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Editor's Note - It's election season

And it hasn't been pretty

Georgia's July 18 primary election season hasn't been pretty.

In the race for governor, two Democrats who could have conveyed a principled vision to compete with Gov. Sonny Perdue cowered all spring behind polling numbers and negative ads.

First case in point: Cathy Cox's waffling on gay marriage. Rather than articulating a thoughtful, honest position that might have gained respect from both sides, the Democratic gubernatorial hopeful frittered away her credibility by sending different messages to different groups — and appearing disingenuous to everyone.

Second case: Mark Taylor's campaign in general. His minions spent their energy strafing party unity with win-at-all-cost attacks on Cox while they inflated his role 14 years ago in working Zell Miller's lottery plan through the Senate. Taylor's campaign guru even opened the race with the McCarthyesque claim that Cox is a "liberal."

This isn't new to Georgia. Our politicians long ago learned how to mislead voters by faulting others. Somewhere between slavery and Jim Crow, they found they could distract white voters with bombastic accusations and simplistic solutions to difficult problems such as poverty and ignorance. We've been all the poorer for believing them.

Nowadays, Republicans resort to updated versions of the same. In many ways, gays and Hispanics have become the new scapegoats. And while open racism is politically incorrect, Perdue's new voter ID legislation sends a clear message that some citizens' rights are less equal than others'.

It doesn't need to be that way. Look on down the ballot. You'll find potential leaders who've actually used the campaign to debate ideas that might move the state forward. The Democratic field for lieutenant governor and some candidates in both parties who are running for secretary of state have stuck largely to the issues.

Our endorsements (on page 34) throw credit toward those who have shown themselves to be such principled campaigners. In many cases — for example, the choice between Jim Martin and Greg Hecht for lieutenant governor on the Democratic side — the choice proved difficult for the right reasons.

In the case of Cox and Taylor, the choice proved difficult for the wrong ones.



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