Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 11, 2017

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 11, 2017

On April 11, 1768, Benjamin Franklin was named Georgia’s agent “to represent, solicit, and transact the affairs of this province in Great Britain.” Arguably, this makes Benjamin Franklin the first American lobbyist. This is what his lobbyist badge looked like:

Benjamin Franklin Lobbyist Card2

Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of France, was exiled to Elba Island in the Mediterranean, on April 11, 1814

On April 11, 1853, John Archibald Campbell was appointed Justice of the United States Supreme Court by President Franklin Pierce. After graduating from the University of Georgia at 14, he attended West Point, where his fellow cadets included Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee. After the beginning of the Civil War, Campbell resigned from the Court and was appointed Assistant Secretary of War for the Confederacy by Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

Confederate troops surrendered Fort Pulaski, on Cockspur Island off Savannah, on April 11, 1862. Part of the construction of Fort Pulaski was overseen by a young Second Lieutenant in the United States Army named Robert E. Lee.

The American Third Army liberated Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany on April 11, 1945. Among the survivors of Buchenwald was Elie Wiesel; in 1986, Wiesel won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Apollo 13 was launched on April 11, 1970.

The craft was launched on April 11, 1970, at 13:13 CST from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, but the lunar landing was aborted after an oxygen tank exploded two days later, crippling the Service Module (SM) upon which the Command Module (CM) depended. Despite great hardship caused by limited power, loss of cabin heat, shortage of potable water, and the critical need tojury-rig the carbon dioxide removal system, the crew returned safely to Earth on April 17.

On April 11, 1977, President Jimmy Carter hosted the Easter Egg Roll on the lawn of the White House. In the finest tradition of Georgia Democrats, Carter added a circus to the event.

Congratulations to the following winners of the Masters Tournament who donned the green jacket on April 11: Seve Ballesteros (2d – 1983), Jack Nicklaus (2d in 1965; 3d in 1966), Ray Floyd (1976), Nick Faldo (1996), Jose Maria Olazabal (2d – 1999), Phil Mickelson (1st -2004; 3d – 2010), and Claude Harmon (1948), the first Georgian to win the Masters.

Thrift Store Green Jacket

Congratulations also to whomever found an Augusta National green jacket in a thrift store for $5. The jacket sold at auction earlier this week for nearly $140k.

Sitting in a stack of previously-worn blazers at a Toronto thrift store was the unthinkable – an original Masters Tournament Green Jacket with a price tag of $5. The familiar green color of the jacket, and its iconic breast patch, went unnoticed by consignment shop workers and customers. That is, until an avid golfer saw this piece of clothing and knew exactly what it was – not just a green jacket, but The Green Jacket.

When the so-called “Thrift Store Green Jacket” was first discovered in 1994, the speculation was rampant. Was it real, and if so, where did it come from? The jacket itself revealed few clues. The internal tagging definitively dates the jacket to the early 1950s – one of the earliest green jackets in existence. But the original owner’s name was tantalizingly cut out of the jacket. Augusta National Golf Club may have unintentionally fanned the flames of speculation, as they confirmed the jacket’s authenticity but then refused to answer any questions as to the identity of its original owner. Could it be the long lost green jacket of a Masters Tournament Champion? Did a member mistakenly, or intentionally, remove the green jacket from the club’s grounds many years ago?

This authentic green jacket dates to the early 1950s (possibly as late as the mid 1950s). Its internal tagging from Cullum’s department store in Augusta unquestionably predates the Cullum’s tags inside 1957 Champion Doug Ford’s Green Jacket.

Georgia Politics

Governor Nathan Deal announced yesterday that March tax revenues were up 2.5% over March 2016.

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr spoke to the Atlanta Press Club yesterday.

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr sees his primary responsibility as protecting the state’s residents against unlawful overreach.

“To ensure that government remains within its limited powers, there needs to be an Attorney General’s Office willing to challenge actions that overstep those limits,” Carr said.

The state’s top law enforcer, speaking Monday to the Atlanta Press Club, outlined his priorities: reducing human trafficking and opioid dependency, alleviating elder abuse, and increasing transparency of government.

