Despite all of the ads, the rhetoric and the claims by pundits, Georgia will get to choose between two pairs of moderates in the highly contested races for governor and the U.S. Senate.
Now I'm sure folks on both sides in the Peach State are going to cry foul, and insist their candidate is a true liberal or conservative, and the other guy or gal is from their party's extreme wing or faction, but that's simply not the case.
Georgia's gubernatorial contest features the incumbent, Nathan Deal, squaring off against state legislator Jason Carter. Though Deal, when elected, came in with a conservative voting record, he's shown more of a moderate touch as he represents a state that is trending more purple than red, as evidenced by the state being among one of the dozen relatively close races between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. He's shown an ability to compromise with officials like the City of Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed to work together. He's considered the best means of helping the state improve in education, looking for alternate means for older residents to be able to return to school to complete their degrees. That also means embracing innovative courts specializing in certain crimes. At times, that even means taking a position that's different from the TEA Party stands or Georgia conservative views. But it shows an effort to put the state needs before those of the political party.
Carter, through his political position and votes, has shown he's somewhat different from his famous grandfather, President Jimmy Carter. Whether it's embracing Georgia's views on guns or education positions that don't fit with the national trends on ideas like "Race to the Top," Carter recognizes that he's hoping to lead a state that's not quite where the center of the Democratic Party is. I've had a few Republicans tell me they think they can work with Carter on some issues. Liberals are likely to disagree with Carter on several issues.
In the race for Georgia's open U.S. Senate seat, neither David Perdue nor Michelle Nunn have held elected office before, which makes it difficult to track a voting record. But both have had to exist in an environment that can't be defined solely by party labels. Nunn has shown that if elected, she'll adopt the style of her famous father, Georgia Senator Sam Nunn. Whether it's working for George H. W. Bush's "Points of Light" foundation, or adopting some stands that differ from that of President Barack Obama, a new Senator Nunn has demonstrated that when it comes to close votes, she'll be one that will adopt an open mind on a bill that's not defined by a lockstep position with the Democratic Party. Perhaps that's why she was endorsed by maverick U.S. Senator and Governor, Zell Miller.
But not to be outdone, businessman David Perdue has a definite moderate streak that is more reminiscent of a Chamber of Commerce Republican. Whether it's his stand on guns, his choice to deemphasize social conservative issues, or his thinking on education, Perdue is likely to be one of those senators who reaches across party aisles to work with Democrats, like the man he hopes to replace: U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss. My data shows Perdue was able to win the Republican nomination by appealing to women, younger voters, and moderates, against his opponent, Representative Jack Kingston, who was more likely to be the favorite of conservatives and TEA Party voters.
Whether the election is decided this month, or much later, Georgians who are moderate can look forward to several candidates who are more likely to look past ideological scripts and party pandering, and can work with members of the opposite party, in order to best serve the Peach State.
John A. Tures is a professor of political science at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Ga. He can be reached at email@example.com.