Political Notes – Cain-mentum in the Florida straw poll


Herman Cain’s presidential campaign, which had been drifting a bit as the media attention focused on Mitt Romney, Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann, surged back into the public eye over the weekend with an unexpected victory in a Florida straw poll.

The former talk radio host pulled 37 percent of the vote, which would have been an impressive showing in isolation but looked especially good when you consider the fact that Cain had double the support of Perry, the GOP candidate who had been experiencing frontrunner status.

“Herman Cain, moi, got twice as many votes as the next contender, Rick Perry,” Cain said in a video posted after the straw poll was conducted. “This is what you call momentum.”

Some Republican outlets, in fact, are already commenting that Cain’s Florida win is a sign that Perry’s campaign effort is sinking.

Here’s how the conservative Washington Times reported it:

Former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain won the Presidency 5 straw poll here Saturday, delivering a blow to Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s front-runner status and a victory for a candidate who has struggled to transform his grass-roots popularity into strong showings in national polls.

“Tonight’s winner is Herman Cain,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced. “It shows you something: The road to the White House comes through Florida, and it pays to spend time here.”

Mr. Cain received 37 percent of the more than 2,600 votes cast.

“Thank you to the Republican voters for this incredible honor of being named the winner of the Presidency 5 straw poll in Florida today,” Mr. Cain said. “This is a sign of our growing momentum and my candidacy that cannot be ignored. I will continue to share my message of ‘common-sense solutions’ across this country and look forward to spending more time in Florida, a critical state for both the nomination and the general election.”

The two national front-runners — Mr. Perry and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney — placed second and third. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, meanwhile, landed in fourth place; Rep. Ron Paul of Texas was in fifth place; and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, sixth. Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann finished last.

The anti-immigrant group Americans for Legal Immigration PAC (ALIPAC), which opposes Perry because of immigration actions he has taken as governor of Texas, was downright gleeful about the Cain vote, sending out an email statement under a “Rick Perry Is Finished” headline:

Texas Governor Perry destroyed his chances of winning the GOP Presidential primary during last night’s debate when he defended his support for in-state tuition for illegal aliens which is opposed by 81% of all Americans.

“Rick Perry proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is not the right choice for America by supporting these radical illegal immigration attracting measures,” said William Gheen, President of ALIPAC. “Perry’s support for in-state tuition for illegals forces taxpayers to pay to replace their own children in the limited seats in our colleges!”

These kinds of straw votes are typically meaningless – they tend to be more of a pep rally for a candidate’s activist supporters as opposed to a useful predictor of which candidate is likely to prevail.

On the same web page where it posted its article reporting Cain’s straw poll victory, the Washington Times also hosted an internet poll that asked readers, “Do you think Herman Cain will win the Republican nomination for president?”

Some 62 percent of the poll respondents answered, “No.”

A GOP critique of GOP maps

Rep. Martin Scott (R-Rossville) was one of just two Republican members of the Georgia House who voted against the House redistricting plan passed by the GOP majority.

Scott, who doesn’t plan to run for another term, told Andy Johns of the Chattanooga Times-Free Press:

One Northwest Georgia lawmaker says he’s not sure the legislative maps his fellow Republicans approved last month were fair to Democrats.

“I just was not convinced of the fairness of the maps we voted for,” said Rep. Martin Scott, R-Rossville. “I thought more could be done to ensure the other side felt like they had fair access to mapmaking abilities and lawyers that we had.”

Scott was one of two Republicans to vote against the House legislative map, which was criticized widely by Democrats who said they weren’t given a fair chance to develop their own map until the last minute . . .

Scott said, however, his vote had nothing to do with the lines of his district.

“Sometimes I just feel like taking up for the underdog,” he said.

Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, D-Atlanta, called the vote “a pleasant surprise” but not out of character for Scott.

“Martin is known for voting his conscience,” she said.

Olens stays out of this water dispute

There’s a move afoot among 17 attorneys general from the midwest who want the federal government to take action to keep certain species of fish out of the watershed covering much of the eastern United States.

From an account by Associated Press writer John Flesher:

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette said he and his counterparts in 16 other states want to demand quicker federal action on preventing invasive species such as Asian carp from migrating between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River watersheds.

Schuette told The Associated Press that a coalition of state attorneys general reaching from West Virginia to Nevada would push Congress and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to expedite a plan for severing the connection between the two giant drainage basins that engineers constructed a century ago in Chicago rivers and canals.

