Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

It's election time. Have you read your Truth-O-Meter?

Voters fill out ballots during the 2006 election
Voters fill out ballots during the 2006 election

Tomorrow's primary election day. Have you checked your Truth-O-Meter?

Since we first switched on the gadget June 6, PolitiFact Georgia has detected truths, half-truths and worse uttered by some of this state's biggest political names. Seven are major contenders for governor in Tuesday's primaries.

These candidates have spent millions on TV commercials, mailers and robo-calls with conflicting claims on everything from gay adoption, their opponents' records and "microchips in the brain." It's enough to test any voter's sanity.

Want a break from the spin? Read our roundup of Truth-O-Meter rulings on state gubernatorial hopefuls.

Democrats


Thurbert Baker

*Baker said Georgia's education test scores are "right at the bottom," which we rated Half True. They tend to be low, but not that low.

*An anonymous attack video on YouTube video claimed Baker as state attorney general kept a teen in jail "who didn't even commit a felony." PolitiFact Georgia ruled that claim False. That teen, Genarlow Wilson, was convicted of felony aggravated child molestation in a controversial case of what he said was consensual oral sex with a 15-year-old girl when he was 17.


Roy Barnes

*The former governor said "Georgia created 235,000 jobs" during his last term. That was correct, but unemployment also rose, so the state's economic outlook wasn't all that great. We gave him a Half True.

*In a moment of rhetorical excess, Barnes implied the state could get money for schools by scraping "the gold off the gold dome" of the state Capitol. Stay away from that grappling hook, Mr. ex-Governor. You'd put Georgia about $40,000 in the hole if you did. Pants on Fire.

*Barnes has backed his share of tax breaks for business during his long political career, but in the face of dwindling state revenues, he now wants to ax a bunch of them. Since he still wants to keep a few major ones, he earned a Half Flop.

*Barnes took a stand against wackiness with a campaign commercial that said Georgia can't woo business with our Legislature's penchant for pushing unusual legislation. He cited bills on microchips, secession and stem cell research, which he for the most part described accurately. He won a Mostly True.

DuBose Porter

*The state House minority leader said he "fought against $3 billion in cuts to public education since 2003." This depends on how you define "cuts," but what he said was True.


Republicans

Nathan Deal

*The former U.S. representative said he led in the fight to protect our nation's borders from illegal immigration. He did get out in front of attempts at restricting immigration and citizenship, but he didn't always have followers. He earned a Mostly True.


*Deal once again plugged his record on immigration in a TV commercial saying immigrants cost Georgia taxpayers more than a billion dollars per year. Half True, we said. The estimate is based on existing data, but the assumptions made by the group that calculated the costs are so murky and controversial there's no consensus they are correct.

Karen Handel

*The former commission chair for Fulton County won a rare Pants on Fire for denying she had been a member of the Georgia Log Cabin Republicans-- a big no-no for Republicans outside the metro area's gay-friendly communities. Newspaper articles, a membership list, and the man who ran the group at the time confirmed that she was.

*Deal attacked Handel on gay adoption, saying she endorsed it in 2003. This was Barely True. A defunct newspaper mentioned the supposed endorsement in passing, but she has repeatedly denied it, and the evidence is on her side.

Eric Johnson

*The offshore drilling supporter's claim that "the last major oil spill from a drilling accident in America happened over 40 years ago in 1969" proved False. Fourteen marine blowouts have taken place in the U.S. between 1969 and 2007, causing significant impacts.

*The former state Senate leader from Savannah also said oil spills from tankers are far more common than the "very rare" leaks from rigs or pipelines. Yes, tanker spills are more common, but rigs and pipelines leak on a regular basis. He earned a Half True.

John Oxendine

*Oxendine said in a campaign video that state education needs help because Georgia has a higher dropout rate than Alabama and lower SAT scores. His dropout claim is True. His SAT claim is Half True. His test data are right, but his state-to-state comparison of SAT scores is misleading. A tiny percentage of Alabama students take the SAT, and most are aiming for elite colleges. Georgians take the test at a vastly higher rate.

*When he attacked the massive federal health care overhaul during last week's televised gubernatorial debates, he said the bill's mandate that individuals purchase health insurance is "clearly beyond the delegated powers of the U.S. Constitution." That's Half True. No court has ruled on the bill's constitutionality.

*Oxendine's campaign has been haunted by repeated accusations of corruption. Handel took aim at this weakness with a campaign mailer that stated he is under a state ethics investigation because he "illegally funneled" more than $120,000 to his campaign. That's Half True. The allegations are real, but there's been no ruling. Oxendine's innocent until proven guilty.