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Robb Pitts, party animal

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Mayoral candidate Shirley Franklin may have gotten the endorsement of the Georgia Equality Inc., but her opponent Robb Pitts still hasn't given up on the gay vote.

On Saturday, Aug. 25, Pitts was seen at a Grant Park house party. There were about 50 people in attendance, many of them gay. Pitts and his wife made the rounds, glad-handed and took off. Such guerilla tactics are going to be necessary if Pitts is to regain ground lost when Franklin landed the endorsement of Georgia Equality, the state's pre-eminent gay political organization. Harry Knox, the group's director, has estimated that as many as 9,000 gay voters could turn out for November's election.

Meanwhile, on Aug. 24, Pitts' press secretary, Dana Bolden, told journalists via e-mail that he was taking a leave from the campaign. Apparently, Bolden's day job with EDS Corp. was taking him to Australia. He won't be back for "a few weeks," the e-mail said.

The temporary departure looked like another inopportune fumble for the Pitts election effort. But Bolden's vacation from the campaign opens up a chance for the Pitts camp to hire a full-time press secretary and address one of the campaign's main weaknesses.

Pitts staffer Jeana Brown says Pitts is doing just that, and an announcement should be made soon.

At one point, Bolden himself suggested he'd be more comfortable if his candidate had a full-time press secretary -- a taxing 24-hour-a-day job in an Atlanta's mayor's race -- but until now, nothing has materialized. And the contrast between the way Pitts and Franklin have handled the media has been stark. If you cover Atlanta politics, it's tough to make it through a day without a fax or e-mail or phone call from the Franklin camp. Meanwhile, sometimes it's been tough to figure out if Pitts is even running.

Getting someone in place soon will help Pitts as the campaign heats up in the next few weeks.

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