AJC: Let the games begin, slowly

BYLINE: TOM BAXTER, JIM GALLOWAY

Staff
DATE: April 24, 2006
PUBLICATION: Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The (GA)
EDITION: Online; The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
SECTION: Metro News
PAGE: 0

Monday, April 24, 2006, 11:30 PM

In another year, the departure, sans farewell speech, of a Sam Zamarippa or a Jeff Brown might not be such a big deal. Zamarippa, a Senate Democrat, and Brown, a House Republican, were promising legislators, but they haven’t been around long enough to be in the top rungs of leadership.

These days a little institutional memory goes a long way, however. And the overall pool of candidates willing to put up with long hours for a lot of free Brunswick stew doesn’t seem to be getting any larger. Which is why we ought to look with just a little concern at that pageant of political ambition called qualifying week.

Republican consultant Mark Rountree, who keeps up with this kind of thing, estimated Monday the overall number of candidates qualifying for legislative races will be down 25 percent. And he was standing on what was, on Monday at least, the lively side of the Capitol. Things were a lot slower over on the House side, where the Democrats were signing up.

A lot of the Republican incumbents have become more entrenched and all the redistricting changes of this decade have discouraged potential candidates by making it hard to plan for and execute a race. But another, more ominous factor is that the price of public service has gone up, and priced a lot of qualified people out of the game.

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