Senator Johnny Isakson lauded Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources approval of three bills dealing with historic sites in Georgia.

The bills include the Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park Boundary Revision Act, the Fort Frederica National Monument Boundary Expansion Act and the Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park Boundary Adjustment Act.

“Preserving the rich historical significance and archaeological heritage of some of Georgia’s oldest historic landmarks will give visitors a chance to experience Georgia’s history — from indigenous inhabitants to its founding by General James Oglethorpe to our nation’s Civil War,” Isakson said in a statement this past week.

“The legislation would also provide an economic boost for Georgia’s tourism industry, and I am proud to join the long list of federal, state and community leaders who support these efforts to preserve and protect these lands. I look forward to a full Senate vote soon.”

Cobb and Marietta public school systems are both seeing rising enrollment numbers.

The Muscogee County School Board punted on a decision whether to pay $6.4 million to a private for-profit group to run alternative education in the district.

After a two-hour discussion Monday evening, including opposition from most of the seven residents speaking during the public agenda, the majority of the Muscogee County School Board voted to table for three months Superintendent David Lewis’ recommendation to hire Camelot Education of Austin, Texas, a private, for-profit company, for $6.4 million annually to run alternative education programs in the district.

The board will use this time to form a community advisory committee, which will further explore the Muscogee County School District’s options to solve the problem that both sides of this proposal agree: MCSD must change the way it educates its students with special needs, emotional or behavioral problems and who are over-age and under-credited.

Bibb County Zoning Commission approved a rezoning for a group care home, and denied a permit for a medical waster facility.

Savannah-Chatham County Board of Education passed a resolution supporting sharing of athletic facilities.

Lobbyists for Valdosta are credited with saving $200,000 for municipal taxpayers.

A couple weeks ago, just days before the state’s legislative session ended, city leaders learned of a small provision tacked on to a proposed bill that could have added up to $200,000 to the city’s — and taxpayers’ — expenses.

The provision would have quadrupled the host fee the city pays to dump waste in a local landfill, raising it from $1 per ton to $4.

[City Manager Larry Hanson] said the city probably would have never caught the bill if weren’t for the work of government consultants hired by the city last year.

“They worked hard over the next two or three days to educate members of the General Assembly and help to get that provision taken out of that bill,” Hanson said.

To say the consultants — Terry L. Coleman, Terry Mathews and Scott Maxwell — are well-connected to state and national power players is an understatement.

The city renewed its yearly contract with the lobbyists at its last Valdlosta City Council meeting. The city is paying $4,000 a month for the services.

Campaigns & Elections

Early voting continues in the runoff election for Roswell City Council.

Early voting will run 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, April 10 to Friday, April 14 for Roswell as well as the City of South Fulton’s races at four locations across the county:

  • East Roswell Branch Library, 2301 Holcomb Bridge Road, Roswell
  • Roswell Branch Library, 115 Norcross Street, Roswell
  • South Fulton Service Center, 5600 Stonewall Tell Road, College Park
  • Wolf Creek Library, 3100 Enon Road, Atlanta

Roswell’s runoff overlaps with the special election to fill Georgia’s 6th Congressional seat. Early voting for that race began Monday, March 27. In addition to receiving one ballot for the Congressional District 6 election, voters living in Roswell may vote for the city council seat after completing another voter certificate.

Sixth District early voting has passed 21,000 ballots cast.

According to the latest early-voting numbers available Monday from the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office:

  • Number of ballots cast: 21,115
  • Number of ballots voted in person: 18,033
  • Number of mail-in ballots returned: 3,082
  • Number of mail-in ballots outstanding: 5,691

The Marietta Daily Journal reviews the Sixth District campaign disclosures.

By far the biggest fund-raiser in the race is Democratic front-runner Jon Ossoff, whose campaign has brought in over $8.2 million during the reporting period, which ranged from Dec. 21, 2016 to March 29, 2017.

Ossoff’s campaign said the money came from 195,684 total donors, whose average donation was $42.52.

