James, Thomas Reflect on 2008 Primary, Will Run in 2010 Again

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With additional reporting by Jonathan Springston.

(APN) COLLEGE PARK — Progressive challengers did not fare well against Centrist Congressional Democrats, US Reps. David Scott (D-GA), John Barrow (D-GA), and Jim Marshall (D-GA), in the recent 2008 Primary Election in Georgia.

However, two of the challengers, State Sen. Regina Thomas and former State Sen. Donzella James, are respectively planning to face Scott and Barrow again in 2010, Atlanta Progressive News has learned.

“I am running again in 2010,” Thomas told Atlanta Progressive News in a telephone interview.

“You know it,” James told APN, when asked if she would run again in 2010.

APN interviewed the two candidates about their reflections on the 2008 Primary in Georgia. Below are the results from other important Georgia races, followed by their comments.

PRIMARY RESULTS

US Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), a leftist who has been questioned for his stances on public housing and Grady Hospital, also fended off challenges from two community activists, State Rep. “Able” Mable Thomas and Rev. Markel Hutchins. Lewis received 69%, Hutchins received 15.6%, and Thomas received 15.4%. State Rep. Thomas did not return two phone calls seeking comment.

Atlanta Progressive News was on the scene at former State Sen. Donzella James’s planned victory party in College Park, Georgia, on July 15, 2008, as the results came in. James conceded her likely defeat around midnight with about two-thirds of the votes in from Georgia’s 13th Congressional District.

James fared better, though, than any of the other individuals challenging Democratic incumbents, and did so with only a small fraction of campaign funding in comparison to her challenger, US Rep. David Scott. James received 36.3% and Scott received 63.7%.

Barrow received 76.4%, compared to 23.6% for State Sen. Regina Thomas.

Marshall received 85.7%, compared to 14.3% for Robert Nowak.

Barrow and Marshall will face tough Republican challenges in November, because in 2006 each of them won by less than 1%. Barrow and Marshall will face Republicans John Stone and Retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Rick Goddard, respectively.

However, Sen. Thomas and Democratic Party of Georgia spokesman Martin Matheny both told APN they are not worried about Republican takeovers of those seats in November. They cited what they see as enthusiasm for Democrats and the influx of new voters who tend to be Democrats.

Meanwhile, DeKalb County CEO Vernon Jones, with 40.4 percent of the vote, and former Georgia lawmaker Jim Martin, with 34.4 percent, emerged from a crowded field of contenders seeking the Democratic nomination for US Senate.

The winner of the August 05, 2008, runoff will face US Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) and Libertarian Allen Buckley in November.

Jones and Martin easily beat former investigative reporter Dale Cardwell (16.1%), Atlanta eco-science expert Rand Knight (5.2%), and retired businessman Josh Lanier (4%). Knight, the most progressive of the challengers, did not return three phone calls seeking comment.

Cardwell and Knight have both endorsed Martin, the more leftist candidate of the two run-off competitors, despite Cardwell’s near-Republican positions.

Martin sent out a press release announcing Lanier’s support, but Lanier later said he had not endorsed Martin.

Blogger Amy Morton at Georgia Women’s Vote is reporting that Jones previously gave money to the Republican Party to attend President Bush’s inaugural ball.

DONZELLA JAMES’S REFLECTIONS

“We worked very hard, we had a good reception from our constituents. We didn’t raise a lot of money to do any mailings or any commercials, but we campaigned in the ultimate grassroots way,” James told APN.

“We went up against a three-term incumbent and grassroots works because we garnered nearly 40% of the vote,” James said.

James reminded APN that Georgia still uses electronic voting machines which produce no real ballot record which is either verifiable by the voter or auditable by the State.

“I know the machines have not been verified and I’ve been out front fighting the Diebold machines and am in a suit against them. That’s still pending and we haven’t gotten an answer. In the meantime, elections continue and tampering could possibly continue. And nobody can be sure of the vote, nobody can verify the vote, there’s still no paper trail,” James said.

“I’m still concerned. Those machines are not supposed to last forever. I wanted to make sure when they get new machines, that they look at a paper trail and they’re not even talking about it at this point. We need to get our legislators on the state level to take a look at what’s going on,” James said.

“I had so many people parking their cars and talking to me- I went to 18 different polls and spent a few minutes before going to another one. At each one we got the same warm reception,” James said.

