Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 9, 2014

Georgia’s colonial charter, signed by King George II was witnessed on June 9, 1732.

Cream was formed on June 9, 1966 by Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker, and Jack Bruce.

On June 9, 1973, Secretariat won the Belmont Stakes and the Triple Crown, the first to win all three of the Triple Crown races since 1948. Secretariat was bred by Christopher Chenery, a graduate of Washington & Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, whose jockeys wore blue-and-white silks in honor of Chenery’s alma mater.

On June 9, 1976, Jimmy Carter’s opponents in the Democratic Primary for President, George Wallace, Henry Jackson, and Chicago mayor Richard Daley, released their delegates and endorsed Carter, assuring the Georgian of the nomination.

Last week, Bill Nigut at Georgia Public Broadcasting wrote about the 70th Anniversary of D-Day and he began with the headlines from the Atlanta Journal and Constitution.

Reading the reports of the invasion as journalism rather than history makes even clearer the extraordinary courage and dedication of the soldiers who stormed the beaches, fighting for freedom and the preservation of Western democracies. Nothing can ever diminish the sacrifices made by young men – many of them no doubt Georgians – far from home on the beaches of Normandy on that historic day.

How ironic then, that the front page of the June 7, 1944, Atlanta Journal also carries another important story just under news of the invasion: “State Group Bans Negros in Primary. Subcommittee Holds Only White Electors Eligible to Vote.” The story reports that a subcommittee of the Georgia Democratic Party had adopted a resolution reaffirming the rule of the party that only whites could participate in the July 4 primary election. (Yes, another irony – the election would be held on Independence Day.) Georgia Democratic officials had found it necessary to reaffirm the rule in response to a U.S. Supreme Court decision handed down in April, 1944, which declared that Texas could not block black voters from casting ballots in primary elections. Georgia Democrats insisted the ruling had no impact here.

The history that we share as Georgians is so complex, so difficult to try to reconcile. It’s soul-piercing and almost unfathomable in today’s world to acknowledge that the heroism of Georgia soldiers liberating Europe stood in such stark contrast to the disenfranchisement of blacks at home. Freedom for the French began on that June day in 1944. It would be two decades later before blacks here won the right to the vote with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

From reader feedback, I know that the short history segments are very popular and entertaining. I hope they’re educational, because many of the historic struggles of Georgia from the colonial period, when Georgia was reticent about joining the Independence movement and considered particularly unfriendly to taxes, through the civil rights movement, still resonate today.

The structure of our elections, which include runoffs, originate in the days in which African-Americans were being forcibly excluded from civic life under the one-party rule of white Democrats. Recently, the issue of reparations for African-Americans has been resurrected as a topic of national conversation.

The better we understand our history, the better-prepared we are for the future.

Georgia Campaigns and Elections

Jack Kingston, in his bid for United States Senate, received the endorsement of Congressman Rob Woodall (R-7) last week.

U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall on Friday morning announced that he would pledge support for Kingston, the Savannah congressman running against businessman David Perdue for the U.S. Senate seat to replace the retiring Saxby Chambliss. The Senate GOP primary runoff will be July 22. In-person early voting begins on June 30.

“In my three years in Congress, I have come to know Jack Kingston as one of the most conservative members in the House,” Woodall said in a statement released by the organization “Friends of Jack Kingston.” “But more importantly, I have come to know him as one of the most effective members of the House.”

In the May primary election, Perdue received nearly 31 percent of the vote, while Kingston collected nearly 26 percent.<

“Jack has been an outspoken supporter of the FairTax, a committed advocate for our men and women in uniform, and a tireless budget hawk, serving on a committee that has reduced federal spending by more than a trillion dollars in just the three years that I have served in Congress,” Woodall said. “Jack Kingston is a family man of character who never forgets that he works for the people. He will make Georgia very proud in the United States Senate. Jack Kingston has my enthusiastic vote and full support.”

Jack Kingston was also recently endorsed by Congressman Tom Price,

“Jack Kingston has always been a steadfast leader in the fight for conservative principles,” said Price.  “On a broad range of issues, he’s built a proven record of cutting wasteful spending and holding Washington accountable. He doesn’t shy away from making the tough but important decisions.”

“He’s tested, proven and won’t wilt in the face of pressure. The folks of Atlanta will be able to count on Jack Kingston when it comes to the issues we care the most about – expanding economic growth, reining in the power and reach of government, and replacing ObamaCare with patient-centered solutions. Simply put, he’ll be there for us. Jack’s a trusted ally and friend, and has a quality of character that will make him a strong voice in the U.S. Senate on behalf of Georgia families.”

Tom Crawford writes that endorsements from primary opponents might not be that helpful.

If you look at voter turnout figures in recent election cycles, it’s clear a large percentage of primary voters don’t bother to return for the runoff. The number of ballots cast in a primary election usually declines by 40 percent or more in the runoff – sometimes by more than 60 percent.

It’s a matter of human nature. Voters whose candidate was eliminated in the primary have much less incentive to turn out for a runoff election than those who voted for a successful candidate. They simply stay home on the day of the runoff. Setting aside the question of how many supporters will bother to vote in the runoff, there is the issue of how credible an endorsement can be when the candidate was so harshly critical of the person she is endorsing.

Most of the ink used in analyzing the results of the May 20 Republican Primary has been devoted to the question of Tea Party influence versus the Establishment, but it’s worth noting that some 66% of Georgia Republican Primary voters cast their ballots for an incumbent Congressman to take Saxby Chambliss’ seat in the Senate.

Cheryl Hill, widow of the late State Rep. Calvin Hill, has endorsed Wes Cantrell in the runoff election for the seat formerly occupied by her husband.

“I am honored that Wes looks to my husband as a guiding light for his actions while serving us. I know Calvin always had the best interests of this district at heart, and I feel confident in supporting Wes because I know he will lead the same way.”

“The main reason I decided to run for this office is because of the legacy of Calvin Hill. I became very concerned after the special election that Representative Hill’s legacy was not being fulfilled,” said Cantrell. “I want to lead in the same way that Calvin Hill led – as a representative that people respect and enjoy working with to find solutions to the issues facing Georgia. That’s why it is extremely gratifying and humbling to have the endorsement of Calvin’s widow Cheryl, and of his children Matt and Amanda.”

The endorsement from the Hill family comes on the heels of Cantrell garnering the most votes in the primary on May 20, despite campaigning for a quarter of the time his two opponents did. Hill’s support follows the endorsements of Representatives Michael Caldwell and Scot Turner, and State Senator Bruce Thompson – all representatives of Cherokee County in the state legislature.

Some of the best endorsements are when your campaign finance staff stamp “For Deposit Only” on the backs of checks, but what level of scrutiny should candidates give their donors before depositing their money?

Luckily, we have enterprising reporters who are ready to check out the history of political donors. Chris Joyner of the AJC writes about a small number of Kingston donors.

In late 2013, Kingston, an 11-term Republican congressman from Savannah, took in $80,052 in contributions from employees, their family members, consultants and contractors of two virtually unknown Gwinnett County companies: Confirmatrix Laboratories, a 2-year-old firm that performs urine and drug testing, and Nue Medical Consulting, a medical billing company founded last September.

Both companies are linked to Khalid A. Satary, a Palestinian also known as DJ Rock, who served more than three years in federal prison for running a large-scale counterfeit CD operation in the metro Atlanta area. Satary was released from prison in 2008 and federal officials have been trying to send him to out of the country ever since.

The AJC asked Kingston about the donations, a related fundraising event, and Satary’s criminal past on Wednesday. On Friday, the campaign announced Kingston would return the contributions.

“After reviewing this matter, we believe we are in full compliance with the law and federal elections regulations,” Kingston spokesman Chris Crawford said. “Out of an abundance of caution, however, we are returning contributions associated with this event due to external factors brought to our attention by members of the media.”

My thoughts? I think that crooks and criminals are likely to be sneaky when they make contributions to politicians, and it’s hard to expect politicians to run a full criminal background search on donor. But a quick Google search on major donors or bundlers is not too much to expect today. And, as in the case of the NBA forcing Donald Sterling to sell the LA Clippers for $2 billion dollars, are we better served when people whose actions we disapprove of have more money?

Returning the questionable donations is a good move, and about all you can expect.

Governor Deal appointed former State Senator Greg Goggans to the Georgia Board of Dentistry, a good choice in my humble opinion. As both a practicing hand-in-mouth professional, and a former state legislator, there are few better qualified to help the state agency move forward.

That said, service in the General Assembly does appear to have some career advancement rewards:

Of 34 Republican state senators in 2009, about 60 percent — 20 — have left the chamber (and at least three more are leaving at the end of this year). About two-thirds of those are back involved in state government, according to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution analysis.

Recently, the University System hired state Sen. Cecil Staton, R-Macon, to a newly created $165,000 a year administrative job. Also recently, former Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers was fired from his $150,000 a year job with Georgia Public Broadcasting, a hiring that brought Deal political grief when it was announced in late 2012.

The Senate Republican class of 2009-10 now gone from the chamber includes several other highly paid Deal appointees, a judge appointed by the governor, the state’s insurance commissioner, a couple of state House members, a Department of Transportation board member and some lobbyists.

Cam McWhirter profiles Jason Carter’s campaign for Governor in the Wall Street Journal:

[T]he contest between the 38-year-old Mr. Carter and Mr. Deal, 71, could be surprisingly competitive. A poll released May 26 by Rasmussen Reports showed Mr. Carter with a 48% to 41% lead. But other polls have found Mr. Deal ahead by several percentage points. RealClearPolitics, a news and polling aggregator, calls the race a tossup.

