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Gambling bad, gambler says

Posted: Sunday, January 03, 2010

Gov. Sonny Perdue made it clear last year that he would block any attempt to set up slot machines in Underground Atlanta. He saw the proposal for what it was: just one more desperate attempt to find money in a bad economy.


Primarily, though, Perdue said no to the idea because he's a Southern Baptist, and he's opposed to gambling.

I happen to agree with Perdue. I don't like gambling, either. It's literally a fool's game.

In Georgia, however, there's just a small problem.

We already have gambling. The Georgia Lottery rakes in billions every year for education in the state, much of it from poor, uneducated people hoping to hitch a ride down easy street aboard the jackpot-wagon that hauls them away from poverty and ignorance.

Many of these folks aren't accustomed to pulling the wagon, so we can hardly blame them if they expect to keep riding.

The existence of state-sponsored gambling isn't the only conundrum for Perdue, though. It turns out the high-profile gambling opponent is a gambler himself. Apparently he's a pretty good one, too.

Back in 2007, Perdue bet Texas Gov. Rick Perry that the Little League team from Warner Robins, Ga., would beat the Texas team in the World Series. When they did, Perry paid up on the bet by flying the Georgia flag over the Texas Capitol.

Then, this past week, Perdue won again when the Georgia Bulldogs played the Texas A&M Aggies in the Independence Bowl. Perry, a Texas A&M graduate, had to make a donation to the Atlanta Community Food Bank when UGA, Perdue's alma mater, won. Perdue's office issued press releases to brag about the winning streak.

Yeah, I know, these bets between governors are all just "friendly wagers." Call them whatever you want; they're still bets. And that means as long as Perdue continues to profess his opposition to gambling, he's a hypocrite.

Incidentally, Perdue's criticism of gambling - other than his own, of course - might get another test in this upcoming term of the Legislature. Some lawmakers are talking about once again proposing that the state allow betting on horse racing.

Even though they'll pitch the plan as a way to help bring in revenue to the cash-strapped state, the proposal probably won't make it out of the starting gate. The governor opposes gambling, you know. Unless he's doing it.

Falling star

When speaking of horse-racing and gambling, you could very well be talking about the race to succeed Perdue as governor. It's a crowded field. And now that our calendars have crossed over into the actual election year, the race, figuratively speaking, has rounded the first turn.

Coming up on the outside is Ray McBerry, one of the candidates vying for the Republican nomination against such political insiders as Insurance and Fire Commissioner John Oxendine, U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal, recently resigned Secretary of State Karen Handel, former state Sen. Eric Johnson and state Rep. Austin Scott.

A recognized dark horse in the race, McBerry's camp sent out a press release last week that I'm sure wasn't meant to be funny, but I couldn't help but laugh.

The statement credits McBerry with winning several straw polls taken around the state, most of them after candidate forums or solo appearances.

It does not, of course, mention that all independent statewide polling to date lists McBerry as struggling to post higher numbers than "Undecided."

But that wasn't the funny part. That came in the headline: "Surprise candidate rising like a meteor in the governor's race."

To start with, meteors don't "rise." But to continue to take the meteor metaphor literally, does that mean McBerry's campaign expects him to burn out or explode?

If so, we're in for a far more spectacular election year than anyone expected.

(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail


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