Category Archives: Randy Evans

How Republicans Can Stay In Power

In 1994, Republicans captured control of the United States House of Representatives after four decades of Democratic control. Riding on the back of Newt Gingrich and the Contract with America, Republicans picked up 54 seats in what is now regarded as the Republican Revolution. Big change was possible.

In 2002, Georgians elected their first Republican governor after over 100 years of Democratic control. Governor Sonny Perdue defeated incumbent Democrat Governor Roy Barnes in what is generally considered one of the greatest political upsets in Georgia political history. Now, Republicans control every Constitutional office in Georgia and both the Georgia House and Senate.

Some might argue that the 2002 Georgia elections were the inevitable consequence of a changing political landscape. Yet, that would not explain the result. Beginning in 1968, the South had moved Republican thanks in large part to President Richard Nixon’s grand southern strategy.

President Ronald Reagan moved the South into the solid red category with sweeping wins in 1980 and 1984. As a result, virtually every other Southern state was Republican long before 2002 and Governor Perdue’s win. Even though the rest of the South had moved to solid red in both national and state elections, Georgia remained a blue state for governors until 2002. Continue reading “How Republicans Can Stay In Power” »

Judicial Elections Decided on Qualifying Day

Qualifying for public office in Georgia has come and gone.  As a result, the field of candidates has now been set, with the choices for Georgia’s voters locked in.

The old adage is that more elections are decided on qualifying day than election day.  That statement has never been more true than in Georgia’s 2012 judicial elections.  Certainly, by any measure, the pattern of judicial elections changed dramatically over the course of the last two years.

When this election year cycle started in 2010, four justices (a majority) on the Georgia Supreme Court were up for reelection.  These included Justices Carol Hunstein, Hugh Thompson, Harold Melton, and George Carley.

Many people expected a flurry of activity as various groups lined up to take advantage of the opportunity to change the direction of the Court in just one election.  With a majority of the Court at play, a variety of interest groups of all persuasions started to vet potential candidates as a slate to challenge all four incumbents.

After all, with most other Constitutional officers, including the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State and Attorney General not up for election until 2014, the Georgia Supreme Court Justices are the highest-ranking elected Georgia officials up for election in 2012.  Electing four would be tantamount to electing a Governor or a Speaker. Continue reading “Judicial Elections Decided on Qualifying Day” »

Moving Forward on Education and Criminal Justice

Now that the dust has settled on the 2012 Georgia General Assembly, Georgians can look back and see what their legislators and Governor did for 40 legislative days. Unlike years past, under both Democratic and Republican governors, the 2012 General Assembly Session appeared calm. There were no eruptions of wild rhetoric, political playground fights, or staged political theater with shackles or props. Instead, there was just work – lots and lots of work.

Yes, there were occasional disagreements between Republicans and Democrats over some issues, and even occasional disagreements between Republicans and Republicans. Yet, those disagreements were just that − disagreements. Where the issues could be worked out, the House Leadership, Senate Leadership, Governor, and Minority Leadership tried to sort it out. When the disagreements could not be worked out, there was a vote and the majority carried the day.

The civility of the whole process should not be mistaken for a lack of passion by any of the legislators or the governor regarding the issues that were important to them. In fact, the passion for causes was just as strong, if not stronger than ever. Legislators worked harder on their causes than ever before. They just did it in a much more disciplined and productive way. Continue reading “Moving Forward on Education and Criminal Justice” »

Women Could Change Presidential Politics

With less than 180 days until the General Election, no one can predict what will happen on November 6, 2012.  In fact, any one that says that they know what will happen probably knows the least about what comes next.

In the election for President, the campaigns of President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney will focus their efforts on framing the choice for Americans. After all, the framing of the question will more likely than not decide how the election turns out.

Unquestionably, Governor Romney will attempt to keep voters laser focused on the economy.  Every day that the election is about the economy, Governor Romney believes he is winning.  Incumbents do not fare very well when jobs are in short supply and times are tough. Indeed, French President Nicholas Sarkozy learned this lesson just recently.

Yet, in the world of Presidential politics, talking about controlling the message is very different than actually doing it. The President has an almost unmatched ability to dictate and dominate news cycles.  In just the last two weeks, President Obama has travelled to Afghanistan and announced his change in opinion in favor of same-sex marriages.  The impact has been days and days of news cycles about things that do not involve even the mention of the word or concept of the ‘economy’ – and that for the Obama team is a win. Continue reading “Women Could Change Presidential Politics” »

Gingrich’s Long Run To Change America

Last Wednesday, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich officially suspended his campaign for the Republican nomination for President of the United States.  It was definitely a wild ride with lots of twists and turns.

Somehow, it is appropriate that the end of this chapter comes during the week of the Kentucky Derby.  Working as a Senior Adviser to Speaker Gingrich during the Presidential race was a little like having a horse in the Kentucky Derby – a horse that led twice, and looked at times as though he would actually win the Derby.

Over the course of his career, Speaker Gingrich has always been a long shot who accomplished unimaginable things.  In 1974 (during the Watergate Scandal), he ran for Congress for the first time as a Republican in a heavily rural Democratic Congressional District in West Georgia.  No one gave him much of a shot, and indeed he lost.

In 1976, (with Democratic Georgia native son Jimmy Carter at the head of the ticket), he ran for Congress in the same district again.  He lost.  It was not until his third try in 1978 that he was elected.

In May 1988, Congressman Newt Gingrich took one of the greatest risks of his political life.  He filed charges against the sitting and powerful Democratic Speaker Jim Wright.  Speaker Jim Wright subsequently resigned as Speaker based on the charges.

Congressman Gingrich did not stop there.  In 1989, President George Bush named then House Minority Whip Dick Cheney to his cabinet as Secretary of Defense.  This left open the number 2 position in the House Leadership – the House Minority Whip.  Only the House Minority Leader was a higher position. Continue reading “Gingrich’s Long Run To Change America” »