Insighter   /

October 18th, 2010
John Fredericks / Staff

Barnes Campaign Freaks Out On Conference Call

This is the mark of a desperate campaign in the midst of the biggest $50 million bust this side of the Greek economy. 

"Political InSighter," The Beacon Broadcast Network's (BBN) weekly metro area news analysis show, carried on Comcast Channel 25, has just expanded to Dekalb, Fayette, and South Fulton, in addition to North Fulton. The format is quite lively, and my co-hosts Vernon Jones and John Keim have received wide acclaim. Vicki Willard, a political analyst for BBN joins us in our roundtable panel discussion each week.

The show goes live each Thursday night at 6:30 p.m., and is then re-broadcast Friday through Wednesday at 10:00 a.m., 6:30 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. - all on Comcast Channel 25. 

Our line-up of guests over the next few weeks includes former Ga. Speaker of the House Mark Burkhalter on October 21 and D-2 At Large Fulton County Commissioner Robb Pitts (D) on October 28. Former Roswell Councilwoman Lori Henry (R), who lost a close race for mayor in 2009, is challenging Pitts. Henry appeared on the show in September. Ga. Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers is our guest on November 11. He'll be analyzing the statewide election results for our viewers.


BBN and Comcast Channel 25 will also be bringing you live election night coverage on November 2. We'll be broadcasting live on the big night from Nathan Deal's headquarters in Atlanta, with a hook-up at Roy Barnes' campaign bash as well. We'll be on the air starting at 7:00 p.m., with an Internet stream to complement our Comcast Channel 25 live television broadcast. Top politicians will be stopping by for interviews and analysis all night, and we'll be streaming in up to the minute results from all the local and state races as they come in. Be sure to tune us in for the best election night coverage in the Atlanta Metro area: 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, November 2, on Comcast Channel 25 and via the Internet on This is one broadcast you won't want to miss. Don't have Comcast? Get it, and dump the dish.


One of the biggest upsets about to unfold in Georgia on Election Night is centered in state senate District 38, which runs from Sandy Springs (inside the perimeter) all the way down to unincorporated Fulton County (Camp Creek and Fulton Industrial Blvd.). The incumbent, Horacena Tate, first elected in 1998, is an entrenched Democrat incumbent who has not had a Republican challenger in six election cycles. She took the senate seat over from her father, who represented the district for many years. But now Tate, who this newspaper dubbed "Invisi-Tate" due to her inaccessibility to the press and constituents, is in for the electoral fight of her life. Her challenger is political Republican newcomer Beth Beskin, a lawyer and former geologist from Buckhead.

Beskin has worked the district very hard, she has an army of motivated volunteers, and her message of accountability and lower taxes is resonating with Independent and softer Democrat voters. The district can be won -- it went for Mary Norwood over Kasim Reed in the December 2009 Atlanta mayoral run-off, and both Sen. Johnny Isakson (R) and former GOP gubernatorial candidate Guy Milner won it in 2004 and 1998 respectively. Beskin has raised enough money to be competitive and has already done three mail pieces, all poking fun at Tate's disappearing act in the district.

 Tate has obviously not paid attention though, or just doesn't care.  She blew off a candidate's forum on Thursday night in Buckhead, after emailing the hosts and confirming her attendance. They made space and a nametag for her, only to have it lay vacant the entire night, complete with an empty chair for backdrop.

 Beskin is pulling out all the stops, and has a huge fundraiser  on October 26 in Sandy Springs that is headlined by U.S. Cong. Tom Price and GDOT Board Member Brandon Beach. The co-host list is a virtual "Who's - Who" of the district's movers and shakers, ranging from the Ga. House and State Senate leadership to former Atlanta Councilwoman Mary Norwood, a beloved icon who lives in the heart of the district.

Tate really epitomizes why the Democrats are in for a shellacking of Tsunami-like proportions on November 2. She's been in office for 12 years; she's out of touch, out of reach, aloof and carries an entitlement attitude, with little interest in having to serve constituents. Her lack of presence on the campaign trail with 16 days to go spews the intonation of her evident irritation with the fact that she even has to be bothered with the nuisance of a campaign at all. It’s this proclivity that gives rise to voters who will choose to "fire" a lot of pretentious incumbents on Election Day.

After Tate no-showed, we attempted to locate her. First we went to her senate district office address posted on her website, 204 Joseph E. Lowery Blvd. Nope, couldn’t find her there, because the address doesn't exist. How's that for stealth?

There are homes located at 202 and 212 Joseph E. Lowery Blvd., but nothing is between the two homes but a vacant lot.

A little more snooping around landed us at her place of business, listed as Ashby Street Learning Academy, Inc., where Tate is the CEO. The incumbent is also CEO of another business, Tabar, Inc. Both companies are listed with the Georgia Secretary of State.

Ashby Street Learning Academy is a state funded lottery pre-K provider and operates out of a building owned by Tabar, Inc. at 201 Joseph E. Lowery Blvd.

