Conservative Democrat Zell Miller sides against his own party more often than most; he’s endorsed President Bush for re-election and will speak at the GOP convention. (He’s also a friend of TAS, having delivered the keynote address at a dinner last fall where financial benefactors mingled with those of us whom they benefact.) There are some who say that Miller’s seat in the Senate is really filled by a Republican. When he retires next year, it will become official.
The Democrat expected to win today’s primary, freshman congresswoman Denise Majette, is far too liberal to be elected in Georgia, where the Democratic Party took its hardest hits in 2002. That makes the Republican primary doubly important.
The candidate that makes conservatives swoon is Herman Cain. A one-time Burger King executive who sold Godfather’s Pizza in December after owning it for 15 years, Cain has called for abolition of the IRS and repeal of the income tax, replacing it with a national sales tax, one of the two competing high-growth dreams of supply-siders. (The other, of course, is the flat income tax; not coincidentally, Cain backed Steve Forbes in the 2000 primary.) The author of several business books, the charismatic Cain makes $25,000 per appearance as a motivational speaker. Oh yes: He’s black. If elected, Cain would be the first black senator from the Deep South since Reconstruction.
The race has focused mostly on abortion; though all three candidates — Cain and Representatives Mac Collins and Johnny Isakson — are pro-life, questions of purity are magnified in a state where, according to Georgia Right to Life, six percent of voters vote solely on abortion; the percentage is no doubt larger in a Republican primary.
As the front-runner, Isakson has taken hits from the right from both Cain and Collins, who oppose abortion except when the life of the mother is threatened; Isakson also favors exceptions in cases of rape and incest. Isakson has been hammered for various compromises on the issue, including voting to allow privately funded abortions on U.S. military bases abroad.
The focus on abortion makes strategic sense for Cain and Collins: Isakson lost his last bid for a nomination for Senate in 1996 when, in what many consider a fatal political error, he ran an ad touting his opposition to a Human Life Amendment.
The latest polling by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution shows Isakson with 46%, Cain with 16%, and Collins with 8%. There is word from Georgia that candidates’ internal polling shows the race much closer. If Cain holds Isakson below 50%, it will force a two-way run-off. If that happens, despite a significant fundraising gap, Cain may have a fighting shot at grabbing the nomination.
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