Former Georgia Governor Roy Barnes. Most folks might know about the other face pictured, Tommy Thompson. But Gov. Barnes may not be as well known. If he is, he might be known as the guy who forced Georgians to give up the rebel flag. Many still attribute this as to why he was beaten by the first rebuplican candidate since reconstruction. But that is simply not true.
Barnes was beaten largely because he angered a lot of educators. I talked with several teachers who were life-long democrats who decided to cast their vote for “anyone-but-Roy.” Some of them now regret that. In anycase, Gov. Barnes presided over a Georgia educational system that actually lost ground from 48th to being ranked 50th. I don’t lay exclusive blame on this at the feet of the former governor. He did come up with the A+ initiative which had the most effect of lowering class sizes in the state. He also did call for more accountability, which began a run towards high stakes testing and a state wide school report card. His predecessor, Zell Miller, won the hearts and minds of Georgians with the HOPE scholarship, the lottery funded Pre-K and technology grants and a series of 7% raises for teachers. When Barnes failed to deliver raises for teachers, he angered a major part of his core constituents.
What finally angered the voters the most, in my opinion, was his redistricting plan that made voting district maps look like strange, alien spiders, in a bid to retain political control of the state. Needless to say (but I’ll say it anyway) it failed miserably. I actually admire his stand on the flag. He would have been better served to do as his successor did, which was to have a referendum on the flag, and limit the choices. But the flag issue was confined mostly to a few rural south Georgia counties. Barnes still lost the votes in the more affluent Atlanta suburbs and that had nothing to do with the flag.
Roy Barnes is an attorney, and he served skillfully in his role as a law maker in the state capitol. It was this skill that made him successor to the very popular Zell Miller.
Go ahead and leave some comments to those folks. Give them some data to analyze. I’d direct them here, but the above commentary probably doesn’t win me much favor or influence!