With Election Day less than a week away, gubernatorial candidates DuBose Porter and David Poythress are playing catch-up the old-fashioned way.
They’re hitting the pavement, going door to door, talking to voters.
“We’ve been in all 159 counties in this state,” said Porter, a longtime state lawmaker from Dublin. “We’re canvassing neighborhoods. We’ve been into local barbershops and beauty shops. We know what people feel, and we’ve been out one-on-one, politicking with them for over a year.”
The frontrunner in the race, former Gov. Roy Barnes, has raised more than $5 million for his campaign — far more than the six other Democratic candidates combined. As a result, he’s advertised heavily on television, boosting his name recognition even more.
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“I knew from day one that I would not be able to outspend Roy Barnes,” said Poythress, a Macon native and former state labor commissioner. “So our strategy has been to work a ground game and outwork him and out-organize him on the ground.”
A statewide poll of likely voters commissioned by the Georgia Newspaper Partnership shows Barnes heading for a Democratic primary victory with more than the 50 percent needed to avoid a runoff. Thurbert Baker is second, followed by Poythress and Porter.
Poythress still believes he can land in a runoff with Barnes.
“Roy Barnes will be in the first position. We think we’ll be in the second position and then win it on the second pass, in the runoff.”
Ned Tony of Macon said he’s a “Barnes man all the way.”
“I ain’t heard nothing on nobody else,” he said. “I’m strictly Barnes.”
Porter was in Macon on Tuesday, where he picked up endorsements from state Sen. Robert Brown, state Reps. David Lucas, Nikki Randall and Bubber Epps, two Macon City Council members, county commissioners from Bibb, Monroe and Twiggs counties and others.
Not exactly big names like former President Bill Clinton, who endorsed Democrat Thurbert Baker, or Sarah Palin, who’s backing Republican Karen Handel, but Porter said they show the support he’s picking up in communities across the state, where other rank-and-file legislators have thrown their support behind him.
“I have that kind of support in the streets, in the districts,” he said. “That’s how DuBose Porter wins because for 28 years I’ve worked for local government.”
Poythress picked up endorsements this week from an educators group, the Georgia Education Alliance, and Team Rural, a group from 14 south Georgia counties.
St. Simons Island resident Charles Hill said education is why he’ll vote for Poythress in next week’s election. But, he’ll still support Roy Barnes in November if Poythress loses.
“Education is the best investment we can make,” Hill said. “Sonny Perdue has been cutting teachers’ pay and putting more kids in larger classrooms. We’re going to pay for that in a generation. ... Poythress is strong on education.”
The Georgia Newspaper Partnership poll, which was conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling and Research, showed about 16 percent of Democratic voters as undecided.
Joe Cystrunk of Macon is one of them.
“I know pretty much when I get in there it’s going to be a Democrat because of what I’ve been paying attention to on the news,” Cystrunk said. “I want to see a little something about each of the individuals. If I don’t, I’m still going to go that way because that is where my heart lies. I think that’s the best bet.”
Georgia Times-Union correspondent Carole Hawkins contributed to this story.