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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Democratic dinner pleasant, uneventful

Last night's installment of the annual Jefferson-Jackson Dinner was a sell-out despite the absence of a headliner. No Hillary, like last year, or John "Pretty-Boy Pariah" Edwards, like two years ago. Nor was it the cigar-chomping, wine-sloshing bacchanal I'd hoped it would be, following the Obama election. Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond didn't even break out his James Brown dance moves.

Not that anyone expected those things. Most folks came simply to bask in the good feeling of the successful national elections — and to see if former Gov. Roy Barnes would tip his hand regarding a possible bid for his old job. Roy was there, of course, and he made the rounds, but the best he could offer his well-wishers was that he hasn't yet decided whether he'll run.

The official gubernatorial candidates — Attorney General Thurbert Baker, House Minority Leader DuBose Porter and former state labor commissioner David Poythress — all took a turn onstage, but most folks in the Hyatt ballroom likely are waiting to see what Barnes will do.

The Dems handed out awards to two of their stars, Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, who's in her last year in office, and former Gov. Carl Sanders, who will be 84 on Friday. I didn't notice whether Sanders was wearing cufflinks.

Also in attendance: former Sen. Max Cleland, former U.S. Rep. Buddy Darden and a host of current state lawmakers and party officials. The most pleasant surprise of the night was keynote speaker Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen, who delivered a thoughtful speech warning Democrats not to rest on their election laurels, but to hold the tent door open for people who may not agree completely with the party platform. That's not a tall order for Georgia Democrats, who've never had the luxury of being able to purge those who didn't follow the liberal credo. Plus, Georgia Dems don't have many recent election laurels on which to rest.

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