Friday, September 15, 2006

Cathy's Revenge

The newspapers have been all atwitter about the absence of Cathy Cox from the Taylor for Governor campaign. Cathy has been very conveniently busy or travelling whenever an opportunity has arisen to appear with Mark and put on a good show for the cameras.
But today, the AJC reported that Cathy's campaign chairman, a Democratic turncoat who became Republican to preserve his seat in the legislature, has endorsed Sonny Perdue for re-election. Dan Ponder was supposed to be emblematic of how Cathy would govern in a different way, and she would reach across the aisle for the best ideas from both sides of the political spectrum. Apparently, there were a lot of GOPers eager to support the first female governor of Georgia, even if she was a Democrat.

The problem is that Cathy's campaign collapsed. Much of it was her fault, I think, and she didn't handle Mark Taylor's well-timed attacks too well. I've already documented on this blog my disappointment and anger over Cathy's reaction to the gay marriage amendment "crisis" earlier this year. I think she totally blew it and flushed her chances of election at that time. Mark Taylor did play dirty with her, there's no doubt. And the "Taylor Trolls" out there who were his most vociferous supporters (or the ones who just hated Cathy the most because she was a woman running for Governor) did more than their fair share of Cathy-bashing.

After Cathy's loss, I thought her concession speech was fantastic. It was the old Cathy Cox that I had once known and loved. However, I cannot blame her for being angry over Taylor's campaign tactics. She should not have been surprised though...he's notorious for playing rough when he has to. He always waits for his opponent to mess up first, but then he goes after them with a vengeance. After that wikipedia scandal when her campaign director Morton Brilliant amended Mark Taylor's bio to include information about his son's drunk driving and vehicular homicide charges in South Carolina...she should have known it was coming.

Cathy and her people have every right to feel bitter and angry about the primary. I look at it as a missed opportunity. I think Cathy could have peeled off GOP voters from Sonny easier than Mark will. Her campaign, though, did not do what it needed to do in order to nail down the Democratic primary. It was a case of opportunities wasted.

I think Cathy's revenge will be to stand idly by while Mark Taylor flounders and ultimately loses to Sonny in November. First, people aren't pissed off at Sonny like they were at Roy Barnes 6 years ago. Sure, Sonny's a mixture of greed, insider dealing, and broken promises packaged in a folksy grampa persona...but he doesn't have people really pissed at him. That's hard to fight in an incumbent governor. The sweetheart tax deal that Sonny had the legislature pass to save him $100,000 in taxes would have been a great start to the fall campaign, except for the fact that Mark Taylor's daddy pays him $100,000/yr and the free use of a Buckhead mansion for a couple of hours of work a month. Which is worse? I would argue Sonny's tax situation, because it was an abuse of his power and position as governor, but Mark's situation is no less sleazy and self-serving.

I'm not sure what Cathy's game plan is. Maybe she's setting her sights on 2010 to try again for Governor, or maybe someone can convince her to run for US Senate against Senator Bush, errr, Chambliss. I'm not sure inaction to let Mark fail will hurt her in the long run. She can't be seen as actively against Taylor, but she can just sit at home and do nothing to help him. Honestly, that's what a lot of Democrats in Georgia seem to be doing. We want to beat Sonny, but we're not sure Mark's the guy to do that. Cathy could have done it, maybe, but she screwed the pooch on her campaign, and there are LGBT voters who will never forgive her for the way she handled the marriage amendment being overturned. I'm not quite as harsh. I withheld my vote in the primary, and that was my punishment for Cathy. I hope she learned a lesson from it, and I'm willing to support her again in the future. I also will cast my vote for Mark Taylor, but the race doesn't get me as passionate or excited as, say, the Jim Martin campaign for Lt. Governor against that theocrat neanderthal Casey Cagel.

It will be interesting to see what happens.

1 comment:

Chris said...

The extent of Mark's campaign against Cathy was to use her own words against her after (not before) she launched the first negative attack against him. She was ambiguous at best in her support for the lottery back in 1992 (you can't conclusively show any evidence that she was actually for it or the Cox campaign would have offered it) and she had used settlement money to advance her own image in the eyes of the public.

Most of Mark's supporters (myself included) supported both candidates as late as 2004 but began to notice that everything Cathy Cox did was for herself while at least somewhat of Mark's political involvement was to benefit the Democratic Party's interests and not just his own.

One perfect example is what they did with their old campaign accounts. Taylor had about $1 million of which he donated almost all of it to go toward state Senate campaigns in 2004. Thanks to that money, we were able to defeat Don Cheeks, Randy Hall and Ginger Collins. Even though we lost seats that year, we can't pretend like it couldn't have been worse, and we could easily have 18 or 19 seats in the Senate right now instead of 22.

Now what did Cathy do with her Secretary of State money? Now, granted, it was only about $300,000, but instead of donating it say to the House Democrats (who overwhelmingly supported her) she refunded it to the donors (many of whom are millionaires and could have easily just written her another $5k check to her governor's race) and they turned around and contributed about $175,000 of it back to her in the form of Governor contributions.

She can run for office again, and that's fine with me if she wants to take a shot at it. But much of her support was entirely because she was a woman, and that goes for early poll support (Taylor was already above 50% in the polls once he started his only positive TV campaign in April and May) as well as financial and grassroots support. And a lot of those backers, even high profile ones like prominent female legislators have now gotten a dose of her personality and will be a lot less likely to get behind her in the future. If she's facing another woman who has shown herself to be at least somewhat selfless, I'd say you could forget it.

Mark, while concerned about his own race, has weekly meetings where he engages the other statewide candidates and legislative leaders about their races and asks for advice on his own. He is truly a party leader, and a lot of folks who backed Cathy Cox who aren't related to her have warmed up to him. I hope he becomes governor because he will take a very serious interest in the fortunes of Democrats in this state and not just his own profile as he continues to reach for higher and higher office.

That's all I've got to say on that.