“For a long time you know, a lot of folks have not found a Democrat that they could vote for,” Mr. Carter said at a recent Kiwanis Club lunch here a city of 17,000 in rural South Georgia. “But we are now in a place that is changing.”

Recently Mr. Deal spoke at a state film industry meeting held at Manuel’s Tavern, a bar on Atlanta’s east side that was owned for years by a Democratic politician and where Jimmy Carter announced his plans to run for governor in 1970. Mr. Deal plans to lead a business mission this month to Israel, a not-so-subtle effort to highlight Jimmy Carter’s criticism of Israeli government policies toward Palestinians. That criticism angered many Jewish Americans.

The Deal campaign has raised more than $8 million so far, while the Carter campaign has raised $1.9 million, according to recent campaign filings.

Chip Lake, a Republican strategist, is heading the Georgia Victory Fund, a super PAC with a goal of raising $1.5 million to $2 million from national donors to criticize Mr. Carter in commercials. “He’s now walking on the stage that he has never been on before, and it’s our job to turn the lights on and make them very bright,” Mr. Lake said.

To win, Mr. Carter, a state senator who has never run for statewide office, would need blacks and Hispanic voters, whose numbers have been growing rapidly in the state, as well as liberals and independents. He also has to win more rural white voters—who for years have voted mainly for Republicans.

Scott Buchanan, a Southern politics expert at the Citadel in Charleston, S.C., said shifting demographics will make Georgia a political battleground “in the next election cycle or two,” but it is unclear if changes will lead to Democratic wins this fall.

“Shafer Amendment” boosted

While it hasn’t yet received much attention from the press, Senate Resolution 415 by Senate President Pro Tem David Shafer is receiving positive attention by grassroots Republican activists.

SR 415 places on the November ballot a Constitutional Amendment for the voters.

( ) YES
( ) NO

Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to prohibit the General Assembly from increasing the maximum state income tax rate?”</blockquote>

Upon the passage of  SR 415, Shafer discussed the rationale for the Amendment.

“If approved by voters this November, Georgia will be the only Southeastern state that constitutionally prohibits income tax increases,” said Sen. Shafer.  “This measure will help Georgia compete, attracting business and encouraging job formation.”

This weekend, the Jackson County Republican Party and the Teen Republicans State Convention both endorsed the Shafer Tax Cap Amendment.

 

Georgia Politics, Campaigns and Elections for January 22, 2014

Medical Marijuana moving up

Medicinal use of marijuana is finding some supporters I would at one time (last week) have considered highly unlikely. From WSB-TV,

Channel 2 Action News has learned state lawmakers supporting medical marijuana could have a bill ready to go as early as this week that would make medical marijuana legal in Georgia.

Channel 2′s Lori Geary began reporting the issue weeks ago and talked to an unlikely co-sponsor of the bill, state Rep. Micah Gravley, a Republican from Paulding County.

He says when he was first asked about the issue he flat out refused, telling supporters of the issue he’s a conservative, Christian Republican.

Then he says the parents of 10-year-old Caden Clark reached out to him, “I have had a 180-degree change because I’ve seen how it can impact these kids and how it can impact these families who are now separated because one’s here in Georgia, the other one’s in Colorado.”

Tuesday, Gov. Nathan Deal said he’s not taking a stance on the issue but said, “I think there’s a strong case being presented by some of the families in some serious situations involving their children.”

till, the Christian Coalition remains firmly against any state law on medical marijuana.

The president of the group, Jerry [Luquire], told Geary that marijuana, in any form, is considered a Class 1 substance by the federal government, one of the most dangerous drugs. He says federal law trumps state law. He accuses the lawmakers supporting the bill of a conspiracy to break federal law.

Winston Jones at the (Carrollton) Times-Georgian spoke to their local legislators.

Sen. Mike Dugan, R-Carrollton, said Monday that he’s not in favor of legalizing marijuana for recreational use, as in Colorado, and he also is against a sweeping medical marijuana law. However, he did indicate he is open to looking at derivatives that might be medically useful.

“From what I understand, with the oil, the intoxicants have been removed,” Dugan said. “I’m willing to listen to that. I want some medical professionals to come forward and tell me what benefits it would have, and I’ll make a determination from that.”

He said states that have passed medical marijuana bills have suffered widespread abuse, and he feels Georgia doesn’t need that.

Sen. Mike Crane, R-Newnan, said so far, he’s seen only anecdotal evidence from personal stories, and he’s looking forward to hearing medical presentations.

“If the stories prove true, and we see remarkable results with certain candidates, this sounds like one more tool in the doctor’s cache of things that could relieve untold suffering for many,” Crane said. “There’s more discussions to be had, and I think we’re going to see that. It’s something I’m very concerned about, but very cautious. As we move forward, I’m going to take extreme caution on this issue.”

Rep. Randy Nix, R-LaGrange, said he wonders if there’s any other drugs that can do the same thing as the medical marijuana.

“If the answer is ‘no,’ then I’m willing to listen to the debate,” Nix said. “I would want it to be something in a pill or oil form, and legislation that would have a narrow scope of what was allowed. I won’t support legislation if it looks like people want to use it to get their foot in the door to support recreational marijuana. That’s my concern.”

Nix said if the drug works for children with seizures, maybe that’s the only thing for which it should be prescribed.

“I’m not heartless,” he said. “If that’s the only thing that will help these children, let’s figure out a way to do it, but let’s not use it as that door opener to fully legalize marijuana.”

Peachtree NORML and Georgia NORML, both pro-marijuana legalization groups, released a poll by Public Policy Polling (PPP) on several ways of loosening Georgia’s marijuana laws. Here are some quotes from the release:

A new statewide poll shows that 62% of Georgia voters endorse eliminating criminal penalties for possession by adults of less than one ounce of pot, and replace it with a $100 civil fine, without the possibility of jail time. Further, more than half of all Georgia voters now support regulating the legal consumption and retail sale of marijuana for those age 21 and over.

In 2010, some 32,500 Georgians were arrested for violating marijuana laws, according to the FBI. That is the sixth highest total of any state in America.

Fifty -seven percent of voters supported legalizing the use of marijuana for medical purposes. State
lawmakers have indicated interest in studying this legal option.

Here’s a question that will specifically interest some politicians.

Q5 If a candidate supported marijuana law reform, would that make you more or less likely to vote for that candidate in the next election, or would it not make a difference?

More likely……………29%
Less likely……………34%
Wouldn’t make a difference……………29%
Not sure…………….8%

A couple of things to note. First, if that question on reelecting a candidate who supports changing marijuana laws is accurate, it doesn’t tell the story most incumbents are likely interested in – the effect of a vote on their party’s primary voters. There are likely differences between Republicans and Democrats, and geographic differences between, say, a Metro Atlanta suburban or in-town district, and a strongly conservative rural district.

The second point I’d like to make, and one that has implications for polling beyond the issue of marijuana is that in this poll, Public Policy Polling found the partisan self-identification as follows:

Q8 If you are a Democrat, press 1. If a Republican, press 2. If you are an independent or identify with another party, press 3.
Democrat……………37%
Republican………….43%
Independent/Other……20%

I think that a 6-point lead for self-identified Republicans over Democrats is about correct. But that’s at odds with an Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll that showed Democrats with a slight lead in party identification. A poll by InsiderAdvantage, where I have a part-time job sweeping floors and editing their website, put the differential at Republican +3 points.

A poll by PPP conducted in August showed Republicans +1, which I raised as an issue that caused me to question their head-to-head ballot questions that showed Michelle Nunn ahead of or tied with all of the major GOP candidates for United States Senate.

An October poll by PPP that showed Jason Carter at 40% versus Governor Deal at 44% also reflected an electorate evenly split between self-identified Democrats and Republicans - a scenario I refer to as “dreamland for Democrats.”

Part of what a pollster does, and what a discerning consumer of polling should do is to not place all your faith in any given poll, but to add the results of each poll into the mix as part of the context. And then compare that with your experiences in Georgia politics.

In 2010, competitive statewide race results ranged from Republican +9.3 to Republican +12.8, with Governor Deal beating Democratic former Governor Roy Barnes by 10 points. [In this instance I am discounting the 2010 races for U.S. Senate, SOS, Commissioner of Agriculture and Labor Commissioner, which were GOP blowouts.]

In 2012, Mitt Romney outpolled President Obama by nearly eight points and Public Service Commissioner Chuck Eaton beat Democrat Steve Oppenheimer by just under nine points.

So I feel safe in the following prediction: in 2014, the Republican electoral advantage in closely-contested statewide election will be in the range of Republican +6 to Republican +10. That’s after campaigning, but for now, any poll I see that doesn’t show a lead in GOP self-identification in the +3 to +6 range warrants a look at the crosstabs to see what’s going on.

Gold Dome Today

Today will be Georgia Right to Life’s “March for Life” at the Georgia State Capitol from 11:15 AM to 2 PM. Speakers will include Governor Nathan Deal, keynote speaker Pam Stenzel, and special guest speaker Dr. Robert White! Note that GRTL has directions for parking on their website too. Georgia Right to Life PAC has endorsed Meagan Biello in the runoff election for State Representative in House District 22, making her the only endorsed candidate in that race.


Legislative Calendar

Senate Rules – TBA, 450 CAP

10:00 AM Floor Session

1:00 pm
Senate Regulated Industries & Utilities Committee
Wed, January 22, 1pm – 2pm, 307 CLOB
Senate State & Local Governmental Operations Committee
Wed, January 22, 1pm – 2pm, 310 CLOB
House Appropriations
Wed, January 22, 1pm – 2pm or upon adjournment, 341 CAP
House Rules Committee
Wed, January 22, 2pm-3pm, 341 CAP

2:00 pm

Senate Health & Human Services Committee

Wed, January 22, 2pm – 3pm, 450 CAP

Senate Transportation Committee
Wed, January 22, 2pm – 3pm, MEZZ

3:00 pm

Senate Judiciary Non-Civil Committee
Wed, January 22, 3pm – 4pm, 307 CLOB

Kingston Collection

Since we mentioned the Limited Edition “Cotton Boll” logo t-shirt we saw from one of Jack Kingston’s past Congressional campaigns, we have been sent photos of some other Limited Edition Kingston swag. Here is the “Children of the Corn” logo.

