Saying nothing, speaking volumes 

Georgia governors have traditionally shied away from endorsing candidates in Atlanta mayoral elections. But this year, we'd bet a crate of Vidalia onions that Roy Barnes wants Shirley Clarke Franklin to be Atlanta's next mayor.

Just look at her campaign staff: Verna Jennings Cleveland, finance director, held a similar position in Barnes' 1998 campaign. The governor's former press secretary, Gary Horlacher, is now Franklin's communications director. And Jerry Gray, Barnes' own deputy chief of staff, is volunteering on Franklin's campaign.

And what of Robb Pitts, one of Franklin's opponents? He made the mistake in 1998 of backing Guy Millner instead of Barnes. At the same time, Franklin and her ex-husband, David Franklin, both worked for Barnes. Get the picture?

"Politics is personal," Horlacher says. "It's a civil version of war.

"As for a conscious strategy [from the Barnes camp] of 'We gotta get that guy,' it ain't there. I think it's more of a 'Shirley was on our team.' That probably does motivate some people."

And while rumors persist that some members of the Barnes camp are discouraging Democrats from working with Pitts, at least one prominent Barnes backer says she wasn't intimidated.

Anne Osborne, a communications consultant, had planned to work for Pitts -- even told Barnes about it -- but then decided not to take the position. And, she says, "I didn't get strong-armed." Political professionals "all understand that we won't always be on the same team."

Maybe not.

One Pitts backer who also works with Barnes didn't want to speak on the record for fear that Barnes would take note and the cold shoulder would follow.

"It doesn't appear to be a popular thing to do right now," the Pitts campaigner says about Democrats joining the current Atlanta City Council president's campaign.

Barnes may not be coming out with a formal endorsement in the mayor's race, but it looks like he doesn't need one to get his point across.


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