Originally created 11/07/02

Georgia makes history



It's not only a new day in Augusta, but also in Georgia - the first time the sun has risen on a GOP governor-elect since the Reconstruction era.

Of all the historic surprises in Tuesday's elections, certainly one of the largest was the defeat of Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes by Sonny Perdue. The other was the ousting of the nation's longest-serving speaker of the House, state Rep. Tom Murphy. The House will stay in Democrats' hands, but for the first time in 28 years the man from Bremen won't be ruling it like an Old South plantation owner.

If there was one gubernatorial seat thought to be safe for the Democrats, it was Barnes'. He had a record of accomplishment. He outspent his opponent 10 to 1. There was talk of national office for '04 or '08. Today Barnes must feel like he just got hit over the head with a two-by-four. He apparently never saw it coming.

His and Murphy's downfall - like that of Sen. Charles Walker (see above editorial) - indicates that voters eventually do get fed up with being manipulated and bullied. In endorsing Barnes for re-election, we pointed out many Georgians would reject his heavy-handed leadership. We underestimated just how many, and Perdue won the governorship.

It's far too soon to tell yet how Perdue's victory will impact the state or the Augusta area. But it's not too soon to congratulate him on his magnificent upset victory.

The same goes for Mark Sanford's impressive defeat of another Democratic governor, Jim Hodges in South Carolina.

Perdue and Sanford - fresh, new state leaders with fresh, new ideas. They'll be among the most closely watched governors in the nation. Good luck to them both.