Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 21, 2015

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 21, 2015

Georgia History

On December 21, 1829, Georgia Governor George Gilmer signed legislation outlawing the teaching of African-Americans to read or write. One year later to the day, he signed legislation claiming for the state all territory occupied by the Cherokee tribe.

On December 21, 1835, Oglethorpe University was incorporated near Macon, later moving to Atlanta.

On December 21, 1863, the Confederate government selected a site in Sumter County for construction of Camp Sumter, which would be better known by the name Andersonville Prison.

General William Tecumseh Sherman received the surrender of Savannah, Georgia on December 21, 1864.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

With Christmas fast approaching, we’re happy to begin this morning with an uplifting story out of Douglas County, Georgia.

Douglas County Superior Court judge Beau McClain came up with a bold idea.

Let’s serve all the needy children in this community,” he proclaimed.

All of them. Toys for roughly 17,000 Douglas County children. With only about $60,000 in cash donations.

“We haven’t done a whole lot of fundraising,” remarked Judge McClain. “The money has just shown up.”

First, how do you find every needy child in Douglas County? Judge McClain started by asking the school system to identify every student who’s on free or reduced lunch. Because that information is private, organizers asked the school system to give those students a golden ticket and bring it to a special distribution spot this weekend, a ticket redeemable for at least one Christmas present.

Second, how to get the toys with little money on hand to buy them?

Turns out, almost all those presents were donated. They began arriving this summer, when Judge McClain received several pallets of slightly damaged toys from a friend.

But it was the only packaging that was damaged. The toys themselves were fine. And they were top-of-the-line toys like Star Wars action figures and Elmo. Judge McClain thought the box would make no difference to a happy kid.

“You know Christmas morning a child is going to tear that box apart to get to that toy and start playing with it.” Judge McClain pointed out.

Toys for Tots decided to make Operation Christmas the sole distributor in Douglas County. Operation Christmas wound up with plenty of toys, even more for the younger children.

“Kids from six down to infant are going to be amazed by what they wake up and see under the Christmas Tree on December 25. God showed up with incredible abundance and we have more than enough for everyone.”

Thanks to Judge McClain and all who gave their gifts, their time, and their treasure to make this happen.

On Friday morning at the Georgia State Capitol, Senator JaNice Van Ness was cermonially sworn-in to the state’s Senior chamber as the newest Senator, representing DeKalb, Newton, and Rockdale Counties. JaNice Van Ness Podium

Sen. Van Ness also recorded a brief video message for her constituents.

Larry Walker Ross Tolleson

Larry Walker, III was also at the Capitol and sworn-in as the new State Senator from District 20, succeeding Sen. Ross Tolleson, with whom he is pictured above.

Ted Cruz came to Georgia this weekend with stops in Kennesaw and Bloomingdale.

Cruz Inside 2

Cruz was accompanied by his wife, Heidi, and his two daughters.

Cruz Portrait Backdrop

Herman Cain was among the introductory speakers.

Herman Cain at Ted Cruz

Jon Gillooly of the Marietta Daily Journal covered the Cruz appearance in Kennesaw.

With his wife and two daughters at his side, Cruz, decked out in a brown leather jacket, blue jeans and cowboy boots, spoke to a crowd estimated at 2,000, according to Scott Johnson of east Cobb, the campaign’s state grassroots co-chair.

Cruz spoke to reporters before he was introduced to the crowd by radio host Herman Cain, a former GOP presidential candidate.

“Our team we’ve got here in the great state of Georgia is incredible,” Cruz said. “And what we’re seeing here, what we’re seeing in the early primary states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada and what we’re seeing all across the country is the old Reagan coalition coming back together.”

[Cobb GOP Chair Rose Wing said,] “It confirms the fact that Cobb County is the strongest Republican county in the state of Georgia, and our candidates are coming here to talk to, particularly in these rallies, to the grassroots and to get the support of those voters here in Cobb County. They know this is where the base is.”

On Saturday Morning, the Cruz campaign held a rally at Ottawa Farms in Bloomingdale, which is in Chatham County.

Attendees included Savannah mayor-elect Eddie DeLoach, U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, and former U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, who introduced Cruz.

The Texas senator began his town hall by listing the five things he plans to do on his first day in office and why his stop here is so important.

“Georgia is going to play a critical role in Super Tuesday and the so called SEC primary,” he said. “Georgia is going to help ensure that we as Republicans nominate a real conservative, a strong principled conservative to be president. …Our constitutional rights are under assault each and every day and America has receded from leadership. It has made the world a much more dangerous place.

“And yet I’m here with a word of hope, encouragement and exaltation. … The first thing I intend to do is rescind every illegal and unconstitutional executive action taken by this president. President Obama is fond of saying he’s got a phone and he’s got a pen. You live by the pen. You die by the pen. And my pen has got an eraser.”

Cruz said he would move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, launch an investigation into Planned Parenthood, end the country’s nuclear deal with Iran and end federal persecution of religious liberty.

