Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 14, 2014

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 14, 2014

Happy Birthday to the French, who today celebrate the 225th anniversary of Bastille Day, 14 July 1798, when citizens stormed the Bastille, a prison in Paris.

On July 14, 1798, the Alien and Sedition Act became federal law.

The first three acts took aim at the rights of immigrants. The period of residency required before immigrants could apply for citizenship was extended from five to 14 years, and the president gained the power to detain and deport those he deemed enemies. President Adams never took advantage of his newfound ability to deny rights to immigrants. However, the fourth act, the Sedition Act, was put into practice and became a black mark on the nation’s reputation. In direct violation of the Constitution’s guarantee of freedom of speech, the Sedition Act permitted the prosecution of individuals who voiced or printed what the government deemed to be malicious remarks about the president or government of the United States. Fourteen Republicans, mainly journalists, were prosecuted, and some imprisoned, under the act.

On July 14, 1864, General Sherman issued Special Field Order 35, outlining the plan for the Battle of Atlanta.

On July 14, 1976, former Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter won the Democratic nomination for President at the Democratic National Convention.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Here’s a good bit of insight into how millage rates are passed. If a jurisdiction’s assessments have risen enough that property tax receipts would be higher, simply keeping the same tax rate must be advertised as a tax increase. Often county commissions or city councils will advertise the highest rate under consideration because anything under that level will be covered by the same advertisement. So the advertised rate is a “cap,” or highest level the group can adopt without advertising again. From a management perspective, it makes sense, as it gives leeway as consensus is formed around (hopefully) a lower rate, but it can often cause citizens to believe that the rate advertised will be adopted without change. Here’s how that dynamic is working out in Gwinnett County.

Gwinnett Commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash says there is still some disagreement between commissioners as a vote approaches on the 2014 millage rate Tuesday at 2 p.m. Commissioners will hold the final of three public hearings Monday at 6:30 p.m. on the proposed rate of 13.75 mills. That number is the same as 2013 but could increase tax bills for some residents, if their property values have increased. Gwinnett’s tax digest is up for the first time since 2008. “At this time, I believe that there is still some differences of opinion among the commissioners,” Nash said Friday. “So I am not going to speculate about the final rate that will be adopted on Tuesday. However, I can say with certainty that there will be no increase in the rate from the 2013 rate.” The 13.75 rate is essentially the cap that commissioners approved to advertise to the public, meeting requirements in the state Taxpayer Bill of Rights, which requires county’s to follow the requirements of a tax increase even when the millage rate stays the same. The rate could be lower in the end, should the commission vote that way. Commissioners Lynette Howard and John Heard have said they would be supportive of keeping the rate the same. Commissioner Tommy Hunter isn’t a fan of the idea, though he has said he’s waiting until he hears from all residents he can before making a decision. While input from the public at the first two hearings was light, Nash said she has heard from some taxpayers through calls and emails. Many have been confused, thinking the millage rate was increasing, because of the public hearings.

As one of the two largest counties most years in terms of Republican Primary votes, Gwinnett is an 800-pound gorilla in the Primary Runoff for United States Senate.

“They know they cannot win without the votes in Gwinnett County,” said Rachel Little, chairman of the Gwinnett GOP. Kingston, an 11-term congressman from Savannah, is expected to hold a rally Friday at the Arena at Gwinnett Center. “Both candidates (Perdue and Kingston) recognize that this is an important place,” Little said of the county.

Kingston has previously called Gwinnett a “battleground area. “I think it’s an extremely important county,” he told the Daily Post in late February. Perdue agrees. “Gwinnett County is very important in the state. We’ve been here many times,” Perdue said. “This (Gwinnett) GOP group is one of the most active and successful GOP groups in the state.”

The presence of a highly-contested Primary Runoff in Senate District 9 makes turnout likely to be higher in part of Gwinnett.

Mike Beaudreau has announced a tax reform pledge, while P.K. Martin has received an endorsement from a state official. >Beaudreau announced on Friday that he has signed a pledge from the organization Americans for Tax Reform that will he will not vote to raise taxes. Americans for Tax Reform is a taxpayer advocacy group that Beaudreau said is dedicated to changing the structure of taxation in America. Also last week, [P.K.] Martin announced that Georgia’s Insurance Commissioner, Ralph Hudgens, endorsed him. “I am supporting P.K. Martin because with the challenges we face and the continued threat of Obamacare, we need a trusted conservative leader who has the ability to confront these challenges,” Hudgens said in a press release. “P.K. is a good man, a solid conservative and is the right leader for the job. I trust him and encourage you to join me in supporting him.”

Early Voting Turnout

As of the Voter Absentee File available this morning, 82,108 advance voting ballots have been cast in the Runoff Elections.

