Judy Hamilton is breathless and almost shaking with excitement as she dashes into the candidate's office. "One of our phone people," she proclaims, "just had a whole sheet voting for you."
The underdog Democrat aspirant for Congress, Steve Sinton, leaps from his seat. "That's... that's... I mean, that's, well, it's just great," the usually loquacious Sinton grapples with words. Sinton's smile, however, says it all -- it's so big that the corners of his mouth look like they might connect somewhere around the top of his head.
The sheet Hamilton clutches contains only 13 names, one of scores of similar pages listing senior citizens known to be at home during the daytime. There aren't many 100-percent-for-Sinton tallies, but the positive responses for the first-time candidate -- and the negative ones for incumbent Republican Tom Price -- are mounting.
Unpaid volunteers work the sheets, talking up the candidate, urging people to go to the polls. Later in the evening, 12 days before the Nov. 7 election, more volunteers will troop to Sinton's office on Roswell Road in Cobb County to plod through other lists of residents of Georgia's 6th Congressional District.
Sinton that evening treks to a gathering of about two dozen people at the north Fulton home of Mike Stolarski, a medical technology entrepreneur who says, "Tom Price doesn't represent this district. He's part of the Washington problem, which is why I got these people together to meet Steve."
Susan Joseph, a clinical social worker who says she's voted for Republicans many times, is fed up with the GOP's obsession with values. Price, she says, "wants to intrude into people's private lives when he should be attending to public affairs. What's he done for this district? Nothing."
Such comments fire up Sinton's campaign. Make no mistake, however, it's a Don Quixote crusade.
The 6th District sprawls through Cherokee, east Cobb and north Fulton counties. The northern precincts gave George Bush an 80 percent landslide two years ago. The southern half voted a solid 62 percent for Dubya.
Other numbers, those marking the shipwreck of the Republican juggernaut, buoy Sinton's spirits. Sixty percent of Americans are "dissatisfied" or "angry" at the Bush administration, according to an Associated Press poll in October. Other surveys record growing opposition to the Republicans' handling of issues ranging from the Iraq War to jobs to moral leadership.
An October Newsweek poll shows Republicans losing 20 percent of their evangelical vote. With the GOP having more disgraced congressmen than major pieces of legislation during the 109th Congress, it's likely the religious support will continue to soften. Such a shift could crater the GOP ranks in Atlanta's northern burbs.
Still, it's unlikely Georgia will see major shifts in the 7-6 majority the GOP holds on the state's congressional delegation. Democrats failed to recruit credible candidates in many of the state's congressional races. The only high-profile Georgia battlegrounds are two rural districts, 8 and 12, where Democratic incumbents Jim Marshall and John Barrow face challenges from two Republican ex-congressmen, Mac Collins and Max Burns.
Other contests -- including the Price-Sinton matchup -- are considered safe for the incumbent. In GOP strongholds such as the 7th (incumbent John Linder has raised 23 times more money than challenger Allan Burns) and the 11th (Phil Gingrey is ahead in fundraising over Patrick Pillion by a 414-1 ratio), the "opponent" isn't taken seriously.
Sinton hopes to break into the "serious" category. He's raised only about $100,000 -- 5 percent of Price's total. But Price is an unentrenched freshman, and has never waged a congressional race against a Democrat. Sinton also feels he has a few trump cards.
When Sinton moved into his campaign office, he recalls, "We had to do an exorcism, bring in mirrors and garlic" to rid the place of the spirit of a former tenant, one-time U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich. The office is now decorated with gold and platinum albums from Eric Clapton, the Kinks and the Cars -- mementos of Sinton's broadcasting career.
Even Sinton acknowledges that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the party's funding arm, has written him off. "Nope, no money," he says, "but they're not getting in my way, either."
Sinton did his own poll two months ago. Among 400 likely voters, it showed him 11 points behind Price, plus or minus 4 percent -- a close race.
Although polls by candidates are suspect, Sinton insists his is credible. "We did it for our own use," he says. "I'm not in the business of fooling myself."
The poll was conducted before the Tom Foley scandal tarnished the Republican leadership. And before the mounting anger at the party after its shills, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, savaged actor Michael J. Fox, who suffers from Parkinson's disease, for support of candidates who back embryonic stem cell research. And before the latest battlefield casualty reports from Baghdad.
"Reality has caught up with Republicans," Sinton says.
Sinton is a Georgia transplant, having worked throughout the nation running radio stations. His last gig was with Air America, where he was vice president of programming during the network's launch in 2004. He decided to run for Congress after his brother Jon (also an Air America exec) commented to him that 90 elected positions in Georgia in 2004 had no opposition.
"That's not what democracy is all about," says Steve Sinton, who describes himself as a centrist who wants the "60 percent of Americans in the middle to take back power from the fringes at either end." He hammers Price, a physician, for three times voting against stem cell research and for "having never met a spending bill he doesn't like."
Sinton's strategy is one-on-one campaigning focusing on the war, jobs and stem cells. "I love to go to hostile groups," he says. "I tell them, 'I'm the damnedest Democrat you'll ever meet.' They listen because they feel so bad that the man they empowered is doing 180 degrees of what he promised."
Thomas - is there any word on what, if anything, the BeltLine is planning in…
Slightly related, Bloomberg had an interesting article about the impact of sea level on Kiribati…
"I'm buying two Hummers."
Keep your sex life to yourself, buddy.
The change in antibiotics for livestock would be great, but the loophole for animal producers…
"It's Chicken Fuckin' Little on a global scale" ___________________________________ There was a time when your…