Alabama (left) and Auburn (right) are two of the eight Golden Retriever mix puppies saved from a shelter this past weekend by Angels Among Us Rescue. Angels is an established, reputable dog rescue based in Metro Atlanta whose philosophy involves placing rescued animals in volunteer foster homes after vetting. To volunteer as a foster or donate, or even to pick out your new best friend, please visit Angels’ website or their Facebook page. They also have cats for adoption if you’re into that.
Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections
Today is election day if you haven’t already voted. I am a stickler for voting on the actual election day, so after I finish this post and walk the dog, I’ll walk over to the local high school and exercise my right to vote. As a political professional, I’ll spend the rest of the day on a few small projects, get caught up on billing to candidates and other consulting firms, then I’ll go to the movies, probably The Dark Knight Rises. Election day matinees is another of my traditions.
Finally, my major tradition will be tonight when I purposely avoid all election night parties, as I have for the past twelve years. My clients seem to do better in the elections when I stay home.
Today, I will vote against ballot question 4 in the Republican Primary, which asks:
Should Citizens who wish to vote in a primary election be required to register by their political party affiliation at least thirty (30) days prior to such primary election?
Philosophically, I believe in placing as few restrictions on voting as possible and I don’t see the necessity for this. As a DeKalb County Republican, our voters have a strong history of voting in Democratic primaries in years like this when the DeKalb County CEO will be chosen exclusively by Democratic primary voters. I’m pulling the GOP ballot, but am sympathetic to Republicans who wish to cast a vote against Burrell Ellis, who raised our property taxes 26% last year.
Likewise, in areas like Columbia County, an important Sheriff’s race will be decided in the Democratic primary and I wouldn’t deny my friends over there the opportunity to vote in the election of their choice.
My friend, Ray Newman has written about his choices on some of the ballot questions, including Yes for lobbyist gift caps and No on casinos. I will join Ray in voting against casino gambling and am undecided on lobbyist gift caps. Ray also wrote about the reasons for his Yes vote on Question Five, the so-called Personhood Amendment.
Senator Josh McKoon has an op-ed in the Ledger-Enquirer in which he writes
The number one priority for elected officials should be the enactment of policies that build the trust of the people we represent.
The continuing failure to acknowledge and address this issue has had a paralyzing effect on state government. Trust is the currency of governance–it is the oil that allows the machinery of government to run. Without it, government is powerless to grapple with the issues of our day.
So when those who oppose attempts to even discuss comprehensive ethics reform dismiss such efforts as “not being a priority” for state government, they ignore this central fact–we must restore trust if we are to tackle the challenges that face our state.
Let me be clear on this point, a limit on lobbyist giving is a part of comprehensive ethics reform, not the whole solution. It is however the clearest symbol of what is wrong with our state’s ethics law. The current system that allows millions of dollars in gifts to be showered on state legislators in a display that has become significantly more extravagant year after year is indefensible and it must end.
DeKalb County voters will likely reject Michael Rothenberg’s challenge to incumbent Superior Court Judge Gail Flake. An indictment for felony theft a week before the election will have that effect, even if he’s innocent.
Gwinnett County voters will be well-served by voting for Kathy Schrader, the only of the three candidates in real contention for the runoff who has not engaged in rumor-mongering or negative robo-calls.
Chuck Eaton, one of the two Public Service Commissioners on the ballot for re-election has, in my opinion, earned reelection with thoughful decisions that put consumers first while recognizing that the General Assembly sets the conditions for many of the PSC’s decisions. Chuck has been a leader in moving Georgia Power’s rate decrease up so that it coincides with the heaviest use of electricity this year, the summer air conditioning months. Today, my AC blasts full force in his honor.
Stan Wise has also earned my vote for reelection to the Public Service Commission. Stan was one of the first statewide Republican elected officials and has did yeoman’s work in the ascent of our party. On the PSC, he has been criticized for being “too close to the utilities,” but I think that reflects his preference for negotiating outcomes rather than confronting utilities, and Stan deserves some credit for Georgia’s world-class electrical grid in which rates are competitive to any state in the nation, and we don’t endure the rolling blackouts and brownouts that plague states with more “progressive” energy policies like California. Conservatism on the PSC has served Georgia well.
For the first time in my years in DeKalb County, I will get to vote for a Congressional candidate who has a chance, Congressman Tom Price. In November, he will be easily reelected.
I will vote for the incorporation of the City of Brookhaven
I don’t know who will win in the matchups between Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers and challenger Brandon Beach, or between State Rep. Sean Jerguson and challenger Scot Turner, but I am glad that the shenanigans in those races will be over after today.
Among the shenanigans in that Jerguson v. Turner race, a mailpiece that misspelled Scot Turner’s first name. I have two suspects for the consultants involved when political direct mail includes typos.
unholy unlikely alliance between Tea Party Patriots, Georgia Conservatives in Action, Common Cause of Georgia, and Senator Josh McKoon will celebrate no longer being stuck on a bus together election results at Hudson Grille Midtown, 942 Peachtree Street, Atlanta, 30309 from 7 to 11:30 PM.
Monitors from the US Department of Justice will be monitoring voting in two counties in Georgia to ensure compliance with the Voting Rights Act.
TheU.S. Department of Justice says it has asked that federal observers be assigned to monitor polling places in Randolph and Washington counties. DOJ declined to say why it’s sending monitors to those counties. The Voting Rights Act prohibits discrimination in the election process on the basis of race, color or membership in a minority language group.
The DOJ says observers plan to watch and record activities during voting hours at polling sites in those counties. A spokesman for the Georgia secretary of state’s office, which oversees elections, said the agency found out about the federal monitors Monday morning and that the counties were aware.
Pro-tip for the day: resist the temptation to whip out your camera phone so you can post your completed ballot on Facebook. It’s against the law.