With $2.1 million in his pocket, Ossoff has over five times the ready cash as the next-closest candidate, Republican Bob Gray, who has just under $400,000 in his war chest.

Gray has contributed $500,000 to his own campaign, a considerable sum, but only about a quarter of the largest self-donor, Republican Dan Moody, who contributed over $1.9 million to his campaign — and has spent $1.8 million.

State Rep. Geoff Duncan (R-Cumming) announced on Facebook yesterday that he is running for Lieutenant Governor in the 2018 Republican Primary.

Duncan Announce2

From the AJC Political Insider:

He’s entering what could be a crowded field for Georgia’s No. 2 job. Senate President Pro Tem David Shafer, Senate Majority Leader Bill Cowsert and state Sen. Butch Miller are considered potential candidates. So are state Sens. Burt Jones and Hunter Hill. And Democratic state Rep. Stacey Evans is among the potential contenders across the aisle.

State Rep. John Pezold (R-Columbus) announced he will not run for reelection in 2018.

The District 133 representative posted a Facebook notice Monday morning announcing he would not seek re-election to the Georgia General Assembly.

“Since 2013 I have had the incredible honor of representing my family, friends and neighbors in the Georgia House of Representatives,” he wrote. “After lengthy consultation with my family and friends, it is with a grateful heart that I am announcing that I have decided to not seek reelection next year. My family has been incredibly supportive during my time in office. However, with my children growing older and my professional responsibilities increasing, the time is right to step away from public office and devote my full attention to them.”

In a telephone interview later Monday, the 37-year-old owner of two McDonald’s franchises said that when he was first elected, his daughter Eleanor was 5 and her brother Jack was 2.

Now Eleanor is 10 and Jack is 8, and they have a little brother named Hamilton who’s 3. Their father feels he isn’t home enough, and so do they.

Asked last year why he got into state politics, Pezold said he felt Georgians weren’t paying enough attention to it.

“I began to question things that went on in our government, mostly regarding transparency and how, for the most part, people either are ignorant of what goes on under the Gold Dome — whether it’s because they choose to be or whether it’s because it’s not covered — but for the most part, people want to pay attention to federal politics, in the echo chamber, with Fox News on one side and MSNBC on the other side,” he said.

Former State Senator Dan Moody has been piling up endorsements in the Sixth District Special Election.

State Sen. John Albers and State Rep. Chuck Martin, Republicans from Roswell and Alpharetta, respectively, have thrown their support behind former State Rep. Dan Moody.

Albers said he’s known Moody for many years, and referred to the former legislator as a mentor, “a leader for our state and will be the congressman we need.”

“I have long admired his accomplishments, especially serving families, first responders, military personnel and small businesses,” he added.

Martin agreed, adding he’s known Moody for more than 15 years. Moody, he added, has never put himself ahead of the voters he was elected to represent. He also noted he worked for the district and for the state of Georgia, making his support of the candidate a “clear choice.”

“If you want the 6th District represented by a selfless, humble, and hardworking public servant, please join Johnna and I and support Dan Moody,” Martin said.

The Hill writes about Democratic efforts in the Sixth District.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) released a memo Monday detailing the group’s efforts in the district, noting that the number of paid staffers to help 30-year-old Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff has significantly grown, from eight staffers to more than 70 over the past month.

The DCCC also announced the launch of a get-out-the-vote blitz in the final stretch of the race, with a six-figure radio and digital ad buy aimed at boosting African-American turnout. The group is also spending six figures on a mailer that will be sent to every registered Democrat in the district.

For Republicans’ part, the Congressional Leadership Fund — a super PAC aligned with House GOP leadership — is making its latest splash into the race with a new radio ad featuring state Rep. Betty Price (R), Secretary Price’s wife.

“It’s so important that we elect a conservative to fill Tom’s seat, to continue Tom’s fight for lower spending, lower taxes and a strong defense against America’s enemies,” she says in the ad.

CLF has spent more than $2 million in the district as well as funding and staffers from the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) and the Republican National Committee (RNC).

