The Georgia State Democratic Convention took place on Saturday in Dublin, and providing an opportunity for candidates Michelle Nunn and Jason Carter to turn up the heat on their Republican opponents as the races move toward November. Below is a video of the speeches given there by Nunn and Carter – Carter’s speech begins at around 12:30.
Nunn, the first of the two candidates to take the stage, began her speech by extolling her past in the Points of Light organization, apparently unfazed by the notion expressed in her leaked campaign documents that implied voters may be uneasy about her history there. Quickly though, she went on the offensive against Republican opponent David Perdue, (who ‘coincidentally’ happened to be campaigning across town on that same day). Nunn clearly wants to paint the picture that fellow female candidate Karen Handel sketched some months earlier in the Republican primary: that David Perdue, for all his business acumen, is out of touch with the ‘real world’ inhabited by Georgia voters. She went on to lay out a series of anecdotes about David Perdue’s past in business, highlighting jobs sent overseas and lawsuits filed because of unfair treatment of women in the workplace. Perdue, according to Nunn, “is a man who time after time put his profit ahead of his people.” “Sadly,” she continued, “David Perdue’s ‘real world’ does not include us”. This populist message should come as no surprise to the Perdue campaign, who have been hearing about their candidate being an ‘elitist’ and ‘out of touch’ for months in the GOP primary and subsequent runoff.
Next Nunn accused Perdue of “putting partisanship over problem solving”, while declaring that she was the type of leader who would “work together and create solutions”. Not the most original lines, but a pretty clear outline of where her attacks will come from over the next three months. Is Georgia fed up with Congress? Yes, clearly. Who isn’t. Nunn’s attempts to tie Perdue to Washington may not work so well though considering the Perdue has run as an outsider from the outset. Already you can see an entire line of debate that isn’t going to work like it would have had Kingston received the nomination in July.
Carter took the stage next and from the beginning his speech drew bigger cheers than Nunn’s. Watching him speak gives the sense that he inspires the base in a way that Nunn, with her D.C. roots, does not. He began by touching on the race issue, saying that the future of Georgia is “multiracial and multicultural” where “nobody gets left behind and nobody gets left out”. The Democratic Party, Carter continued, “is the only party that represents that future”. Bold, possibly offensive statements, but at a Democratic convention I suppose you’re allowed to step a bit over the line. Carter danced around the ‘ethics issue’, letting the shrieks from the free plastic ‘whistleblower’ whistles that were given out to attendees reflect that storm which will inevitably be unleashed on the Deal campaign.
Education continued to be Carter’s focus, as he pounded Deal, (and the state government in general) for not spending enough time or money on our school systems. Carter tied a ‘failing’ education system to Georgia’s unemployment rates, and tied Georgia’s unemployment rates to the current state leadership. “If you think this is the pinnacle, if this is the best that the current Governor can do,” mused Carter, referring to a recent Deal ad, “then we need a new Governor.”
Trumpeting the education line over and over is well and good, but other than mention that his wife was a teacher, Carter didn’t expound on what credentials he actually has that would make him the choice to reform our education system, nor did he go over any details as to what he would actually do. Granted, a 15 minute speech at a convention may be a situation where semantics trump solutions, but at some point the rhetoric will have to give way to a real plan other than merely separating the education budget from the state legislature.
If nothing else, the pair of speeches given by the two most ambitious Democrats in the state, (other than maybe one Kasim Reed) give an overview of what we’re going to be hearing for the next three months. Nunn is the populist who is in touch with Georgia voters, while Perdue is a holier-than-thou businessman who cares more about the bottom line than real Georgians. Carter wants to reform education in order to fix the ailing economy, while Nathan Deal is willing to just sit back and carry on with his shady backroom deals that followed him back from Congress.
Just as notable though, is what the candidates did not say. You didn’t hear either candidate mention the current president, whose name will be thrown around quite a bit by their Republican opponents. Neither did you hear mention of Jimmy Carter, whose stance on Israel promises to give his grandson headaches down the stretch. Expect those issues to loom large as Deal and Perdue make statements of their own in coming weeks in a state that for all the talk about turning purple, still trends red.