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06 April 2008

Republicans Made Several Unforced Errors, But Can Democrats Capitalize?

Throughout the recently adjourned 2008 legislative session, I often said to Democratic-leaning lobbyists, "The Republicans are making a lot of unforced errors this year, but the question in my mind is whether the Democrats can capitalize."

This year, the Georgia Republican majority made a whole lot of unforced errors beginning on the first day of the session when the House overrode several of the Governor's vetoes and lasting until the final day with the Republican House Speaker telling the Republican Lt. Governor to "be a man."

But can the Democrats capitalize?

The record of accomplishment for the Republican-led Georgia General Assembly this year is very short. When the gavel came down sine die on Friday, the Republicans had nothing, and I mean nothing, that they could hang their hats on. They don't have tax reform. They don't have transportation reform. They don't have trauma care funding. The Republican majority does not have anything meaningful that they can take back home to their districts for the summer and fall campaigns (How exactly do you campaign in Waycross, Georgia touting a new law that makes it easier for someone to bust a cap on the MARTA bus as your major accomplishment?). The Republican majority does not have a single policy coming out of the 2008 session that they can point to and say to the voters, "For this reason and this reason alone, you should keep us in the majority."

Quite to the contrary, the Republican majority has given Georgians a long list of reasons why they should be voted out of office. But once again, can the Democrats capitalize?

State Sen. David Adelman (D - Atlanta) told Insider Advantage that "On every important issue facing Georgia, the Republican Party let Georgia down this year." The Senate President Pro Tempore, Eric Johnson (R - Savannah) said it was "hard to call this session a resounding success." It's hard, quite frankly, to call the 2008 session a success period; resounding or otherwise. I mean what did Georgia's lawmakers do down there that moved Georgia forward, made Georgians' lives a little better, and made Georgia a state that all her citizens can be proud of.

What did they do for the last four months? Did they do anything meaningful? Can the 2008 Republican-controlled Georgia General Assembly be characterized as something other than a do-nothing legislature?

And just one more question, can the Democrats capitalize on the abundance of unforced errors made by their Republican friends in the majority?

The summer and fall campaigns should, hopefully, answer that for us.