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« Boyda In The Crosshairs | Blog Home Page | Wadhams' Potty Mouth »

Dems Battle To Face Chambliss

DeKalb County CEO Vernon Jones and former State Rep. Jim Martin will face each other once again tomorrow in a runoff for the Democratic nomination in the Senate race in Georgia. Jones led the five-candidate July 15 primary field with 40 percent of the vote, 10 points shy of the votes needed to secure the nomination. Martin finished second with 34 percent, earning a spot in the runoff for the national party's favored candidate.

No matter who wins the nomination tomorrow, Senator Saxby Chambliss is gearing up to defend his seat from possibly its most potent threat -- the voter registration drives of the top Democrat on the November ballot, Barack Obama. Along with Virginia and North Carolina -- Southern states with the potential to swing Democratic -- the Obama campaign is making a major push in Georgia to register African Americans and get them to vote Democratic in November.

That's why the Chambliss campaign and the state GOP are heading up their own aggressive GOTV drives, and why the incumbent has readied an invitation to tomorrow's winner to participate in a series of debates, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

However, if Jones wins, he shouldn't expect much help from Obama. Jones, a conservative Democrat who has boasted about voting for President Bush twice, sent out a flier in early July featuring a doctored photo that appeared to place him and Obama next to each other. Obama made clear his displeasure: "I do not endorse him. I have not endorsed him. He put my picture on his literature without asking me."

Jones also has a checkered past that could hurt him in the general election, and one that a candidate for president may not want to be associated with. Some have even argued that Jones is so divisive, he could cost Obama the state.

With Georgia's Republican tilt and his large fundraising advantage, Chambliss is heavily favored to retain his seat for a second term. The state last voted for a Democrat for president in 1992, and most recently President Bush defeated John Kerry by 17 points in 2004.

Whoever wins the nomination tomorrow will need to begin raising cash immediately. In their second quarter financial reports, Martin reported having $300,000 on hand, twice the amount of Jones, while Chambliss reported having $4 million in the bank. Those numbers have changed by now, but with a competitive runoff, it's likely the margin has only grown.

-- Kyle Trygstad