Let it be stated: You will never again see Jim Martin walk out to bodyshaking bass and shake hands with three hip-hop stars. Absurd moments like these only happen on the eve of a runoff where a Democrat-controlled Senate is at stake.
On Monday night in front of the Capitol, standing at a podium underneath a statue of one of Georgia's most perplexing racists, the U.S. Senate Democratic nominee addressed a bundled-up crowd of nearly 1,000 people that braved the cold to see Ludacris, T.I. and Young Jeezy. (Martin admitted as much.)
But Democrats hope those supporters will return to the polls on Tuesday to vote for the Party's candidates and tell their friends and families to do the same.
Flanked on stage by more than 30 city, state and federal Democratic notables, Martin repeated the phrase he's used to describe his role if voters send him to Washington to be a "bridge" to Pres.-elect Barack Obama's initiatives, not a "firewall," as Republican incumbent Saxby Chambliss has branded himself.
"You did the right thing," Congressman John Lewis told the crowd. "You did it. And we must do it again... I've served in Congress for a little while. Saxby is not our friend. I tell you, he's not our friend. If you really want to help Barack Obama, let's do it."
"Just vote Jim" was the night's mantra, a reference to Martin and Georgia Public Service Commission Democratic candidate Jim Powell, a former U.S. Department of Energy executive who has run a tough race against Republican candidate Lauren "Bubba" McDonald.
"We need a senator who'll work with Obama to fix the economy," Ludacris said, adding that Chambliss' "firewall" stump speech "lets me know [the Republican incumbent] is all about politics and not helping America."
Then came Jeezy: "We won the battle, it's time to win the war," he said, urging the crowd to vote for Martin.
And everyone's favorite machine-gun enthusiast, T.I.: "Jim Martin, we got your back. You don't have to worry about young people. We got your back."
But there was a sobering moment amid the bass boom thump and wild applause for the entertainers. When V-103's Frank Ski asked the crowd who voted on Nov. 4, less than half of those in attendance raised their hands. The Republican get-out-the-vote effort has been intense.
Political observers say early voting statistics don't bode well for Martin African-American turnout is below the historic numbers seen leading up to the General Election. On the other hand, Matt Towery of Insider Advantage says the large number of white female voters plays into the former state lawmaker's favor. Democrats have been aided largely by Obama's campaign infrastructure; the president-elect has lent his voice to robocalls and radio ads as well. This is in addition to the barrage of commercials both candidates and special interests have unleashed upon our simple, wholesome state. All those observations could prove meaningless, however, if voters turn out for Martin tomorrow.
Polls are open tomorrow from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Visit Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel's website to locate your polling place.
(Photo by Joeff Davis)
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