Guest Host Blogger Jennifer Lorenzo: Can Obama Help His Party? (With 11/24 Addendum)
Missing from your analysis in this week's column is the phenomenon that is Barack Obama. The economy was key on Tuesday as it was in 1932. Yet, no less a figure than FDR was still necessary to seize the day. Barack Obama's unique distinctions of being our first African-American candidate and his inspirational rhetoric were intangibles made manifest in votes cast and electoral votes won. A question to ponder while waiting for the 2010 calendars (mid-term elections): Does Barack Obama have any coat-tails? I may have been asleep, but I can't readily recall his orienting most of his speeches to candidates running for office in the states in which he was then campaigning. Barack's charisma soon enters an elected office subject to dealing with the Congress and other down-to-earth duties, many of them routine. What will be the half-life of charisma when removed from cheering audiences in jam-packed arenas and structured TV debates?
Nov. 24 Addendum:
President-elect Obama may have a chance to test his coat-tails if he accepts an invitation to campaign for progressive Democrat Jim Martin in his effort to defeat incumbent Republican conservative Saxby Chambliss in the December 2 Georgia US Senate run-off election. Neither candidate got the required 50% of the vote in the November 4 general election (Chambliss - 49.8%, Martin - 46.8%) with the 3.4% vote of Libertarian Allen Buckley perhaps decisive as Buckley's not in the run-off. McCain beat Obama, 52-47%. If Democrat Al Franken prevails against Republican Norm Coleman in the Minnesota re-count, a Martin victory would give Democrats a filibuster-proof majority of 60 senators. Martin's scheduled campaigners include Bill Clinton and Al Gore. Chambliss' scheduled campaigners include John McCain, Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee and Rudy Giuliani. Martin's 18 years of service in the Georgia state legislature (1983-2001) earned him good reviews from environmental, conservation and education groups. News reports and his web-site have him as socially progressive and fiscally moderate. Martin has Obama campaign staff and union members campaigning for him. Chambliss is pro-life, pro-NRA and has representatives from those organizations campaigning for him. Chambliss, seeking his first re-election, conducted a fierce and negative campaign in defeating Democratic incumbent Max Cleland in 2002. An ad depicted Cleland with Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. Max Cleland is a Vietnam War hero who's a triple amputee. And you thought Boston politics was rough?