Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections for January 8, 2012

In honor of today’s Special Election in Senate District 11 (lower left-hand corner), we’re bringing you adoptable puppies from the Bainbridge-Decatur County Humane Society, which is in the 11th.BainbridgeBuckeye

Buckeye is a 4-month old male Hound dog mix, who is available for adoption today from the Bainbridge-Decatur County Humane Society.
BainbridgeBabiesThese six babies came into the Bainbridge-Decatur Humane Society with their mother and will be available for adoption soon, if not already. Mom is also available and weighs about 40 pounds. If you forgot to go pick up your Christmas puppy, here’s another chance.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns & Elections

In the 11th District, Dr. Dean Burke had a strong showing in his campaign contribution disclosure, having raised $63k and spent about $28k. It appears that most of his contributions came from within the district and that no personal money had been put in.

Former State Rep. Mike Keown showed just under $28k raised, including a $5k loan from the candidate, for the 11th District Special Election and just under $10k spent.

Brad Hughes raised $4700, of which $3750 came from four different State House campaigns, and spent $3800 of it.

Marshall Berman raised $200 and spent more than $400. According to the Georgia State Ethics Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission, Republican Eugene McNease has filed no reports, nor has Libertarian Jeffrey Bivins.

My predictions in State Senate District 11: first, I expect a runoff; second, I predict that the second-place finisher tonight will ultimately carry the runoff election. In both 2011 State Senate Special Elections, and the 2012 GOP Special Primary Elections in Senate District 30, the candidate who came in second in the first election eventually won, though the last chapter isn’t yet written for SD 30.

In Senate District 30, Mike Dugan, who beat former State Rep. Bill Hembree in the GOP Runoff last month after coming in second in November, meets Librarian Libertarian James Camp today in the Special General Election. I predict a walk-away victory for Dugan. The intensity of Dugan’s support among people who know him personally or met him on the campaign trail carried the GOP Runoff, and it appears as if he’s continued the same shoe-leather campaign that served him so well.

Dugan was also on the road Friday afternoon, asking that voters turn out one more time to cast ballots.

“It’s not done yet,” Dugan said. “This election is as important as the past two and we need to get back out again.”

I have no idea who will win Senate District 21, though I can make a good case for either candidate. Brandon Beach ran in the same district this past summer and did a credible job against very popular then-incumbent Chip Rogers. His organization should be fresh and rested, and his signs hadn’t even had a chance to gather dust. He’s gotten good support and endorsement, especially in Cherokee County.

On the other hand, Sean Jerguson was reelected to the State House in a District that mostly overlaps SD 21 and even bears the same number. His support is probably strongest among the more conservative members of the electorate, and gun-rights activists, who probably have a greater propensity to vote in a special election.

House District 21 should go Republican Scot Turner first, Democrat Natalie Bergeron second, with the real question being whether Turner wins 50%+1 on the first ballot, or whether those two advance to a runoff. Republican Political Consultant Brian Laurens probably comes in third, though he might eke out a place in the runoff.

And then there were three…

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Yesterday was the first day of Qualifying for the February 5, 2013 Special Election in Georgia State House District 71. The last day of Qualifying is Wednesday from 8 AM to Noon. So far, three candidates have qualified.

Thomas G. Crymes, a Republican General Contractor from Sharpsburg.
Darryl Marmon a Republican lawyer from Sharpsburg.

David J. Stover, a Republican Business Owner from Newnan.
Investigators from the office of DeKalb County District Attorney Robert James executed search warrants at the Stone Mountain home of DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis yesterday, while Ellis was testifying before a special grand jury looking into allegations of corrupt practices.

The seven warrants seek specific contracts, travel expenses and campaign contributions for Ellis, who was testifying in front of a special grand jury during the searches. James convened the body last January to look at allegations of claims of bid rigging and kickbacks in county contracts.

“I don’t know that I am a target,” Ellis told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in an exclusive interview Monday afternoon. “I can’t imagine what they’re looking for. We have not done anything remotely wrong.”

During Monday’s searches, the DA’s investigators seized boxes of material and computers from Ellis’ office and home and also searched the county’s purchasing, information technology and finances offices, warrants show.

Among specific purchasing documents sought: those affiliated with Kevin Ross, an attorney who managed Ellis’ transition team and campaign when he first ran for office four years ago. Attempts to reach Ross for comment Monday evening were unsuccessful.

As the county CEO for DeKalb, the only municipality in the state operating under such a system, Ellis serves as the top administrator and has the power to cancel county contracts.

Jim Galloway cited the presence of large trashcans outside the offices of Senator Don Balfour (R-Snellville) and Jeff Mullis (R-Chickamauga) as evidence that Mullis will Chair the Senate Rules Committee this year. I first wrote on Friday that Mullis was given the nod by the Committee on Assignments, along with some other predictions speculation.

State Rep. Paul Battles wants to allow local school systems to allow an administrator at each school to carry a concealed weapon. While this will certainly be cited in the national mainstream media as evidence that Georgians are foaming at the mouth over guns, it’s saner than that. Battles’s proposal would require each designated adminstrator to complete a state peace officer training course and qualify every year. Given the training and qualification requirements, I don’t have a problem with this bill, and it might actually be a good idea.

The Georgia Department of Agriculture lagged in using the e-Verify system to ensure that workers it hired are eligible to work in the US.

The state’s law — which took effect in July 2007 — requires government agencies to use E-Verify, a free online employment eligibility program. The Agriculture Department did not start using the program until April 2012, said Steve Blando, a spokesman for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which helps administer E-Verify.

As first reported by The Associated Press, the state agency’s error came to light in a recent state audit. The audit revealed the agency did not immediately use the system to check its new hires.

A spokeswoman for the Agriculture Department said Monday that her agency is now using E-Verify.

“We are currently in the process of going through and making sure that everybody who is at the Department of Agriculture has been E-Verified,” Mary Kathryn Yearta said. “This is an embarrassing discovery that escaped several levels of management audits, and we are taking all steps to rectify.”

Here’s an idea. Let’s require e-Verify for candidates for public office in Georgia.

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