More Jackson County Opinions...

APRIL 16, 2003


Column
By:Bill Shipp
The Jackson Herald
April 16, 2003

The Democrats’ last star?
Before Cathy Cox starts worrying about running for governor, the secretary of state may have to fret first about whether she can run her present office from a broom closet.
For the second time since his inauguration, Cox says Gov. Sonny Perdue has sent word he may evict the secretary of state from her traditional digs in the state Capitol. The governor needs more space.
State law decrees the secretary of state shall have an office in the “capital” (sic). State law also says the governor is the state government’s landlord and in charge of allocating office space.
Cox says she is ready to fight - or move, if she has to. A battle between the first Republican governor and the Democratic female secretary of state over moving furniture might provide comic relief. Goodness knows the state could use a few smiles in the wake of the most calamitous legislative session in decades.
Despite her apprehension about a possible run-in with Perdue, Cox is one of the most fortunate people in the Capitol these days. Her political reputation is intact. She may be the state’s foremost Democratic survivor in the wake of her party’s disastrous election last year.
Cox was smart enough to get out of the Legislature before the roof caved in. (From 1993 to 1996, Cox represented Miller, Seminole, Early and Decatur counties in the House. Her father, Walter, served 16 years in the Legislature.)
Cox was elected the first woman secretary of state in 1998. In 2002, as Gov. Barnes and several other Democrats crashed and burned, Cox triumphed on Election Day. She won 61 percent of the vote and captured 146 of 159 counties.
But she won more than the election on that fateful balloting day. She pulled off a near miracle. As state director of elections, she deployed across Georgia a high-tech touch-screen voting system. And - amazingly - it worked. In a state in which the pop-top can is considered cutting-edge technology, fully computerized voting was accomplished with few hitches.
The success put Cox on the political map. Nationally, she was hailed as a leader in election reform. In Georgia, she was one of the few Democrats to emerge from the election with enhanced prospects.
Now, at the end of the 2003 Legislative session, Cox is beginning to look like the brightest star in the state Democratic firmament.
She appears a natural to run for governor one of these days. (She already has declined to offer for the U.S. Senate next year when Sen. Zell Miller retires.) She is hesitant to say she has any current interest in going for the state’s top job.
“A year or two from now, Sonny Perdue could be the most popular man in the state,” Cox says. “We’ll just have to wait and see.”
At the end of his first legislative session, Perdue has emerged in the eyes of some as an ill-tempered and obstinate decision maker who goes out of his way to make enemies. (Can you think of another governor in modern times who publicly spurned and insulted Atlanta’s business leaders?) The current portrait of Perdue may be transient. For now, however, Sonny’s dark and brooding image gives some Democrats hope of retaking the Gold Dome.
Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor is the first name on the Democratic wannabe’s list. But Republicans stripped “the big guy” of nearly all his powers at the beginning of the legislative session. Launching a political campaign from a back-row bench might be difficult.
Attorney General Thurbert Baker and Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond have solid public records. Alas, both are African-Americans and thus, in Georgia’s present political atmosphere, have limited chances of becoming governor.
Several white Democratic House members have shown promise, but the recent battle over the state flag has divided Democratic legislative ranks perhaps beyond repair.
That leaves Cox. At 44, she is only the second woman in Georgia history to hold an elective statewide office. (The first was Republican Linda Schrenko, elected in 1994 and 1998 as state school superintendent.)
In addition to her success with touch-screen voting, Cox has raised her statewide popularity by decentralizing her office and moving large parts of it to Macon. She has transferred state archives from downtown Atlanta to Clayton County.
She possesses politically vital good-old-boy credentials. A native of Bainbridge, she attended Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College and received a journalism degree from UGA.
Still, her gender may prove to be a very high hurdle in a state that has been historically reluctant to elevate women to high office. And Cox knows she can probably hold onto the secretary of state’s office for the rest of her career, if she wishes.
You can reach Bill Shipp at P.O. Box 440755, Kennesaw, GA 30160 or by calling (770) 422-2543, e-mail: bshipp@bellsouth.net, Web address: http://www.billshipp.com

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Column
By: Adam Fouche
The Jackson Herald
April 16, 2003

A dinner fit for Sonny
The citizens of Jackson County might not know it, but the greatest world mystery is not the location of a new courthouse.
Instead, life’s most intriguing riddle comes in a small aluminum can.
Growing up as an avid fisherman, there’s one thing I was never short of—vienna sausages.
I’m not ashamed to admit it. I’ve eaten my fair share of viennas.
On many a fishing trips, I’ve taken one of them, split it long ways with my pocketknife and slapped it on a cracker. And you may not think it, but that’s some fine eating during a day out on the lake.
I’m sure many of you have probably eaten at least one can of vienna sausages in your lifetime. I’m not going to ask you to raise your hands. That might embarrass you.
But if you have tried them, I think you’ll agree with me on this—the greatest mystery isn’t what they’re made of, it’s how to get the first one out of the can.
I’m serious about this. Go buy a can. Try it. Getting the first sausage out without tearing it is nearly an impossible feat.
Regardless, there ain’t much finer a food while fishing than vienna sausages and crackers (except maybe sardines, but that’s another story altogether).
And this great mystery leads me to my main point. I bet Governor Sonny Perdue has eaten a few cans of vienna sausages.
I had the privilege of visiting his state-supplied home in Buckhead for lunch on Friday. I won’t tell you what for. Some things in a person’s life should be left private.
But I will tell you that I met his wife there. And after meeting the first lady and seeing the Governor on television a lot last week, I’ve come to the conclusion that he’s no different than you or I.
I bet Sonny likes to catfish. I bet he’s been in a treestand more than once. And I bet he likes to eat vienna sausages during a day of fishing on the lake.
And that all might not mean too much to you. But it says to me that he’s a guy who’s got his head screwed on the right way.
And if he’s anything like I think he is, then he’s probably a lot like me (which makes him an okay guy).
So it doesn’t really matter what he does with the flag or the budget or the sin tax. Because when it comes right down to it, the governor of Georgia has the same problems we all have.
How in the heck do you get that sausage out of the can without tearing it?

Adam Fouche is a reporter for MainStreet Newspapers. His email address is fouche@nbank.net.


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