Kingston Corn logo

And Ball One:

Kingston Baseball logoSm


Open Judicial seats in Gwinnett, Cobb

Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge Michael Clark has announced that he will retire February 28, 2014 to join a law firm. As his term is not expiring, Governor Nathan Deal will appoint a successor. If history is any pattern, the leading candidates to be named are either incumbent state legislators, or lower court judges, which open up an additional seat for appointment or election.

Cobb County Superior Court Judge James Bodiford also announced he will retire at the end of his term this year. The election to replace him is likely to be held May 20, 2014.


Probation Lifted for DeKalb Public Schools

The accreditation for DeKalb County Public Schools, previously placed on probation by SACS, has been upgraded to a status of “accredited warned.”

“The threat of the loss of accreditation is no longer imminent,” said Mark Elgart, whose agency, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, precipitated a crisis in December 2012 that led to the governor’s intervention. SACS placed DeKalb on probation and threatened to strip accreditation altogether if the school board and superintendent failed to address management concerns.

Gov. Nathan Deal replaced six of the nine school board members, just after the old board replaced the superintendent. DeKalb’s new leadership has made remarkable progress addressing the issues, Elgart said, but he said the work is far from done and that the elections May 20 for the nonpartisan school board are a major concern.

“The election is critical,” said Elgart, who is the president and chief executive officer of SACS’ parent company AdvancED. The agency’s opinions about accreditation influence a school district’s reputation, and by extension its graduates’ chances for college admissions and scholarships. That, in turn, affects the local economy, since public education is a key factor businesses consider when choosing where to locate.

“This community needs to pay close attention to whom they elect,” Elgart said. “Politics is one of the reasons the system got itself to this point.”

The school board fiasco has already become a launching pad for one deposed member, Nancy Jester, who is now seeking the state superintendent’s job. And the upcoming school board elections, which could feature comeback bids by one or more of the ousted board members, may inject another dose of politics.

 

Nancy Jester, Republican candidate for Georgia State School Superintendent, released a statement:

I am pleased to hear the DeKalb school system’s accreditation status has been upgraded from “probation” to “warned”.

I worked diligently to shine light on the poor fiscal management of DeKalb.  Some of my work was even cited in the SACS report from 2012.

Clearly DeKalb still has a long way to go.

Academic achievement and growth in many schools is unacceptable.  DeKalb’s graduation rate, at 58.9%, is far too low.

Of the 25 high schools in DeKalb, 8 have graduation rates below 50%, while only 4 have rates above 75%.  All four of these schools are specialty or magnet schools.

I appreciate that SACS finally recognized that DeKalb needed some sort of intervention.

The entire episode exposes the structural weaknesses in our state’s accountability model.  While SACS can provide a useful and supplemental service via their third party accreditation products, Georgia must not continue to abdicate it’s role in holding districts accountable for their results and financial management.

Jester also released in the last several days a map that shows per-pupil spending and graduation rates in Georgia and neighboring states. It’s worth taking a moment to look at.

JesterGradRatesPerPupilSpendingMap copy

Georgia Politics, Campaigns and Elections for January 16, 2014

On January 15, 1751, a Provincial Assembly convened in Savannah, after the Georgia Trustees called for a popular election. Among the issues discussed was whether Georgia should be annexed into South Carolina. This marked the first elected representative government in Georgia.

On January 15, 1796, Jared Irwin was inaugurated Governor of Georgia for his first term. Irwin repealed the Yazoo Act. Irwin County, the city of Irwinville, and the town of Irwinton are named after Governor Irwin. He previously served in the State House and the convention that ratified the United States Constitution in 1787. After his first term in office, Irwin served as President of the State Senate and became Governor again in 1806 when Gov. John Milledge resigned. After completing that term, he was elected to another full term as Governor.

January 15, 1870 saw the first appearance of the donkey as the symbol for the Democratic party in a Harper’s Weekly illustration by Thomas Nast.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia. I had the pleasure of working at the State Capitol several years ago with a lady who had known King as a youngster, as a fellow member of “Daddy” King’s church and schoolmate. Dr. King’s march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama helped the passage of the Voting Rights Act.

On January 15, 1963, Carl Sanders was inaugurated as Governor of Georgia. In 1970. Sanders ran again for Governor, losing to Jimmy Carter.

On January 16, 1919, the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, prohibiting alcoholic beverages.

On January 16, 1997, a bomb exploded in a Sandy Springs abortion clinic, later determined to be the work of Eric Rudolph, who also bombed Centennial Olympic Park in 1996, a lesbian bar in Atlanta in February 1997, and a Birmingham abortion clinic in 1998.

Last night on Facebook, a friend asked why the Georgia legislature is addressing the scheduling of party primary elections. Here’s what he said:

Question. Why is the state supervising and funding party primaries?
Parties are private organizations. Let ‘em run (and pay for) their own primaries.

That’s a legitimate question. Here’s why.

After Reconstruction, whites in some Southern states attempted to retain exclusive power and deny black citizens the right to vote. One of the tools they used was “white primary” elections. After Supreme Court decisions striking down state-administered white primaries, some states then tried privatizing the primary elections as a way of continuing to disenfranchise black voters. An initial Supreme Court allowed this, reasoning that private parties were free to determine eligibility of voters.

In 1944, the Supreme Court struck down a Texas statute allowing “private” party primaries on the basis that it amounted to state-sanctioned discrimination, as the state had delegated the responsibility of administering elections to the Democratic Party.

On July 4, 1944, Primus King, a registered voter, tried to cast a ballot at the Muscogee County Courthouse in the Democratic Primary and was turned away. A federal district court found for King in his lawsuit, ruling that denying him the right to vote was unconstitutional.

The United States Court of Appeals in New Orleans upheld the district court decision in an opinion written by Judge Samuel Hale Sibley, a Georgia native and alumnus of UGA and the UGA School of Law. Thurgood Marshall, later an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, was one of the lawyers representing Primus King.

So, that’s why the state administers party primary elections in Georgia.

Pro-tip for legislators

Take down the donation button or page on your website for the duration of the Session. From Fox 5 Atlanta:

[O]n the second day of this year’s session, FOX 5 found a number of lawmakers potentially soliciting donations.

FOX 5′s Chris Shaw found both Democrats and Republicans in both the state House and Senate accepting donations when law says they cannot. Most said it was simply an oversight, some took measures to pull donation pages from their websites while FOX 5 cameras rolled.

Here’s what to do if you inadvertently left your donation button or page active. The news account quoted above is not entirely correct about accepting contributions during session. Section 21-5-35 of the Act formerly known as the Ethics in Government Act states:

§21-5-35. Acceptance of contributions or pledges during legislative sessions

(a) No member of the General Assembly or that member’s campaign committee or public officer elected state wide or campaign committee of such public officer shall seek or accept a contribution or a pledge of a contribution to the member, the member’s campaign committee, or public officer elected state wide, or campaign committee of such public officer during a legislative session.

(b)Subsection (a) of this Code section shall not apply to:

(1) The receipt of a contribution which is returned with reasonable promptness to the donor or the donor’s agent;
(2) The receipt and acceptance during a legislative session of a contribution consisting of proceeds from a dinner, luncheon, rally, or similar fundraising event held prior to the legislative session;
(3) The receipt of a contribution by a political party consisting of the proceeds from a dinner,luncheon, rally, or similar fundraising event in which a member of the General Assembly or a public officer elected state wide participates; or<
(4) A judicial officer elected state wide, a candidate for a judicial office elected state wide, or a campaign committee of such judicial officer or candidate

That said, if you receive a contribution during the session, your best bet is to return it immediately, and document the check you sent.

Governor Deal’s State of the State

The Senate Press Office brings you a nearly-three minute “Senate in a Minute,” featuring Governor Deal’s State of the State.

Click here for the full text of the State of the State address.

Here are some of the best quotes from the State of the State 2014:

1.My basic focus has been on creating private-sector jobs for Georgians. With your help and the involvement of our business community, we have done some great things. We have implemented real tax reform, such as eliminating sales tax on energy for manufacturing; we have essentially removed the marriage tax penalty on working Georgia couples; and we have abolished the annual birthday tax on vehicles. And each of these are part of a mosaic that led Site Selection Magazine to declare Georgia to be the number one state in the nation in which to do business.

2. the Affordable Care Act is anything but affordable and is costing our state $327 million dollars this year. You should be aware that, even without expanding, currently Medicaid and PeachCare cost every Georgian through federal and state taxes nearly $1,000 each year. Expansion would add 620,000 people to our taxpayer funded health plan, costing us even more. Now, the executive branch in Washington is trying to do what the courts deemed unconstitutional for Congress to do, but we will not allow ourselves to be coerced into expansion. Be assured, I am prepared to fight any intrusion into our rights as a state.

3. According to the federal department of labor, in the three years since I became governor, there have been approximately 217,000 new jobs added in our state, and major job announcements are almost a weekly occurrence. As a result, our state unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been in 5 years!

4. I have included $35M for the deepening of the Port of Savannah. If approved, we will have $266M, which will represent Georgia’s share of this important project.

5. For students who pursued those areas, we have paid 100 percent of their tuition through the HOPE Grant. This year I am asking you to expand that to an additional 4 areas of training—welding, health care technology, diesel mechanics and information technology.

