Political Notes – Don’t count Newt out, Deal says

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Newt Gingrich is falling in the polls again and will soon be bombarded with more waves of negative TV spots from the Mitt Romney campaign during the runup to the Georgia primary.

Is it finally time to write off the former House speaker as a factor in race for the Republican nomination? Not hardly, according to Gov. Nathan Deal, who remains in Gingrich’s corner.

“I think there’s still a long way to go,” Deal said Tuesday as he met with reporters in his office to make some comments in support of the Gingrich campaign. “There’s still a lot of states out there. I think that no one election cycle or no one state is a make or break proposition.”

Deal was asked if he was concerned by poll numbers that showed Gingrich would do more poorly in a head-to-head race with President Barack Obama than either Rick Santorum, the latest conservative to surge in GOP polls, or Romney, who is still the Republican frontrunner even if he’s looking shakier by the day.

“I don’t put too much stock in polls,” Deal said with a chuckle. “If I put stock in polls, I wouldn’t be talking to you here in this capacity today” (a reference to his comeback victory over Karen Handel in the 2010 GOP primary for governor).

Gingrich is following the same line of thought as Deal, as reported by the New York Times:

Mr. Gingrich pushed back hard on any suggestion that Republicans had decided that Mr. Santorum, not he, was their preferred conservative standard-bearer after Mr. Santorum’s victories in three state contests last week.

He reminded listeners that his candidacy had been declared finished before.

“Santorum had a really good Tuesday, and suddenly the very same people who said I was dead in June came back and said, ‘I told you so,’ ” Mr. Gingrich replied to a skeptical audience member at a Tea Party rally here. “Well, I have a message for them. I’m here.”

Earlier he answered a similar question from reporters after a Hispanic forum at a restaurant in East Los Angeles.

“Twice I’ve led in the Gallup polls,” he said, referring to his surge in early December and following his victory in the South Carolina primary in January. He predicted that he would return to the top of polls in a few weeks.

Deal offered this assessment of why Gingrich has struggled at so many points during the long primary campaign:

Well, he hasn’t had the money that some of the other candidates have had. Whether we like it or not, money is a factor in primaries, as it is in a general elects. When you have primaries that are heavily loaded with negative campaigning, then someone who does not have the resources to rebut those negative attacks sometimes suffers the consequences of it.

I don’t like negative ads and I know that the speaker does not like negative ads. I think there comes a point, though, at which you do have to answer. I would hope the campaigns can take a different turn . . . I do think that there comes a time when you have to answer and I think he is in a position, hopefully, to answer some of those attacks. . . . I hope that we can, in Georgia, at least, begin to set a different tone and have a positive campaign run in our state.

Deal’s pronouncement that “I don’t like negative ads” raised some eyebrows among the reporters attending his newser, who asked one of the governor’s top aides about the negative TV spots that Deal ran about Handel during that 2010 primary.

“He didn’t say he didn’t USE negative ads,” said chief of staff Chris Riley. “He doesn’t LIKE negative ads.”

Concern about the energy tax

Gov. Nathan Deal’s proposal to remove the sales tax on the energy used by manufacturers and farmers is raising some concerns among Georgia’s municipalities, some of whom would lose a significant source of revenue.

Aaron Hale reports in the Gainesville Times that the city council is worried about the impact of that particular tax break:

The proposal was touted by Deal and other state Republican leaders as a way to make Georgia more competitive in growing manufacturing jobs.

However, the tax cut could affect local government budgets as well. A large portion of the city’s tax base comes from those industries, said City Manager Kip Padgett.

Gainesville City Councilwoman Ruth Bruner said the city may not be able to opt out if the proposed exemption passes.
Bruner said if the tax cut were implemented, the city would have to look for alternative sources of revenue.

Executive appointments

Deal has made these appointments to state boards and commissions –

Board of Trustees of the Herty Advanced Materials Development Center: George Benjamin “Benjy” Thompson IV of Statesboro, CEO of the Bulloch County Development Authority and the Statesboro-Bulloch Chamber of Commerce. Department of Transportation Roadside Enhancement and Beautification Council: Charles J. Miller, a retired Goodyear executive from Tucker. Board of Early Care and Learning: Judy B. Neal of Stockbridge, the retired executive director of the Children and Youth Coordinating Council; Kathy B. Howell of Carrollton, a retired school principal, and Janice M. Gallimore of Greensboro, the retired director of operations for the PruCare Division of Prudential Insurance.

State Board of Registration of Used Car Dealers and Motor Vehicle Parts Dealers: Bobby R. Holton of Jackson, senior director of claims for the Georgia Farm Bureau Insurance Companies. Georgia Student Finance Commission: Laura R. Morgan of Atlanta, former director of congressional relations for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and Albany attorney Frank Faison Middleton IV.

Media notes

Shannon McCaffrey, who’s been covering the capitol for the Associated Press since 2006, will be leaving the news organization at the end of the month to take a new job with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution as a reporter and “coach” for the newspaper’s group of watchdog reporters.

© 2012 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: city governments , energy tax exemption , GOP primary , Mitt Romney , Nathan Deal , Newt Gingrich , Rick Santorum