Originally created 08/16/98

The campaign starts 081698 - The Augusta Chronicle



Since Democratic gubernatorial candidate Roy Barnes is generally touted as "the best debater" of Georgia's two gubernatorial candidates, look for GOP lieutenant gubernatorial candidate Mitch Skandalakis to be "the great communicator" in this fall's race for the state's No. 2 post. Just as Republican Guy Millner will have to hold his own against the affable Barnes in upcoming forums and debates so, too, will Democrat Mark Taylor have to struggle to compete with quick-thinking anti-tax crusader Skandalakis.

In the lieutenant governor's campaign, racial preferences (especially when relating to college and contracts) will emerge as a big issue. Skandalakis, who's against them, intends to score points with many south Georgians who'll be disappointed in native son Taylor's waffling on whether or not preferences should be abolished.

Education -- and, to a lesser extent, the record of state School Superintendent Linda Schrenko -- will be another issue in not just the superintendent's race but in the gubernatorial and lieutenant gubernatorial arenas. Schrenko faces Democrat Joe Martin, who once presided as School Board president over Atlanta's failed public schools. Schrenko, along with a state School Board headed by Johnny Isakson (and with support from Gov. Zell Miller), has been bringing student test scores up and initiating reform. And Taylor, in a recent Chronicle interview, admitted he is hard pressed in his support of Martin, especially since he likes "a lot of the Schrenko program."

In response, look for the savvy Skandalakis to identify with the hard-working female Republican school superintendent (even to the point of doing a joint TV ad) while Taylor is left fumbling about trying to defend fellow Democrat Martin's failed elixers.

Barnes and Millner both have some progressive education ideas. But will Millner attempt to link up with Columbia Countian Schrenko, or will he run his own campaign with his own education ideas? Whatever Millner and Barnes say in coming weeks, though, we hope they'll push two vital points: More emphasis on reading and more funds for school safety.