Supporters contend it’s the only way to slam the door on species invasions that have disrupted aquatic ecosystems and cost billions in damages in both basins. Local cargo shippers and their allies say such a move would cause massive flooding and job losses in the Chicago area.

The Army Corps has promised to conclude by 2015 a long-range study of methods for cutting off potential avenues for species to transfer between the two basins, including separating them by installing dams or other structures. But carrying out whatever the agency recommends could take many more years, and money will be tight. Environmental activists, state and local officials, Indian tribes and others across most of the Great Lakes region are pleading with the Corps to move faster.

Georgia’s attorney general, Sam Olens, is neck-deep himself in water issues such as the ongoing tri-state dispute over the allocation of water from Lake Lanier, but he apparently is sitting out this dispute between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River regions.

“We are not part of this group,” said Olens’ spokesperson, Lauren Kane.

Another state senate candidate

Atlanta attorney Beth Beskin is the second Republican to announce she will run for the Georgia Senate District 6 seat that is currently held by Sen. Doug Stoner (D-Smyrna).

Beskin ran unsuccessfully against Sen. Horacena Tate (D-Atlanta) last year, but she will be residing in District 6 under the new Senate redistricting plan.  She was appointed by Gov. Nathan Deal earlier this year to work as a liaison for the governor during the controversy over the Atlanta public schools’ loss of accreditation.

Another Atlanta attorney and former member of the state ethics commission, Josh Belinfante, has said he will run for the GOP nomination in the Senate race.

The jailbirds are winging their way to freedom

Sandy Hodson of the Augusta Chronicle provides a useful wrapup on when all of the Augusta politicians who went to federal prison several years ago will be released from incarceration:

Linda Schrenko, Robin Williams and Charles W. Walker Sr. should complete their prison sentences on Aug. 29, 2013, July 20, 2014, and Sept. 26, 2014, respectively – except Walker could be out earlier if his current appeal suceeds.

Schrenko, now 62, was the first woman and the first Republican to hold a statewide political office in Georgia. She served as the state’s schools superintendent for eight years and then made a run for governor.

The 2002 gubernatorial race would lead to Schrenko’s downfall. She stole $600,000 in federal funds set aside for educational services for deaf children and those in the governor’s honors programs. With the help of her boyfriend, deputy and campaign manager, Merle Temple, 63, Schrenko funneled the money into her campaign.

Temple is scheduled to released from prison on Dec. 1, 2012. He is held in a medium-security federal prison in Talladega, Ala. Another associate, Richard Leonard, was sentenced to one year of probation and fined. South African businessman A. Stephan Botes, 54, is scheduled to be released in June 2013. According to his Prison Faces profile, Botes is in a federal prison in Safford, Ariz.

Williams, 49, served a decade in the state House of Representatives, building consensuses with Democrats like former Senate Majority Leader Walker. He lost his 2000 Republican primary election to political newcomer Sue Burmeister.

Williams schemed to steal more than $2 million from the local community mental health center, one of the only mental health facilities available for poor people. Williams worked behind the scenes to get his friend C. Michael Brockman put in charge of the center and together they directed lucrative contracts to Williams’ friends who in turned kicked back money to Williams. All were convicted at trial.

Brockman died of cancer before his six-year prison sentence began. M. Chad Long, 40, a lobbyist and grandson of state political heavyweight former House Speaker Tom Murphy, was released from federal custody in January 2008. Former Atlanta Braves pitcher and state lobbyist Rick L. Camp, 59, was released in March of 2008. And Augusta pharmacist Duncan Fordham, 57, was released in February 2009.

Like Williams, Walker is serving his prison sentenced at a medium-security prison in Estill, S.C. Walker, 63, was convicted of 127 felony charges related to various schemes. Walker paid $698,047 in restitution and another $200,000 in fines and court fees.

Walker is scheduled to be released in 2014, but his sentence could be reevaluated after an 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision on Aug. 23 agreed with Walker’s assertion that his appellate counsel failed to argue that his sentence was an unreasonable upward departure from
sentencing guidelines.

© 2011 by The Georgia Report


Tags: Beth Beskin , Doug Stoner , Florida straw poll , Georgia House redistricting plan , Herman Cain , Josh Belinfante , Martin Scott , Rick Perry , Sam Olens , Stacey Abrams , state Senate race , water wars