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Political Notebook: Politicians converge on Georgia for Senate race

Clinton and Gore. They were a winning combination in 1992 and 1996, but will they be in 2008?

Former President Bill Clinton campaigned in Atlanta on Wednesday for Democratic Senate candidate Jim Martin, and former Vice President Al Gore will be in town Sunday.

With Barack Obama preparing for the White House, the popular former president and his running mate, who came close to defeating George W. Bush in 2000, are part of a swing of heavy weights making their way through Georgia making their plea for the embattled Senate seat.

Last week, GOP presidential nominee John McCain stumped for the incumbent, Saxby Chambliss, who faces Martin in a Dec. 2 runoff. And former candidate Mike Huckabee attended a FairTax rally in Gwinnett on Sunday.

With a Minnesota seat still undecided, the Georgia runoff could be for the 60th vote for Democrats in the Senate, which could bust filibusters and give the party a lock on many votes.

According to the latest Rasmussen poll, Chambliss has a four-point lead over Martin, but experts maintain that the runoff will be decided by which party motivates people to come to the polls.

So far, the early voting trend is showing fewer blacks going to the polls for the runoff.

According to the Georgia Secretary of State's office, about 24 percent of the 33,555 early voters have been black, compared with 34 percent of the 2 million early voters prior to the Nov. 4 election. Blacks make up about 29 percent of the state's voters.

That could be a good sign for Chambliss, as the Rasmussen poll shows that much of Martin's support comes from African-Americans.

In the poll, 69 percent of white voters support Chambliss, while 91 percent of black voters favor Martin.

According to the Associated Press, about a third of the early votes have come from the metro counties of Fulton, DeKalb, Gwinnett and Cobb, with DeKalb leading with 3,600 voters.

The Dec. 2 runoff will also determine a seat on the Public Service Commission and the Georgia Court of Appeals as well as two Norcross council seats.

Political Notebook appears in the Thursday and Sunday editions of the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Camie Young can be reached via e-mail at camie.young@gwinnettdailypost.com.