That's where we finally found Tate’s senate district office, at 201 Lowery, not 204 Lowery. What's interesting is that neither of her businesses -- which share space with her district office -- is listed on her state of Georgia financial disclosure statement.

But then again, why should Tate bother to file accurate paperwork when she hasn't had an opponent since Bill Clinton was President?

It's another reason why we are now convinced Beskin will likely win this race.

District 38 voters are going to fire Tate for non-performance come Election Day.

It's called a Tsunami. And it’s hitting November 2. Fulton Democrats know its going to rage through Georgia. They can't stop it. All they can do is put up sandbags around Fulton County proper and hope the dam holds. If it breaks, it'll be their version of election night Katrina.


Poor Michael Thurmond. He's Georgia's very intelligent and politically adept Labor Commissioner who the national Democrats cajoled into running for the U.S. Senate against Georgia GOP stalwart, U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson. Thurmond, who could have run for re-election and maybe had a shot to hold on as the incumbent, is being sliced up by the Isakson re-election juggernaut like an apple in a high-speed juicer.

The Democrats have given Thurmond no money, no resources and no hope. He's going to get less than 40 percent of the vote. Sources say Thurmond took the bait to run in a lost cause campaign because the Obama Administration promised him a job at the Labor Department, so he'll go to D.C. nonetheless.

But now Thurmond's appointment could be at risk when the Republicans take over the U.S. Congress next year, which is no longer in doubt. So Thurmond, once a promising moderate Democrat with a bright future ahead of him, is now relegated to the wasteland of the Obama Administration, which is most likely going to be short-lived anyway. The future of the Georgia Democrat Party was once thought to be in the hands of Attorney General Thurbert Baker, Thurmond, and former Dekalb County CEO Vernon Jones, all basically conservative Democrats. But then the old Barnes machine was resurrected, and it's tearing down everything in its path. The state Democrat Party, after bailing on Baker, hoodwinking Thurmond and running Jones out of politics (editorial disclaimer: Jones is a co-host on my TV show and one of my best personal friends) are now faced with a brain drain of talent and a hole in their funding pocket.

If they lose more seats in the state house and senate, which they likely will, Republicans will surely re-district vulnerable Republican seats to safety and relegate those that remain to Democrat minority oblivion.

So who is the Georgia state Democrats' next best hope, come November 3, 2010? Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. After him, it's slim pickings at the statewide candidate trough.


One of our Beacon friends, an elected Democrat official, was invited on an emergency conference call from the Roy Barnes for Governor Campaign for metro area elected Democrats last week. After logging in with the number and the password, the "Friend of Beacon" (FOB) said the call resembled a panic attack of sorts.

The contributor said the call commenced with Barnes campaign chairs, Dekalb County Commissioner Lee May and former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, saying that the Deal campaign was "imploding" and that with their help, "Barnes could [still] win."

May and Franklin reportedly told officials on the call that the campaign was planning to drop 150,000 flyers per week in Democrat strongholds, and they had hired a litany of "paid telephone canvassers" to make phone calls to rev up the base. They also talked about a big radio ad campaign on African American radio stations.

May and Franklin also asked each elected Democrat official on the conference call to commit to speaking as a Barnes surrogate in specific targeted churches every Sunday to shill for Barnes in the pulpit.

May and Franklin were said to have divulged their plan to secure commitments from area Pastors to give the surrogates time to speak during regular church services. 

We doubt they'll bother to ask each accommodating Pastor to be sure and offer Nathan Deal equal time. Naturally, the Barnes campaign leaders neglected to mention that this activity could also put each participating church's non-profit status in question, or at risk.

According to our call informant, things were going relatively well until Franklin and May opened it up for questions. That's when Democrat State Senator Donzella James, Democrat House Rep. Calvin Smyre and Atlanta Councilman Michael Bond went ballistic. Bond reportedly disputed the rosy scenario, and said that the Barnes campaign has no energy and less excitement. "There is no evidence of any campaign down here," Bond was reported as saying. "We are not getting our people out. We are going to lose."

Intrigued, I fired up V-103 -- and low and behold -- there was Ol' Roy on the radio, with this to say at the end of his ad: "My Republican opponent questions your President's birthright."

Huh? I thought jobs and 10.5 percent unemployment were the big issues? Silly me, I forgot. It's time for Dems to pull out the race card.

I guess that means we'll be hearing soon from Congressman John Lewis on the airwaves, warning listeners to watch out for "fire hoses" and that, "life will be over as you know it if the Republicans win." In fact, they can just replay the 2006 ads, and save on production costs.

This is the mark of a desperate campaign in the midst of the biggest $50 million bust this side of the Greek economy. 

The Democrats might get their share of the hard core out to the polls via their traditional methodology of busing in their base to vote, but it's the "wine and cheese BMW" liberals that are bagging Barnes and their whole dance card. They'll sit this one out.  Can you say, pass the Pate?

As for Bond, he gets it, and he knows he's on a sinking ship without a coherent rudder. Not a good place to be when a Tsunami is about to hit. 


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