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Posted: October 20, 2010 12:30 a.m.

A strange state of political affairs

In a weird election year, you might think the weirdest place of all is Delaware, where the Republican nominee for the Senate has aired TV commercials to reassure voters, "I am not a witch."

Forget Delaware: I’ll compare Georgia to any state when it comes to election year strangeness.

Consider a legislative race south of Atlanta, where Rep. John Yates (R-Griffin) declared last week that the answer to our immigration problem is to station armed troops along the Mexican border with orders to "shoot to kill" undocumented immigrants.

Yates told a reporter that stopping undocumented immigration was as important as "stopping Hitler."

He can speak from personal experience on this: An 88-year-old veteran of World War II, he helped put a stop to Hitler more than six decades ago.

There are many Democrats and Republicans alike who agree that our immigration procedures need to be drastically revised. Still, the idea of shooting those who may lack the proper documents seems to be going a little too far.

There have also been some strange developments in a legislative district west of Atlanta that once was represented by the House speaker, Glenn Richardson.

Richardson, you’ll recall, was forced to resign after his former wife gave a sensational TV interview where she confirmed that he once had an affair with a female lobbyist. In the special election held last January to replace Richardson, the winner was Daniel Stout, who acknowledged having an improper relationship with his mother-in-law that led to a divorce from his first wife.

During the few weeks he served in the Georgia House, Stout quickly established a record as one of the most conservative Republicans in the lower chamber. In a place like Paulding County, that should have been sufficient to get him re-elected. Instead, Stout was defeated in the GOP primary by a more conservative tea partier, Paulette Rakestraw Braddock.

In the weeks since she defeated Stout, Braddock has had to contend with the release of an incident report dating back to a divorce from one of her husbands in which she was accused of threatening him with a pair of scissors.

Then there’s the race for governor. One of the breaking stories last week was about how the Democratic candidate, former governor Roy Barnes, had claimed a tax exemption for a piece of property he no longer owned (Barnes blamed it on an "accounting error" involved in his gift of a house to his daughter).

The Republican candidate, former congressman Nathan Deal, has been dogged by ongoing media disclosures about his personal financial issues. If Deal is elected and sworn into office next January, during his first month as governor he’ll have to either figure out how to pay off a $2 million bank loan that falls due or consider filing for bankruptcy.

Even with all of these financial issues and the widespread coverage of those problems, Deal doesn’t appear to be damaged by it. His poll numbers, in fact, seem to get stronger as the news about his financial troubles gets worse.

In the 2006 race for governor, Sonny Perdue was hit with embarrassing news stories about his Florida land deals and a bill he signed that gave him a personal tax exemption worth an estimated $100,000. In other states, that kind of development would drive a candidate from the race. The voters evidently weren’t bothered by it: They gave Perdue 58 percent of the vote and another term in office.

Georgia politics have always been a little wacky. That wackiness may help elect Nathan Deal.

 

Tom Crawford is the editor of Capitol Impact’s Georgia Report. He can be reached at tcrawford@capitolimpact.net.

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