Legislature to the skies over Georgia on Monday, barnstorming the state in a final push to win undecided voters and encourage the committed to show up at the polls.
“Today is the last day the politicians will be in
charge of this election. Tomorrow, the people of Georgia will be in charge,” Republican Senate candidate Johnny Isakson said in Macon, first stop on a seven-city fly around for the GOP.
Isakson, a three-term congressman and veteran state legislator, is the apparent front-runner in the race to succeed retiring Democratic Sen. Zell Miller.
Along for the ride was Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue, who has thrown himself into a number of legislative races, hoping voters today will leave his Republicans in charge of the state Senate and boot Democrats from power in the House.
The Democrats’ flying team included Denise Majette, who, if elected, would become the first black and woman ever elected to the Senate from Georgia.
Two of Perdue’s likely Democratic challengers two years from now also were on the flight: Secretary of State Cathy Cox, who is in charge of today’s elections, and Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor.
Both tours were wrapping up in Atlanta. The Republicans’ flight included stops in Columbus, Albany, Valdosta, Savannah and Augusta.
The Democratic tour stopped in Columbus, Savannah, Milledgeville and Athens.
In Savannah, Cox predicted a record turnout for the election. “And guess what — that’s good for Democrats,” she said. “It will shock people, but if we can get heavy turnout tomorrow, we can carry Georgia for John Kerry.”
President Bush is expected to win the state. He won 55 percent of the vote here four years ago.
Majette exhorted the mixed crowd of blacks and whites in Savannah to “get anybody you know out to the polls by any means necessary so we can steer the ship of state back in the right direction.”
The Democratic Party’s state chairman, Bobby Kahn, was on hand to urge support for his party’s legislative candidates.
Democrats want to hang onto their majority in the House and regain control of the Senate, which they lost in 2002 when Perdue convinced four Democrats to switch parties.
“After 22 months of Republican leadership in Georgia, we can honestly say this experiment has been a miserable failure,” Kahn said.
Some 4.2 million Georgians are eligible to vote in the election. Cox is predicting a 72-percent turnout, which would be a record 3 million votes.
Her office said late Monday that more than 550,000 Georgians already have cast a ballot, either in last week’s five-day early voting period or by absentee ballot. The figure is based on the most recent — but still incomplete — reports from the counties.
Spokesman Chris Riggall said the total could surpass 600,000, meaning one in five voters had cast a ballot before Election Day.
That underscores the deep interest voters feel in the election, he said.
“People are following it closely and have strong opinions about the candidates. That’s not always the case,” he said