And then there were 11. Or is it 12? I can't keep up.
Did you feel the earth tremble Wednesday when former Georgia Democratic Gov. Roy Barnes announced his entry into the gubernatorial race?
Me either. We might have felt a little knee-shaking from the other three Democrats in the race, or maybe even a slight shudder from some of the six Republicans. Or even a "who?" from the Libertarian, whatever his name is.
There are now so many people seeking the thankless job of Georgia's top elected official that we could field one side of a football team. It would never work, though, because all of them would insist on playing quarterback.
That big crowd makes it tough for any of these guys (and one gal) to break out into the open. Barnes brings instant stature to the race, but he's also lugging the baggage from his previous term.
Some of that baggage includes his close alliance with ex-state Sen. Charles Walker, currently a resident of our federal prison system despite another round of whining on Walker's behalf.
In case you didn't hear about the latest appeal for Walker's innocence, Walker's son sent out a press release Tuesday and held a miniature 'rally' Wednesday once again complaining that his father is a victim of 'selective prosecution.'
In any event, Walker is yesterday's news. And yesterday's governor wants to be tomorrow's governor.
But Barnes will first have to get past his fellow Democrats, and they aren't exactly stepping aside to make way for 'King Roy.'
"Roy Barnes is a polarizing figure in Georgia politics. Folks either love him or despise him," said David Poythress. He contends Barnes' loss to Sonny Perdue in 2002 left Georgia Democrats in "wreckage."
"Most Democratic voters understand that these realities will fatally damage his ability to win in the General Election," Poythress added.
DuBose Porter was more formulaic: "I am not running against Roy or any other candidate," his statement said, predicting that he will "win the primary" because of his "bold plans."
I couldn't find a reaction from Thurbert Baker, but I'm sure he had one.
On the Republican side of the election, the early bet for Candidate Most Likely To Implode goes to State Insurance and Fire Commissioner John Oxendine.
Oxendine rose quickly in the race due in large part to the withdrawal of early favorite Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle. But like the mythical Icarus flying too close to the sun, Oxendine has been burned -- in his case, by an ethical flare-up involving money from the insurance industry his office regulates.
The meltdown began when The Atlanta Journal-Constitution discovered suspicious contributions totaling $120,000 to Oxendine from two insurance companies. Those contributions are 10 times the legal limit.
The Oxendine campaign's immediate reaction was to fire off a kill-the-messenger attack on the Atlanta paper for doing the story.
Well. Then Oxendine, in what politically can be interpreted only as an admission of taint, returned the money. The State Ethics Commission is investigating.
In a race this crowded, it's rarely a matter of one candidate pulling out in front of the others. More often, the field shrinks as candidates stumble and are eaten by the media wolf-pack. They're already nipping at Oxendine's heals.
Georgia Chief Justice Leah Sears Collins is retiring this year. Nominations for her replacement were due this past week to the state's Judicial Nominating Commission.
On the list of candidates for the post is Harlem's Barry Fleming, the former congressional candidate, state lawmaker and Columbia County Commission chairman.
Fleming serves as legal counsel to state House Speaker Glynn Richardson. He's also city attorney for Harlem.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail email@example.com.)
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