In order to fill the needs of a growing economy, we need more of our citizens to acquire education and skills beyond high school. To encourage this, I am asking you to create a new Zell Miller HOPE Grant for students in our technical college system. This grant will cover 100 percent of tuition for those who maintain a 3.5 grade point average.

6.[D]uring my administration, funding for education has increased by over $930M. That does not include capital spending for education, which represents 76% of our entire state bond package. $239M of this year’s capital investments went to the Department of Education for use on K-12 programs. Since FY 2012, nearly 50 cents of every dollar of new revenues has been dedicated to education. In the budget I am sending you for FY 2015 almost 82 percent of new revenue receipts are dedicated to education, with 68 percent of those new revenues going to k-12 alone.

As these numbers indicate, we will spend almost $8 billion in next year’s budget on k-12 education. My proposal represents the largest single year increase in k-12 funding in 7 years. That’s an addition of $547M….

7. I have included $44.8M in the budgets to better connect every classroom in Georgia, including those in rural areas, to the internet and digital resources students need to thrive. It is my goal that every child in any classroom in our state will have access to the best instruction possible, and this can be done by expanding the availability of our on-line learning.

8. This year, we intend to roll out our third leg of our criminal justice reforms, the one that will sustain our previous efforts.  If an offender has been equipped to enter the workforce upon release, that person will stand a greater chance of avoiding relapse.  If our reentry and reform efforts reduce our recidivism rate by 25 percent, we would see around 1,400 fewer crimes each year, with at least 1,100 fewer victims!  This is a goal we should be able to achieve or exceed.

These Criminal Justice reforms will allow non-violent offenders to break their addictions, reclaim their lives and keep taxpayers from spending $18,000 per inmate for each year they are in prison. These reforms will also increase the safety of our society.

9. [T]oday, more Georgians have jobs than at any other time since October 2008. We are getting people in our state back to work at a faster rate than the national average. For those 217,000 or so Georgians who now have jobs, they know what the sting of the frozen economy feels like. They lived through it. But for them, the freeze has ended.

This is what we’ve done in three years … imagine what we will do in the next five.

And since Georgia has now been recognized as the No. 1 state in the nation in which to do business, we can rightfully expect many more jobs to come our way.

Here’s an audio clip that we’ve converted to a YouTube clip, so that it can be viewed on an iPhone or other mobile devices when you receive our morning email. It’s a bit of work to do it, but we’re interested in whether you think it’s useful.

Senator David Shafer released a statement:

“I applaud Governor Deal on his third State of the State Address. Georgia has a come long way in the last three years, with 217,000 new jobs and millions of dollars in new private system. The Governor’s low tax policies are exactly what we need to keep attracting new business. I look forward to hearing from the Governor again next year and three years to follow.”

Today under the Gold Dome

Capitol Dome inside

8:00 AM – 9:30 AM    Appropriations Higher Education    606 CLOB

8:00 AM – 10:00 AM    Joint Appropriations Education    341 CAP

8:00 AM – 10:00 AM    Joint Appropriations Public Safety    506 CLOB

10:00 AM – 12:00 PM (Projected) Floor Session

12:30 PM – 5:30 PM    Joint Appropriations Economic Development and General Government    307 CLOB

12:30 PM – 4:00 PM    Joint Appropriations Health and Human Services    341 CAP

12:30 PM – 3:00 PM    Joint Appropriations Public Safety    506 CLOB

Catherine Bernard announces for House District 80

Catherine Bernard, who has recently changed her residence and, after the lesson from Keith Gross a couple years ago, her car tags, to DeKalb County, where she will challenge incumbent Republican State Representative Mike Jacobs.

CatherineBernard AnnouncesHer website can be found at VoteCatherine.com. It’s worth noting that yesterday was apparently her birthday. She can thank Rep. Jacobs for his vote to repeal the Birthday Tax, which meant that she didn’t have to pay ad valorem tax to renew her car tag yesterday.

Kelly Marlow seeks reversal

Cherokee County School Board member Kelly Marlow appealed a $3600 fine levied by the Board of which she is a member for raising concerns with the agency that accredits public schools in Georgia.

“What Ms. Marlow did is send a letter to AdvancEd in which she made several, pretty serious allegations against the board chair and the board, and never did she address those concerns to the Board of Education,” Roach said.
Marlow said she was sanctioned for the “act of sending a letter,” and if the sanction is upheld, “the effect would be chilling.”
“It will send a message that the voice of the minority does not matter,” she said. “It’s not OK for a member, who is in the minority, to speak up when they see something wrong. To not be able to say, ‘I smell smoke, I think there may be a fire.’”
Roach said the “matter of free speech in this context is quite complicated.”

Here’s a general rule regarding free speech: if someone says the issue of free speech is “complicated,” they’re almost always trying to use government to stop it.

The First Amendment statement that Congress [later extended to most levels of government] “shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances” is no more complicated than the Second Amendment’s statement that “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Rep. Allen West to speak in Cobb County

Former Congressman (and retired Lt. Colonel) Allen West will deliver the keynote address at the Cobb County Republican Party’s President’s Day Dinner on February 17, 2014 at the Renaissance Waverly. Save the date if you’re interested in going, and be sure to purchase your tickets as soon as they’re available, as the event is likely to sell out.

This is the third announcement on what appears to be an Allen West tour of Georgia. Does he have a book out or about to be released? Why, yes, he does. In April, Allen West’s book Guardian of the Republic: An American Ronin’s Journey to Faith, Family and Freedom will be released.

The Lee County Republican Party is holding a Lincoln Day Dinner on February 27, 2014, with proceeds benefiting the Bridging the Gap Foundation. The featured speaker will be LTC Allen West, who served in Congress from Florida.

Bridging The Gap of Georgia is a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable organization created to assist veterans with their transition home.  Many of the veterans we serve suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Combat Stress and are homeless. We utilize a mentorship program to enable veterans to function as productive members of our society by addressing their housing, job placement, and health needs.

We’re still awaiting details on the location of the Muscogee County Republican Party event on February 28, 2014.

Your Events Calendar


Cobb YR: Happy Hour

January 16, 2014 7:00 PM @ 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Old Vinings Inn,

3011 Paces Mill Road Atlanta , GA 30339 United States

+ Google Map

Old Vinings Inn was built in the 1880s and served as the village post office. Over the years, the building was purchased and renovated, used as an apartment building, a general store, a filling-station with a family residence upstairs. This unique setting is full of warmth and of history. Today’s Old Vinings Inn is inviting and sophisticated while preserving its rich history — the perfect setting for an evening out.

Find out more »


Georgia Tea Party: Meeting with David Wellons on Obamacare

January 16, 2014 from 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Unnamed Venue, 900 Roswell St Marietta , GA 30060

+ Google Map

David Wellons, a 25-year veteran of the health care industry, will speak on “Obamacare and what we can do about it.”

Find out more »


Rep. Rob Woodall: Telephone Town Hall

January 16, 2014 from 7:30 PM – 8:00 PM

Congressman Rob Woodall Telephone Town Hall Please join me for a Telephone Town Hall Meeting on January 16th. Dail-in: 877-229-8493 Password: 17849


DeKalb County GOP: Breakfast – Spotlight DeKalb Judicial System

January 18, 2014 from 8:30 AM – 10:00 AM
The Golden Corral, 2136 Lawrenceville Hwy Decatur, GA 30033

Georgia voters positive about the state, but not guns | www.ajc.com

Georgians are generally bullish about the direction of their state but want lawmakers to remain focused on boosting an economy and job market that voters say remains weak, according to a new poll conducted for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

A majority of registered voters say the state is headed in the right direction, with 51 percent saying they are satisfied with Georgia’s course and 7 percent who say they are very satisfied. But, asked whether their personal financial situation is better or worse than five years ago, or if jobs are readily available in their communities, voters are much less optimistic.

Voters indicated that they generally support the job state lawmakers are doing. The poll showed 45 percent of respondents approve of the General Assembly’s job performance, compared with 39 percent who disapprove.

But when it comes to one of the top priorities for 2014 for the Republican majorities in the House and Senate, voters gave a resounding thumbs down. The GOP leadership in both chambers wants to greatly expand where gun owners can carry firearms. But voters in the poll by majorities exceeding 70 percent said it was a bad idea to allow owners to carry guns on college campuses, into churches and other locations.

The poll, conducted by Abt SRBI of New York, surveyed 802 adults statewide between Jan. 6 and Jan. 9 on what issues Georgians want their Legislature to tackle in 2014. The margin of error for each response is plus or minus 4 percentage points. The poll was conducted by live operators and included respondents via cellphone and landline.

via Georgia voters positive about the state, but not guns | www.ajc.com.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns and Elections for January 10, 2011

Top Stories

1. An important day in Georgia history
2. Poll: Deal leads Carter by 2-1 margin
3. Campaign announcements
4. Two events with Allen West

Announcing GaPunditPro

In the coming days, we’ll be releasing GaPunditPro, a tool for professionals and citizen-lobbyists at the Capitol that will include an electronic version of the White Book, as well as constantly updated information from both chambers and headlines from GaPundit.com.

As a preview, here’s the new State House of Representatives Committee Assignments and Chairmanships.

History

On January 10, 2011, Nathan Deal was sworn in as Governor of Georgia for his first term. The celebratory inauguration was cancelled because of snow and ice, but Deal took the oath of office before a joint session of the Georgia General Assembly. Deal became the second Republican Governor of Georgia during the modern era, taking over from Gov. Sonny Perdue.

