Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 25, 2016

25
Apr

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 25, 2016

James Oglethorpe won reelection to the British Parliament while in America on April 25, 1734.

The United States declared war on Spain on April 25, 1898.

On April 25, 1996, Georgia Governor Zell Miller signed Senate Bill 519 designating English the official language of Georgia.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

If you’re going to Cleveland for the Republican National Convention, make sure you take the time to check out the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame while you’re there. Admission will be free the week of July 17-21 from 10 AM to 3 PM.

If you’re a delegate to the Georgia Republican Party State Convention in Augusta, you should either have received your packet in the mail, or be receiving it shortly.

Speaker David Ralston visited Albany, according to WTVM,

The House Speaker says rural healthcare and economic development are areas he views as increasingly important to the region.

“We’re going to have to make that a priority issue in Georgia. We have failing hospitals all across the state. We’ve got to address that problem sooner rather than later,” said David Ralston.

State Representative Ed Rydners also spoke at the event. Ralston speaks of Rydners as a political ally.

Terry Lewis of the Albany Herald also covered the Speaker’s trip,

When asked if he thought Deal would veto the [Campus Carry] bill, Ralston said, “I hope not. The bill was thoroughly vetted in both the House and Senate and I am very proud of what we’ve done to protect Second Amendment rights.” He noted there have been three armed robberies near the Georgia State campus since December.

“I think the bill is needed, but I’m not going to make any predictions on what the governor will do because he had shown he will use his veto pen,” Ralston said.

Ralston says he would not be surprised if during the next session the General Assembly the House will take on at least some of the recommendations of the Governor’s Education Reform Committee which came out last year.

“I’m not sure what plans the governor has for that,” Ralston said. “I have raised some concerns about merit pay (for teachers). I’m not convinced there is a metric that is fair and reasonable to measure performance in the classroom. There are so many variables. So, I think until someone shows me a fair and reasonable way of measuring, I will continue to have the same concerns I had before this past session started.

“I used the analogy before session that Georgia State’s football team went 6-6 this past year and got a bowl bid. The University of Georgia went 10-3 and the coach got fired. How do you measure a teacher’s performance when they have to work with what comes into the classroom?”

“I’ve seen a lot of frustrated Georgians with a Washington that doesn’t seem to be working.,” he said. “They are frustrated with a Washington that can’t balance the federal budget. They are frustrated that people can’t set aside their differences and come together on at least a few things and get them done. I think they have an appreciation that we do things different in state government. We are moving forward on job creation, transportation infrastructure, some educational initiatives, and criminal justice reform.”

“But I think they really are frustrated with the federal government who seems to not want to hear from them, and just doesn’t seem to care about their lives. I also talk to a lot of people who are concerned that America’s place in the world seems to be in retreat. I believe that America is at its best when we are leading. If I worked in D.C., I’d probably be angry all of the time.”

Sometimes when your campaign signs go missing, the culprit is the Department of Transportation, according to the Eatonton Messenger,

As is the case every campaign season, the newspaper is receiving phone calls from folk complaining their political campaign signs are being vandalized or stolen.

It could be a loyal fan of the opposing candidate taking the signs, but it also could be a member of a state or local road maintenance crew.

A maintenance foreman with the Georgia Department of Transportation said “he has seen a good bit of signs on the rights of way in Putnam County,” according to GDOT Communications Officer Kyle Collins.

“Yes, GDOT maintenance staff do often pick up campaign or other signs that are in the right of way,” Collins confirmed via email. “They do this during maintenance work activities on certain routes and also just when cruising around checking on things.”

Cherokee County Public Schools has released a proposed list of projects to be funded by the E-SPLOST on the November ballot.

Campaign funds collected by incumbents often end up fueling the campaigns of their allies, according to the AJC,

[I]n legislative races where many incumbents have name identification and a built-in system to be able to outspend challengers 10-1, 20-1 or more, winning is a mountain that few contenders can successfully climb.

“It’s David versus Goliath,” said former Trion Mayor Lanny Thomas, a retired teacher taking on Senate Rules Chairman Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga, in the primary. “I am out here with a few pebbles and he’s all suited up.”

