Democratic Primary, Flag Vote to Draw Voters - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

01/29/04

Democratic Primary, Flag Vote to Draw Voters

On March 2, Super Tuesday, Georgia voters will not only vote for a Democratic presidential candidate, but also a new state flag. Here's what we'll vote on. The 2001 flag that then-governor Roy Barnes introduced, or the current design that legislators voted on. And that's sparking a controversy across the state.

So, who's going to the polls to decide? We spoke with a political expert about the impact the presidential primary will have on the flag vote and learned that, actually, it could be the other way around. What impact will the flag vote have on the Democratic primary? Depending on how heated the primary race is, political experts say the flag vote could be a huge influence March 2.

Flags are big business at Savannah Sails and Tails on River Street. While the nation's eyes are on the Democratic primaries, manager Chris Shuman says customers have some flag concerns. "A lot of people are coming in and asking about, mainly, asking if this is the steady flag or if this is going to work out," he said. "I guess March 2, we'll find out."

When it comes to the flag controversy and the primary election, there are two schools of thought. One, the presidential primary will bring out more people to vote on the flag, and two, the battle of the flags will draw more Democrats to the primary.

"Every reason to go to the polls is another reason for people to vote," said Dr. John Kearnes, an associate political science professor at Armstrong Atlantic State University. He thinks the flag vote will take center stage.

But, in a state where anyone can vote in a primary, he warns: expect the unexpected. "If it draws Republicans who say, well I want to come out and vote on that, and they want to vote on the Democratic primary too..." Dr. Kearns said. "They should stay home--it's not their party's election--but they don't have to."

If sales mean anything, Chris Shuman says the current flag is the hands down winner at his shop. Come March 2, it will also get his vote. "I honestly like the 2003 flag better than the blue one," he said. "But I don't think it should have been changed in the first place."

And that could be another issue. Like Shuman, Dr. Kearnes says he's not sure the public is happy with the options, which he calls ugly and better looking. He says, considering a lack of choice, the real flag vote will be if Gov. Perdue is reelected.

Reported by: Don Logana, dlogana@wtoc.com

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