It all goes back to 1990. Johnny Isakson, now a U.S. senator from Georgia, was then running for governor of the Peach State. I was running for lieutenant governor at age 29. Credit (or blame) Newt Gingrich for my candidacy. He'd been my friend and mentor since my college days. He encouraged me to run as a Republican in what was then an overwhelmingly Democratic state. He thought a young Republican candidate would help recruit young Georgians to the GOP.
It unfolded like this: Johnny paid a visit to Newt, who was then the U.S. House minority whip. Newt's office was like a grand parlor. Officials from the George H.W. Bush White House would gather there, as would an array of other officials.
Back then, Newt didn't care too much for Isakson's politics. He thought Johnny was too moderate on key Republican positions. But that didn't stop Isakson from flying to Washington and asking to meet with Newt to tell him face-to-face that he was running for governor.
Newt is mellower now than he was in those days. His political star was ascending back then, and he knew it. He could be a bit cocky. As for Johnny, he was then as he is now: even-keeled and good-natured. That temperament served him well as he waited for Newt from early morning to after sundown while sitting in a folding chair outside Newt's "parlor."
Newt would pass through, going back and forth from the House floor to his ornate office. Finally, Isakson was able to tell Gingrich he was running for governor. Newt said in essence that he was unenthusiastic.
Isakson's campaign manager that year was a very bright GOP operative named Jay Morgan. Morgan was at least as unenthusiastic about my running for lieutenant governor as Gingrich was about Isakson running for governor.
Johnny ended up losing the election to Zell Miller. I lost to Pierre Howard, who became my business partner after we both left the legislature! (Who says the South isn't incestuous?)
Let's fast-forward to 1992. A new Republican congressional seat was to be created by the Georgia Legislature. It was in my home area, and Newt had already endorsed me for the seat. By the,n I had hired as my chief campaign consultant none other than Isakson's campaign manager, Jay Morgan.
Meanwhile -- and wouldn't you know it? -- Lt. Gov. Howard and several other folks thought it would be clever to assign Newt's congressional seat number -- District 6 -- to the new district in which I was to run.