Taylor and Oxendine Prepare for 2006

Lieutenant Governor Mark Taylor has begun aggressively fundraising for his Gubernatorial run in 2006.  His campaign has reported taking in over $1.1 million in campaign contributions.  It is believed that Taylor is looking to fill his campaign war chest early to dissuade Secretary of State Cathy Cox from entering the race for the Democratic nomination.  Political watchers see his aggressive fundraising efforts as an attempt to flex his muscle and further establish himself as the titular head of the Democratic party.  As a matter of fact, when Cox sent out a fundraising letter to key Democratic activists a few weeks ago, Taylor?s group actively complained.

Upon Taylor?s announcement that he will be leaving the Lieutenant Governor?s office, Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine announced that he was forming a committee to run for the post.  On June 30th Oxendine reported that he had raised $206,950.  Although this is a very impressive number, especially since the election is still more than two years away, much more is revealed when looking through the list of contributors.  Only 90 individuals or corporations contributed.  The average donation size was well over $2,000.  Nine individuals or corporations donated $10,000 (the maximum) and another four gave $5,000, together making up 53% of all receipts.   Both American Capitol Holdings and R.T. Financial Corporation and their respective executives gave $20,000 each.  

Political insiders note that this large take for Oxendine indicates he has tapped into a rich, but small, pool of individuals that have a vested stake in his political success.  Having only six contributors who gave less than $500, it is apparent that Oxendine does not yet have a groundswell of public support.  

Governor Sonny Perdue also disclosed his fundraising numbers.  With over two years until the election he has about $3 million in the bank having received $261,733 in the first six months of 2004.    
July 20th Primary Quickly Approaches

With Georgia?s primary just days away, candidates are working hard to target their core constituency, reach undecided voters, and as always, raise additional money.  While the primaries are intended to select party nominees for November?s general election, due to the political homogeneity of many state and congressional districts, the primary election will determine many overall winners.  Also on the ballot are all nonpartisan races (Judges, Sheriff?s, School Board, etc.)

Here is a rundown of some of the important races that will be decided on July 20th or in a primary runoff on August 10, 2004:

Georgia Supreme Court
Justice Leah Sears is being challenged by Grant Brantley.  Brantley is being openly supported by conservatives and the Christian Coalition.  If Sears is successful in her reelection bid she will become the first African American chief justice of the Georgia Supreme Court.    

4th Congressional District
In a recent poll taken by Insider Advantage of likely voters in the 4th Congressional District (Dekalb and parts of Gwinnett Counties) Cynthia McKinney and Liane Levetan appear to be headed toward a runoff.   The full results of the poll taken on July 6 and July 7th are below:

Cynthia McKinney (27 percent)
Liane Levetan (26 percent)
Cathy Woolard (9 percent)
Nadine Thomas (4 percent)
Connie Stokes (3 percent)
Chris Vaughn (1 percent)
Don?t know/undecided (30 percent)

6th Congressional District  
In Georgia?s 6th Congressional District (Cobb and North Fulton County) 3 state senators are challenging for the seat.  It appears that Tom Price will face a runoff against either Chuck Clay or Robert Lamutt who are in a dead heat for second place.  

State Senate District 27
In quite possibly this season?s most closely watched state senate race, former Public Service Commission Chairman (and former Democrat) Bubba McDonald is challenging Senate Majority Leader Bill Stephens in the Republican primary for the newly drawn District 27 seat.  The attention placed on this race likely results from the interest in the power vacuum that McDonald?s victory would have in the Senate leadership.  

House District 7
Due to redistricting in Fannin and Gilmer Counties, incumbent Representatives Jack White and David Ralston will face one another.  Ralston, a former state senator and candidate for attorney general, is expected to be returned to Atlanta by a wide margin.  He will likely play an increasingly important role as Republicans take greater control of the House.

House District 162
Former Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Tom Bordeaux (D-Savannah) is facing stiff competition in the Democratic primary from a wife of a local doctor, Pearl Persad.  Bordeaux, an attorney, has been strongly criticized by doctors? groups for his positions on tort reform issues.   James Carthon, whose most significant role will be to produce a runoff is also in the race.  Bordeaux reports $24,025 in campaign contributions this quarter including a $500 contribution from House Speaker Terry Coleman who relieved Bordeaux of his chairmanship two-thirds of the way through this year?s legislative session.  Persad reported taking in $97,112, mostly from individual physicians.
U.S. Senate Race Heats Up as Primary Approaches

With less than a week until the July 20th primary, the race to replace retiring U.S. Senator Zell Miller is heating up.  On the Republican side, Congressman Johnny Isakson has a clear lead on his two opponents, fellow Congressman Mac Collins and businessman Herman Cain.  Both Collins and Cain have tried exploit Isakson?s relatively moderate views on social issues to court religious conservatives.  As it looks now, it appears that Isakson will be able to win without a runoff.  In the event of a runoff, Isakson?s chances lessen somewhat as the conservative right will consolidate behind just one candidate.  

