Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 1, 2016

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 1, 2016

Today is the day for Georgians to go to the polls from 7 AM to 7 PM and cast our ballots for President. Click here for the Secretary of State’s MVP website if you need information on where to vote.

If you live in Tucker, I hope you’ll vote for Frank Auman for Mayor.

Frank Auman March 1 Header

We’ve seen several reports that Rockdale County voters who vote at Honey Creek Elementary School will vote today at the Rockdale County Board of Elections and Registration Office, 1400 Parker Road, Lobby B, Conyers, Ga. 30094.

There are 1,897 voters impacted by this change. The Board of Elections and Registration Office is asking that the voters of Honey Creek Precinct contact our office should they have any questions or require additional information.

All Rockdale County voters are reminded that they must vote at their assigned precinct on Election Day, 7 a.m. – 7 p.m., March 1.

For further information, contact the Rockdale Board of Elections/VR Office at (770) 278-7333.

Georgia and American History

On March 1, 1778, the Georgia legislature confiscated property owned by 117 people after labeling them traitors.

The Articles of Confederation were ratified on March 1, 1781.

The nation was guided by the Articles of Confederation until the implementation of the current U.S. Constitution in 1789.

The critical distinction between the Articles of Confederation and the U.S. Constitution —the primacy of the states under the Articles—is best understood by comparing the following lines.

The Articles of Confederation begin:

“To all to whom these Present shall come, we the undersigned Delegates of the States”

By contrast, the Constitution begins:

“We the People of the United States do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

On March 1, 1875, Governor James Smith signed legislation making cruelty to animals a misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $50.

Paul Broun, Sr. was born on March 1, 1916, in Shellman, Georgia, and served 38 years in the Georgia legislature.

Broun was first elected to the state senate in 1962 in a historic election that took place after the federal courts struck down Georgia’s long-established county unit election system. Broun was one of several new senators elected in a class that included Jimmy Carter, the future president of the United States; Leroy Johnson, the first black legislator elected in Georgia since Reconstruction; and politicians like Hugh Gillis, Culver Kidd, and Bobby Rowan, who would have a lasting impact on legislative politics.

Broun was elected to nineteen consecutive terms in the senate, where he served as the chairman of the Appropriations Committee and the University System Committee.

Dorothy Felton was born on March 1, 1929, and served as the first Republican woman elected to the Georgia legislature.

Dorothy Felton was the first Republican woman elected to the Georgia General Assembly and eventually became the longest-serving Republican and the longest-serving woman of either party in the state legislature. She also worked for more than a quarter of a century for the right of the Sandy Springs community of Fulton County to incorporate as a municipality, a goal that was not achieved until four years after she retired from elective office.

Felton was first elected to the state House of Representatives in 1974 from a district in Sandy Springs.

Under the Gold Dome

The General Assembly is in recess today after a frantic Crossover Day, the 30th legislative day by which bills must pass one chamber in order to be eligible for consideration by the other.

The Georgia House of Representatives approved a bill to add several conditions to the list eligible for medical cannabis oil, but without approving in-state cultivation and production.

The House voted 152-8 on the measure, which expands the list of conditions that would qualify a person to legally possess an oil derived from cannabis plants from eight to 15. Among the new conditions are post-traumatic stress disorder, HIV/AIDS and autism.

Bill sponsor state Rep. Allen Peake’s original bill called for setting up a regulatory structure to grow marijuana in state, but the cultivation language was stripped out of the proposal by a House committee vetting the bill before making it to a full floor vote.

Speaking on the floor before the vote, Peake, a Macon Republican, said, “I’d be remiss in presenting this bill if I didn’t express some tinge of disappointment, and mostly in myself.”

“When any of us author a piece of legislation, it is our job to make a compelling enough argument to each other, to leadership and the governor as to why our bill is needed,” Peake said. “Clearly, I didn’t make a strong enough case for the need for a regulated infrastructure for cultivation of medical cannabis in our state.”

Legislation that would have allowed voters the opportunity to legalize casino gambling did not pass the State House.

After postponing a floor vote Fri­day, House Speaker David Ralston said he would not call a bill legalizing casinos and an accompanying constitutional amendment for a vote Monday.

Ralston said that as he talked with people about the measure, “the faith community felt they had not been heard,” and he added, “I want them to know they have been heard.”

The proposal would have allowed up to four casinos in Geor­gia, with two in the metro Atlanta area. It would have sent at least 90 percent of casino revenue toward education and increased the percentage of revenue that casinos would pay in taxes compared with earlier proposals.

The changes weren’t enough to convince opponents, including Gov. Na­than Deal. He reiterated Monday that he didn’t believe casinos would “enhance the climate of the state” and said he was concerned they could draw customers away from the state-run lottery that funds the scholarship program.

The Georgia Senate finished its calendar for the day without voting on two gambling-related measures, making it difficult for either to become law this year.