Deal 2011 Inaugural Invite

Other Gubernatorial inaugurations

January 10, 1788 John Housetoun
January 10, 1933 Eugene Talmadge Continue reading

Georgia History, Politics, Campaigns and Elections for January 8, 2014

On January 8, 1783, Lyman Hall, a Georgia signer of the Declaration of Independence, was elected Governor.

Wedgwood Lyman Hall

Lyman Hall appears on one piece of a two-piece set by Wedgwood celebrating the Bicentennial of American Independence. In 1918, Hall County was named after Lyman Hall, and in 1848, a Signers Monument was built in Augusta, where the remains of Hall and fellow signer George Walton were interred.

On January 8, 1790, President George Washington gave his first State of the Union address to Congress in New York City. Click here to read Washington’s first State of the Union.

A free people ought not only to be armed, but disciplined; to which end a uniform and well-digested plan is requisite; and their safety and interest require that they should promote such manufactories as tend to render them independent of others for essential, particularly military, supplies.

The proper establishment of the troops which may be deemed indispensable will be entitled to mature consideration. In the arrangements which may be made respecting it it will be of importance to conciliate the comfortable support of the officers and soldiers with a due regard to economy.

There was reason to hope that the pacific measures adopted with regard to certain hostile tribes of Indians would have relieved the inhabitants of our southern and western frontiers from their depredations, but you will perceive from the information contained in the papers which I shall direct to be laid before you (comprehending a communication from the Commonwealth of Virginia) that we ought to be prepared to afford protection to those parts of the Union, and, if necessary, to punish aggressors.

Uniformity in the currency, weights, and measures of the United States is an object of great importance, and will, I am persuaded, be duly attended to.

The advancement of agriculture, commerce, and manufactures by all proper means will not, I trust, need recommendation; but I can not forbear intimating to you the expediency of giving effectual encouragement as well to the introduction of new and useful inventions from abroad as to the exertions of skill and genius in producing them at home, and of facilitating the intercourse between the distant parts of our country by a due attention to the post-office and post-roads.

The welfare of our country is the great object to which our cares and efforts ought to be directed, and I shall derive great satisfaction from a cooperation with you in the pleasing though arduous task of insuring to our fellow citizens the blessings which they have a right to expect from a free, efficient, and equal government.

On January 8, 1821, representatives of the United States and the Creek Indians signed a treaty in which the Creeks ceded the territory from the Flint to the Ocmulgee Rivers, marking the expansion of Georgia beyond the Ocmulgee.

On January 8, 1831, John Pemberton, inventor of Coca-Cola, was born in Knoxville, Ga.

On January 8, 2007, R.E.M. was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, in a class that included Van Halen, Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five, Patti Smith, and the Ronettes. Five days later, they performed at the induction ceremony.

 

DeKalbGOPSaturdayElection Results

We will have runoff elections for State House Districts 2 and 22 after no candidates garnered the required 50% plus one vote last night.


House District 2

Neal Florence (R)  964 votes (34.31%)
Steve Tarvin (R) 1072 votes (38.15%)
Doug Woodruff (R) 774 votes (27.54%)


House District 22

Meagan Biello (R) 576 votes (23.67%)
Nate Cochran (R) 359 votes (14.76%)
Jeff Duncan (R) 574 votes (23.59%)
Sam Moore (R) 924 votes (37.98%)


Looking at his public statements, supporters, and contributors, it appears to me that Sam Moore is supported by a number of members of the burgeoning Liberty wing of the Republican Party. Make of it what you will.

The runoff elections between the top two vote getters in each race will be held on Tuesday, February 4, 2014.


Greg’s List – an Internet Radio Brogram

Yesterday, I was on Greg’s List Live, an internet radio show with Greg Williams, who writes the Greg’s List blog about Georgia politics. I still don’t understand how the internet works over a radio, but I wanted to share a couple of things we discussed. Here are a couple of my predictions:

1. Expect political grandstanding by candidates for higher office. This includes Ed Lindsey, who is now supporting HB 707, anti-Obamacare legislation while Ed runs for Congress from the 11th District, and Jason Carter, running on spending more of your money in various ways as a Democrat for Governor.

2. The session won’t be super-short. Every year people predict a short session, and this year is like that but more so. I’d guess the third week of March will see Sine Die.

3. The overwhelming theme will be “gimme some money,” as state employees, teacher’s group, and anyone else who receives a paycheck from the state sees rising revenues as a ticket to a raise. Many of our state employees have seen no raises for as long as seven years, while the cost of insurance has gone up, and this year the state benefits health plan actual benefits declined dramatically like something off of Healthcare.gov. The folks most likely to benefit from rising revenues are those with a political constituency beyond their own members. In Georgia, and I suspect most other states, this means teachers.

GAGOP Senate Debates

A great question Greg raised is what are the qualifications to be onstage at the GAGOP Senate debates – will all announced candidates be given a seat at the table, or will there be some measure of viability – financial or otherwise – used to winnow the field.

The problem is that an eight (or more) candidate debate will hardly be compelling watching, because it reduces the number of rounds and questions that can be asked, and by the time the last candidates answers, the audience will likely have forgotten the original question. On the other hand, it can be hard to say today who will be viable in May, and the State Party should’t be playing favorites.

I suggest we adopt the “Survivor” model, where each candidate is voted on by GAGOP members after the debate, and the lowest vote-getter is eliminated from the next debate. At 50 cents per call if we use the phone number voting method, it’d also be a great way to transfer money from the candidates’ backers to the state GOP. Obviously, the last debate will be ThunderDome style.


Gary Gerrard brings the TV to CD10

Gary Gerrard has announced that he will be the first on television with an ad running on Cable television. It’s above. That’s Mike Hassinger in the voiceover and on-screen with Gerrard.

Yesterday, Stuart Rothenberg wrote on his blog at Congressional Quarterly’s Roll Call about early television advertising and whether it’s effective in Congressional races. His take: not so much.

By mid-December, more than $17.5 million had been spent on TV ads in just four Senate contests: in North Carolina ($8.3 million), Kentucky ($3.5 million), Arkansas ($3.4 million) and Louisiana ($2.3 million), according to a recent piece by Roll Call’s Kyle Trygstad.

The numbers are interesting and newsworthy. But it’s important to understand the dirty little secret of early TV ads: At the end of the day, most of the ads, and most of the money spent on them, won’t make a dime’s worth of difference in the November results.

Strategists who advocate or justify TV ads 10 or 12 months before Election Day will tell you that it is important to get up on the air to “introduce” an opponent before he or she can introduce himself (Arkansas) or to dissuade a potential opponent from running (Kentucky). And in a few rare cases, that may work. But most of the time it doesn’t, especially if both sides have plenty of money.

It certainly is true that given the suffocating nature of the final weeks of a campaign, when every candidate for every office seems to be buying up whatever air time is still available, many strategists believe that the value of late advertising is dropping. And if late ads are ineffective, the idea of early TV ads sounds more appealing.

“Late ads don’t do much anymore, in part because there are so many ads, so the odds of getting through with a message are better early than late,” one pollster argued.

One difference between Gerrard’s race and the scenario by Rothenberg is that Gerrard’s contest is over after the Republican Primary and likely Runoff Election, so we’re not really 10-12 months out for him. More like 5 months and change from the first round of voting, so his conclusions don’t necessarily hold for this race.

Is Gerrard’s early television drop brilliant strategery or bad political consulting? Only time and election results will tell, but in what appears from the 2013 year-end and early 2014 special elections to be a very low-turnout electorate, it’s more important than ever for campaigns and strategists to Think Different(ly).


Another take on the upcoming Session

Winston Jones has written an outstanding piece in the (Carrollton) Times-Georgian getting local legislators’ takes on the upcoming Session. This time of year, it’s easy to find out what the Governor or Speaker think will be priorities, but not always to find out what’s important in other parts of the state or among more “rank-and-file” members of the legislature.

“Since the only constitutionally mandated requirement is that we pass a balanced budget, I expect the budget to be front and center,” said Rep. Randy Nix, R-LaGrange, who represents a portion of Carroll County.

State revenues are expected to be up this year, said Sen. Mike Dugan, R-Carrollton, but population has also increased, meaning that the budget situation is “revenue neutral.”

“New growth in business across the state, as we were selected as the best state in which to do business, will help, but we still have some areas of the budget where we won’t be able to allocate what we’d like,” Dugan said. “There’s some uncertainties from Obamacare that we’ll have to consider this year as well.”

Dugan said there’s been numerous individual projections on how much will be spent on medical cost, but until the system is up and running, nobody knows what the increases will total.

Sen. Mike Crane, R-Newnan, who represents a portion of Carroll County, also feels the budget will be at the top of the priorities.

“I haven’t seen the final numbers, but it’s going to be a pretty tight budget,” Crane said. “The cost increases have outpaced the revenue growth again, which will make for some challenging decisions.”

“Other significant topics I expect are education, health care and continued work on gun legislation that stalled on the last day of the 2013 session,” Nix said.

Nix said that while he hasn’t pre-filed any legislation, he has been engaged in listening sessions on education.

“I anticipate co-sponsoring legislation to address some of the issues we’ve heard around the state,” he said, “primarily to allow local school systems greater flexibility and more options as to how their systems can operate.”

“The General Assembly does have to pass a budget and a supplemental budget,” said Randy Evans, an attorney and political columnist. “After that, look for Republican leaders to rock and roll with a General Assembly session moving along as quickly as possible, with an early adjournment to leave plenty to time for campaigning, fundraising and re-election efforts.”

Blake Aued, writing for Flagpole magazine, brings us an Athens-centric view of the session.

“We don’t have, from all indications, a very aggressive agenda this session,” says Sen. Bill Cowsert (R-Athens).

University of Georgia President Jere Morehead has said he’ll push for raises for faculty and staff, who haven’t had one in five years.

