Posts Tagged Kasim Reed

Chambliss Gives the Tea Party an Opening…Can they take it?


By most accounts, Senator Saxby Chambliss is being driven from office by the tea party, a dysfunctional congress and a hyper-partisan President Obama. This triangle of frustration leads the senator to prefer sipping whiskey on the back porch to six to eight more years of Washington politics. One can sympathize.

It also clears the decks for a host of ambitious Georgians to seek higher office. An open U.S. Senate seat is like an unexpected gift dropped in one’s lap. It wasn’t expected. It also gives the tea party forces in Georgia an opportunity to put their money where their mouth is. Can they do it? Can they seize the opportunity and elect one of their own, or will they slip into irrelevance by 2014/2016?

And there are a ton of Georgia Republicans considering their futures today. Congressman Tom Price was considering a run already – this could make the decision much easier for him. Unless he decides, as Newt Gingrich did 21 years ago, that the House leadership provides him a better path to national influence. Then there are several other congressional Republicans thinking of making the leap: Westmoreland, Gingrey, Graves, Broun, Kingston, etc.

Each elected official who becomes a candidate for Chambliss’ seat opens the path for others to run for those positions – thus setting off a chain reaction. All the political campaign consultants in the state and region are probably spending at least part of the morning pricing new luxury cars and boats.

As for the tea party, their best bet is Congressman Tom Graves. Yes, he’s fairly new to Congress, but he’s smart, tough, and loved by the tea party. And unlike his colleague from Athens, Congressman Paul Broun (also a tea party fav), he won’t remind people of 2012 GOP senate candidate Todd Akin and he won’t sound like Heinrich Himmler’s grandson.

Other Republicans to watch in the coming days: Secretary of State Sam Olens, former Guv Sonny Perdue and Lt. Guv Casey Cagle. If Tom Price goes for it, my betting is that Karen Handel is a sure candidate for his U.S. House seat.

The Democrats’ best hope? Their best chance is that the Republicans nominate a tea party candidate unacceptable to general election voters. No, Kasim Reed will not take the leap just yet – he’s likely gunning for the governor’s mansion in 2018 or a U.S. House seat. That leaves Congressman John Barrow or State Sen. Jason Carter.

At least it has given us politicos something to talk about.

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Kasim Reed: The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

Watching Kasim Reed on Sunday’s Meet The Press had to lift the spirits of President Obama’s reelection team, at least a little. Reed played the role of partisan attack dog infinitely better than his friend, Newark, NJ Mayor Cory Booker did on the same program last week. Booker, now infamously, questioned the President’s attacks on Mitt Romney’s leadership of Bain Capitol. But when his turn came Sunday, Kasim Reed squared his shoulders and lacerated Mitt Romney the way a campaign surrogate is supposed to. And he relished the moment, in fact barely waiting for NBC’s David Gregory to get the question out of his mouth. Of course, what he said was mostly rhetorical blather, but then again so were many of the comments of his Republican adversaries.

Kasim Reed is an interesting fellow. He’s hard not to like, and it’s hard not to admire his toughness and focus, if not his candor. When he was in the Georgia legislature, he was seen as smart and effective, even by Republicans. At the time, one GOP operative said “Kasim is a stand-up guy, you can always work with him.” In his short time as Mayor of Atlanta he has come to be seen as an emerging national figure, at least by two not insignificant institutions: the White House, which sees him as a defender and fundraiser; and NBC News, which keeps inviting him to sit in on Meet The Press.

He definitely has some things going for him, and is undeniably someone politicos should keep an eye on. But there are some chinks to his armor. One is his embrace and defense of a city procurement system that habitually rewards campaign contributors and entrenched business interests with city contracts. The city is girding itself for yet another round of lawsuits, this time in conjunction with the recent contract awards for concessions at Hartsfield/Jackson Atlanta Airport, “the busiest airport in the world.”

In what may or may not be a coincidence, many of the names behind airport concessions contracts and campaign contributions to Reed and other city officials, are also large contributors to President Obama’s reelection campaign. Needless to say, people are watching.

The Atlanta Airport has a 30-year plus history of sweetheart deals and so called “pay-to-play” contracting. Kasim Reed didn’t create that environment of course, but he is now knee-deep in it, with an opportunity to do something about it. But unlike his Newark, NJ counterpart Cory Booker, who instituted pay-to-play reform in his city, Reed hasn’t even tried to reform city procurement. He sees no need. And to hear him tell it, he sees no problems.

That’s a pretty big blind spot for an emerging national political player.

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