Absentee Votes by Party
Republican………….57,356
Democratic………….24,159
Non-partisan………….593

Absentee Votes by Gender
Female………….44,967
Male……………..37,127
Unknown……………14

Absentee Votes by Race
Amer.Ind./Alaskan……………18
Asian/Pac. Islander………….191
Black, not Hispanic………17,295
Hispanic………………………….142
Other………………………………219
White, not Hispanic…….62,117
Unknown……………………..2126

Top Counties by Ballots Cast
Fulton……………5,341
Cobb……………..4,491
DeKalb………….4,478
Gwinnett………3,032
Chatham………2,807

Top Congressional Districts
CD-10………….9,074
CD-9…………..8,672
CD-1…………..7,917
CD-2…………..7,352
CD-3…………..7,129

About that “Democratic mailer” in CD-10

Last week, I was on Tim Bryant’s show and he mentioned a mailer received by “the Democrat of the House.” Assuming he meant his new Golden Retriever, I replied that “every home should have a pet Democrat — they’re so cute!”  What he meant was that it was mailed to his wife, who has voted in at least on Democratic primary in the past.

Since then, Erick Erickson has said it’s part of a “Mississippi Strategy” of Democrats working with establishment Republicans to elect Mike Collins over Jody Hice in the Primary Runoff.

In an organized effort, an outside group has begun mailing Democrats absentee ballot applications. The mail piece explains to Democrats that there is no chance a Democrat will win in the district (true, Paul Broun won it several times) and the only way to stop conservatives from winning is to support Mike Collins.

To get to that fun talking point, Erickson makes several leaps. First, though, here’s the mailer, courtesy of Tim Bryant. It came in an envelope, which he already had thrown away, so we don’t know what the envelope said, or who purportedly mailed it.

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Daniel Malloy, writing at Jim Galloway’s Political Insider on ajc.com, notes a couple of details.

The mailer does not say who paid for it — and the only reported outside spending on mailers in the race has been by a gun rights group for Hice — so we can’t say for sure it is the Democrats. Hice was willing to assume in a fundraising appeal:

“Democrats are trying to do in Georgia what they did in Mississippi. We must not allow liberals to decide another Republican election.”

He’s referring to the Thad Cochran-Chris McDaniel GOP runoff last month, in which crossover votes from black Democrats appeared to provide the incumbent senator’s slim margin of victory.

Here’s something else: the piece run in Malloy’s post and the one above appear to be the same – makes sense, since Tim Bryant works for a Cox Media radio station, which also owns the AJC. But that means there is no evidence that this is actually a widespread effort by anyone to do anything but smear either Jody Hice or…wait for it…Mike Collins.

It certainly isn’t professional, and the inserts bear no disclaimer, which is required on printed material like this that attempts to affect a federal election. But that might not even be correct, as we don’t know what was on the envelope, and the mailpiece never actually advocates that the recipient actually vote for a specific candidate.

What if someone wanted to pretend that Democrats and “Establishment” Republicans are colluding to smear Mike Collins. They might make something like this at Kinko’s and mail one copy to the Democratic Primary voting wife of a well-known conservative talk show host and let the rest take care of itself.

Accusing the Collins campaign of colluding with Democrats might generate more votes and campaign cash for Jody Hice than it produces crossover votes by Dems against Hice. But is anyone out there this devious? I don’t know, and neither do you, and neither does Erick Erickson. At the end of this analysis, all we know is that one absentee ballot was mailed to one voter. Hardly a widespread conspiracy to “Thad Cochran” a Congressional primary.

Debates

From the sound of it, the Senate debate was just like the TV ads, only with the actual candidates bashing each other and a longer format than the usual 30 seconds. From Politico.com:

Rep. Jack Kingston accused David Perdue of being sympathetic to the stimulus, Obamacare and amnesty for illegal immigrants. He said the former Fortune-500 CEO sent jobs overseas and used an appointment to a state board for his own profit. He even hit Perdue for living in a gated community.

Perdue attacked Kingston for taking donations — since returned — from people tied to a convicted felon. He blamed Kingston, whom he repeatedly called a career politician, for the ballooning national debt and the failure of House Republicans to pass big reforms when they controlled the House during George W. Bush’s administration.

The debate turned nasty early when each candidate got a chance to question the other.

“You were forced to return $80,000 of illegal contributions funneled to your campaign by Khalid Achmed Satary, a Palestinian felon that the United States government is actually trying to deport,” said Perdue. “My question for you, congressman, is why would Satary go to such extreme measures to move so much money to your campaign? Did he want help with his deportation problem, or did he want appropriations for his two companies?”