State Rep. Spencer Frye (D-Athens) wants the state to use extra tax revenue to give teachers a raise. Or buy him another phone.

“Public school teachers haven’t had raises in forever,” says state Rep. Spencer Frye (D-Athens). “University folks haven’t had raises in forever. Hopefully, we’ll see we need to invest in that instead of big corporate tax breaks because we have extra money.”

Under Chancellor Hank Huckaby, a new era of austerity is coming for Georgia colleges and universities. With stagnant lottery revenue and declining state support, Huckaby has warned that the higher education system will have to do more with less, and the days of big building projects are all but over.

Guns: A bill that could allow people with concealed-carry permits to take their guns into churches and bars and on college campuses is still alive.

Transportation: Local officials in Athens-Clarke County and other cities want to hold referenda on sales tax hikes to fund transportation, similar to the failed T-SPLOST referendum in 2012 but on a county rather than regional level. In ACC, the money would go toward improving Athens Transit bus service and road projects.

But after watching their brainchild go down in flames a year-and-a-half ago, Republicans aren’t inclined to even give voters the option of taxing themselves. “No new taxes,” Cowsert says.

The Reporter Newspapers bring us the view from Buckhead:

Legislators representing Fulton County said the shorter legislative calendar means they will be working on a tight schedule. What that will mean for some high profile legislation, like bills calling for referendums to create new DeKalb County cities, isn’t clear, the legislators say.

State Rep. Wendell Willard, R-Sandy Springs, said he has been working on legislation reforming the state’s forfeiture laws and discovery of electronic records in civil cases that he’d like to get passed this year before the session wraps.

“We want to get everybody out of session as quickly as possible because it means we’ll be qualifying somewhere around March 15 to meet the deadlines,” Willard said. “I expect we’ll probably be out of session by March 20.”

State Sen. Judson Hill, R-Marietta, has part of Sandy Springs in his district. He said he thinks an election year is an ideal time to pass controversial legislation, like bills allowing for referendums on new cities.

“I’ve always been in favor of introducing and passing great legislation, no matter when it is,” Hill said. “The best time to pass really good bills is during an election year. If it’s not good in election year, in my view it’s not good.”

Hill said he’d like to pass legislation establishing charity care clinics and privatizing some of PeachCare, a service providing affordable health insurance to low-income children. He said new bills might be difficult to pass this year.

District 6 Sen. Hunter Hill (R-Smyrna), who represents a portion of Buckhead, said he plans to work on passage of legislation to streamline the process to create public-private partnerships for state projects. “This is about delivering mission-critical facilities,” he said.

Rep. Joe Wilkinson (R- Sandy Springs ) said he intended to work on economic development. “Georgia was named this past fall as the best place to do business,” he said. “I’ve been on the economic development and tourism committee from the time it was formed 11 years ago. … I see us trying to build on that connection. The companies we bring in, it brings jobs, it brings revenue.”

From the Dalton Daily Citizen, a Northwest Georgia take:

“The message that I’m hearing from everyone I talk to is ‘Let’s go ahead and get the people’s work done,’” said state Rep. Bruce Broadrick, R-Dalton. “Getting the work done early gives people confidence and predictability about where we are going.”

“My expectation is that everything will be moved to May 20,” said state Sen. Charlie Bethel, R-Dalton. “But until the ball starts rolling I can’t say for sure. I do think we will make that decision early. We will get that done quickly so that it isn’t an open question and so that people thinking about qualifying know when that will take place.”

“The amended budget will be more limited than usual,” said state Rep. Tom Dickson, R-Cohutta. “It will be just those things that have to be adjusted, such as changes in school enrollment or increased Medicaid costs.”

A dispatch from the Rockdale News:

Sen. Rick Jeffares (R-Locust Grove, a floor leader and chairman of the ethics commission, said a bill to change state and local elections is likely to be introduced the first day of the legislative session, Jan. 13.

Assuming the bill becomes law, any Georgian planning to run for federal, state or local office will need to qualify to run for office much earlier as well, between March 3 and March 7 (independent candidates must qualify before June 27 to participate in the general election).

Jeffares said Republican leaders are aiming to end the session March 16, a month or two before the session normally wraps up.

“The Republican caucus is meeting Monday to talk about all the things we need to do and to do it all quick,” he said Thursday.

Jeffares said he didn’t think the faster session would really affect business, because the General Assembly is in the second year of a two-year cycle and many bills are already pending from 2013. Jeffares said the first couple weeks of session generally start off slower, so the shortened session might prompt people to get up to full speed from day one.

In addition, any legislators trying to get a bill passed in 2014 can pre-file their bill before the session starts to give it a better chance of being heard early, he said.

State Rep. Matt Ramsey (R-Peachtree City) brings his voters’ priorities in The Citizen:

Rep. Matt Ramsey, R-Peachtree City, said the big chore as always will be to shore up the state’s budget expenses between the year-end supplemental budget and the coming fiscal year’s budget. But looming shortly in the distance is the prospect of politicking, specifically a much earlier qualification deadline in March to run for office.

Because of that deadline, Ramsey is predicting a fairly quick session that is hopefully not drawn out as many legislators are anxious to handle qualifying and segue into campaign mode, which is verboten during the session.

“I think the interest this year is having a very efficient session and to try and not get bogged down too much and hopefully get out in March sometime,” Ramsey said Monday.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns and Elections for January 7, 2014

On January 7, 1789, Georgia voters cast their first ballots for President of the United States of America. Georgia’s electors met the next month in Augusta and cast Georgia’s electoral votes for George Washington.

On January 7, 1795, Governor George Matthews signed legislation passed by the Georgia General Assembly, that described itself thusly,

An Act supplementary to an Act entitled ‘An Act for appropriating a part of the unlocated territory of this state for the payment of the late state troops, and for other purposes therein mentioned, declaring the right of this State to the unappropriated territory thereof, for the protection and support of the frontiers of this State, and for other purposes.’

This was one of the first major economic development undertakings by the state government and would come to be known as the Great Yazoo Land Fraud. The bill, passed under the pressure of intense lobbying, was such an abomination that the next year’s General Assembly revoked the Act and ordered all copies of the legislation burned, igniting a tradition that continues to this day.

Wedgwood Yazoo

In 1933, the Transylvania Club of Sandersville, Georgia commissioned a set of commemorative plates by Wedgwood; Mr. C.D. Shelnutt, Mr. C.F. Irwin, and Mr. B.J. Tarbutton paid the required deposit to begin production of the plates. In 1974, then-Governor Jimmy Carter signed a resolution of the General Assembly naming the plates the official historical plates of Georgia, and they continue to be offered for sale in pink or blue.

People who had purchased land under the Act sued to prevent the state’s overturning its own conveyances, and the United States Supreme Court for the first time invalidated a state law as unconstitutional, in a case styled Fletcher v. Peck (1810).

On January 7, 1961, Hamilton E. Holmes drove from Atlanta to Athens to enroll in the University of Georgia, beginning the desegregatation of the institution.

On January 7, 1972, Lewis F. Powell, Jr., having previously turned down appointment to the Supreme Court of the United States, was sworn in as an Associate Justice, along with William Rehnquist, who would be elevated to Chief Justice by President Ronald Reagan. Powell earned his undergraduate and law degrees from Washington & Lee University and its School of Law.

On January 7, 1997, Georgia’s Newt Gingrich was reelected Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, the first Republican reelected in 68 years; he would resign his Congressional seat less than a year later.

On January 7, 1998, former White House intern Monica Lewinsky signed an affidavit denying she’d had an affair with President Bill Clinton.

On January 7, 1999, the Senate impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton began. Chief Justice of the United States William Rehnquist presided and Georgia Congressman Bob Barr was one of thirteen house “managers,” responsible for prosecuting the case in the Senate.

Voting today

The polls will be open today from 7 AM to 7 PM for Special Elections in Georgia State House District 2 (Catoosa, Walker and Whitfield) and District 22 (Cherokee, Forsyth and Fulton Counties.

If you live in one of those counties and have questions about whether you’re eligible to vote tomorrow and where, please login to the Secretary of State’s My Voter Page. You may also check with your county Board of Elections. Continue reading

Georgia Politics, Campaigns and Elections for January 3, 2014

Racetrack cover

In 137 days, the Primary Elections for federal offices will be held in Georgia, with the General Assembly likely to move state Primary Elections to the same date. It is also likely that the first ballots will be cast in a little over three months from today, as early voting will likely begin in April this year. Welcome to the starting line.

On January 3, 1766, the British crown sent its first taxation representative to Georgia to administer the Stamp Act, which required each piece of paper, including business and legal documents, to bear an embossed stamp to show that tax had been paid. Georgia’s royal Governor had to have the agent protected with armed troops and he left two weeks later. Georgia merchants agreed to pay the tax in order to allow ships to be unloaded (which required a written bill of lading, hence the tax requirement). Georgia was the only colony in which taxes were actually collected under the Stamp Act, earning the enmity of other states. Thus, our current disdain for taxation has an historical precendent.

On January 3, 1861, Georgia Governor Joseph E. Brown ordered volunteer militia to seize Fort Pulaski, then controlled by the federal government, though Georgia then remained part of the United States. In spring 1862, the feds, with new rifled cannon, seized Pulaski back and cut off traffic on the Savannah River to the Port of Savannah.

On January 3, 1947 Helen Douglas Mankin ended her only term in Congress from Georgia. She is often cited as the first female member of Congress from Georgia, though Florence Gibbs actually holds that distinction. Mankin was elected in a 1945 Special Election and defeated for reelection in 1946.

