If TV news time and column inches in big-city newspapers decided elections, Herman Cain and Dylan Glenn would be packing their bags for Washington.
Seldom has so much attention been devoted to such long-shot candidates.
As you may know, Cain is a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate to succeed the exiting Democrat, Zell Miller. Glenn has announced his candidacy for Congress from the 8th District to succeed Mac Collins, who has decided to run for the Senate.
Cain and Glenn are African-Americans planning to run campaigns in the usually overwhelmingly white Republican primary. That circumstance may account for the extraordinary amount of media attention they have received.
"I am not making race an issue," says Cain. OK, let's forget race. Even if multimillionaire Cain spends a bundle on a flashy media campaign, the smart money says he'll be lucky to win 10 percent of the vote in the Republican primary. Until he burst forth in full bloom as a candidate for the Senate, he was, to say the least, not well known in Georgia GOP circles.
True, he has a great rags-to-riches success story to tell. He is said to be a compelling motivational speaker. He declares, "The tax code is evil." And he has the "old quarterback," Jack Kemp, at his side.
Good for Cain. That is still not enough to play a decisive role in a very important Senate contest.
Besides, he is not the only black Republican running. Al Bartell, a businessman who ran for lieutenant governor last year, also is a senatorial candidate. Wonder why he isn't receiving equal time and space? Bartell won nearly 12 percent of the vote in a three-candidate GOP primary in 2002.
Meanwhile, two experienced lawmakers - Congressmen Johnny Isakson and
Mac Collins - are the principal Republican candidates for the Senate. They have been all but ignored. Perhaps we should spend more time and space on their records and stances. One or the other is likely to succeed Miller and extend the narrow Republican majority in the upper chamber.
Then there's Dylan Glynn, who is giving up his position on Gov. Sonny Perdue's staff to run for the U.S. House in the sprawling 8th District.
Despite the barrage of publicity, Glynn has an even higher mountain to climb than does Cain. Only 12 percent of the voting-age population in the 8th District is black. So, even to scratch, he must convince a multitude of white voters that he ought to be their replacement for the conservative Collins.
Glynn has waged two previous congressional campaigns in the heavily black 2nd District in Southwest Georgia. He lost the congressional primary to a white Republican in 1998 and was decisively defeated in 2000 by incumbent Democrat Sanford Bishop.
Meanwhile, two serious candidates for Collins' congressional post, state House Minority Leader Lynn Westmoreland and state Sen. Mike Crotts, are unnoticed.
So why is such a fuss being made over Cain and Glynn?
Perhaps it is part of the national Republican outreach program to prove that the Grand Old Party is, after all, the big-tent party in which African Americans are welcome major participants.
That may be a worthy goal. However, unless a miracle occurs between now and next July 20, the primary vote totals in Georgia may prove just the opposite.
And, oh, yes, let's not forget the Democrats. They are playing a similar charade with the anticipated candidacy of former Ambassador/Congressman/Mayor Andrew Young.
Young is edging closer to making a formal announcement as a candidate for the Senate. He is receiving enthusiastic encouragement from national Democratic operatives who see Young as a lightning rod for attracting funds from liberals across the country.
Young, however, tells his pals he would be running not to win - but to "make a statement."
Young's soapbox is keeping potentially competitive Democrats such as Michelle Nunn and Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond out of the fray. In the eyes of some seasoned observers, Young's pre-emption of serious, run-to-win Democrats virtually forfeits the Senate seat and bolsters Republican chances of taking control of the state Legislature in an anticipated elephant stampede in the 2004 election.
You can reach Bill Shipp at P.O. Box 440755, Kennesaw, GA 30160 or e-mail: email@example.com, Web address: http://www.billshipp.com