Also against the law is altering documents to evade your child support responsibility. Former Douglas County Commissioner Freddie Ashmon, Jr. found out the hard way when he was arrested for getting county employees to alter records to show lower income in a child support proceeding.
In House District 9, two sisters are working out family endorsements by swapping robocalls for and against their brother, Dale Rutledge, in his challenge to State Rep. Steve Davis.
The race had already included accusations of ethics violations on both sides, but family history took center stage recently, when recorded phone messages, allegedly from two of Rutledge’s sisters, were sent out to local households.
One sister badmouthed her brother, while the other responded with an endorsement of Rutledge.
A local resident recently sent The News transcripts of the two messages.
The first phone message was apparently sent out from Rutledge’s older sister Joyce Rutledge, and she asked voters not to vote for her brother.
“Good evening. Dale Rutledge, state house candidate, is not the person he says he is. I should know – I am his older sister, Joyce Lawanda Rutledge. Dale tore apart our family for his personal gain by dishonoring and bearing false witness against his own mother and me in a court of law. It saddens me to come forward, but the truth needs to be known. Dale does not deserve this position. We don’t trust him – why should you? Please vote again for Steve Davis who has achieved much as state representative. And please pray for Dale.”
According to media reports and political blogs, Davis paid for the first message.
In a second phone message which followed shortly after, Rhonda Rutledge Coots, apologized for the first phone call recorded by her sister and said she supported her brother. Coots also went into detail about why her sister recorded the advertisement.
“I am the sister of Dale Rutledge. This afternoon my sister Lawanda Rutledge, called voters with a malicious statement about my brother Dale in a robo call that was funded by my brother’s opponent Steve Davis.
Three years ago, I was appointed by the court as guardian of my mother. My mother suffers from Alzheimer’s and can no longer take care of herself. My sister wrongly convinced my mother to transfer $200,000 dollars into my sister’s account. My brother Dale, with the support of all the rest of the family, rightly petitioned the court to have the funds returned to my mother as the victim, and the court agreed.
It is embarrassing to my family that this issue has been sent into your homes, and I apologize, but I could not allow it to stand without a response of truth.
Finally, let me say that Steve Davis knows the rest of the story about my mother’s Alzheimer’s and the court order, but funded this call anyway. Senator Rick Jeffares told him in advance the full story and that my sister is just being vengeful because she is now under court order.
It is reprehensible that Mr. Davis would consider this type of advertisement. Mr. Davis, you are truly a coward.
Again, my name is Rhonda Rutledge Coots, and my family supports Dale with all our hearts. He will be a great representative for all of us. Goodbye.”
That’s Henry County politics for you: making Maury look like a better alternative to family counseling.
In House District 41, the Democratic primary has taken the robo-call wars into allegations of domestic violence with the accused candidate’s wife defending him.
Voters in state House District 41, in south-central Cobb, have received a series of back-and-forth robocalls over one candidate’s history of alleged domestic-violence incidents. In one robocall, the candidate’s wife says she made up all the allegations.
In recent days, a robocall alerted voters to Smith’s situation. The anonymous caller said she was a survivor of domestic violence.
“Mike Smith, who is running for state representative in your district, has been arrested for offenses related to domestic violence. The police have been called on Mike Smith numerous times, as recently as 2011. Michael Smith was arrested for breaking through his girlfriend’s car window. Another time he pushed her into a wall while she was holding her child. I personally know that men like Mike Smith just want more power, more control. I am asking you to help stop bullies like Mike Smith and stand up for victims of violence when you vote in this month’s election.”
Smith’s campaign responded with a robocall recorded by Smith’s wife: “You may get a phone call from one of my husband’s opponents in the state representative race saying that he bullied me six years ago. Well, six years ago I was his immature girlfriend who damaged his property and told lies on him just to get attention. Although extremely embarrassing, the last thing I want is for my husband to pay for the mistakes that I’ve made and the lies that I’ve told as a 19-year-old. At this point in our lives we are happily married, because he forgave me. Michael is a wonderful husband, the best father and would make a great state representative.”
Smith’s wife, who is expecting their third child in December and asked that her name not be published, told the Journal on Thursday that “there have been no domestic incidents or violence or anything of that nature” in the couple’s past and that she had made up all previous allegations. She said she could not recall any incident at KSU.
As for the Cobb Police response last September, she said: “Emergency personnel were called because I was sick and he called them to make sure I was OK. There was no domestic violence incident whatsoever.”
Candidate Smith added: “I’m just going to continue to run a good clean race and stick to the issues and let the voters decide.”
O’Dell said it is “extremely upsetting that Mr. Smith would have his wife publicly take blame.”
“She might claim that she lied, but the police reports and arrest records do not. He admitted to the police that he broke out her window. He admitted to the police that he pushed her in 2007. I have volunteered for the YWCA and represented victims of domestic violence. Sadly, it is quite often the case that the abuser is able to control and manipulate the victim into believing everything is her fault.”
O’Dell said the altercations themselves are disturbing, “particularly from someone who is a school teacher and works with impressionable and innocent young children. This is not an isolated incident or one event from long ago. … It would seem he has no regard for the criminal laws or the rights of others.”
Eckles, the other Democrat in the primary, said she wants no part of the back and forth.
“It’s added an ugly dimension to our race, unfortunately,” Eckles said. “I’ve tried to focus on who I am and what I want to do for the district. That’s what I’m sticking with. It comes down to what type of representative the voters want.”
In the Twelfth Congressional District Republican primary to face Democrat John Barrow, 57 cents of every dollar spent by the Republicans came from their own pocket.
Here’s your other pro-tip for the day: if you are a candidate and a TV news producer calls to ask if you’d like to talk on camera about Robocalls, the right answer is always no.