Originally created 07/03/96

Candidates go toextremes for votes



With less than a week to go before the July 9 primary, state and local races are starting to heat up. And that means things are bound to get a little strange.

Consider:

- Guy Millner has resorted to climbing onto movie screens to get your Republican U.S. Senate vote.

- A secretary of state candidate is warning of dead voters showing up at the polls.

- Bill Clinton is being invoked in the race for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate.

As time and tempers grow short, candidate tactics and commercials get more desperate.

"If it weren't so serious, you'd call it the silly season of the campaign," said Stuart Roy, spokesman for Mr. Millner.

Although turnout usually is low for primaries, Georgia candidates this year face the added burden of competing with the buildup for the Centennial Olympics in Atlanta. Plus, the primary comes after a long July 4 holiday weekend, said Margaret Jonas, spokeswoman for Republican U.S. Senate candidate Johnny Isakson.

The problem is not only are people leaving town but, "with the Olympics, are they going to come back," Ms. Jonas said.

Thus, candidates are trying to find new ways to reach the voters. Mr. Millner has inserted a campaign slide into those shown on the 12 screens at the Augusta Village 12 movie theaters before the feature. And they know people are seeing them, Mr. Roy said.

"We had a couple of times when the ad came on the screen the slide was crooked and supporters called," Mr. Roy said. "It's a challenge getting out Guy Millner's message of protecting the American Dream."

Meanwhile, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Clint Day is being scorned by his opponents after launching a television ad where President Clinton's picture bobs back and forth on the screen between Mr. Millner's and Mr. Isakson's. To those campaigns, it is the ultimate dirty pool.

"This is an out-and-out lie," Ms. Jonas said. "The whole thing is so ludicrous."

"He knows better than that, we thought he came from a better family than that," Mr. Roy said.

Using Mr. Clinton is a pretty stern tactic, agreed University of Georgia political scientist Charles Bullock.

"To Republican voters, that's a pretty scary thought," Dr. Bullock said.

Mr. Day's campaign did not return phone calls Tuesday afternoon. He and Augusta supporters, however, will hold a Grand Finale Rally today at 1 p.m. at the Cotton Row Cafe.

One message getting across is the stark image Republican Secretary of State David Shafer is invoking in his campaign commercials. Over a picture of tombstones, a voice asks, "Can dead people vote? Anything's possible because people who have died or moved away remain on voter registration lists for years." Mr. Shafer, former executive director of the Georgia Republican Party, says it happens all the time because no one checks identification at the polls.

That seems a stretch to Lynn Bailey, executive director of the Richmond County Board of Elections. Twice a month, the board receives a purge list from the Georgia Secretary of State's office of those that have died or moved away, she said. And her staff goes through the obituaries each day to help purge the rolls.