ATLANTA - Insurance Commissioner John W. Oxendine has the credentials to be one of Georgia's most influential Republican insiders.
He won his statewide office in 1994 when Georgia was still controlled by Democrats. And he's been a favorite among voters ever since: No candidate running statewide in 2006 earned more votes than Oxendine.
In spite of his success, he's not well-liked within the Republican establishment, and that suits him just fine. "I have never been the insider," Oxendine said. "I'm popular with everyday Georgians. Everyday Georgians are the ones that vote."
Oxendine is clearly the candidate to beat in the Republican primary, in spite of some bumps along the campaign trail. He's been the front-runner for months and has more cash on hand than his rivals, according to disclosure reports. He says he's in the lead because of a populist approach to governing that has more in common with the tea party crowd than the Republican elite.
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