Sunday, August 06, 2006

Greg Hecht and Jim Martin: Breaking It Down

Tuesday's runoff election in the Democratic Primary for Lt. Governor, between Jim Martin and Greg Hecht, is still anyone's race to take. As with all runoffs, it comes down to who can motivate people to return to the polls, and who they're motivating: those for them or those against them.

Jim Galloway of the AJC compares the two men in today's paper, with my parenthetical thoughts in red:

Attorneys vie for state's No. 2 position
Jim Galloway - Staff
Sunday, August 6, 2006

The Democratic race for lieutenant governor is down to two metro Atlanta attorneys, both veterans of the state Legislature.

Jim Martin of Atlanta, an 18-year veteran of the House, finished first in the July 18 primary, with 41 percent of the vote. Greg Hecht of Jonesboro, a two-term state senator, finished second with 36 percent.

The winner of Tuesday's runoff will face Republican Casey Cagle, a state senator from Gainesville.

Martin's and Hecht's campaigns have tilted toward legal issues. Both agree on what they view as the shortcomings of Gov. Sonny Perdue, who they say has cut spending on education and health care for children.

But both Democrats emphasize different issues, and disagree on several.


Hecht: On his Web site and in debates, Hecht emphasizes the need for a state constitutional amendment to mandate smaller classroom sizes. He also attacks high gasoline prices and the federal government's refusal to investigate charges of price-gouging. (Good issues to talk about...I especially like Hecht's willingness to ask why the price of oil already taken out of the ground goes up in a crisis. It's not noted here, but I'll also throw in the fact that Hecht talks about alternative fuels is another plus with me.)

The Jonesboro resident is a strong advocate of commuter rail, particularly on the south side of Atlanta, but also to Athens. (I'm in favor of commuter rail and like Hecht's ideas on transportation overall.)

Martin: His first priority is the establishment of a state-supported health insurance pool that would allow small-business owners to provide affordable health insurance for their employees. It would apply to firms with 25 or fewer workers. (Small business pools would be an effective way of providing affordable healthcare to those who don't already have it. It's the most sensible idea I've seen on the issue.)

Martin also wants to increase funding for home- and community-based care for the elderly. (As someone who has a 95 year old grandmother that fiercely clung to her independence as long as she could, I think more can be and should be done in this area. And this is something that will affect each and every one of us at some point, be it ourselves or our loved ones.)


Hecht: He favors the death penalty but not as "a frequent tool. It should be used in heinous cases, and it should not be used in a discriminatory manner," Hecht said. He favors the use of DNA testing in the appeals of inmates who are already on death row. (I've waffled on the death penalty. Admittedly when Carl Isaacs was executed in 2003 for his role in the "heinous" Alday murders in Seminole County, I wasn't very upset for him considering he was someone that openly bragged about what he did and said he'd do it again if he had another chance. The fact that he lived 30 years after his admitted crimes, costing the taxpayers of that county millions of dollars in living expenses, defense expenses, and court costs, was almost another crime perpetrated upon Isaacs' victims. However, I'm a big believer in redemption and the value of all life. Hecht's position is something I can live with.)

Martin: "I believe it has to be fairly and constitutionally administered, but I support the death penalty," Martin said. As a legislator, Martin was at the forefront of efforts to provide those accused of capital crimes an adequate legal defense and to bar the execution of juveniles and the mentally retarded. (Martin's work in this area is commendable and essential. All defendants, especially in these kinds of cases, should have the best defense possible. And I am unequivocally against the execution of minors or the mentally ill.)

In each case, courts have upheld his viewpoint, Martin said.

"It doesn't help any families or victims for a trial to be unconstitutional. All that means is the conviction gets overturned and you have to go through the process all over again," he said.


Hecht: He has made an issue out of Martin's past attempts to rewrite state laws applying to sexual assault, saying that a 1993 bill --- which never passed --- would have opened rape victims to cross-examination on such things as their own behavior or their dress.

In the final days before the July 18 election, Hecht put out a flier on this issue, which misused a quote from Martin on the subject. Hecht has apologized, but says Martin started the fight by publicly questioning Hecht's commitment to women's issues. (Tit for tat doesn't cut it with me, especially when there's no basis for it. Essentially, it was this kind of misrepresentation of Martin's record that ultimately decided my vote in the primary. Votes should be won or lost on your own record or the true record of your opponent, not distortions. That's dishonest and disrespectful of voters.)

Martin: He denies Hecht's assertions that victims would have had a tougher time on the witness stand and says his efforts were backed by victims' rights groups. Establishing degrees of sexual assault, giving juries more choices, would have ensured more convictions, Martin said. He still favors the measure.


Hecht: He describes himself as "pro-choice," but also points to votes he cast in the state Senate against late-term, "partial-birth" abortions. Hecht has criticized Martin for holding up such legislation when he was chairman of the state House Judiciary Committee.

