Down in Georgia, former Congressman Nathan Deal tried very hard to make immigration his issue. Trying his best to spin more than a decade in Washington as a plus in a year where Washington is, on both sides of the aisle, a big negative, Deal tried and failed.
And the immigration darling of the moment, Jan Brewer of Arizona, endorsed Karen Handel for Governor, thus stealing away the issue.
Sarah Palin has now endorsed Karen Handel. Deal's response? Basically "Karen Handel is gay and likes gays and she's for gay adoption and did I mention she's a lesbian in as many code words as I can without actually saying it?"
Classy. Also not true.
Meanwhile, John Oxendine is running attack ads against Karen Handel. Why? Ox's own polling now shows Oxendine and Handel running even and possibly with Karen a nudge higher. He is freaked out. The primary is a week away on July 20th.
Sarah Palin's endorsement ensures Handel a spot in the runoff. Deal may not like it. Johnson may not like it. Oxendine may not like it. But Palin sealed the deal (pun intentional to rub it in) and puts Handel into a runoff.
Deal, Johnson, the congressmen, the Governor, many Republicans in the state legislature — all of them are privately willing to say John Oxendine is unacceptable as the Republican nominee. In fact, more than one of them has told me they'd be voting Democrat were Oxendine the nominee. One has told me he's prepared to stand with me and endorse the Democrat if Oxendine is the nominee.
Oxendine ensures a Democrat victory and an ugly, ugly general election.
At this point, with a week left, real leaders begin to make assessments. Handel gets to a runoff. That's done. The amount of attacks on Handel cannot undermine a Palin endorsement in the Georgia Republican primary. Just can't happen.
So leaders, if Johnson and Deal in particular are really leaders, just make a realistic assessment. And that assessment becomes very simple: John Oxendine must be destroyed either to get a chance to compete against Karen Handel or for the good of the party.
Thus we may judge which of those other men running show real leadership by recognizing the reality they are now in — they can continue like Nathan Deal and throw limp wristed attacks at Karen Handel, or they can begin the assault on John Oxendine they had planned to save for the runoff.
I'm now not the only one out there with copies of my white binder. I've ensured that. If they are realistic, whether they want to believe it or not, they must now know that their last best hope is to pick off John Oxendine in hopes of getting into the runoff with Karen Handel. In the alternative, they need to recognize just how terrible an Oxendine nomination would be. Either way, it is time to finish off the political career of John Oxendine.
In a realistic assessment of their present reality, that's what a leader who wants to be a leader would do.