Georgia Republican Gov. Nathan Deal is in a tight race with gubernatorial challenger Jason Carter, who's running with both the help — and hindrance — of his grandfather, former President Jimmy Carter.
The 39-year-old Georgia Democratic state senator is just 2.2 percentage points behind Deal in polls, the latest RealClearPolitics
analysis of polling data shows.
Although a longstanding ethics investigation
involving Deal may be a boost for Carter, his family name could be the ultimate help or hindrance.
"If his name was Jason Smith, nobody would be talking about him," Georgia Republican strategist Todd Rehm told Fox News.
"He would not have had a cakewalk through the gubernatorial primary of his party without opposition. He would not be raising significant amounts of money."
Fox News reports Carter raised $2.02 million in the three-month period ending June 30 — $747,000 more than Deal. Deal has raised $9.31 million overall so far, compared with Carter's total $3.88 million, Fox News reports.
Though Rebecca DeHart, the director of the Georgia Democratic Party, gushes that Carter represents a "legacy ticket," Fox News reports, the family name has its disadvantages as well: Carter's grandfather left office with approval ratings in the 30s, and clashes with conservatives on a number of his positions, including Israel.
"Republicans in the state are not fans of former President Jimmy Carter," University of Georgia political science professor Charles Bullock told Fox News.
"Having the grandfather — the name recognition ... I think it's very useful for Jason to be able to separate himself and not simply be Jimmy Carter's grandson."
Jason Carter and his grandfather publicly disagree on the death penalty, which the younger Carter supports, Fox News notes — and on Israel,
which Jason Carter believes "has a right to defend itself, especially against Hamas' terrorist actions."
Rehm told Fox News the elder Carter's Middle East positions are "causing Jason some heartburn among some Jewish voters who have traditionally been considered a heavily Democratic demographic," though Democratic strategist Basil Smikle Jr. told Fox News:
"Carter the younger has done a lot of work to try to distance himself from his grandfather."
Gun rights is another issue on which grandfather and grandson disagree.
Jason Carter voted for a controversial gun law,
which was signed into law by Deal, that allows Georgians to carry firearms into more places including churches, schools, bars and government buildings.
"I think the Second Amendment is important to many people in Georgia. And I know a lot of national Democrats and others have been upset or angry about this," he told MSNBC.
"But again, we worked across the aisle to try to make the bill better than it was when it first started."
Jimmy Carter has supported banning semi-automatic assault weapons, Fox News notes.
Bullock suggested even if Carter loses in November, he's not out of it.
"There's an old adage in southern politics, 'You run first to get known, and second to win'," Bullock told Fox News. "Even if Jason does not win in 2014, he might run in 2018. And if Governor Deal gets reelected, there will be an open seat — arguably giving a Democrat an even better shot at it."
The term of office for the governor in Georgia is four years, and the official is limited to two consecutive terms of office.
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