li­can dis­tricts have be­come even greater long shots as a re­sult of vir­tu­ally nonex­is­tent fund-rais­ing and unin­spir­ing candidates, ex­cept for their mil­i­tary cre­den­tials. One other in­ter­est­ing race: 3rd District Rep. Lynn West­more­land, R-Grantville, looked like a shoe-in for re-elec­tion against a lit­tle-known chal­lenger, Stephen Camp of New­nan un­til one day West­more­land an­nounced that he be­lieved Sen. and Mrs. Barack Obama were “up­pity.” The re­mark was seen as a sig­nal to some of More­land’s white fol­low­ers to re­as­sure them of his sen­ti­ments. Sev­eral black vot­ers in West­more­land’s district took note. “Up­pity” also gave Gen­eral God­dard a bright idea. So on Sept. 4, he went on the ra­dio in Ma­con and re­ferred to NBC re­porter Ron Allen as “up­pity.” Allen, an African-Amer­i­can, is one of the most mild-man­nered tele­vi­sion per­son­al­i­ties out there, but he does have an Ivy League de­gree and a Pe­abody award for broad­cast jour­nal­ism. That makes Allen fit the south­erner’s def­i­ni­tion of up­pity — from about 1950. Thirty per­cent of the vot­ers in God­dard’s district are black, and now the GOP gen­eral who hails orig­i­nally from Og­den, Utah, may have given the mi­nor­ity elec­torate in Mid­dle Ge­or­gia an­other rea­son to turn out to vote — against him. Ed­i­tor’s note: Shipp’s col­umn pre­dates Fri­day’s House vote of 263-171 pass­ing the $700 bil­lion bailout bill. Reps. Lewis and Scott changed their votes in sup­port of the bill. You can reach Bill Shipp a P.O. Box 2520, Ken­ne­saw, GA 30156, e-mail: shipp1@bell­, or Web ad­dress: bill­ship­pon­line. com.

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