U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal gave up a safe seat with his announced candidacy for governor. Even so, the pros seem to outweigh the cons. My analysis:
Regaining House control that would restore his chairmanships seems far in the future unless the GOP right wing finally recognizes and accepts that, (1) to be elected in most of the Northeast, a candidate must be near the center and, (2) the GOP can't control anything without a working majority.
Sen. Arlen Specter's midterm party switch testifies strongly to that truth. Though it was a crude but open attempt to win re-election, I can't condemn him. He didn't leave until his party left his long-known philosophy.
Neither did Deal switch midterm to the GOP until it was crystal clear the Democratic Party philosophy had grown far left of the conservative philosophy he always had espoused.
Reapportionment is likely to earn Georgia another House seat after the 2010 census. That will result in major changes in Deal's current district. Studying Georgia's congressional district map takes no genius to see the simplicity of packing GOP Reps. Deal, Linder and Broun into one district. Democrats salivate at the prospects of eliminating two of them if they win control of Georgia.
The GOP nomination is no shoo-in for governor, especially if Roy Barnes is the Democratic nominee and the Libertarians again give their brand of indirect support to Democrats as in recent elections.
I know people, including friends of his, who don't support Deal because they're wed to term limits, a generally bad idea. Most of them don't question his integrity and probably support his gubernatorial bid.
I know others, including his friends, who oppose him philosophically but vouch for his integrity. A minority, mostly with personal causes or axes to grind, do question his integrity. I don't know anyone in any category who truly knows him and who wouldn't vouch for his integrity.
Full disclosure: Nathan and I have been good friends for most of my 53 years in Gainesville. He, like George Bush, does what he thinks is right regardless of political consequences.
Political opponents can do to him what Democrats did to Bush: Beat him up on things he did that needed to be done but that sizeable voter segments disliked with confidence they can do so without harming public interest because they know he will do what is best based on best available information.
You can bet that'll happen with him taking the punishment win or lose, because true public service with high integrity is his soul and being.
State Senate President Pro-tem as a Democrat, Deal knows Georgia's legislative branch. A former juvenile judge and prosecutor, he knows the judicial branch. A successful businessman, he makes good business decisions. A senior representative, he has useful Washington contacts. Over the years, he and I have agreed to disagree on several issues.
He may be the GOP's best bet to keep Democrats from dictating reapportionment. If you were around for the last one, you saw that fiasco, which was so ridiculous federal courts had to step in and do what the state, totally controlled by Democrats, refused to do.
Ted Oglesby is retired opinion page editor. Reach him at P.O. Box 663, Gainesville, GA 30503. His column appears every other Tuesday and on gainesvilletimes.com.