In all of Georgia’s 228 year history, this is just the second time that the Democrats have not held the Governor’s office. This is only the first time the Democrats have lost an election for the Governor’s mansion (the last time dealt with losing a certain war in the mid-1800’s). The Democrats think the Governor’s Mansion belongs to them and they are ready to take it back in 2006.
For Cathy Cox, Georgia’s Secretary of State, this poses a difficult problem. She is in the middle of an election season and, as in the past, has refused to be an active fundraiser for herself due to appearances of impropriety. She has only $242,000 cash on hand in her Secretary of State campaign account and, by law, cannot transfer that to a gubernatorial campaign account. While she has sat back without being confrontational or aggressively, publically partisan, Mark Taylor, the Democratic Lieutenant Governor, has picked every fight possible with Governor Perdue and raised as much money for himself as possible. He has opened a gubernatorial account and already has over $1 million.
How then is Cathy Cox to respond?
With government money of course.
In 2002, with a war chest of several million dollars, then Governor Roy Barnes tapped into a governmental advertising budget to promote government initiatives. The Governor spoke in every ad and was the most prominent person in every ad. Taking that idea to a new level, Cathy Cox has become the star of her own advertising campaign.
The ad campaign, which is quite good, targets minority and senior voters, the two groups most likely to vote in a Democratic primary. The subject matter is investment fraud scams, which a lot of minorities and seniors are falling victim to in Georgia. The ad campaign is humorous, savvy, and saturated around the state. Though limited in numbers per day, the spots will run through the end of the year, well past the election, and will appear at all hours, including prime time.
To further bolster the ads, the Secretary of State, the best looking elected official in Georgia, is touring the state holding seminars and town hall meetings to discuss investment scams. Cathy Cox has been able to raise her profile to a level not otherwise obtainable with her current cash on hand and limited fund raising drive. She may not have Mark Taylor’s money, but by December, Mark Taylor, in a powerless job of no great effect, will not have Cathy Cox’s name id.