On the campaign trail – State GOP launches robocall attack on Carter

A wave of robocalls sponsored by the Georgia Republican Party has been launched against state Sen. Jason Carter (D-Decatur), the likely Democratic nominee for governor.

The automated phone calls were placed Thursday evening in the Atlanta area (this correspondent received one) and they criticize Carter for not supporting HB 990, the Republican-sponsored bill that would prevent the governor from expanding Medicaid coverage without first getting approval from the General Assembly.

The recorded message includes the phone number for Carter’s office in the Legislative Office Building. The robocall’s recipients are urged to call that number and demand that Carter “do his job” by supporting HB 990.

The message includes the tag that it’s sponsored by the Georgia Republican Party.

“These robocalls are just desperate attacks meant to distract from [Gov. Nathan] Deal’s failed record of leadership,” said Matt McGrath, Carter’s campaign manager.

GOP spokesman Ryan Mahoney said the state party has other robocall attacks planned for Carter as the campaign proceeds.

“Leading up to the November election, we will send out numerous robocalls and mail pieces exposing how out-of-touch Atlanta liberals like Jason Carter and Michelle Nunn really are,” Mahoney said. “We will also go up on TV and radio to promote the party’s ‘Choose Freedom’ message and the Republican candidates on the ballot.

Mahoney said he could not provide the cost of Thursday’s calls “since pricing is based on connections made, but it will be available in time for the next finance report.”

The robocalls were a response to Carter’s statements earlier in the week that criticized Deal and the Republicans for trying to shift the responsibility for Medicaid expansion from the governor to the Legislature.

“Why is it that the governor wants to wash his hands of this responsibility?” Carter said in a Monday speech to the state Senate. “The answer is that as these rural hospitals close over the summer they want to be able to say it’s not their fault, nothing I can do about it, because the Legislature has to make that decision.”

The state Republican Party has been aggressively responding to Carter since he announced in early November he would run for governor.

Party officials hired a video “tracker” to follow Carter at the capitol during the legislative session and try to videotape his public statements and private conversations. The camera operator can be seen trailing Carter each time the senator walks through the capitol hallways, although the tracker is barred by doorkeepers from going into the Senate chamber.

The assertive approach is yet another indication that the ground may be shifting in a governor’s race where Deal was initially a heavy favorite to be reelected to a second term.

Deal came under heavy media criticism in January for the state’s sluggish response to a snow storm that immobilized the Metro Atlanta area for two days and stranded thousands of motorists and school children.

The negative publicity from that winter storm may have done some damage to Deal’s poll numbers.

In his political blog on CNN.com, John King wrote:

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal acknowledges a lousy state response to a snowstorm a few weeks back. Since then, Republicans say his poll standing has tanked and, while it is only February, they are worried not only about the 2014 governor’s race but that it could hurt GOP chances in a critical Senate race there. Again, way too soon to tell but worth watching.

Walter Jones, a former Newt Gingrich aide who now writes for the Morris Newspaper chain in Georgia, made a similar observation in a recent article:

At least one professional pollster has said privately that the blame Deal got during January’s Leon pulled him significantly below Democratic challenger Jason Carter in head-to-head election surveys. Observers are waiting for surveys to be made public to see what the net effect of the two storms is on the race.

Carter offered a hint Thursday during an interview as he was musing over why Deal agreed to give the legislature a veto over any gubernatorial decision to expand Medicaid.

“They are looking at the same poll numbers we are,” said Carter, an Atlanta senator.

It was also revealed this week that Republicans have launched a new Super PAC, the Georgia Victory Fund, to try to bolster fundraising for the Deal reelection campaign.

From a report in Politico:

GVF’s objectives will be twofold: touting Deal’s record in office and attacking Jason Carter, Deal’s Democratic opponent.

While the Georgia state Legislature is in session, Deal is unable to raise money. GVF will help fill in the gap in the meantime.

Here is yet another straw in the wind: political scientist Larry Sabato this week downgraded his call of the Georgia governor’s race from “Safe Republican” to “Likely Republican.”

Sabato commented:

Democrats are banking on demographic changes in the Peach State to make these races competitive, and Georgia is slowly moving in the Democrats’ direction: As one shrewd local observer told us, Atlanta’s suburbs, politically, are similar to Northern Virginia 15 years ago, and we know how Democratic that region has become. But for this year’s elections, the more important factor for Democratic statewide campaigns here is the quality of the Republican candidates. Carter needs Deal to be in trouble to win, and Michelle Nunn (D), a promising Senate candidate, is banking on a bad Republican nominee to emerge in the open U.S. Senate race.

We’re moving the Georgia gubernatorial contest from Safe Republican to Likely Republican. As in Kansas, an upset would be a big surprise, but this is no longer a sleepy contest.

Pridemore endorsement

Tricia Pridemore, part of a crowded field in the 11th Congressional District’s Republican primary, received a key endorsement this week from Maggie’s List, a federal PAC that serves as the Republican answer to Emily’s List by supporting conservative women candidates.

“Maggie’s List is proud to endorse Tricia Pridemore, a true fiscal conservative who has public and private sector experience that will give her the tools to work in the United States Congress to reduce the runaway cycle of tax and spend that is rampant today,” said Chairman Sandra Mortham, a former Florida Secretary of State. “Tricia embraces the core values of Maggie’s list, fiscal conservatism, less government, more personal responsibility and strong national security.”

Pridemore is running against state Rep. Ed Lindsey, former congressman Bob Barr and former state senator Barry Loudermilk in the 11th District race.

Trouble for Balfour?

State Sen. Don Balfour (R-Snellville) may have escaped conviction on theft charges when a Fulton County jury acquitted him in December, but he won’t escape opposition in his party primary.

Former Lawrenceville city councilman P.K. Martin has already been campaigning against Balfour for several weeks. Another candidate got into the race this week when former Gwinnett County commissioner Mike Beaudreau filed the papers for a campaign.

One candidate less

The race for state school superintendent, on the other hand, got a little less crowded this week when Bartow County school board member Matt Shultz decided to terminate his GOP primary campaign. Shultz said he will endorse Republican candidate Fitz Johnson of Cobb County.

© 2014 by The Georgia Report


Tags: 11th Congressional District , Don Balfour , governor\'s race , Jason Carter , Nathan Deal , state school superintendent , Tricia Pridemore