Roy Barnes

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Roy Barnes, a progressive Democrat, is a former Governor of Georgia and prominent trial lawyer.

Barnes was elected to the State Senate in 1974 as a conservative Democrat and served as floor leader for Governor Joe Frank Harris, another conservative Democrat. Running as a conservative to succeed Harris, Barnes lost the Democratic Primary for Governor in 1990 to Zell Miller, then a progressive. Barnes moderates his views and won the Democratic nomination and the Governor's office in 1998.

Barnes was an ambitious, active chief executive, who attempted to reform much of state government, from traffic to air pollution to schools. In a move that riled conservative white voters, Barnes succeeded in having the racist Confederate Battle Flag removed fom the official Georgia State Flag.

Some have concluded that his over-ambitiousness caused his unexpected electoral defeat in 2002, specifically the flag change which was exploited by Republican Sonny Perdue to mobilize rural white voters. Others believe that election fraud was at play, as Barnes was widely expected to win reelection easily.

Prior to his defeat, Barnes was touted as a potential candidate for President or Vice President in 2004. He later received the "Profile in Courage Award" from the Kennedy family for his leadership on the flag change issue.

Barnes appointed his former foe Zell Miller to the United States Senate in 2000. He was initially applauded for this move, which helped keep the seat in the Democratic column, but it was later proven to be a disastrous choice.

After losing the race for Governor, Barnes went to work as a volunteer for the Atlanta Legal Aid Society. In 2003, he formed a law firm with his daughter and son-and-law called The Barnes Group. He specializes in class action lawsuits.

Barnes received his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Georgia where he was a member of the Gridiron Secret Society.

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