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Cagle seeks 2nd term in quiet race for lt. governor
Porter, Barber face uphill climb to unseat Hall County incumbent
1010Dan Barber
Dan Barber

Governor's race: Attacks aren't a Deal-breaker so far

Elections Guide

Lieutenant governor

Dan Barber
Party: Libertarian
Age: 46
Home: Cumming
Education: Attended College of the Desert in Palm Desert, Calif., but left to begin working in auto repair.
Experience: First-time candidate for public office. Owns an auto repair business, three tax preparation franchises and a franchise consulting business.

Casey Cagle
Party: Republican
Age: 44
Home: Chestnut Mountain
Education: Attended Georgia Southern University, but left after a career-ending football injury.
Experience: Current lieutenant governor. Elected to state Senate in 1994 at age 28 and was re-elected in 1996, 1998, 2000, 2002 and 2004. Elected lieutenant governor in 2006. He has owned various small businesses since the age of 20.

Carol Porter
: Democrat
Age: 51
Home: Dublin
Education: Bachelor's degree from University of Georgia, 2001.
Experience: First-time candidate for public office. Worked on re-election campaigns for husband and Georgia House Minority Leader DuBose Porter for 26 years. She is the general manager and a co-owner of the Courier Herald Publishing Company, which consists of nine middle Georgia newspapers.

The lieutenant governor holds the second-most powerful role in the state, yet this year's campaign trail isn't getting much attention.

With experienced incumbent Casey Cagle in a quiet race against Democratic candidate Carol Porter and Libertarian candidate Dan Barber, it's not likely to get noticed, said Douglas Young, political science professor at Gainesville State College.

"Cagle has been a popular lieutenant governor and there are not major controversies dogging his campaign that I'm aware of," Young said. "The quieter a race is, the better it is for the incumbent. Voters have the inclination to pull the lever for the incumbent since they haven't heard anything, which hopefully means he's done a good job."

Despite the lack of interest, this year's race could be one of the most important in years, Young said.

"Any year ending in a zero is important when we have the census because the folks we elect this November will be redrawing all the U.S. House and state Senate and General Assembly lines in Georgia," he said. "We have to live with those for the next decade, and the lieutenant governor is extremely involved in that process."

Georgia's lieutenant governor is also one of the most powerful in the country because of the ability to appoint chairpersons to state Senate committees.

"In general, the lieutenant governor is far more powerful in his role over the state Senate than the (U.S.) vice president over the Senate, who only appears on formal occasions," Young said. "In Georgia, he's there every day. Also, he's favored to be a future governor and able to use the office not just to serve the state but as a launching pad for his own career."

Cagle enjoys working on statewide projects such as advancing charter schools, starting career academies and navigating the budget process, said Ryan Cassin, Cagle's campaign manager.

"His role is one of the most diverse in state government, and he loves the opportunity to travel the state and meet with so many Georgians. That's one of his favorite parts," Cassin said. "Something that people may not realize the office handles are the large number of constituent issues. He's constantly getting phone calls from people who need help navigating the government and connecting to the right people to get their issues resolved."

Porter said she is looking forward to helping education and jobs in the state if she is elected.
"I'm going to use the lieutenant governor office to promote economic development and get Georgians into the work force. The taxpayers can't handle more, and we've got to create more taxpayers," she said Friday. "There are so many things we could do, like promote tourism more. We have mountains, midlands and beaches. We've got the complete package."

Libertarian candidate Barber said he is hoping to create a new conversation in the state.

"The whole theme of my campaign is to start a new conversation about the morality of the free market and the constitutional protection of individual rights. We've gone astray and lost that focus," he said. "The lieutenant governor position happens to be one of the highest positions I could get my hands on to have this conversation."

Taking money from one voter and giving it to another or to a group is immoral and violates individual rights, he said.

"The current conversation is based on need, and when we focus on need, we grow need," he said. "No one is talking about it, and the old conversation is more of the same. How can we take tax money and spend it in systems that don't work? The mail, transportation, schools - the government can't do it.

Competition and the free market is how we innovate and create new jobs."

With less than a month left until Election Day, the Cagle campaign is "thrilled" with recent polling and feedback on the campaign trail.

"We're getting a warm reception wherever we go and are enthusiastic heading into the final 25 days here," Cassin said. "We've blocked time out to continue to travel aggressively across the state to get the message out to every voter and meet as many people as we can."

Though Porter is consistently down in the polls, she isn't concerned.

"To me, the polls are great because they show 20 percent undecided, which means they know who Casey is and don't want him," she said. "Once people see my commercials and know there is a viable candidate who knows the issues and cares about taxpayers and children, I'm hoping enough Georgians want to join me. I believe it's not too late."

Both Cagle and Porter plan to air their first TV ads Monday.

If elected, Porter said she won't hesitate to work with a Republican majority Senate.

"I am the most nonpartisan person you will ever meet. I'm all for whatever is best to move the economy forward," she said. "It's time to stop partisan bickering and turn it around."

The two-party system is exactly what Barber is trying to break.

"Is it really a two-party system? I call it a professional wrestling match. They pretend to hate each other and keep us paying them for the wrestling match," he said. "Maybe history is ready for this conversation about morality of the free market. It's going to come, and the state may not be ready at this moment, but it will eventually get there. I may be ahead of my time, but it feels like it's about time."

As a Libertarian, Barber said he knows he's likely to draw a low percent of the vote.

"If I can do 5 percent or more, that'll be great. I'll be in the position to really make changes in the party itself," he said. "Republicans and Democrats have the teamwork idea down, and they have a lot of power because of that. Libertarians need freshness and should bring possibility to people's lives."

Young is interested to see what happens to Cagle's lasting lead over Porter.

"If she had a record of elected public office or public service that she could run on, that could help," he said. "I don't think Porter has a strong chance at this point, unless a major event takes place or an unforeseen scandal happens."

Early voting could also complicate Porter's plans.

"I would be interested to see how many people have already voted. In a midterm election, turnout is down ... people who are more likely to vote are those who have been voting," Young said. "That will probably help Cagle. Porter will probably want to get new voters to the polls."

It also looks like a strong year for Republicans, he said.

"The polls are showing that it's going to be a banner year for the Republicans, and the independent voters she would need to draw seem to be breaking Republican nationwide because President Barack Obama's standing has really collapsed," he said. "It'll depend on if they take their anger out on Democrats down the ticket ... Anything can happen. I don't think she has a good chance, but it's entirely possible."

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