Cruz said during a small news conference after his speech that he could see a role for fellow Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio in his administration, but he failed to elaborate what the role would be.

“Marco is a very talented leader,” he said. “Any Republican president would be a fool for the men and women standing on that debate stage not to comprise a substantial portion of their candidate, and I look forward to hopefully winning the nomination, winning the election and continuing to work with these extraordinary leaders from across the country.”

Greg Bluestein of the AJC puts the Cruz campaign swing through Southern states in the larger context of the Presidential campaign’s race for delegates to the Republican National Convention.

As he tries to position himself as the alternative to Donald Trump over the likes of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and other establishment favorites, the regional March 1 vote — known in these parts as the SEC primary — is the cornerstone of his strategy.

“I don’t know who did the calendar,” said Rick Tyler, a Cruz spokesman, “but it certainly benefits us.”

There are 565 delegates up for grabs March 1 in the first wave of primaries and caucuses held after the four early-voting contests in February: Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. Cruz’s home state of Texas has the most delegates at stake that day. The delegates are awarded proportionally instead of on a winner-takes-all basis, which means no candidate is likely to land a knockout blow.

But Cruz hopes to emerge from the vote as one of the last contenders standing. And his visit to Kennesaw on Friday — the third stop in a weeklong tour of cities voting March 1 — is aimed at consolidating his support in Georgia.

“We are so encouraged by what we’re seeing. The energy, the passion, the excitement we’re seeing on the ground is breathtaking,” said Cruz. “We’re seeing conservatives uniting, and that’s what it will take to win.”

To answer Rick Tyler’s question, credit for the prominence of Georgia and the South in this year’s presidential campaign goes largely to Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp.

Politico.com also ran a piece on Ted Cruz and his southern strategy for the GOP nomination.

He jets between stops in a charter plane, the crowds at his events line up in advance outside the doors and young attendees are treated to peppermint sticks and pictures with Santa.

It’s not quite the spectacle of the Donald Trump show, but as Ted Cruz barnstorms through his 12-day Southern swing he is producing his own series of campaign extravaganzas that befit his newfound status as Trump’s closest rival.

The differences between this tour and Cruz’s first major trip through the South — a summer bus tour in August — are manifest. The crowds are bigger this time and the events come with more bells and whistles, ranging from videos that feature endorsements from prominent conservative leaders to the heightened presence of lawmakers and party officials.

Back in August, as a middle-of-the-packer, Cruz’s stops at restaurants and in parking lots had an informal feel. Now, firmly ensconced in second place after Trump in national polls and leading in Iowa, Cruz holds elaborate and orderly gatherings marked by single-file lines to enter the venues, VIP lists and a robust security presence.

The Texas senator is now halfway through his 12-cities-in-12-days tour through many of the Southern states that vote on March 1 — states that Cruz is counting on to serve as a firewall. But looming large over Cruz’s splashy efforts is Trump, whose own rallies — particularly here in Alabama — have drawn huge crowds.

Cruz’s events this weekend were hardly on Trump’s scale. He had 1,300 at a Saturday event near Mobile, and around 1,500 packed into a civic center here, in this small town near Birmingham, on Sunday — large crowds for any candidate other than Trump, who drew roughly 20,000 people to Mobile in August.

Many of those in attendance at Cruz’s rallies were hopeful that the senator’s field organization and debate performances will keep him competitive in the region despite widespread interest in Trump, at least some of which, they contend, is due to the novelty factor of his candidacy rather than genuine support.

In Alabama and elsewhere in the South, Cruz has brought on board leading conservative activists and is organizing intensively on the ground, aggressively list-building at his rallies by encouraging attendees to text the word “liberty” to a number he provided.

Georgia Democrats were quick to link a single line in a 30-minute stump speech by Cruz to the spectre of racial segregation.

Party spokesman Michael Smith said the Republican presidential candidate’s remarks in Kennesaw Friday, in which he vowed to oppose granting illegal immigrants U.S. citizenship “today, tomorrow, forever,” is alarming and inexcusable.

“But to trot out that line in Georgia — the cradle of the civil rights movement — is downright detestable,” said Smith. “This kind of ugly, xenophobic throwback to a much darker time in Southern politics has no place in our discourse and certainly has no place in the state of Georgia.”

Of course, the whitest place in America on Saturday night was the debate stage for the Democratic Presidential nomination. And never mind that Cruz, along with Marco Rubio, is Hispanic, or that an African-American named Ben Carson and an Asian-American named Bobby Jindal were part of the GOP field.

If you’re a campaign enthusiast, the Washington Post has a great explainer on the issue between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton over campaign data.

Congratulations to Gwinnett County native Mike Royal on being elected Chair of the Georgia State Board of Education. In Cherokee County, Dr. Brian Hightower will take over as the next Superintendent, replacing Dr. Frank Petruzielo beginning February 1, 2016.

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