Originally created 07/23/98

Ga. primary postmortem: The statewide scene 072398 - The Augusta Chronicle

A majority of GeorgiaDemocrats favor millionaire Roy Barnes as theirgubernatorial candidate, although the affable trial attorneyfaces a run-off in three weeks with a burned-out,financially-strapped Lewis Massey. Re-publican primaryvoters again favored their millionaire, Guy Millnerwith their party's gubernatorial nomination.

It was hard for GOP challenger Mike Bowers to win a run-offberth, especially with Millner's heavy TV ad barrage.Interestingly, Barnes and Millner were clear favorites inarea balloting.

The odds are good that Georgia's next lieutenant governorwill be a Republican, so look for a tough slugfest betweenanti-tax crusader Mitch Skandalakis (the GOP primary leaderwho carried Richmond County and received 36 percent of thevote statewide) and Clint Day (who carried Columbia Countyand received 29 percent statewide).

The third place GOP candidate was Senate Minority LeaderChuck Clay, R-Marietta, who's poised to endorse Skandalakis.That will be a great asset for the front-running FultonCounty Commission chairman, because Clay's potent base isvote-rich Cobb County (which, incidentally, is Barnes' hometurf).

The Democratic lieutenant gubernatorial run-off is betweenultraliberal Sen. Mary Margaret Oliver, D-Atlanta, and Sen.Mark Taylor, D-Albany, who is tainted with his admission ofcocaine usage. This will be a classic Atlanta-ver-sus-SouthGeorgia contest.

Speaking of Oliver, she's the lawmaker who got theDemocrat-controlled Legislature to "dumb down" therequirements to qualify for state school superintendent.That was to assist Democrat Joe Martin in facing incumbentRepublican Linda Schrenko in November. Yet it's laughablethat Martin, a former Atlanta School Board chairman, barelyeked out his primary win against an underfunded and unknownex-University of Georgia professor.

Republicans put up obscure primary candidates forcommissioner of the Labor Department, so the Democraticprimary for this office is instructive. Former state welfarechief Michael Thurmond will be in the Democratic run-offwith former state Sen. Steve Henson. Both are articulate andwell-connected.

The Public Service Commission regulates all utilities, andits progressive chairman Bobby Baker easily won his GOP primary. He'llface a Democrat in November, and a second PSC seat will befilled during a non-partisan race this fall.

Democrats picked assistant secretary of State Cathy Cox andRepublicans opted for former Newt Gingrich aide JohnMcCallum as their respective candidates for secretary ofstate to replace Massey. Either one, we should add, would bea clear improvement.


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