Campaign dispatches

Some parting thoughts as primary day approaches

To Hecht with the truth
Things have gotten nasty in the 13th District. Former state Sen. Greg Hecht is attacking opponent David Worley for taking money from naughty nursing home operators.

And this makes CL wonder: Was Hecht perusing Worley’s financial disclosures from the comfort of his glass house?

The strategies of the major candidates in the 13th District became apparent months ago. David Scott, another ex-state senator, hopes to win the race without a primary, and he’s been spending money to do that since February. Hecht and Worley, meanwhile, seem locked in a race for second place and a date with Scott in a run-off election.

So in a series of mailings, Hecht lashes Worley for taking money from nursing home operators who have had ethical or legal problems in Georgia. The only problem is that Worley’s campaign hasn’t taken a dime from the companies Hecht names.

Instead, the state Democratic Party, which Worley headed between 1998 and the end of 2001, accepted money from the nursing home corporations. The irony of Hecht’s charges is that as a Democratic state senator, he directly benefited from the money Worley helped the state Democratic party raise. In 1998 and 2000, the party printed at least two mailers that Hecht used in senate campaigns.

Hospital operator HCA is the only health care company with a bad rep on Worley’s disclosures. He received $500 from that outfit, while Hecht took in $1,000. Hecht does have a reputation of working for seniors, but he’s decided to torpedo an opponent instead of running on his own record. Meanwhile, Hecht’s own disclosures include a long list of corporations with ethically and morally challenged reputations.

Wal-Mart’s PAC, for example, has given at least $3,500 to Hecht’s campaign. The Walton family owns a well-deserved cutthroat reputation for dealing with its employees, not to mention the fact that it’s America’s leading importer of goods from China, a place not exactly synonymous with workers’ rights.

Then there’s nursing home industry lobbyist American Health Care Association, as well as Georgia Power. But don’t forget SCANA Corp. and Atlanta Gas Light, which as you may remember, are some of the folks that helped bring Georgia its natural gas crisis. Hecht also has reaped support from Georgia-Pacific Corp., which in 1996 agreed to pay $35 million to install pollution control devices after allegedly violating the Clean Air Act in the Southeast.

Hecht can offer voters in the 13th District (an area that stretches south and east around I-285) a number of reasons to vote for him, but bending the truth about an opponent represents a strong reason for voters to skeptically review his claims.

br>?The most famous transcripts in DeKalb history
By now, most everyone has listened to Cynthia McKinney accuse Denise Majette, a former state court judge, of hiding the transcripts from a 1997 trial. McKinney’s commercials inflate the episode to a ranking right up there with Watergate or Iran-Contra. Majette had denied that she withheld the material.

Here’s the truth: According to the state appeals court ruling that overturned Majette’s decision in the speeding case, there was no transcript of the two-day trial. The defendant, Linda Hamilton, who represented herself, didn’t ask for one. There were, however, transcripts of two subsequent hearings in the case, and it did indeed take a court order to convince Majette to release the documents. The appeals court judge overturned the guilty verdict in the case because he determined that Hamilton was not made fully aware of the consequences of representing herself.

That said, high crimes and misdemeanors this case does not make. Many, if not most, judges have the occasional defendant that irritates or provokes them. The Hamilton case — a two-day jury trial for a relatively minor speeding offense — seems like just such an instance.

br>?Some poll sanity
The AJC/WSB-TV poll released Friday showed Linda Schrenko with a mere one-point advantage over Sonny Perdue. Huh? Perdue, a downstate legislator with little name recognition still hadn’t gone on television when the poll was taken. Moreover, none of a series of endorsements — CL, the AJC, Savannah Morning News — which establish Perdue as the serious GOP candidate for governor, had been made public.

Meanwhile, Schrenko had shamelessly spent the last couple of years as state school superintendent touring the state railing on Gov. Roy Barnes’ education program (and basically campaigning), in the process, spending more than $20,000 in state money for travel.

If anything, when Perdue heard about the poll, he should have thrown himself a little fiesta. Because even after spending more than $800,000, Perdue still had twice as much money in his campaign coffers as Schrenko, according to the June 30 disclosures. Don’t expect Schrenko to move too far from her current spot. Instead, with his television dollars, watch Perdue gobble up a majority of the 32 percent of the still-undecided voters.

br>?Quitters never win
The most shameful moment of the two Atlanta Press Club debates Friday came during the GOP lieutenant governor’s segment. The candidates had 26 minutes to give the audience a reason to vote for them — hell, just to let people know they’re alive.

During the round in which the candidates were able to ask each other questions, though, Mike Beatty decided to show everyone that he’s not playing to win. Instead of asking something difficult of his chief opponent, something that might tell voters something about his fellow, virtual unknown, Steve Stancil, Beatty gutlessly underhanded him a softball about Georgia’s Democratic leadership. Stancil, of course, smashed the pitch. After all, dissing Gov. Roy Barnes is second nature to state Republicans.

The episode undermined the legitimacy of Beatty’s campaign and seemed to signal to the audience that the flag he’s thinking about is white and not the one above the Gold Dome.