Legislation to regulate online fantasy sports did not pass the Senate in the wake of an opinion by Attorney General Sam Olens’s office that such websites constitute gambling and are prohibited in Georgia.

We’re looking at a letter from Wright Banks Jr., deputy attorney general for the state of Georgia to Joseph Kim, top lawyer for the Georgia Lottery Corporation.

The question Kim wanted answer is whether fantasy sports games are illegal under Georgia law. Specifically, are they games of chance or skill?

The answer is probably why Senate Bill 352, sponsored by Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Buford, has been dropped to the bottom of the Senate calendar on Crossover Day.

Attorney General Sam Olens’ office, in a letter dated last Friday, says that would be illegal: Fantasy sports constitute the kind of gambling that is forbidden state law.

The Senate passed SR 756 by Sen. Judson Hill, which would place on the November ballot a Constitutional Amendment to ratchet down the top personal income tax rate over time if certain state financial benchmarks are met.

Peach State Presidential Politics

Former Congressman Jack Kingston closes the Georgia Presidential Primary with “the case for Ted Cruz.”

I’ve spent my adult life trying to serve the Republican Party and fighting to advance conservative principles. That’s why it irks me to hear how well Donald Trump is predicted to perform in primaries in Georgia and across many great states.

I certainly understand the widespread disdain for Washington—the system is obviously not serving the working people of America. But electing a wildcard like Donald Trump President is not the answer. The past eight years have shown us what a disaster an unknown in the White House will get us. We need a consistent conservative leader, now more than ever, who we can trust to right the course of the country.

We all have frustration with the status quo. But instead of gambling with the Johnny-come-lately to the cause, why not back the person we know will act in a way that will turn this country around?

Ted Cruz has done it. We’ve seen him buck the leadership in both parties to take on the causes that we all believe in, and that Donald Trump has only recently decided to take note of. Cruz defended the 2nd Amendment in front of the Supreme Court and in the US Senate. Cruz led the charge to defund Planned Parenthood when other Republicans shied away. Cruz killed the amnesty bill. Cruz stood on the Senate floor for 21 hours fighting to repeal Obamacare while other Republicans sat by and took the easy way out.

Ted Cruz is the only consistent conservative in this race. Perhaps just as importantly—because 3 in 4 Cruz supporters choose Donald Trump as their second choice, not Marco Rubio—Ted Cruz is mathematically and simply the only candidate who can defeat Donald Trump and lead our party to save our country.

Georgia Public Service Commissioner Chuck Eaton introduced Marco Rubio and South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley at a rally in Buckhead.

From the Washington Times,

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio lost his voice Monday and brought in South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley to help lead a rally and make his closing argument a day before Super Tuesday.

“When you work hard and you fight hard these things happen. When these things happen, you call your friends,” Mrs. Haley told a crowd of about 1,000 supporters at the Intercontinental Buckhead Atlanta hotel.

“If you really want to know what kind of leader you are going to get, you can always tell by how hard they work in their campaign,” Mrs. Haley said.

Mr. Rubio has been barnstorming Georgia and many of the 10 other states voting Tuesday, where he needs a strong showing to try to stay competitive and blunt front-runner Donald Trump’s momentum.

Mr. Rubio made a last-ditch appeal for support, warning that Mr. Trump was conning Republican voters and that giving him the nomination would all but guarantee Hillary Clinton is the next president.

“I don’t say this with any glee, but a vote for Donald Trump tomorrow is a vote for Hillary Clinton in November,” he said.

He said that Mr. Trump doesn’t live up to his rhetoric, including having his clothing line made in China, using illegal immigrant labor to build a hotel and leaving subcontractors in the lurch with repeated bankruptcy filings.

Mr. Rubio said that if Mr. Trump wins the GOP nomination “the Democrats the press will de[scend] on him like the hounds of hell and they will rip him apart.”

The crowd responded enthusiastically to Mrs. Haley and Mr. Rubio. And yet, their fervor was dampened by the daunting task confronting their candidate, who trails in Georgia and every other Super Tuesday state.

Donald Trump made his own closing argument in Valdosta last night. From the Valdosta Daily Times,

Thousands turned out Monday to hear Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at Valdosta State University’s P.E. Complex — the night before the crucial Super Tuesday round of primaries.

Crowds chanted, “Trump, Trump, Trump,” as he entered the standing-room-only coliseum.

Trump set the tone for the evening by telling the partisan crowd, “We are winning.”

Trump also said, “I am a conservative.”

Trump’s private jet arrived at Valdosta Regional Airport at about 4 p.m., with supporters lining the road past the airport to get a glimpse of the candidate as a law-enforcement motorcade delivered him to the university.

Trump surprised the crowd with some first-person testimonials from NASCAR royalty, including drivers Chase Elliott, Ryan Newman and Bill Elliott.

