Anti-gay is the way in Ga. GOP gov’s race

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imageBlogger Matt Hennie is the founder and managing editor of Project Q Atlanta. He’s a longtime Atlanta resident who’s worked in journalism since his days as a Purple Paladin at Furman University in the early ‘90s.

Anti-gay seems to be winning the day when it comes to the GOP in Georgia.

Two anti-gay candidates are leading the race to be the Republican candidate for governor next year. Though John Oxendine enjoys a big lead (35 percent) in the latest Rasmussen Reports poll, what we can enjoy in those numbers is that Karen Handel is a distant second place (11 percent). Both are anti-gay, but at least Oxendine has been open about it throughout his career.

Handel, on the other hand, came out as a gay-friendly Republican before her first elective office (Fulton County Commission chair), then bitterly rejected any overtures by those gay supporters once in office. When she ran for Secretary of State, she turned an even harder right.

What’s also amusing is that voters view Oxendine more favorably than Handel (61 to 49 percent), which analysts attribute to Oxendine having better statewide name recognition through his sometimes populist stands while Insurance Commissioner. I think the disparity will grow as more voters meet her; she doesn’t come off well in person and her strident support of new voter registration restrictions isn’t helping soften her image.

For the Dems, there’s little surprise that Roy Barnes dominates the campaign, with his nearest rival — Thurbert Baker — at a slim 8 percent. Barnes is the most progressive candidate in the race, though we’ll watch to see if he ventures to the right in his effort to take back the governor’s mansion.

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