2006 Democratic Candidates Greet Georgians at Open House


(APN) EAST COBB COUNTY Atlanta Progressive News interviewed ten (10) of the fifteen candidates present about their positions on three (3) major issues as well as a self-rating of progressiveness, to locate each of the candidates on “a map.”  To be sure, not all candidates are running for offices where they could have an impact on each of the three issues we asked about, but APN used a consistent questionnaire for all candidates. 
The five (5) candidates who did not answer APN questions left the event somewhat early, including US House candidate Steve Sinton and Lt. Gov candidate Jim Martin.  APN hopes to publish full-length interviews with these candidates in the future.
Most interestingly, APN asked each of the candidates we talked with, to self-rate their own political viewpoint on a scale from 1 to 10 where 1 is “centrist” and 10 is “progressive.”
The most progressive self-ratings were given by RuthE Levy (an 8), State Senate candidate for the 32nd District; Greg Hecht (an 8), Georgia Lieutenant Governor candidate; Zachary Smith (a 7.5), age 22, State House candidate for the 41st District; and Kevin Kane (a 7), age 26, State House candidate for the 19th District. 
Smith and Kane are two fiery, impassioned young candidates (ages 22 and 26, respectively) who impressed many of those in attendance, Atlanta Progressive News has learned.
Two candidates for Georgia Secretary of State described themselves as in the center between center and left.  Scott Holcomb and Angela Moore, that is, both rated themselves as “5″ on the scale.
The least progressive self-ratings were given by Doug Stoner (a 1), State Senate candidate for the 6th District; Patrick Stafford (a 1.5), School Board candidate for Cobb County Post 2; Guy Drexinger (a 2), a Georgia Insurance Commissioner candidate; and Shyam Reddy (a 3), Georgia Secretary of State candidate.  Reddy’s self-rating was surprising, given his noted attendance at recent local progressive events and outreach efforts to the progressive community.
It should be noted, from a sociological perspective, that self-rating methods pose analytical challenges, and should be supplemented with external data.  However, Atlanta Progressive News wants readers to know how these candidates would rate themselves; we also hope to create an external progressive scorecard in advance of the next election.
A glass jar was filled with checks by the end of the evening, Sander Bellman, 65, President of the East Cobb Democrats, noted.  “We needed to get moving on getting candidates elected in East Cobb, and we have four very exciting candidates from East Cobb- RuthE Levy, Zachary Smith, Darryl Wilson, and Steve Sinton,” Bellman said.  “The Democratic Committee didn’t give any money to East Cobb because they looked at it as a losing proposition.  But this is our backyard.”
“All politics start local, and this is local,” Tommy Irvin, Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture, said in a speech.  Irvin was first elected as a statewide representative in 1957, he noted, which–can you imagine–is 49 years ago.
“I promise when we return to Democratic leadership in this state, we’ll never go back.  I’d like to congratulate some of the young candidates here tonight.  Good candidates is what it takes to win,” Irvin said.
“I was very pleased Tommy Irvin showed up,” Bellman told Atlanta Progressive news.  “He’s the Dean of Democratic Officeholders,” Bellman said.
Sander Bellman started East Cobb County Democrats within the last couple years, he said.  “In 2004 summer, I was on vacation in California and I saw the movie Fahrenheit 911.  At that point,” Bellman confided, “I said I cannot simply just show up on Election Day and vote; I have to do more than that.”
As stated earlier, 10 candidates answered 3 questions of Atlanta Progressive News.  The questions were regarding their views on domestic wiretapping, electronic voting, and the US Invasion of Iraq.

All candidates opposed Bush’s domestic wiretapping.  “To me, it’s as clear as day, it’s a violation of FISA, and Bush usurped the power of Congress.  This is not a party issue,” State Sen. Doug Stoner told Atlanta Progressive News.

All candidates except for three (3) had concerns about electronic voting machines and called specifically for voter verifiable paper trails, including all three Democratic candidates for Georgia Secretary of State.  Georgia’s current Secretary of State, Cathy Cox, has come under fire for her support of Diebold.  APN will be looking into the distinctions between these three compelling candidates further in the coming weeks.
The three candidates who had no concerns about voting machines were Doug Stoner, who said “I do not have a problem with it;” Guy Drexinger, who said, “I’m supportive of what Cathy Cox has done;” and Patrick Stafford, who said, “I do not have a problem with it.”  Remarkably, Stoner, Drexinger, and Stafford had also rated themselves in interviews as the most “centrist,” or “moderate,” candidates, with scores of 1, 1.5, and 2, respectively. 

The US Invasion of Iraq was a topic of considerable debate.  RuthE Levy has been against the war since it started, she said.  Greg Hecht does not like the misleading of Georgians on the need to go to war, he said.  Scott Holcomb, a veteran of the conflicts in Bosnia, Afghanistan, and Iraq, said the war planning was poor. 
“I wish we never went.  There are more important concerns in our backyard,” Kevin Kane said. 
“It’s a stupid war,” Angela Moore said.
“We should never have gone,” Shyam Reddy told Atlanta Progressive News, adding the President should be impeached over his open and blatant disregarding of anti-torture laws, including the most recent laws initially co-sponsored by US Senator John McCain (R-AZ).   

Guy Drexinger and Patrick Stafford, however, were less critical of the invasion, while Zachary Smith’s answer was more focused on supporting troops through VA benefits, and Doug Stoner was called to speak before being able to answer APN’s question on Iraq.
Be sure to stay tuned to Atlanta Progressive News for our coverage of 2006 Campaigns and Elections.

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