From Greg Bluestein at the AJC:

Republicans are sharpening their attacks on each other even as they scramble to block Democrat Jon Ossoff from scoring an upset victory with one week to go until the nationally watched special election to represent a suburban Atlanta district in Congress.

Ossoff is facing a new wave of attacks from conservative groups hoping to avert an embarrassing defeat in the most competitive race since Donald Trump’s election as president. The district, last held by Tom Price before he was tapped to be Trump’s health secretary, has been in GOP hands since Jimmy Carter’s presidency.

“There are way too many candidates in the race,” sighed Brian Bonser, a Dunwoody Republican who is split between three or four GOP contenders. “I normally tune out the negative ads, but this is frustrating. And what’s worse is the phone calls.”

The muddled field has allowed Ossoff, a 30-year-old former congressional aide, to stick to an above-the-fray strategy even as his TV ads call him the only candidate who can “stand up to Donald Trump.” But a head-to-head matchup in a runoff against a Republican — with the full weight of the GOP behind him or her — could neutralize Ossoff’s advantages.

Republicans are hopeful a wave of attack ads that paint Ossoff as a liberal stooge and an inexperienced newcomer will keep him under the 50 percent threshold, though some privately worry he could pull off a stunning victory.

The Washington Post weighs in on the Special Election.

Suddenly, a little-known, young Democratic candidate with no legislative experience is leading a pack of 16 candidates, most of them Republicans. If 30-year-old Jon Ossoff wins more than 50 percent of the vote on April 18, he’ll be the first Democrat to represent this area in Congress since the ’70s.

If he doesn’t get a majority, it looks very likely he will head to a June runoff with the top Republican vote-getter, who could be former Georgia secretary of state Karen Handel.

We can still learn a lot even if Ossoff doesn’t win that one-on-one runoff against a Republican. If you overlay Ossoff’s momentum on top of the fact that Trump only won this district by a percentage and a half in November (Mitt Romney won it by more than 20 points in 2012), you can get a sense of how traditional GOP voters are feeling right now about their leadership.

“I think it’s pretty clear,” Rothenberg said, “Republicans in this kind of district are uncomfortable with Donald Trump.”

I think the corollary of the WaPo theory is that if Ossoff is limited to 40-45 percent on April 18, the GOP hasn’t lost significantly due to President Trump.

Joshua McCall, a teacher at Riverside Military Academy in Gainesville, announced he will run for Congress as a Democrat in the Ninth Congressional District, against incumbent Rep. Doug Collins.

Joshua McCall, who teaches Latin at Riverside Military Academy, told The Times that the defeat suffered by the Democratic Party at the hands of Donald Trump last year is opening the door for someone like him to come out of nowhere and run against Collins.

“A lot of people have looked at the election of Donald Trump as a great disaster, and in a lot of ways it was for a lot of people,” McCall said. “But, in a different way, maybe it’s good that the Democratic Party was laid waste, so that people who have democratic principles, who actually believe in the equality of every single person … people like us can actually come up from the bottom… I believe that this is a really golden moment in history, if the Democratic Party wants to become a party again.”

The 36-year-old McCall blames Democrats’ defeat at the polls in 2016 on their losing touch with ordinary working people. He wants to take his message to “the people” — farmers, welders, workers, builders — of the 9th District.

The Cook Political Report calls the Ninth District the third-most Republican Congressional District in the nation, with an average Republican advantage of 31 points.

Rome, Cave Spring, and Floyd County announced the formation of a committee on the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax.

Rome Mayor Jamie Doss broke the news Monday during the City Commission’s caucus session, adding that, “I think it needs to meet within the next two weeks.”

Profile Extrusion plant manager David Newby — who led the committee that vetted the 2013 special purpose, local option sales tax package — has agreed to chair the 2017 Citizens SPLOST Committee. Doss said some of the old committee members also may end up serving, “but we want to bring in new blood.”

The 2013 SPLOST runs through March 31, 2019. Elected officials want a vote this November on extending it to fund a new package of projects yet to be determined. City elections are scheduled for Nov. 7, and Rome has historically provided the votes needed to put previous proposals over the top.

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