Byline: WALTER C. JONES
ATLANTA -- Like a married couple, primary opponents have to learn how to argue with one another without destroying the institution they both care about.
Each wants to define his and her own territory without stepping over the limits and saying something that will cause irreparable harm.
Last week, the honeymoon ended for Mark Taylor and Cathy Cox. They've already unpacked their Niagara Falls souvenirs and started sparring, with their aides accusing the other candidate of lying about involvement with the HOPE scholarship.
It was a skirmish that none of the veteran political reporters took seriously, mindful that Zell Miller really gets the credit and that voters care more about the future than legislative minutiae from a 1 1/2 decades ago.
What was more interesting than their bickering was their cooperation.
They agreed in trying to block a small group called Georgians for Truth Inc. from running a TV ad attacking Sonny Perdue. Cox and Taylor signed a letter jointly asking the chairman of the group to pull the ad. The letter said, and their spokesmen have repeated, that the secretary of state and the lieutenant governor want to speak for themselves. Having a loose cannon firing shots during the campaign would be bound to backfire on the eventual Democratic nominee, they argued.
Their cooperation has activists in both parties feeling skeptical.
First, consider that copies of the letter were e-mailed to political reporters. Even bloggers on Democratic sites suspected it was "a little too orchestrated."
Perhaps it was a ruse to provide deniability to the candidates for any mud slung by the group.
The added benefit was the mild controversy drew attention to the ad far beyond what it would have gotten otherwise with the tiny purchase of air time.
After all, four years ago when Perdue was underfunded, he got loads of mileage out of a low-budget ad with a rat in a crown parodying Roy Barnes.
This independent group didn't just crawl out the kudzu in some South Georgia gully. Note who is behind Georgians for Truth, namely a pair of trial lawyers -- Ralph Knowles and Jeffrey Bramlett -- and the marquee fundraiser for …