Originally created 07/04/06

Cox slices Taylor lead to 6 points



ATLANTA - The race has tightened to only 6 percentage points between Cathy Cox and Mark Taylor for the Democratic nomination for governor, according to a voter survey released Monday.

The survey shows Mr. Taylor still leading, with 47 percent, and Ms. Cox with 41 percent. The number of undecided voters has shrunk to 12 percent. In mid-June, Mr. Taylor had a 45-33 percent lead, and 22 percent were undecided.

Insider Advantage conducted the latest survey for the Southern Political Report by telephone June 28-30 among 500 people who said they were likely to vote in the Democratic primary two weeks from today. It has a 5 percent margin of error, meaning the results are almost too close to call.

Both candidates have been airing television ads criticizing the other, and each camp kept to that theme in commenting on the survey.

"Voters have a reason to vote for Mark Taylor, unlike our opponent, who is running a 100 percent mud-throwing, negative campaign," said Mr. Taylor's spokeswoman, Chrissy Noonan. She attributed his lead to his plan to provide health insurance for every child and reduced-price prescriptions for retirees.

Likewise, Cox press secretary Peter Jackson said the poll shows their message is getting through about Mr. Taylor.

"They want a governor like Cathy Cox, with a positive vision for Georgia's future who will answer the tough questions, not an old-style politician like Mark Taylor, who hides behind his spokesman and is afraid to debate the issues that really matter to everyday Georgians," he said.

The poll also showed the four-person race for the Republican nomination for secretary of state has a clear leader in Fulton County Commission Chairwoman Karen Handel. The 500 voters likely to vote in the GOP primary gave Ms. Handel 33 percent; Charlie Bailey, the GOP nominee for the post in 2002, 15 percent; and Sen. Bill Stephens of Canton 13 percent. Businessman and political rookie Eric Martin got just 1 percent.

The race still has 38 percent undecided, which is typical of low-profile races. Ms. Handel and Mr. Stephens have raised the most money, according to the most recent public reports, and both camps said they haven't begun their mass-media campaigns.

"The jury hasn't heard all of the testimony yet," said Katie Grove, Mr. Stephens' campaign director.

Ms. Handel said she thought her lead was because of voters rejecting the criticism Mr. Stephens had directed her way.

"The numbers are reflective of my opponent's just yearlong (campaign) of negativity," she said.

Reach Walter Jones at (404) 589-8424 or walter.jones@morris.com.