A bitter feud over ethics -- and other hard-of-hearing stories from Perry

Perry, Ga. -- In between the boos and cheers at last night's wrasslin' -- er, gubernatorial -- match, there was a particularly brutal exchange between Gov. Nathan Deal and Democrat Jason Carter over the ethics complaints dogging his first term.

It started when Deal was asked why voters should trust him to overhaul the ethics commission.

Then Carter jumped in:

Carter: "I find it almost amazing to say that those were dismissed after they occurred. They were only dismissed after the governor's office interfered with the investigation … A little bit of what we did this week as taxpayers is going to pay for the cover-up."

Deal pronounced himself "amazed" by Carter's response. Said the governor:

Deal: "He knows for a fact that the evidence was heard by five commissioners. They decided there was no violation. Just as they heard the complaint against you. They dismissed the complaint against you, as they dismissed the complaints against me. The truth of the matter is we did not interfere. IF we had, we would have been indicted by somebody. We were never called as a witness in the cases which you refer to. We were never asked for testimony. It is something that is inherently bad in the ethics commission itself, and the AJC has thankfully done an expose showing it’s a dysfunctional agency."

Came Carter's answer:

Carter: "I've seen the documents that say that the governor's office interfered. And I've seen the court sanction the attorneys for hiding those facts. Let me just say this: Imagine a world where the governor of Georgia does not come on the radio and talk about an ethics scandal. Wouldn't that be nice?"

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What was it like? Take a look and a listen:

WMAZ-TV in Macon has both debates, in their entirety, on its website.

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What we've got here is failure to communicate. In last night's U.S. Senate debate, the candidates got the always fun opportunity to question each other -- and then dodge each other's questions. Here's as close a transcript as we could muster given the crowd noise:

The Nunn camp was ready with a press release explaining their candidate's pre-planned "you made in a single day" line, though she underestimated the gap. Based on Perdue's tax returns, he made $42 million in two years at Dollar General, or $57,534 per day. A minimum wage employee at the time working 40 hours per week would have made $13,624. Well, before taxes, of course.

Perdue used his question to take a swipe at Nunn's infamous campaign memo, for listing, on Page 62, background policy memos that need to be completed for the candidate. It puts them in order of need for completion, and it ranks agriculture No. 18 and rural issues last, at No. 22.

Instead of some explanation that, perhaps, the order in which consultants would prepare memos is not reflective of what priority she places on the issue, Nunn just claimed ignorance of what Perdue is talking about and pronounced it false.

Perdue: Michelle, I grew up right here in middle Georgia right down Highway 96 working on our family farm. I understand the needs of the agriculture community. I’ve even said publicly that I want to serve on the Senate Agriculture Committee. You’ve said some very positive things about agriculture in this state, yet in your plan you rank agriculture No. 18 on your list of priorities and rural issues No. 30. My question tonight is, isn’t your campaign just a well-funded effort to deceive the voters of Georgia from finding out who you really are and what you really mean?

Nunn: David, I didn’t hear all of that, but I think I’ve got the gist of it. I’m telling you, for you to question my Georgia credentials is somewhat ironic. [Boos, inaudible] … I’ve served in this organization for 26 years here while you were spending your career in places all over this country outsourcing jobs, according to your own words. So I’ve learned my Georgia values in service and integrity and commitment from Georgia, and I’ve worked along side of Georgians again while you have been outsourcing jobs. I would say that is a part of the American enterprise system, I just think it’s not something we need more of in Washington.

Perdue: You know Michelle, back at you, you didn’t answer that question at all. How do you justify to the farmers that in your list of priorities there are 17 items more important than the farmers of this state?

Nunn: Where did you get that?

Perdue: Out of your plan.

Nunn: That’s just not true. There’s no plan that … [inaudible]. And I will tell you that for over a year I have talked about serving on the Agriculture Committee. And let me just put it to you this way. Saxby Chambliss, Johnny Isakson said the Farm Bill was the most important piece of legislation for Georgia and its citizens and yet you stood against it. The Farm Bill represents [cheers, yelling, inaudible] and yet you were against it.

Perdue: Folks, I’m sorry, I’m just a business guy. But in my board room, we have to answer questions. She still didn’t explain to voters why you have 17 items more important than farmers in this state.

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Your campaign tip sheet: Gov. Nathan Deal, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and other political types will be in Locust Grove at 11 a.m. today for the official announcemen the beginning of the Savannah harbor dredging project.

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Another day, another poll showing a razor-close race. SurveyUSA and WXIA-Atlanta teamed up on a poll showing Republicans Nathan Deal and David Perdue ahead within the margin of error. Via Todd Rehm:

David Perdue(R).........46%

Michelle Nunn (D).......45%

Amanda Swafford (L)....3%

Undecided...................6%

SurveyUSA said Perdue holds 77 percent of conservative voters. Nunn holds 87 percent of the Democratic base, but also leads among moderates by 22 points.

In the Gubernatorial race, SurveyUSA finds:

Nathan Deal(R)..........46%

Jason Carter(D)..........44%

Andrew Hunt (L)..........4%

Undecided.................. 7%

While Carter leads by seven points among female voters, Deal has polled at 50 or 51 percent among men, meaning Carter is not as strong among women as Deal is among men, according to the poll.

Two weeks ago the Survey USA poll had the same margin for Perdue and Nunn, and Carter with a 1-point edge on Deal.

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By way of verification, fivethirtyeight.com’s Nate Silver has this gradation of pollsters across the nation.

Survey USA received an ‘A’. The firm used by the AJC, Abt SRBI, was given a ‘B+’. Public Policy Polling of North Carolina was graded at ‘B-‘. Landmark Communications got a ‘C+,’ and InsiderAdvantage was given a ‘D.’

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And yet, over at the NYT’s The Upshot, Nate Cohn has this thought of the day about Georgia:

No other plausibly competitive state has seen a more favorable shift for Democrats in the racial composition of eligible voters over the last decade. The pace of demographic change is so fast that Michelle Nunn, a Democrat, is locked in a tight race against the Republican David Perdue for an open Senate seat — even with an off-year electorate that is favorable for the G.O.P.

The pace of demographic change might even be fast enough to outpace the polls.

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On the less savory side, those fine people at the Washington Post explain why the South is the worst place to live in the U.S. — in 10 charts. Ouch.

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Center Forward, a group that promotes moderates in Congress, has launched a $130,000 ad buy in the 12th District of Georgia hitting Republican businessman Rick Allen.

The group also backed Rep. John Barrow, D-Augusta, in 2012, spending nearly $900,000 on his behalf.

Meanwhile, a fresh $213,000 buy by the National Republican Congressional Committee -- for the ad we mentioned Tuesday -- brings its total to $1.55 million whacking Barrow.

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Washingtonian magazine put out its biennial "Best and Worst" issue, featuring a poll of Congressional staffers on the highlights and lowlights of your incredibly popular national legislature.

Barrow comes in as the second "least partisan," while Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Lithonia, ranks as the most "clueless" and second-worst speaker. The Guam thing came up again, of course.

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Clay Aiken, the American Idol and Democratic candidate for Congress in North Carolina, has a fundraiser in midtown Atlanta today.

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