There are just a few weeks left to the election, and I’m going to do something that, in 20 years of writing opinion pieces, I’ve never once done – make recommendations. These suggestions are not based on anything other than the evidence I’ve seen presented by the candidates. I’m looking at five races overall – two in Georgia, one in Florida and a constitutional amendment issue in each state. Parochial in scope? Perhaps, but these races have national implications.
Campaign Analysis: This race has been remarkably civil. Incumbent Nathan Deal (R) has enjoyed some serious success with job creation in the Peach State, but he has also suffered some major failures. Challenger Jason Carter (D) has been relying on his family name as much as voter anger towards some Deals’ own missteps. While their debate was combative, it failed to yield much beyond establishing both candidates are semi-centrist, with ideological leanings to the respective right and left sides.
Recommendation: While Carter has displayed a definitive left-leaning bent and has yet to really answer questions about his voting record, it is Deal who has failed to establish himself as beyond just a friend of big business. Under Deal’s watch, Georgia has slid to dead last in unemployment, suffers one of the highest costs of ownership for motorists, and botched a response to several weather events, resulting in stranded motorists and crippled infrastructure. Even though Georgia is ranked first in the nation for business-friendly climate, that alone is not what defines success of gubernatorial policy. Unfortunately, third-party candidates have yet to display a viable option, so the recommendation, with reservations, is for Jason Carter.
Campaign Analysis: Unlike Georgia, Florida’s race has been a nasty, personal attack laden battle between incumbent Rick Scott (R) and former governor and Republican Charlie Crist (D). While Crist’s decision to flip-flop on party affiliation is being mocked as a display of treachery, it really isn’t that much different from Nathan Deal’s decision to flip-flop years ago when the political winds in Georgia shifted. The Florida gubernatorial debate, however, put Scott’s character on display for all to see when he refused to debate when Crist’s fan made some noise. Both candidates have shown little vision, and their debates have failed to yield real answers.
Recommendation: Scott and Crist couldn’t provide a starker contrast in both personality and governing approach. Scott rode an anti-government, tea party fueled wave of rage into Tallahassee and, with the except of some minor victories on the jobs front, his tenure has been riddled with scandal and controversies. Questions still linger over his knowledge of his former companies Medicaid fraud, and many former staffers and appointees were forced to jump ship over myriad issues. Conversely, Crist’s inconsistency in very controversial issues, along with his party change, has given him the image as a opportunistic flip-flopper. Strange as it seems, at least with a flip-flopping politicians, you know what you’re getting into, as opposed to a former executive who has proven to be the Republican answer to Barack Obama from a personality and approach perspective. For this reason, the recommendation goes firmly to Charlie Crist.
Campaign Analysis: Another showdown which features stark contrasts and little of substance. Former corporate executive David Perdue (R) and former nonprofit executive Michelle Nunn (D) have been trading barbs over who is better for Georgia. Perdue’s efforts to link Nunn to President Barack Obama has borne some fruit with right-wingers, but those ads have also backfired with more independent voters and has, with the help of Nunn’s own attack campaign, turned this race into a near dead heat. Turnout will decide this race.
Recommendation: Michelle Nunn’s campaign could very well be summed by historical concept of carpetbagging. Despite being a successful nonprofit executive with a highly respect organization, Nunn is, first and foremost, was politically-connected insider. Perdue, conversely, has made no bones about his desire to run the government like a business. While Nunn’s campaign has had to deal with some troubling allegations, Perdue himself has displaying one glaring personality flaw: a near pathological aversion to accept responsibility for decisions which destroyed jobs and businesses. Perdue’s campaign has shown little vision of what he would do, and an ad in which he blames government policies for business failures, rather than assume responsibility for some his decision, is trouble to say the least. As with Crist, with Nunn voters know they are getting a politician. Rick Scott showed Floridians what happens when a former CEO runs the show and, for that reason, Perdue as a Senator is an unacceptable option. The recommendation goes squarely to Nunn.
Constitutional Amendment – Florida Medical Marijuana
Analysis: Major money has flowed into this campaign, spearheaded by Florida attorney John Morgan. Opponents argue that medical marijuana will lead Florida to become a new drug haven and hamper law enforcement efforts. Galvanized by Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, the opposition has made some gains. Still, Morgan’s name recognition has given this particular initiative a huge edge, and some law enforcement officials have actually gotten behind this measure.
Recommendation: Medical Marijuana legalization efforts have yielded mixed results. While there are interesting success stories, the logistics of this particular effort have been confusing, cumbersome and, in some cases, a major headache. Evidence of crime increases and crime decreases are conflicting and, aside from a marked increase in “cannabis tourism,” the jury is still out. Still, there has been little to suggest an marked increase in drug addiction, and there has been some evidence of serious benefits to those with ailments proven to be eased by marijuana use. As it is strictly intended for medicinal purposes, the recommendation is to approve this ballot measure.
Constitutional Amendment – Georgia Income Tax Cap
Analysis: Amendment A is a ballot initiative which would cap Georgia’s state personal income tax rate at six percent. The Amendment was proposed by six General Assembly members, all Republicans. The intent of this measure is to limit income taxes and promote a solid business climate for individuals.
Recommendation: This particular amendment initiative has received precious little play in the media and, for the low information voter, appears to be, at least on the surface, a great idea. The problem with using this sort of amendment to compete with Florida and other rapid-growth states is that it assumes a population influx. Still, a state income tax cap is measure which can promote a psychological boost to citizens as well as decision makers and, as much as empirical evidence is key to business decisions, many executives also look at environmental and climate factors. The key to this amendment’s effectiveness is that voters remember this amendment can be repealed once it has outlived its usefulness. For that reason – get ready for a serious curve ball, the recommendation goes, with reservations, to approving this initiative.