On January 3, 1956, Iris Faircloth Blitch was sworn in to Congress from Georgia’s Eighth District, becoming the first woman elected in a regular election who would serve a full term in Congress from Georgia.

On January 3, 1973, Andrew Young became the first Black Member of Congress from Georgia since reconstruction, serving the Fifth District until his appointment in 1977 by fellow Georgian Jimmy Carter as Ambassador to the United Nations.

Saturday is the 53d birthday of Michale Stipe, born at Fort McPherson, Georgia in 1960.

On January 4, 1995, Georgia Congressman Newt Gingrich was elected Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, becoming the third Georgian to hold that office after Congressmen Charles Crisp (1892-1896) and Howell Cobb (1850-1851).

On January 4, 1999, Alvin T. “Al” Wong was sworn in as Judge of the DeKalb State Court, and took the bench as the first Asian-American judge in the Southeastern United States.

On January 5, 1868, General George Meade took command of the Third Military District, beginning the Reconstruction in Georgia.

On January 5, 1926, Hosea Williams was born in Attapulgus, Georgia.

In these three days, we see illustrated the sweep of Georgia’s history as a state. From the Colonial period, through the Civil War and Reconstruction, the movement of women into political leadership, followed by African-Americans, the ascendance of the Republican Party in Georgia and as the dominant Southern party, to the first steps of Asian-Americans and other minorities into roles of political leadership.

Speaking of Asian-Americans

First of all, I am one. My grandfather was Japanese. Also, two Asian-Americans were elected in Georgia in 2013, including Morrow City Councilwoman Hang Tran.

Five candidates may not sound like many, but previous election cycles typically saw just one or two, said Helen Ho, executive director of the Asian-American Legal Advocacy Center of Georgia.

“I kind of feel the snowball is finally getting bigger,” said Ho, whose organization is working to get Asian-Americans to vote. “There seems to be some momentum.”

Tran, who works as a chemist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the absence of Asian-Americans in local government motivated her to run. “I just thought there wasn’t enough representation,” she said.

This year, the name of Eugene Chin Yu, an Augusta businessman of Korean ancestry, will appear on the statewide ballot among candidates for Georgia’s open U.S. Senate seat.

Still, conversations with a half dozen Asian-Americans reveals a wide spectrum of political engagement — well short of a definitive groundswell. And even community leaders acknowledge the challenges of mobilizing a group that includes many disparate cultures and languages, as well as, among some immigrants, a fear of government instilled by repressive regimes in their countries of origin.

Daewon Hwang said his Korean church congregation in Cumming is a blank slate when it comes to political interest.

The reason? “The language problem,” the pastor said as he shopped in a Korean supermarket in Duluth, where 22 percent of residents are Asian-American.

Down the road in a Chinese supermarket, Yanfeng Li said he sees stirrings of engagement: websites that express political views, even some calls for candidates.

Edward Chu, an interpreter who lives in Lilburn, votes, but does not take an active interest in local politics. He’d like to see someone from the Chinese community elected to local office, but he would not support a candidate simply because of his or her heritage.

“I’d have to agree with them,” he said.

Behind the scenes, there’s a push under way to nudge Asian-Americans toward the voting booth.

Asian-American groups have canvassed door-to-door to register voters, made robo-calls before elections and brought in candidates for forums and dinners. For this year’s elections, they are targeting high-concentration areas such as Norcross, Clarkston, Duluth, Lawrenceville and John’s Creek.

Ho’s group has created a statewide database of Asian-Americans and other immigrants to track who is registered and who has voted. According to the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office, the number of Asian-Americans who are active voters grew by about 10,000 from 2008 to 2012 to stand at more than 72,000.

“We cannot just have other community members making important decisions,” said Travis Kim, who served as president for the past two years of the Korean American Association of Greater Atlanta. “We have to be involved.”

State Rep. B.J. Pak (R-Gwinnett) is the only Asian-American member of the Georgia General Assembly, and he wrote an op-ed in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution urging our fellow Asian-Americans to vote.

While Georgia’s AAPI voter rolls increased approximately 230 percent from 2004 to 2012, the actual turnout percentage has decreased. In Georgia, only 54.7 percent of Asian-Americans registered to vote voted in the 2012 presidential election.

In Gwinnett, where AAPIs comprise roughly 12 percent of the population — the highest percentage in the state — the turnout was even lower, at 51 percent. Despite having the highest percentage of those with college degrees among all groups, Asian-Americans had the lowest turnout percentage of all racial/ethnic groups.

AAPI statewide turnout percentage actually declined significantly during the last three presidential election cycles – from 65.7 percent in 2004 to 58 percent in 2008 and 54.7 percent in 2012. These percentages would shrink even more, if we were to include in the denominator the number of Asian-Americans who were eligible but not registered..

So, what might be causing lower turnout and perceived apathy? Based on my observations, some general themes emerge.

First, many first-generation AAPIs indicated they were unable to make it the polls on Election Day because they own and operate small businesses. Although several alternatives to in-person voting on Election Day exist, many of these voters simply were not familiar with the availability of early and absentee voting.

Second, the structure of government in the U.S. is complex. Many find it difficult to fully comprehend the functions of each political office for which they are voting. Many also find it intimidating to vote because they are not fluent in English. Ballots and instructions are in English.

Third, the AAPI population is diverse. Attitudes regarding civic involvement vary in light of their past experiences with their birth country. Some simply believe they cannot have a relationship with their elected officials, that their votes would not matter, or that they cannot make a difference in government.

Lastly, when AAPI parents do not vote, their children are less likely to be involved civically.

How do we reverse the trend? At the very least, it requires combined efforts by government officials, candidates for office, and community leaders.

Perhaps some folks would like to help Rep. Pak get his op-ed translated and published in some of the Asian-language newspapers and newsletters that appear in our communities. Sounds like a great way for the Georgia Republican Party to start outreach to groups of voters some of whom are likely to be sympathetic to conservative ideology if we reach out to them.

Helen Kim Ho, who is mentioned in the first article above, makes such a point in another Op-ed in the AJC.

Any political party interested in expanding its base in Georgia must engage immigrant voters or those who have come to this country recently and become naturalized citizens.

Take Gwinnett County, with 4.5 percent Asian, 4.8 percent Latino and 25 percent African-American active voters. While voter turnout as a whole went down between the last two presidential elections at both state and county levels, voter turnout in Gwinnett increased among immigrants.

In the 2012 Duluth House district race, state Rep. Pedro Marin — the Democratic incumbent who was redistricted to a majority Republican district running through New Koreatown — won in large part due to Asian-American voters. He also won by a larger margin there than in his former majority-Democratic district.

What can be deduced from Marin’s race is that while many Asian-Americans identify as Republican — slightly more than 50 percent, based on an exit poll we conducted in 2010 — they vote ultimately on issues. A voter survey we conducted this year of hundreds of voters in Gwinnett found 20 percent saying they voted based on party loyalty.

The percentage of white voters in Georgia is on the decline. Georgia is growing more urban and less rural. Counting on the vote of avowed Democrats in the state won’t win or influence larger elections. And token, last-minute pleas to immigrant voters with top-down messaging don’t work.

That’s where knowledge of what issues catalyze immigrant civic participation can help win votes. Our 2013 Voter Survey, which included a majority of Asian respondents, asked respondents to select their top priorities from a list of 11 issues. The top three issues were public education, economic equity/small business and access to health care. Immigration was also important, but as a secondary issue alongside transportation and public safety.

Georgia Republicans now have a challenge squarely in front of us. Who’s willing to work on this project? I very rarely say nice things about the AJC, though their reporting on APS cheating scandals was world-class, but I want to thank them for paying attention to this issue.

Allen West calls out Georgia Democrats for opposing a Georgia Democrat

Allen West has called out some Georgia Democrats who are opposing the nomination of DeKalb County State Court Judge Eleanor Ross to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.

Civil rights leaders are showing their “true colors” again in my home state of Georgia over judicial appointments.

According to Politico,

President Barack Obama has upset Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) and other civil rights leaders by ignoring their input in picking four nominees to fill vacancies on the federal bench in Georgia’s Northern District.

Lewis and fellow Presidential Medal of Freedom winners Joseph Lowery and C.T. Vivian are expected to ask Obama to withdraw his nominees — a demand that is unlikely to be met — amid concerns about the judges’ records and convictions on matters of importance to African-Americans.

The three appointments in question are:

Mark Cohen — the lead defense attorney in challenges to Georgia’s voter ID law.
Michael Boggs – a state judge who, as a member of the state Legislature, once voted to keep in place the Confederate-themed Georgia state flag
Eleanor Ross – a female state judge who is black and (gasp) a REPUBLICAN

The fourth nominee (not being specifically contested by Lewis) is Leigh Martin May – a female trial lawyer who is white — but a Democrat.

Why is Ross such a troublesome choice for Lewis? According to Joe Saunders, writing for BizPac Review,

U.S. Rep. John L. Lewis (D-Ga) is accusing the president of selling out his political base by naming Eleanor Ross as a federal judge. She is, literally, not politically correct enough. Since most black women are Democrats, Lewis reasons, any black woman Obama appoints should be Democrat, too.

This case also clearly demonstrates who is raging the real “war on women.” The Democrats want to keep black women in their place, on the political plantation.

The irony in this all is that I’m not aware, as a DeKalb Republican, of any evidence that Eleanor Ross is a Republican, other than Democrats simply stating it. Here’s Judge Ross’s voting history, from PoliticalDataSystems.com:

Eleanor Ross Voting Record3

Her voting record above shows Democratic Primary elections and General Elections. She served as an Assistant District Attorney in Fulton County and Assistant Solicitor in DeKalb under elected Democrats. A search of the Ethics Commission website shows no Republican donations. The only Republican tie of which I am aware is that Governor Nathan Deal appointed Ross to the DeKalb State Court.

