Georgia Won't Likely See Obama in Senate Runoff

In Georgia, 2008 is a lot like 1992.

Back then, a young Democratic nominee promising hope and change was the top of the ticket and Southern states had become competitive for the first presidential cycle in years. This caused problems for Republicans down-ballot, with more voters coming to the polls and voting Democrat than expected. And as the Democrats retook the White House, the Senate race in Georgia was forced into a runoff between incumbent Democratic Sen. Wyche Fowler and Republican challenger Paul Coverdell.

With the wind at his back, President-elect Bill Clinton traveled to Georgia to campaign for Fowler. In the end, though, Georgia voters rejected Clinton's endorsement and elected Coverdell. Before he had even been sworn in as president, Bill Clinton suffered an election defeat.

If there was one Clinton staffer at the time certain to remember the defeat, it was Rahm Emanuel. It was the first dent in Clinton's armor, one that showed he was not invincible.

Now, in 2008, with Saxby Chambliss and Jim Martin facing a Dec. 2 runoff, the political chatter is whether Barack Obama will campaign for Martin, the Democrat.

While Obama has recorded an ad supporting Martin, it's unlikely Georgia voters will see Obama back on the campaign trail. With the challenges he faces as president-elect, both in transitioning and organizing his administration and the larger issues surrounding our uncertain economy, spending the political capital is too big a risk for Obama to take. A loss in Georgia could send a signal that goes against everything Obama is projecting right now — something his new chief of staff knows all too well.