Sunday, September 19, 2010


Porter aims to make noise in lieutenant governor race
By Aaron Gould Sheinin

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
2:14 p.m. Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Carol Porter knows she has a difficult challenge over the next 45 days as she attempts to knock off a Republican incumbent in the race for lieutenant governor.

A Democrat from Dublin who's never held elected office, Porter sees an advantage in running from the outside, especially as an outsider who's seen how the insiders operate.

Her husband, DuBose Porter, is the outgoing leader of the state House Democrats who made a failed bid for the party's nomination as governor. So Carol Porter says she has seen enough of how the General Assembly works to know that it's time for a new direction.

"I don't want to paint every politician as corrupt because they're not, but we have had a few in leadership positions who have used their power to help their friends," Porter said Wednesday in an interview with reporters and editors at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Incumbent Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, whom Porter hopes to unseat, is scheduled for a similar interview Sept. 27.

Porter counts Cagle among those leaders who have abused the public trust. Cagle, she said, helped Republican gubernatorial nominee Nathan Deal in Deal's attempts to preserve a state program that earned Deal tens of thousands of dollars a year. Those attempts led to a congressional ethics investigation and inquiries from a federal grand jury. Cagle has never been accused of wrongdoing in the case, and Deal has said he did nothing wrong.

Porter said the need for new leadership extends to the fact that current leadership too often abdicates its role in setting policy to an endless number of blue-ribbon commissions and study committees.

"There are lots of solutions in water, transportation and education," she said. "But if you analyze how many of the recommendations of all these blue-ribbon panels are ever implemented, you'll find we're not listening to what the people of Georgia are telling us."

Porter, who along with her husband operates a chain of small newspapers in Middle Georgia, said she sees firsthand the impact the economy and the state's budget problems are having on small businesses.

"My business touches every business in nine counties," she said. "I hear firsthand their stories. I'm not in an ivory tower. Small businesses cannot handle the burden placed on them."

Porter said across-the-board cuts to the state budget are foolish and that she would take a systematic approach to cuts, while emphasizing money for infrastructure and education.

She favors an approach that eliminates emotion and partisanship from budgeting.

"Let's put every option on the table," she said.

On transportation, Porter said passenger rail is a top priority in moving the state forward, both in terms of quality of life and in the state's ability to attract business. She said she fears that the transportation bill that passed the General Assembly this year is rife with problems that must be fixed next year. The bill called regional referendums in 2012 to ask voters to raise their sales tax to pay for local transportation projects.

Porter said she fears voters in rural parts of the state will reject the tax hike but thinks that it will pass in the metro Atlanta area, which might be enough.

"We can't have our major city in gridlock," Porter said.

From a Middle Georgia perspective, Atlanta traffic has to improve to attract business to the south. If companies can't get products to or from their Middle Georgia locations because of gridlock to the north, they're going to look elsewhere, she said.

On education, Porter said she would commit to continuing a state investigation into alleged cheating on standardized tests in Atlanta public schools.

"It absolutely must be continued," she said. "I think we knew there was a lot of cheating going on for years."

On immigration, Porter said Georgia is being forced to act because of federal inaction, but she isn't ready to commit to a specific approach.

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