Georgia Political News for April 30, 2012

“23491” is a playful and friendly puppy who is available for adoption from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter. Gwinnett has had an influx of puppies and has at least 13 available as of this morning.

George Washington inaugurated

On this date in 1789, George Washington was inaugurated as the first President of the United States.

Campaigns, Politics & Elections

The ever-reliable Newt Gingrich has delayed announcing he is out of the race for President. The question for Gingrich is how to start rebuilding.

Jamie Chandler, a political science professor at Hunter College in New York, said Gingrich’s public image has taken a hit.

“He’s definitely damaged his brand, particularly personally. He didn’t make the right strategic decisions in the campaign both in his fundraising strategy and his various impulsive ways of speaking,” Chandler said. “Also, the way he stayed in the race so long, he’s annoyed some of the more powerful establishment-type people in the party, and he’s also taken the steam out of his name.”

Augusta officials note that Georgia Health Sciences University appears to be faring better under Governor Nathan Deal than it did under his predecessor Gov. Sonny Perdue.

“We are being recognized by the state and the state representatives, executive branch for what we are,” Azziz said. “Eventually, we’ll be the state’s fourth, large research university. These are things they are beginning to recognize. We’re telling our story, they’re listening, and I think that’s a positive thing.”

Deal said he’s had a close connection to Augusta since growing up in nearby Washington County. His father received medical treatment in Augusta, and his first son was born at the old military hospital during a tour of duty at Fort Gordon.

“This institution represents a great capital investment for the citizens of our state,” Deal said. “Our goal is to make it one of the top 50 in the nation. It takes some extra effort to be able to achieve that goal. It takes some extra funding.”

Rep. Barbara Sims, R-Augusta, who strongly opposed Perdue’s support of the Athens medical school branch, said Deal is building on existing investment at GHSU. She attributes recent funding and initiatives toward Augusta to the governor, Azziz’s leadership and enhanced community support.

“His commitment was to make MCG the premier and only medical school in Georgia,” Sims said.

Rep. Wayne Howard, D-Augusta, said that the number of visits Deal has made to Augusta show that he intends to build a closer relationship with Augusta than his predecessor.

Senator Josh McKoon (R-Columbus) was named national Young Republican Man of the Year and Layla Shipman (R-Upper Left Hand Corner) was named Woman of the Year. Atlanta Young Republicans won Large Club of the Year and Charitable Event of the Year. At least that’s what the Facebook tells me. Congatulations!

Georgia Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens mentioned at Saturday’s South Georgia Economic Development Summit that not a single insurance company has asked for permission to sell policies already for sale in other states to Georgia residents.

Hudgens, a conservative Republican who strongly supports free-market ideas, said he expected policies sold in states such as Alabama, which have fewer requirements for health plans, to be offered in Georgia after enactment of the law.

“I’m really surprised because it was such a bumper sticker issue by Republicans saying if we could get across state line selling, we could reduce the cost of health care,” he said.

Rep. Matt Ramsey, R-Peachtree City, was the lead sponsor of the legislation signed into law last year.  Ramsey said insurers are hesitant to change their business models until the Supreme Court decides whether the federal health care law is constitutional — a ruling expected in June. The outcome of that case has significant implications for every health insurer.

“I think everyone is kind of waiting, and I do not blame them,” Ramsey said.

Hayden Collins from Bartow County will run for Senate District 52, joining David Doss and Chuck Hufstetler in the Republican Primary.

Denice Traina, a hippie peace and transit activist will run for Augusta Commission District One, against incumbent commissioner incumbent Matt Aitken. Harrisburg activist Lori Davis and former Laney-Walker Neighborhood Association President Stan Hawes are also challenging the incumbent.

Candidates for Richmond County Sheriff are concentrating on website, twitter and facebook, rather than proven strategies like direct mail, robocalls and door-to-door campaigning. Good luck with that.

Congressman Hank Johnson (D-DeKalb) has endorsed T-SPLOST.

Georgia Democratic Party’s War on Women

It’s a good thing we have the Georgia Democratic Party around to remind us that it’s the Republicans who are waging a war on women or we might mistakenly conclude that it’s the Democratic party who is doing it.

Andre Walker over at GeorgiaUnfiltered has details of Georgia Democratic Party Political Director Ali Rashad Richey’s 2007 arrest for simple battery after Richey allegedly kicked in the door of his then-girlfriend’s apartment and assaulted her.

In 2010, then-Georgia senator Gail Buckner, who employed Richey, wrote a letter to the judge urging that Richey not be jailed for violating his probation. Ironically, Buckner serves as President of the Georgia Federation of Democratic Women.

Ali Richey declined to comment and Georgia Democratic Party Communications Director Eric Gray said he couldn’t comment on “personnel issues.”

The failure of the Georgia Democratic Party to address the issue of Richey’s continued representation of them while bashing Republicans for a fabricated “war on women” is sheer hypocrisy. We also note that the major media have not discussed the issue. I’m sure they’d happily ignore it if an employee of the Georgia Republican Party had a record of pleading guilty to assault against a woman, right?

Ends & Pieces

It may be too late to prevent public funding of the Atlanta Falcons Arthur Blank’s new stadium.

Developers are selling Toomsboro, Georgia, or at least much of the downtown.

Cherry Horton has been arrested for her road beautification/sign stealing project in which she removed nearly 200 signs illegally placed in rights-of-way. Charges were dropped. “I don’t think that the taking of a sign from a public area constituted a theft by taking,” [Assistant Solicitor-General Mike] Sorkey said.

Isaac Rucker, an escaped slave who joined the Union Army, will be honored in a ceremony.

“What we know about Rucker himself is he was a slave and was held by a family, yet to be determined, over in the Mount Olive district of the county close to White County,” Ragland said.

“Somewhere along the line, he escaped and wound up going to Knoxville, where he signed up (with Union black troops).”

His unit’s “biggest claim to fame was they were one of the artillery groups that repulsed (Confederate) Gen. John Bell Hood in the Battle of Decatur (in Alabama),” Ragland said.

“Very little is known about the group after that … except that (Rucker) came home, which I find utterly surprising,” he said. “The man … moved back to a town (and lived among) a whole bunch of people that fought on the other side of the war.”

By Ragland’s research, Mount Hope contains the grave of just one other Union soldier, while some 60-plus Confederates are buried in the cemetery.

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