On the Democratic side, Cliff Oxford, a multi-millionaire businessman looks like he will have self-funded a campaign that never took off.  However, he could do well in the Democratic primary next Tuesday.  Rumors of spousal abuse will continue to plague him, especially with women voters.  Oxford has been successful in gaining the endorsements of several leaders in the African American community, which he hopes will help offset the strength of his main opponent, Congresswoman Denise Majette.  
Reece & Associates? Clients Host 100+ Candidates at ?Fund Receiving Events?

Reece & Associates was pleased to have the opportunity to help its friends by hosting three separate events this summer to distribute campaign contributions from its clients.  Approximately one-hundred legislators, both Democrats and Republicans, attended the events hosted at Wayne Reece?s home, which were nicknamed ?fund receiving? events by Republican House Minority Leader Glenn Richardson.  

House Speaker Terry Coleman served as the honorary host at a reception for House Democrats on June 23, 2004.  Representative David Ralston and Senator David Shafer served as the hosts for a separate Republican reception on June 29th.  A lunch was held with several Democratic Senators on June 17, 2004.  

In addition to receiving the campaign contributions, the candidates also enjoyed the opportunity to see one another and catch up on their respective political races.  Every candidate left with a bag filled with assorted promotional items from the firm?s clients.  In just a few short weeks the buzz surrounding the success and uniqueness of the events has already spread around Georgia?s political hot spots.  
The Edwards Effect on Georgia House Races

Many in Georgia are wondering what effect the addition of John Edwards will have on the Democratic ticket this fall.  In Georgia?s Presidential Preference Primary in March 2004, Edwards came in second place receiving 41.4% of the vote compared to 46.8% for John Kerry.  

Edwards appeal in Georgia can be seen greatest among rural white voters.  In Georgia?s primary Edwards beat Kerry handily in almost all rural parts of the state.  However, most political insiders agree that Edwards will not put Georgia in play for the Kerry-Edwards ticket in 2004.  But, Edwards may have an important effect on down ballot races.  The impact might be particularly acute in the state house where the Democrats will need the votes of rural white voters who have traditionally been loyal Democratic voters but are quickly trending towards the Republican camp.  
Public Affairs Roundtable Hosts Secretary of State Cathy Cox and Senator Majority Leader Bill Stephens

Cox Will Likely Run for Governor

On Monday June 21, 2004, BellSouth welcomed the Georgia?s Public Affairs Roundtable to their Campanile headquarters for a luncheon meeting.  Both Cathy Cox and Bill Stephens joined the group of public affairs representatives to discuss the current state of politics in Georgia and their predictions for the future.  Cox addressed the group first, outlining the changes that have occurred over the past two decades that have brought about a true two party system in the state.  She then explained that Democrats have a strong record of leadership, supporting the corporate community and economic development.  After giving an overview, Cathy gave her insights into some of the most discussed political races of the season.   When asked about her own political future, Cox was unequivocal in her response that she has not yet made a decision about running for Governor in 2006.  However, she did explain that she is seriously considering it and will wait until the results of November?s elections to make a decision.  Political insiders believe that regardless of the results she will run.

The group next welcomed Republican Senate Majority Leader Bill Stephens.  Stephens touted the ascendancy of the Republican Party in Georgia.  Like Cox, Stephens gave insight into many closely watched races.  When asked about his own race against former Democratic legislator and Public Service Commission Chairman Bubba McDonald, Stephens sounded optimistic about his chances.  
State Revenues Up For the Year, But Not By Much

With the turn of the fiscal year, the state announced that it finished the year with a growth rate of 7.1 percent and with $13.58 billion in net revenues, which was about $901 million more than fiscal year 2003.  However, it should be noted that much of that growth was from one-time events such as an acceleration in the collection of payroll taxes.  This means that the real growth in revenue was only about 3.3 percent.   For the just-completed fiscal year, Georgia?s sales tax revenues grew by $150.7 million (3.2 percent), motor fuel taxes by $78.8 million (11.6 percent), individual income taxes by $311.7 million (5 percent) and tobacco taxes by $116.2 million (104.5 percent). Corporate income taxes were down by $18.8 million (a 3.6 percent decrease).  Overall the numbers suggest a economy that is still struggling to rebound from the economic slow down.  
Quick Notes

? Tort Reform Work Continues Over the Summer
Working below the radar screen, legislators and interested parties in the tort reform issue have organized workgroups to begin substantive conversations.  The legislators? intentions are to have early discussions this summer with key business leaders without any formal appointments.  Proposals from last year are to be studied and new approaches will be analyzed.  

? School Funding
State officials are anticipating a lawsuit over the state?s formula for the distribution of monies from high to low wealth counties. This important litigation will likely affect the overall education appropriations formula.

? Turnout
Secretary of State Cathy Cox predicted that 30 percent of Georgia?s active registered voters, or slightly more than 1.15 million citizens, will participate in next Tuesday?s July 20th General Primary Election.  As of June 1, 2004 there were 3,841,358 voters on Georgia?s active voter roll.  Georgia voters do not register by party and can choose to participate in either the Democratic or Republican primary.

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