Political Notes — Perdue campaign on and off the bus

Gov. Sonny Perdue has cranked up a bus tour in which he plans to visit 40 locations prior to election day on Nov. 7, but the tour was overshadowed in its early stages by the news Friday that Perdue’s campaign manager had been charged with driving under the influence.

The media reported that Nick Ayers, a key member of Perdue’s gubernatorial campaign staffs in 2002 and this year, was arrested in Buckhead Wednesday night by the Georgia State Patrol (link to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution version here).

“A State Patrol trooper observed Ayers driving a Chevrolet Tahoe at an estimated 50 mph in a 35 mph zone on East Paces Ferry Road at Buckhead Avenue and failing to maintain his lane,” the AJC article said. “Trooper First Class J.W. Rickett followed the SUV into a private parking and the Tahoe sped up, almost hitting another vehicle in the parking lot.”

The article added: “The trooper gave Ayers a field sobriety test, which Ayers failed. Ayers refused to take a breath test, both at the time of the traffic stop and at the city jail, according to the arrest report.”

Ayers, one of several 20-somethings who worked for Perdue in his longshot 2002 race against incumbent Roy Barnes, is also related to Perdue by marriage. His wife is a cousin of the governor.

"Nick deeply regrets this incident," campaign spokesman Derrick Dickey told the AJC. "We’re certain that the process afforded all Georgia citizens will run its course. We consider it a personal matter."

Dickey said Ayers will continue to work with the Perdue campaign in the days remaining before the general election.

Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor, whose son Fletcher was involved in a drunk driving incident in South Carolina last year where the younger Taylor’s friend was killed, did not comment on the latest incident.

Perdue’s bus tour, which he’s calling “Moving Georgia Forward,” stopped in Milledgeville, Greensboro and Augusta on Thursday. U.S. Sens. Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss, along with Rep. Charlie Norwood and former congressman Max Burns, joined the tour at various points to campaign with the governor.

Other campaigns

As we head into the final week before election day, several campaign events are on tap.

Gov. Sonny Perdue and Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor are scheduled to debate on WSB-TV Atlanta at 6:30 p.m. Sunday.

There are debates in several other statewide races earlier Sunday afternoon that will be televised by Georgia Public Broadcasting:

  • 4 p.m. Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine and Democratic nominee Guy Drexinger.
  • 4:30 p.m. State School Supt. Kathy Cox, Democratic nominee Denise Majette, and Libertarian candidate David Chastain.
  • 5 p.m. Lieutenant Governor. Sen. Casey Cagle (R-Gainesville), Democratic nominee Jim Martin, and Libertarian candidate Allen Buckley.

There will be Monday debates on Georgia Public Broadcasting at 7 p.m. for the 12th Congressional District race (Rep. John Barrow and Republican Max Burns) and 7:30 p.m. for the 8th Congressional District race (Rep. Jim Marshall and Republican Mac Collins).

A debate between Georgia Supreme Court Justice Carol Hunstein and challenger Mike Wiggins will be taped on Monday and televised by Georgia Public Broadcasting on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.

President George W. Bush plans to make an appearance at the Georgia Southern University campus Monday morning for Max Burns in the 12th District race. Bush will make a second appearance Tuesday afternoon at the Georgia National Fairgrounds in Perry for Mac Collins in the 8th District race.

Jim Martin, the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, will have a final fundraiser Monday evening at the Biltmore in Atlanta with former first lady Rosalynn Carter and Rep. John Lewis serving as co-chairs.

Early voting begins

While the candidates make their final campaign pushes, advance voting for the general election will start on Monday and continue until the close of business on Friday, Nov. 3.

Eligible voters can cast their vote in person, at their county registration office, during normal business hours. Voters will be required to show one of the 17 forms of identification required under a 1997 law — the government-issued photo ID requirement that had been added to the state’s election code was declared unconstitutional in court and does not apply to the general election

Advance voting will not be permitted on Monday, Nov. 6, the day before the election.

“As the nearly 70,000 Georgians who took advantage of advance voting during the July primary already know, it is a great way to reverse our long-term trend of declining voter participation and help reduce long lines at the polls,” Secretary of State Cathy Cox said. “With advance voting, they have a more convenient option.”

Advance voting locations and hours of operation in each county can be found on the secretary of state’s website at www.sos.state.ga.us/elections/advancevotinglocations_2006.htm.

© 2006 by Capitolimpact.com

Tags: politics