Hometown boy makes good

While Democrats had plenty of reasons to gnash their teeth last week, one Georgian had reason to smile.

Alan Secrest, a Decatur native and Democratic pollster whose job it is to help shape a candidate's message so that it connects with voters, saw the clients of his company, Cooper & Secrest Associates, score resounding successes nationwide.

In Georgia, Secrest's victories include congressional candidates Denise Majette (4th district) and David Scott (13th district.) Secrest also worked for Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor, who was a bright spot in a shockingly poor showing for statewide races. Nationwide, Secrest's clients also won gubernatorial elections in the Republican strongholds of Kansas and Oklahoma, where Democrat Brad Henry beat former football star and GOP House member Steve Largent.

In a year in which President Bush barnstormed around the country and converted projected GOP House and Senate losses into victories, Secrest, the former pollster for Gov. Zell Miller, defied political odds.

"I think we have a pretty good idea of what it takes to get a win," Secrest says. "Campaigns are about framing the choice. What do voters want the choice to be about? That's what it boils down to."

Secrest continues: "This was a year we knew we were going to have to run race by race. There wasn't a prevailing political wind that Democrats could get their campaign kites up into and take advantage of. That's often the case in off-year elections. If your party doesn't hold the presidency, there's no one to speak with one voice, period. It's always that way."


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