Former president Clinton endorses Baker for governor

by Jon Gillooly ATLANTA — Thurbert Baker received a boost to his campaign for governor with…

Georgia (Jul 13, 2010) — by Jon Gillooly


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ATLANTA — Thurbert Baker received a boost to his campaign for governor with the endorsement of former President Bill Clinton.

In a release issued by Baker’s campaign on Monday, Clinton wrote that Georgia is facing massive education budget cuts and the highest unemployment rates in its history.

“The good news is that there’s a man made for this moment,” Clinton wrote. “That man is Thurbert Baker. And his whole life has prepared him for it.”

The endorsement comes as little surprise since Baker supported Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Democratic primary. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Roy Barnes backed John Edwards.

Mr. Clinton headlined a fundraiser for Baker in New York City last year.

“To date, Thurbert has outlined more detailed plans for Georgia’s future than all other candidates for Governor combined, in both parties,” Mr. Clinton wrote.

Mr. Clinton lauds Baker’s “BEST Initiative” for education, a proposal that calls for more instruction time and better quality instruction time.

“His economic initiatives would create 100,000 new Georgia jobs in advanced fields such as biotechnology and information services,” he wrote. “Now he’s proposed the BEST Initiative, which would fundamentally transform education in Georgia, bringing its school year to the average in the industrialized world and increasing teacher compensation to the very top in the nation. Best of all, he’s told people how he’d pay for all of it, including by adding bingo to Georgia‘s landmark lottery.”

Dr. Kerwin Swint, an elections specialist at Kennesaw State University, said while it’s great PR for Baker, it very likely doesn’t mean much for the primary.

“It may bring Baker a couple hundred votes, but that’s probably all,” Swint said. “Clinton’s endorsement was widely expected — Baker was in Hillary Clinton’s corner in 2008 while Barnes was a John Edwards man. The main question remains: can Barnes win on the 20th without a runoff? Of course, Barnes’ endorsement of Edwards may come back to bite him in the General Election this fall. As far as the primary elections on the 20th, far more consequential is Sarah Palin’s endorsement of Karen Handel. That’s something that can really move some votes her way.”

The Journal reached Barnes while he was on his way to the annual, nonpartisan Cobb Sheriff’s Corn Boilin’ Monday. Barnes, who said he had no comment on the Clinton endorsement, projects his campaign has raised more than $5 million to date. Baker has brought in $1.92 million as of his June 30 campaign finance report.

Barnes expects a runoff election.

“I always anticipate a runoff. With seven candidates in the race, it’s just difficult for me to see how we’re not going to have a runoff,” said Barnes, projecting it would cost him about $1.5 million to $2 million.

If successful in a runoff, Barnes said he was confident he could raise the funding to battle the Republican nominee in the General Election.

“There are different limits for different races,” he said. “There’s a limit for the primary, a limit for the runoff, a limit for the General Election. You don’t exhaust all the money at one time. You pick up new contributors and old contributors to help you.”



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