Raising Cain

In a comment to my earlier post today, a reader asks, “Hey Will, why Herman Cain?”

Cain is one of three major candidates in tomorrow’s Georgia Republican primary for Zell Miller’s U.S. Senate seat. The Democratic slate is extremely weak (a sad sign of the times for a party that held both Senate seats and almost every statewide office just two years ago), and the eventual winner of the GOP primary will be an overwhelming favorite in November. The other Republican candidates are two Congressmen, Johnny Isakson and Mac Collins. Isakson, who’s been a staple in Georiga GOP politics for two decades, is considered the frontrunner.

My first exposure to Herman Cain (who hasn’t previously held or run for office) came in 1994, when he appeared in one of those excruciating “town hall meetings” with Bill Clinton. Clinton was there to hawk Hillary’s socialized medicine plan, and Cain, at that time the CEO of Godfather’s Pizza (full disclosure: that was my favorite brand in college; love that Humble Pie) somehow slipped through the White House screening process and onto the stage.

Cain absolutely cleaned Clinton’s clock in that debate. He’d run the numbers on what Hillary’s regulations would mean to his business, and laid out how many restraunts he’d have to close and how many people he’d have to lay off just to be able to pay the new medical taxes. Clinton just shrugged, telling Cain he should just raise his prices 15 or 20 pecent to pay the taxes.

Cain had to explain to Clinton that it isn’t that easy in the private sector. Paraphrasing from memory (I couldn’t find a transcript), he told the Slickster, ‘You can raise taxes by that much, and people have to pay you or go to jail. I don’t have that luxury. If I raise my prices, my customers will just go to McDonald’s, and we’ll be out of business.’

I’ve been a fan ever since.

I think Isakson would be a perfectly adequate senator if he wins, but the guy just drips “politician” to me. If I were worried about the markup on Senate bill S-2112 in the Subcommittee on the Dilbertication of Cubicle Living, I’d want Isakson as a senior staffer, but given a choice, I’d rather have somebody with a bit more vision in that Senate seat. It helped make up my mind enormously when the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and local Leftie alt-rag (Creative Loafing) both endorsed Isakson and went out of their way to dis Cain. Anybody those two papers dislike that much can’t be a bad guy.

Isakson has led in all the polls to date, thanks to his name recognition and gigantic campaign fund. The race tomorrow should come down to Cain vs. Isakson (Collins hasn’t generated much interest to speak of). If Isakson can’t get to 50 percent, he and Cain will go to a run-off, and Cain will have a fighting shot. Based on some nasty anti-Cain talking-points comments that popped up in pro-Cain blogs over the weekend, it looks like Isakson’s staffers are getting nervous about tomorrow’s vote.