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POLITICAL NOTEBOOK: Thurmond optimistic about economy

A day after his big win in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, Michael Thurmond started his campaign with a speech to Gwinnett's Chamber of Commerce.

Thurmond, who is completing his third term as labor commissioner, said he was hopeful about the economy. But he did not present a rosy picture, with more than 500,000 Georgians currently unemployed.

He joked that a speech from the labor commissioner could have been enough to predict a depressing lunch, especially since Georgia lost the second-most jobs in the country in June, but Thurmond was upbeat.

"These are tough times, but these are not hopeless times," he said. "I am more inspired and enthusiastic about the future than at any other time in my lifetime. ... I have no doubt in my mind that America will emerge from this crisis ... still the greatest nation on the face of the earth."

Thurmond credited his father with teaching him how to pull an ox cart out of a ditch, referring metaphorically to the economic situation.

"When the ox cart is in the ditch, everybody has to get out and push," he said.

To that end, Thurmond called for an end to partisanship and racial divisiveness.

"We don't have a Democrat solution to this economic crisis," the Dem said. "Neither do the Republicans. ... I guarantee you, my friends, there is an American solution."

Shafer given award

At Wednesday's luncheon, state Sen. David Shafer, R-Duluth, was honored as legislator of the year by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce.

Thurmond had praise for Shafer, even though the two are on the other side of the political aisle.

"No one has been a more outspoken advocate for business than David Shafer," Thurmond said.

Shafer said he was honored by the award.

"I'm glad to support policies that support job formation," he said.

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.