Dems rally in Augusta

Urging Democratic voters to go to bed early, and get up with the rooster Friday to remind friends and family, "big Mama" and even "Pookie" in the country to get out and vote, Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond returned today to Augusta for a third time this week to rally the faithful.

Tuesday's election, in which Thurmond is seeking a U.S. Senate seat, is "more important than 2008" because there are now fewer teachers teaching more students, he said, and the state needs someone to stand up for those who don't have jobs or insurance, he said.

"Right has no color," said the son of a third-generation Athens sharecropper, Paine College graduate and three-term Georgia commissioner of labor.

Arriving at the Democratic rally on a school bus today was former Gov. Roy Barnes, who's seeking another term.

If not to educate its young, "what does the state exist for anyway?" said Barnes. During Georgia's eight years under a Republican governor and legislature, "it's shameful, if not immoral what's happened to schools."

One of many Georgia Association of Educators members wearing green T-shirts at the rally, held at Julian Smith Casino, retired Freedom Park Elementary School teacher Freddie Berrien said she supported Barnes and had forgiven him for eliminating teacher tenure during his prior term.

"He did, but he asked for forgiveness, and everyone deserves to be forgiven," Berrien said.

Barnes and Russ Edwards, candidate for the District 10 congressional post, slammed their Republican opponents.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Nathan Deal voted four times against equal pay for women and four times against increasing the minimum wage, Barnes said.

"Let him live on $20,000 a year," he said.

U.S. Rep. Paul Broun, meanwhile, prevents federal earmarks from ever reaching Augusta's Medical College of Georgia researchers or Paine College, Edwards said.

Broun also was an owner of "Georgia's weakest bank," with a loan-to-deposit ratio of more than 800 percent, for which he received a federal bailout, he said.

Augusta's J.B. Powell, who is running for agriculture commissioner, reiterated his promise to bring horse racing to the state as a way to bring $1 billion and up to 20,000 jobs to the state's economy.

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