Martin: He also calls himself "pro-choice." Martin says he held up the partial-birth abortion bill because its Republican author refused to include an exception to allow the procedure if the health of the mother is at stake. "We don't need to be working on legislation that is unconstitutional, fatally flawed and very divisive on a very controversial issue," Martin said.


Hecht: He defines marriage as being between a man and a woman, and opposes civil unions --- though Hecht supports the right of local governments to offer domestic partner benefits and legislation that would recognize a gay couple's right to control hospital visitation and the division of property. (At least he has something to offer the LGBT community. But not as much as his opponent does.)

"I don't like the politics of division. The other side uses this as a wedge issue to bring difficulty onto gay Georgians' lives," Hecht said.

Martin: Also defines marriage as between a man and a woman, but supports civil unions.

Martin said civil unions would protect the sanctity of marriage and would act "as a way to prevent discrimination." Georgia Equality, the state's largest organization supporting gay rights, has endorsed Martin. (Martin takes the stand that Cathy Cox should have taken, and I thought would have taken. I somewhat excused her on this issue because she was more gay friendly in her stances than her opponent, and because I thought her move to the right was a pragmatic move against the more conservative Dem, Taylor. I'm very interested to see how Martin would fare with his pro-gay positions in a general election vs. a neo-con like Casey Cagle. A successful run by Martin would shatter perceptions on this whole issue.)


Hecht: His endorsements from other Democrats include Clayton County Commission Chairman Eldrin Bell, state Rep. Stan Watson of Decatur and Steen Miles, the DeKalb County state senator who finished third in the race for lieutenant governor. (The endorsement I respect the most is from Stan Watson. But some think that Miles' endorsement could translate into more African-American votes for Hecht in Dekalb County, which should see a higher turnout than most areas because of the McKinney-Johnson race.)

Hecht also boasts endorsements from five of the state's largest unions, several law enforcement organizations and 35 county sheriffs.

Martin: He has obtained endorsements from several members of the state Democratic leadership, including former Gov. Roy Barnes and Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin. He's also backed by the Georgia Association of Educators, a major teachers' group. (The Shirley Franklin endorsement is the biggest endorsement prize in any race in Georgia, bar none.)


Hecht: In his last complete campaign disclosure as of June 30, Hecht reported raising a total of $1,245,347, with $269,463 in cash on hand. Personal loans that Hecht has made to his campaign amount to $384,350.

Contributions to Hecht's campaign cover a broad business spectrum. In particular, drugstores and pharmacists provided $25,150.

Martin: In his last complete campaign disclosure as of June 30, Martin reported raising a total of $1,151,928, with $293,657 in cash on hand. Contributions include a $35,000 personal loan from the candidate.

Contributions to the Martin campaign are dominated by checks written by law firms, but also include numerous small donations from professionals and from academics at state universities. Former Clinton aide Harold Ickes gave $1,000, as did Michael Stipe, lead singer for R.E.M. (Okay, so Martin will probably get the R.E.M vote.)


Hecht: Hecht's geographic base is Clayton County, which is majority African-American --- an important factor in the Democratic primary. During the primary and the runoff, much of Hecht's efforts have been spent generating support outside metro Atlanta. In the primary, he ran TV ads in Georgia's smaller markets --- including Macon, Albany and Savannah.

Martin: Martin's base of Atlanta has a strong African-American base of voters, and his endorsement by the mayor of Atlanta is significant. Martin's TV campaign in metro Atlanta has consisted of two biographical vignettes. One, which focused on the 1980 kidnapping of his 8-year-old daughter, was intended to answer Hecht's implication that Martin was soft on crime.





PoliticalGirl said...

Thanks for the break down. My first visit to your site and I like it.

I would add that throwing an intown ultra liberal into a general election against someone like Casey Cagle I think spells disaster for our chances at keeping a D in the LT GOV's office. A scary thought.

Sometimes you have to hold your nose to vote for the best strategic choice, but I'll be voting for Hecht.

Button Gwinnett said...

Hey PG, thanks for the kind words. And I do hear what you're saying. It IS a scary thought to not have at least one of the two biggest offices. I know there are a lot of people who feel that Hecht gives Taylor a better chance to win because he's more moderate. I don't know that I agree with that. But I do understand the rationale behind it.

Either way, I definitely will be doing all that I can to help the winner of this runoff. I was never one of those that looked at Cagle as a clear cut better alternative to Ralph Reed. Defeating Reed was more symbolic. But on the issues, there's no difference between the two. I am very motivated to help either Hecht or Martin defeat him. I think we'll have a strong candidate either way. And I also feel that Lt. Gov. is our best chance of winning in the top 3 races.

Steve said...

Thanks for the really well reserarched and thoughtful post. I will look at it again before voting. I still havent made my mind up.