Wednesday, February 24, 2010

King Roy at Bay

I ran across this interesting tidbit at Politics Daily this morning:

Three of the four Republicans seeking the GOP's nod for Governor have moved ahead of the Democrat likely to get his party's nomination, former Gov. Roy Barnes, according to a Rasmussen Reports poll conducted Feb. 17.

Barnes was in statistical ties with the three in Rasmussen's January poll.

State Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine leads Barnes, who served one term as governor between 1999 and 2003 before being defeated for re-election, 45 percent to 37 percent with 7 percent preferring another candidate and 10 percent undecided. The margin of error is 4.5 points.

A little more background is in order here. Roy Barnes, universally nicknamed "King Roy" for his imperious manner, won the Georgia governorship handily in 1998. In those days, Georgia was still a one-party state below the federal level, and Barnes also enjoyed comfortable majorities in the Legislature.

All that ended in the 2002 election, when Republicans won legislative majorities for the first time since Reconstruction, and Barnes was upset by party-switcher Sonny Perdue. Barnes spent the next four years chasing ambulances, sniping at Perdue and blaming his defeat on (wait for it) RACISTS who'd objected to his changing the state flag. This argument was delightfully rebuked when Perdue--who also changed the flag, in his case away from Barnes' butt-ugly version, but not back to the old "Smokey and the Bandit" Confederate emblem--went on to be re-elected by a landslide in the big Democratic year of 2006.

With Perdue now term-limited, the Georgia political punditocracy (almost all of it based in Atlanta) decided a year or two ago that 2010 presented an ideal opportunity for the re-coronation of King Roy. Given Barnes' prior experience and ready access to deep pockets, and taking into account a lackluster Republican bench, the solons of state politics were handing Barnes back his crown and scepter as early as last November.

Per the poll numbers above, those predictions aren't looking so good today. Besides the matter of his own famously-nasty personality, Barnes is once again faced with having to run on the same ticket as a national Democratic Party that's about as popular as Urban Meyer in most of Georgia.

If he's polling in the thirties against a weak field right now, I think I'm pretty safe in guessing that King Roy is going to get marched right back to his mansion in Marietta, instead of moving back into the somewhat shabbier one on West Paces Ferry.

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