Friday, January 2, 2009

Sam Olens begins jockeying for position

So, is Sam Olens going to finally throw his hat in for the governor's race? He hinted at it back in May, and he was featured prominently in an article a few days ago concerning light rail transit.
As of this week, Phoenix has light rail, and metro Atlanta mass transit boosters are jealous.

“I continue to be frustrated that we can’t seem to move in that direction,” said Sam Olens, chairman of the Atlanta Regional Commission and the Cobb County commission. “We’re losing our competitive advantage.” ...

Olens said plum employers with skilled jobs are slipping away. “In the last two years, I’ve had two major corporations tell me they would not move their headquarters to the Cobb Galleria area because all we had are buses,” Olens said this week.
Consider this quote from the business community, as well:
On Wednesday, Sam Williams, president of the chamber, said in a statement that “cities that have made transportation a priority, like Phoenix, Dallas and Charlotte, continue to leapfrog Atlanta with respect to regional mobility. … While these areas make progress, we seem choked in congestion with little leadership to get us out.”
Sounds like Sam Williams wants someone like Olens at the capitol. See this Political Insider column for more on Olens' conflicts with the state GOP. The next two legislative sessions should be interesting to watch as folks jockey for position.

I don't know if he could win a GOP primary, but Olens strikes me as the kind of candidate that in-town Dems would flock to in the general election. He is about as good as a Dem could hope for on issues like transportation, and has a reputation for working well across the aisle. If I had to choose a Republican for the governor's mansion, I'd choose Olens. If I have to choose between Dubose Porter and David Poythress (who I know next to nothing about), I might vote in the GOP primary for Olens.

3 comments:

  1. I'd love to see Olens run. It would also be interesting to see our state legislature redistricted not based on population, but on tax receipts. Like New York City/Long Island's relationship with the rest of the state of NY, Atlanta gets completely ganged up on and shortchanged by lawmakers and sub-regions that do much more "taking" than "giving" back to state coffers. Even with a forward thinking gov., the state won't be able to pursue transportation issues that favor metro atlanta so long as rural, downstate lawmakers can cobble together a caucus.

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  2. I'm about 95 percent sure I'd vote for Olens over Dubose Porter or that other Democrat in the general election.

    Which probably means he wouldn't make it out the Republican primary, like you said.

    Way to suck Georgia.

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  3. The Ralph Reed stuff is a big turnoff, but it is nice to see someone actually thinking about transportation and transit issues.

    I can't promise I'd vote for him; I'm just happy that someone over on the Other Side of the Aisle is starting to realize there's a problem. This probably means (as you and Rusty point out) that he'll never make it out of a GOP primary, since the modern GOP practically includes a hatred of large urban areas in its platform.

    WF
    (who is still thinking about the Hapeville stadium thing.)

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