Thomas, who still teaches part time, reported raising $400 as of March 31. Mullis reported having $103,000 in his campaign account.

While about two-dozen lawmakers started April with more than $100,000 in their campaign accounts, there are a few races most years where challengers are financially competitive.

For example, state Sen. Brandon Beach, R-Alpharetta, is facing a stiff challenge from Milton investor Aaron Barlow, who had reported loaning his campaign about $150,000 as of last week.

Beach has kept pace, in large part by raising money from special-interest groups, businesses with interest in state contracts, and fellow lawmakers.

Since the session ended a month ago, he has received about $15,000 from state senators, House members and the Senate Republican political committee.

Such money isn’t that hard to come by for lawmakers in need because so many incumbents with big war chests face no opposition. One Beach donor, Senate President Pro Tem David Shafer, R-Duluth, ended March with $1.2 million in his campaign account and has no opposition for re-election. Another donor, Miller, reported $355,000 in his account.

In Cherokee County, predictably, incumbent judges are outpacing their challengers in fundraising, according to the Cherokee Tribune & Ledger News.

United States Senator Johnny Isakson and State Senator P.K. Martin will headline a lunch with the Gwinnett County Republican Party on Saturday April 30 from 12:30 to 2:30 PM at Lilburn Alliance Church, 5915 Lawrenceville Highway. Tickets are $15.

State Rep. Mike Dudgeon, who is not seeking reelection, will serve on the Board of the Fulton Academy of Science and Technology charter school.

State Rep. Earl Ehrhart (R-Cobb) filed suit against the US Department of Education and the USDOE Office for Civil Rights. From the Marietta Daily Journal,

The lawsuit says a 2011 letter sent by the department’s civil rights arm has effectively imposed binding regulations without going through the necessary administrative procedures.

The lawsuit also says the letter has forced schools to make sweeping changes or risk losing federal funding, which has come at great cost to the schools and has jeopardized the due process rights of students accused of sexual violence.

The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer took a look at this year’s municipal elections.

Next month’s city elections will see at least one new face put on Columbus Council and could be judgment day, for better or for worse, for three elected officials who have filed lawsuits against the city of Columbus and its leaders.

Half of the council’s 10 seats are on the ballot, but two, Post 2 Councilor Glenn Davis and Post 6 Councilor Gary Allen have no opposition. At-large Post 10 Councilor Skip Henderson faces newcomer Teddy Reese.

Post 4 Councilor and Mayor Pro Tem Evelyn Turner Pugh also faces a newcomer, Marquese Averett.

The election to see who takes over the Post 8 seat will be unusual. The seat was vacated when veteran Councilor Red McDaniel died in November 2014. Former state Rep. Tom Buck has been serving as interim since, but he is not seeking the seat permanently. Squaring off for the seat are Jonathan Paul Davis and Walker Garrett.

What makes the election unusual is that there will actually be two elections for the Post 8 seat: One for filling out the rest of the year and another to see who serves the next four years in the midtown district.

“Tom was appointed to fill the term until the next regular election for council or mayor, which is May 24,” said Elections and Registration Director Nancy Boren. “The regular election for that seat is a four-year term. The special election is to complete the term of Councilor Red McDaniel.”

Superior Court Clerk Linda Pierce, Marshal Greg Countryman and Municipal Court Clerk Vivian Creighton Bishop face opposition in the Democratic Primary, but because no Republicans qualified for the races, the primary is tantamount to the election.

Pierce faces Ann Hardman, Countryman faces Bernard Spicer and Bishop faces Sylvia Hudson.

Additionally, a contested election for Superior Court will be held in the Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit, comprising Chattahoochee Harris, Marion, Muscogee, Talbot, and Taylor Counties.

Three candidates for Coweta County Board of Education met in a debate Thursday night. Tuesday night, Matt Brass and Hayden Marlow, both candidates for the State Senate District 28 seat being vacated by Mike Crane will debate at 7 PM at the Central Educational Center studio on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and on Wednesday, April 27, the candidates for Third Congressional District will debate at 7 PM at the Wadsworth Auditorium on Jefferson Street in downtown Newnan.

Douglas County and the City of Villa Rica will hold a town hall meeting on May 5 to discuss a SPLOST proposed for the November ballot.

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