“Most people say that money made the difference,” James said. “He was paying people to put the yard signs in their yards; they said it. One lady said she got $25. She said, ‘I signed a contract.'”

“My whole campaign was ignored by the media. No matter how hard we worked, we couldn’t get the AJC [Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper] to recognize us,” James said.

“We sent out press releases on a regular basis. They would never cover it. They did not cover the debate very well that we had. They put two lines on it. When they wrote an article and mentioned some of the problems he had, they favored him by giving his side of the story and not the whole truth,” James said.

“Cynthia Tucker told me she would interview me for a possible endorsement. She did honor that. He didn’t show up. They ended up not endorsing either one of us even though they told me you have a very good shot because you’ve been working very hard in the community and we like your stand on the issues,” James recalled.

James said the only substantive press coverage she received was from the Atlanta Progressive News, the Georgia Informer, and WRFG radio 89.3 FM.

But James is not discouraged.

“The race is not won by the swift, but by those who endure, that’s what the Bible says and I’ve always been persistent. I’m doing it to help the people. I need to do as much as I can as Suzy Q Public; I don’t have to be elected to make a positive difference,” James said.

According to Federal Elections Commission campaign finance disclosure statements, Donzella James had raised only $11,926.64 at the end of June 2008.

A few thousand of this amount was from in-kind donations (services, not money) and $2,300 was from the candidate herself. Her two largest donors were from Maryland and California. Only $550 in itemized donations were from people in Georgia.

However, there were an undisclosed number of un-itemized deductions totaling about $2,000, meaning they were for small amounts, well below the reporting requirement threshold. Donzella said most of the small amounts were from donors in the 13th District.

On the other hand, US Rep. David Scott raised $690,147 in the 2007-2008 Election Cycle. Scott received dozens of donations from Political Action Committees (PACs). Just some include the American Bankers Association PAC, Blue Dog PAC, Charles Schwab Corporation PAC, Coca-Cola Enterprises Committee for Good Government, Fannie Mae PAC, Lockheed Martin Employee PAC, National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors PAC, not to mention the National Chicken Council and the National Turkey Federation.

REGINA THOMAS’S REFLECTIONS

“I feel pretty good. I kept it issue-oriented. Several things was accomplished. Now the people of the 12th District know his voting record, they know how to access voting records, and he will be more accountable to the people now, I’m hoping,” Thomas said.

“He’d taken people for granted. I hear he met with people in counties he had not gone in before,” Thomas said.

“I think really people wasn’t paying a lot of attention to the voting record even though I put it out there. He had all these elected officials endorsing him. He had a lot of money, he was the incumbent, and he had Barack Obama, all of those things came into play,” Thomas said.

When asked why Obama would endorse someone further to the right than he, Thomas replied: “He’s a superdelegate [for Obama]. One good deed deserves another.”

“Two years is a short time and I’m going to continue to keep my attention on national politics. I’m going to see what my Congressman is going to be doing in the next two years. In the meantime, I’m gonna still be active, involved, go to different meetings and counties to talk to people, to see if there’s anything with assistance and information I can help with, so people can get to know me in the other counties,” Thomas said.

Thomas added she does not regret leaving the State Senate to run for US Congress.

“The Savannah Morning News said maybe I should’ve stayed where I was. It was time to move. I enjoyed my public service, but there comes a time you have to reevaluate where you are and what you’re doing,” Thomas said.

“I’m a stakeholder in this county, and in this country. There’s so many things we can be doing differently. People just go along to get along and that’s not the way it should it should be.”

Mr. Barrow raised over $1.7 million in the Cycle, compared with $34,887 for Thomas.

Thomas’s challenge against Barrow had received national attention from the activist left-wing website, Democrats.com, which encouraged its readers to support Thomas. Democrats.com is a progressive website not affiliated with the Party’s website, which is Democrats.org.

About the author:

Matthew Cardinale is the News Editor for The Atlanta Progressive News and may be reached at matthew@atlantaprogressivenews.com. Jonathan Springston is a Senior Staff Writer for The Atlanta Progressive News and may be reached at jonathan@atlantaprogressivenews.com.

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Our syndicaton policy was updated June 2007. For more information on how to syndicate Atlanta Progressive News content, please visit: http://www.atlantaprogressivenews.com/extras/syndicate.html

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