A writer from USA Today estimated the crowd size at Trump’s Valdosta rally,

Some 7,500 people packed into the 5,000-seat athletic complex at VSU, with thousands more listening outside. They chanted his name when he vowed to get rid of the Affordable Care Act. And they cheered when he promised to build a wall along the Mexican border.

Trump was the first GOP presidential candidate to visit Valdosta in more than three decades, said Brandon Phillips, director of the Georgia Trump campaign. The last time was 1980, when Ronald Reagan campaigned there.

“I think we’re going to do well in Georgia,” said Phillips, managing partner of the political consulting firm Wiregrass Strategy Group, which has an office in Tallahassee. “It’s just a matter of how well we’re going to do.”

Phillips said Trump has built a strong organization in Georgia, with field offices in four cities, Atlanta, Savannah, Augusta and Valdosta, and local campaign directors in every county.

“We’ve got a good ground game, contrary to popular belief,” he said. “We’re organizing 159 counties out of 159 counties — and we’re the only campaign to do that.”

Since we originally published this, my friend, Don Cole emailed me to let me know that Newt Gingrich campaigned in Valdosta for the Presidency in 2012.

Here’s Trump in Valdosta.

There were also reports that 30 African-American students from Valdosta State were kicked out of the event.

About 30 black students who were standing silently at the top of the bleachers at Donald Trump’s rally here Monday night were escorted out by Secret Service agents who said the presidential candidate had requested their removal before he began speaking.

The sight of the students, who were visibly upset, being led outside by law enforcement officials created a stir at a university that was a whites-only campus until 1963.

“We didn’t plan to do anything,” said a tearful Tahjila Davis, a 19-year-old mass media major, who was among the Valdosta State University students who was removed. “They said, ‘This is Trump’s property; it’s a private event.’ But I paid my tuition to be here.”

Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks in an email late Monday night denied that the students were shown the door “at the request of the candidate.”

Post Peach State Presidential Politics

After today, the Presidential election moves forward toward the next round of elections, while Democrats in Georgia start looking toward the General Elections in 2016 and 2018.

Kathleen Foody with the Associated Press writes about what some observers expect to learn today and how the Presidential election will move forward.

Eric Tanenblatt, a Republican consultant who hasn’t committed to a campaign following Jeb Bush’s exit, said the state tends to break down by region in GOP primaries and ensure delegates are awarded proportionally rather than all going to the popular vote winner.

He expects Ted Cruz to do well in rural parts of the state, including north Georgia, while Marco Rubio and John Kasich will battle for support in metro Atlanta and along the coast.

“I think you’re going to see that kind of division across the South, and Tuesday’s primary won’t clarify much,” Tanenblatt said.

A clear second-place victor could make a strong argument that he is the only alternative to Trump, said Andra Gillespie, a political science professor at Emory University. If Rubio distances himself from Cruz, or vice versa, the winning senator will try to win over the other’s supporters, she said.

“The question then becomes whether a Cruz voter is comfortable voting for Rubio or would prefer Trump,” she added.

Hillary Clinton rallied supporters Friday at Atlanta City Hall, promising to return and help turn the state blue.

“Georgia looks like America,” said Tharon Johnson, a Democratic campaign strategist who is supporting Clinton. “We have a prominent and active African-American voting community that both candidates have spent a lot of time galvanizing. Ultimately, Hillary Clinton will win because of her long, proven history of standing up for our issues.”

Maggie Lee, writing for the Macon Telegraph, writes about Democrats’ prospective path forward.

Georgia voters elected their first Republican governor in more than a century when they put Sonny Perdue in office in 2002. Converting some of those across the aisle along the way, Republicans continued to pick up more seats in the state Legislature and more statewide offices, putting an end to Georgia’s one-party Democratic era.

And since then, Georgia Democrats have been in the wilderness as statewide offices have slipped from their hands. Black voters solidly choose the party, but African Americans make up only roughly 30 percent of all active voters in the state, just about in line with the black share of the population. White voters make up the vast majority of the rest of voters and residents, according to state records.

“Whites who call themselves moderates in Georgia tend to vote Republican,” said Merle Black, a political science professor at Emory University in Atlanta and an expert on Southern politics. Evangelical Christians are Georgia’s biggest voting bloc, he said.

On the surface, the demographics look good for Democrats. “Elements of the population that tend to be growing, tend to be Democrats,” said Charles Bullock, a political science professor at the University of Georgia. He ticks off a list: non-white people; single, highly educated women; and people who move to metro Atlanta from other regions.

It’s hard to say whether Democrats could win a statewide election [in 2018]. The party needs to register more voters, do a better job with voter turnout and recruit and train candidates who can appeal to a Democratic coalition that once existed, said Tharon Johnson, a Democratic political strategist in Atlanta.

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