ATLANTA, AUG. 8 -- The morning after an election is never easy for the loser, especially if the loss was by a landslide. But Andrew Young, trounced by Lt. Gov. Zell Miller in the runoff for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination here Tuesday, was positively cheerful today.
"I feel very good about the campaign and I am comfortable with the outcome," Young said of his 62 to 38 percent drubbing. He's never been a numbers man, he said, and never will be.
"I was not as compelled or as compulsive about being governor," Young said. "It would have been a wonderful opportunity."
It was a surprising statement from a man who has enjoyed a string of political successes: election to two terms in the House, appointment as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, then election to two terms as mayor of Atlanta.
But Young's friends say his background as a minister, together with the humiliations he endured during the early years of the civil rights movement, have forged in him an inner peace not often seen in candidates for public office. If he won election as Georgia's first black governor, that would be a great achievement, and if Young lost, he would simply pursue his vision in other ways.
He will continue that pursuit Monday, when he leaves on an eight-nation tour of Africa to help persuade members of the Olympic Organizing Committee there to select Atlanta as the site of the 1996 games.
The size of Miller's win -- the former history professor swept every region of the state -- makes him the heavy favorite in November against Republican Johnny Isakson, a state legislator from the Atlanta area.
As he recalled the campaign, Young confessed that he had been uncomfortable when he attacked Miller for enriching himself in office. "It was politics, not personal," Young said. And he urgently cautioned against using his defeat to make sweeping assessments that the Deep South is not ready to move forward on race.
"Race is too simple an answer," he said.
Miller's popularity and 16 years as lieutenant governor gave him the edge in planning a statewide campaign. Young, on the other hand, was weighted down by his record as mayor.
"Mayors are held to a higher standard of success than anybody else," Young said, adding that his most loyal backers never forgave him for his support of a controversial freeway project through the city. "That had nothing to do with race. As I took a lady to the polls, I got grumbles about my lack of performance in the black community."
Miller won about 20 percent of the black vote in Atlanta in the primary, and Young's hope of recapturing those voters in the Tuesday runoff failed.
"If I couldn't sell 100 percent of the black community in Atlanta on the fact that I had been good for Atlanta, it would have been difficult to sell 35 percent of the white community in south Georgia that I would have been good for them," he said.