Kingston responded by noting that Perdue has poured more than $3 million of his own money into the race so far. Then he attacked a pro-Perdue Super PAC for not disclosing its donors, while a pro-Kingston Super PAC does.

“This gentleman is not a donor to our campaign, nor to our knowledge was he involved, but when there were questions about it, we voluntarily returned all the money,” Kingston said. “We think that it’s very important to comply with the FEC, which is why you know about this situation.”

Kingston followed up by asking about Perdue’s appointment to a board that oversees the state’s ports when his first cousin, Sonny Perdue, was governor. He asked his opponent why he did not sign a conflict of interest form, since a company he was involved with stood to gain from port expansion.

“There’s absolutely nothing to this,” Perdue responded.

He then attacked Kingston for serving for 17 years before the Savannah harbor-deepening project was executed.

Kingston fired back: “You were making money off your appointment rather than helping us try to get this port deepened.”

If you haven’t gotten enough from the Senate runoff yet, here’s the Associated Press take on the Senate debate:

Georgia Republican Senate candidates Jack Kingston and David Perdue sharpened their attacks on each other during a heated debate Sunday with just over a week to go before their runoff election.

Perdue, the former CEO of Dollar General and Reebok, repeatedly blasted Kingston, an 11-term congressman, as being part of the problem in Washington and failing to take action to cut spending, reduce the federal debt and turn back bad regulations.

“We’ve become less and less competitive on this congressman’s watch,” Perdue said. “We’ve lost our competitive edge on many parts of the world.”

Kingston responded by touting his commitment to his constituents in coastal Georgia, pointing to his repeated town hall meetings and arguing Perdue is the one who is “out of touch.”

“Your whole lifestyle is based in a different way,” Kingston told Perdue. “You live inside a gate inside a gated community with a gate on your house. I think being a public servant is being public and knowing how to serve.”

Perdue stuck close to his campaign message as the outsider in the race, seeking to capitalize on Congress’ low approval ratings. Polling has been limited in the race, and low voter turnout is expected.

“Folks, the congressman has been in Washington for 22 years,” Perdue said. “The decision in this race is very simple: If you like what is going on in Washington, then vote for my opponent.”

Kingston fired back, comparing Perdue to President Barack Obama.

“Ladies and gentlemen, President Obama ran as an outsider. Do you really know what you get with David Perdue?” Kingston said. “In the primary, my biggest margin of support came from the people I know best, the people in my district. They know I am a tested, consistent conservative who has not joined the club (in Washington).”

Congressional candidates Mike Collins and Jody Hice also debated on GPB. From Walter Jones of Morris News via The Athens Banner-Herald:

Mike Collins and Jody Hice clashed Sunday over ways to address the federal budget deficit in their final debate of the 10th district congressional runoff.

Collins says he had a detailed plan, based on his experience running a trucking company and argues that Hice would operate by the seat of his pants.

On the other hand, Hice, a preacher and talk-show host, promises to evaluate every spending initiative.

One of the reporters on the panel asked what three federal agencies with a presence in the district would each candidate favor abolishing.

Hice didn’t specifically name any.

“My basic, right-off-the-cuff answer to that is that any program … beyond the authorization of the Constitution I would not be supportive of,” he said.

Collins favors abolishing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency because he said its regulations prevent job creation and also the agencies created to administer the Affordable Care Act.

“Right off the bat, Obamacare; that’s a federal program that needs to go,” he said.

State Senator Buddy Carter and his opponent Bob Johnson made the trek to GPB to debate in their First Congressional District runoff. Again from Walter Jones:

Bob Johnson used nearly every question put to him in a televised debate taped Sunday to attack opponent Buddy Carter. The two are locked in a runoff for the Republican nomination in the First District congressional seat left open by Jack Kingston’s run for the Senate.

Johnson, a political newcomer and Savannah surgeon, responded to Carter’s question of why he hasn’t endorsed Kingston’s Senate bid by accusing Carter of opportunism.

“You didn’t endorse Jack Kingston until you saw he was leading in the polls,” Johnson said. “I think that’s cowardly, quite honestly.”

Johnson said he lives 100 yards from Kingston, who he said had strayed from conservative principles when he voted for pork-barrel spending five to eight years ago before becoming more conservative recently.

Then he questioned Carter, a Savannah pharmacist and state legislator, about not opposing the Affordable Care Act until seeing voters objected to it. Carter acknowledged that parts of the law, like covering pre-existing conditions and allowing children to remain on their parents’ policies until age 26, were positive.

“It’s important to understand where this question came from,” Carter said. “This is an example of the untruths and partial truths that my opponent from Chicago has been practicing throughout this campaign.

 

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