Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Thurmond No-TV Campaign Lead a Modern Rarity

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Thurmond No-TV Campaign Lead a Modern Rarity

Article excerpt

At a time when ABC-TV is casting for viewers with promos that

declare "TV is good" and "We like TV," it's reassuring to see

that television isn't all powerful in deciding elections.

Michael Thurmond, a lawyer and former legislator from Athens,

managed to break the hypnotic box's spell with a low-rent

statewide campaign that cost just $60,000.

Thurmond, who recently stepped down as head of Georgia's

welfare and child abuse agency, was Tuesday's surprise leader in

the Democratic primary for state labor commissioner.

Though his chances are uncertain in the Aug. 11 runoff,

Thurmond has already won a victory of sorts. He was the only

Democrat not to purchase any TV commercials, yet he finished

60,000 votes ahead of the nearest challenger.

"You can create a record, you can buy a record, or you can

already have one," said Thurmond, who was among the first to

push for taking the sales tax off groceries. "That's what I

tried to focus attention on: Don't look at what I promise, look

at what I've done."

State Sen. Mary Margaret Oliver, the Democrats' top vote-getter

for lieutenant governor, struck another blow for organizing over

advertising.

Oliver was greatly outspent on the air by the second-place

finisher, Sen. Mark Taylor of Albany, whose memorable "Thanks,

Mark" ad campaign made Oliver's look amateurish. Oliver, a

Decatur lawyer, was late in getting on the airwaves and ran

generic-sounding spots styling herself as a friend of families.

But Oliver took advantage of her status as the only woman and

only Atlanta-area candidate to roll up huge numbers in and

around the capital, out-polling Taylor almost 4-to-1 in a market

where he had spent heavily on TV. She, too, must hope to

duplicate the feat in a runoff.

Guy Millner, the Republican front-runner for governor, learned

the limitations of television as well.

Millner appeared to have barely met the necessary margin to

avoid a runoff with Michael Bowers, who far exceeded his polling

numbers while Millner was under-performing his.

Millner, the former Norrell Temporary Services chief executive,

ran a broadcast-only race, leaving the office no more than two

days a week to campaign while skipping all but two debates. …

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