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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Incumbent vs. invisible: Chambliss and Martin

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Have you seen Jim Martin?

After a late entrance into this year's U.S. Senate race and a hard-fought primary and runoff, the former state legislator won the Democratic nomination last month. Since then, the candidate's been difficult to find, either on the air or in person. Meanwhile his incumbent Republican opponent, Saxby Chambliss, is showing up on TV so much he deserves his own channel.

"My young Democrats aren't talking about working for Jim Martin," says Chris Grant, a Mercer University political scientist and former staffer to Max Cleland, whom Chambliss unseated in 2002. "My kids have good Democrat connections. They're not engaged in that campaign; they're engaged in Obama and [U.S. Congressman Jim] Marshall. Martin's the invisible candidate."

But while he runs in the shadows, Martin may be doing just what's needed to stand a chance against Chambliss, a first-term senator whose own job-approval ratings aren't exactly stratospheric.

Walk through the doors of the Martin campaign's Midtown headquarters in the basement of the Biltmore on a Thursday afternoon, and you're greeted by a soundtrack of ringing phones and workhorse copying machines. Calendars list appointments with local unions. Volunteers stuff envelopes advertising a Decatur fundraiser for Martin, a "decent and honest man running for United States Senate." Four workers nip and tuck spreadsheets in the finance office and shuttle reports to the candidate, seated in his office with shirtsleeves rolled up.

Read the rest of this article here.

(Photo by Joeff Davis)

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