I don’t know if the Saxby Chambliss race is making much news where you live, but down here in Alabama, Georgia being our next door neighbor and all, it’s rolling thunder. I’ll admit freely that I simply wasn’t tuned in to the Chambliss / Cleland battle six years ago. Learning about it later made my skin crawl. Chambliss intentionally smeared the name and record of a veteran who lost three limbs in Vietnam by accusing him of “breaking his oath to protect and defend the Constitution” and running a 9/11 themed ad that essentially equated Cleland with Osama bin Laden. It is of use to note that while Cleland was losing limbs in Vietnam, Chambliss was sitting home with a “bad knee.”
My friend and VetVoice blogger RockRichard has put up a great piece on Saxby Chambliss’ history of working against veterans’ issues. It is a long and distinguished record, including voting against the new GI Bill, voting against funding for veterans’ health care, and opposing funding for equipment and armor for troops. Check out Richard’s piece for the gories. I knew I didn’t like Saxby Chambliss when I heard about the disgusting tactics he used against Max Cleland. Seeing his record on veterans’ issues, especially on this Veterans’ Day, makes me like him even less.
Chambliss is again running against a Vietnam veteran: Jim Martin. Their battle has come down to the wire and is going into a run-off, as neither candidate reached the 50% + 1 threshold needed for victory in Georgia. Chambliss, however, had more votes than Martin and both candidates are pulling out all the stops to try and sway the voters of Georgia to pull them above that magical 50% line. In Chambliss’ case, this means pulling in the big GOP dogs, including John McCain and Mike Huckabee. It can be no surprise that the Chambliss campaign has also invited Sarah Palin, though she has yet to confirm. And Chambliss is falling back on tactics of old, running another 9/11 themed ad.
For Martin’s part, he is utilizing the Obama campaign’s ground troops, which made major in roads in the deeply red state of Georgia, causing McCain to win by only 5 points. And while a visit by the President-Elect is unlikely, simply putting out ads linking himself to Obama may be enough right now. Bill Clinton campaigned for Martin in the primary, but I have not seen any indication that he will do so in the run off. But Martin is not on his own, he has an entire country of progressives who can mobilize to put Saxby Chambliss down like a tired old dog.
How can you help? Make a donation to Jim Martin’s campaign. Travel to Georgia to knock on doors or make phone calls. (Note to the Martin campaign: there are energetic progressives all over the country willing to make phone calls on your behalf.) If you’re a Georgia resident, please get to the polls on December 2 and cast your vote for Jim Martin. The Obama campaign gave us a new model to follow. Let’s use it to get Jim Martin elected.