I reject the contention that Eleanor Ross is a Republican as being based solely on the facts that Governor Deal appointed her to a nonpartisan position in DeKalb County and that her nomination to the federal bench is apparently supported by Georgia’s Republican United States Senators, without which any nomination is doomed.

And speaking of Allen West, he will be the featured speaker at the Bridging the Gap Lincoln Day Dinner on February 27, 2014 in Leesburg, Georgia. From an email I received:

Bridging The Gap of Georgia is a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable organization created to assist veterans with their transition home.  Many of the veterans we serve suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Combat Stress and are homeless. We utilize a mentorship program to enable veterans to function as productive members of our society by addressing their housing, job placement, and health needs.

For the 1st Annual Lincoln Day Dinner, our featured speaker is LTC. Allen West who will share with the audience his extensive knowledge and experience, as well as provide insight on the support systems needed to enhance services to veterans. Attendees will get valuable information about Bridging The Gap of Georgia and initiatives that can address the needs and issues of veterans in their local community.

Please find detailed information about the event below.

1st Annual Lincoln Day Dinner
February 27, 2014  Time to be announced
Featured Speaker: LTC. Allen West
The Bindery at Oakland Library & Event Center
445 Oakland Parkway, West
Leesburg, GA 31763
$50.00 per person (includes dinner)
Proceeds to benefit Bridging The Gap of Georgia
Sponsored by the Lee County Republican Party

LTC. Allen West is a Georgia native, former member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Fox News contributor and served in both Operation Desert Storm and Operation Desert Shield.  His book, “Guardian of the Republic” is due to be released in April 2014.  Throughout his years leading troops, raising a loving family, serving as Congressman in Florida’s 22nd district, and emerging as one of the most authentic voices in conservative politics, LTC. West has never compromised the core values on which he was raised: family, faith, tradition, service, honor, fiscal responsibility, courage, and freedom.

You can reserve your seat for the Lincoln Day Dinner by visiting Bridging the Gap on their website.

Nancy Jester visits Spalding County GOP

Last night, Nancy Jester, Republican candidate for State School Superintendent, visited the Spalding County Republican Party.

Jester Noble

Saturday, Jester will speak to the Gwinnett County Republican Party monthly meeting at 550 Trackside in Lawrenceville. Karen Handel will also be addressing the meeting.

County party organizations or other conservative groups who would like to hear Nancy Jester’s conservative message about how to get better educational results for our children through conservative fiscal management and “more classroom, less bureaucracy,” please email her at [email protected].

Greg Williams handicaps the Senate race

Our friend Greg Williams has his take on the starting positions in the Senate race. My own analogy is that we’re at the point where the candidates have been training and are now settling into the blocks. Like the picture at the top, they all start from the same starting line, but some will have an inside track. We’re in the middle distance phase of the race now, where you need both stamina, and endurance. Greg, of course, prefers a football metaphor.

Greg’s List is proud to provide our version of Georgia’s Best Conservative Senator rankings beginning Week One 2014. Our rankings will be comprised of scientific polling data, objective interviews, subjective analysis, and generalities drawn from an amalgamation of traditional media, social media and new media reactions to the individual candidates…In other words, we will provide the proverbial “Educated Guess”…or, “Enlightened Prediction” as we grassroot melo-dramatists prefer..
So, without further adieu, we present our “inaugural” rankings of 2014: 1. Jack Kingston–There’s no such thing as bad press and Kingston recovered nicely from his verbal fumble regarding childhood cafeteria sweeping aka Work Ethic in public schools. Kingston is the Senior member of Congress out of the three announced House of Representative candidates and has significant support from Coastal and Southern Georgia. Appearances on Bill Maher’s show and other national networks has enhanced his name ID in Metro Atlanta and he leads the pack in fundraising…
2. Karen Handel–With her grassroots apparatus from previous state wide races intact, Handel is a formidable competitor in the Senate race…On a purely subjective basis, Handel has the luxury of combining passionate and articulate volunteers that show up en masse for every state-side grassroot event.
3. David Perdue–Money, money, money…And lack of a voting record…Both are Boons to a prospective Senate candidate, and his last name won’t alienate him to voters, despite the wistful predictions from the anti-Sonny crowd…
4. Phil Gingrey–Clumsy defense of Todd Akin’s insanity regarding “legitimate rape” questions his ability to articulate Conservative principles…Has money though, and a large network due to his previous Congressional Geographic coverage…

5. Paul Broun–Fundraising and lamentable Social Conservative strict Biblical interpretations hold this candidacy back…The passion of his supporters could elevate him to run-off status but many things would have to fall into place and its too early to predict their manifestation..

Bill Byrne announces for Cobb Commission District 1

Byrne served as Chairman of the Cobb County Commission from 1992 to 2002 and is running for the district seat being vacated by Helen Goreham, who is not seeking reelection. From his pre-announcement:

As of December 30, 2013, I am announcing that I am a Republican candidate for Commission District 1, of the Cobb County Board of Commissioners.

My campaign will focus on the following issues facing Cobb County:

GOVERNING RESPONSIBILITY:
Decisions by Government, at all levels, must be fundamentally based on the principles of the Constitution and be limited, focused and based on the WILL OF THE PEOPLE being served.

PUBLIC SAFETY:
The primary responsibility of Government, at all levels, must always be Public Safety.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT:
I am committed to work with the cities of Acworth, Kennesaw and Marietta to bring new companies and business opportunities to those urban centers of Cobb County.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns and Elections for January 2, 2014

Welcome to 2014. We are now 4 months and 18 days (138 days) from the 2014 Primary Elections and 10 months, 2 days (306 days) from the 2014 General Elections.

No day of the year better illustrates the duality of Georgia’s place in American history than January Second. On January 2, 1788, delegates to a convention in Augusta voted unanimously and Georgia became the fourth state to ratify the Constitution of the United States of America. On January 2, 1861, Georgia voters went to the polls to elect delegates to the Secession Convention to be held January 16th in Milledgeville, then Georgia’s Capital.

On January 2, 1916, Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court Joseph R. Lamar died in Washington, DC. Lamar was born in Ruckersville, Georgia and grew up next door to best friend Woodrow Wilson, who served  Lamar attended the University of Georgia, received his BA from Bethany College and his law degree from Washington & Lee University School of Law. Lamar served in the Georgia House of Representatives and on the Georgia Supreme Court before being nominated to the United State Supreme Court by  President William Taft (R-Ohio).

Old Georgia Capitol1

Polls are open in HD 2 and 22 Special Elections

Check the Secretary of State’s website for information on where and when you can vote in the Special Elections for House District 2 (Catoosa, Walker, and Whitfield Counties) and House District 22 (Cobb, Forsyth, and Fulton Counties).

Speaking of Secretary of State Brian Kemp, his official website has a new design, one that’s responsive to screen size and should work well on tablets and smartphones.

New Kemp Website

One thing I would note is that it looks like his photo was taken by the same guy who shot David Perdue’s early headshots, as well as some for Donna Sheldon and Barry Loudermilk. I’d bet the shots were taken with a Nikon D4, D800, D800E, or D600. It’s easy to correct in the camera, and if you’ve already taken shots with a green cast, you can correct it in Photoshop.

Campaign Disclosure system like Healthcare.gov?

With the New Year came new reporting and registration requirements for lobbyists, and it appears that the Georgia State Ethics Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission online system may not be up to the task. Last night, we saw numerous reports of lobbyists registering for this year but not receiving a promised email to confirm their registration.

We also heard over the weekend that the campaign disclosure system was having a problem where it won’t allow the download of .pdfs of working files. So if you want to double-check your work, you may be out of luck.

According to the State Ethics Commission website, here are the upcoming deadlines for state campaigns.

2013 Year End Report Grace Period ends January 8, 2014.

2014 First Report covering the period through January 31, 2014, Grace Period ends February 7, 2014.

So, for the first time under the new law, candidates with elections this year have an extra disclosure due at the end of January.

Here’s my advice for anyone with reports due in the coming days. First, file early, even if it means that you might need to amend later, because you get fined for filing late, not for amending a timely-filed report. Second, if you do find the disclosure system bogging down and throwing errors, document it, document it, document it. Screenshots are your friend here, as are emails to the Commission’s help center.

Other new laws now effective in effect

Last year’s Lobbying Reform push, which brought us the new January 31 disclosure designed to capture last-minute fundraising in advance of the legislative session, we also have new limits on lobbyist gifts to legislators.

While the ethics laws set the first state limits on how much a lobbyist can spend, there remain considerable loopholes and questions about how the laws will be enforced. The state ethics commission, which has been dealing with various investigations and federal subpoenas, is tasked with interpreting the new laws and creating rules for compliance. That process could take weeks or months.

Under the new laws, lobbyists will not be able to spend more than $75 at a time. Previously, lobbyists could spend as much as they wanted as long as it was noted on disclosure reports filed with the state.

Potential loopholes exist. For instance, lobbyists can still spend more to host group events where all members of the General Assembly or all members of a smaller group, such as a caucus, are invited. In addition, the $75 cap is on lobbyists, not lawmakers, so it’s conceivable that more than one lobbyist might join forces and split the cost so each doesn’t exceed the limit.

Also notable about the Lobbying legislation is a new definition of “Lobbyist” that broadens who must register with the State Ethics Commission, and zeroes out the registration fee for lobbyists to allow unpaid or modestly paid citizen-lobbyists to register without a financial burden.

All new employees in childcare facilities must be cleared through a national fingerprint background check.

Juvenile Justice Reform, passed with the support of Gov. Nathan Deal as the sequel to justice reform for adult offenders and enhances the flexibility of judges to sentence juveniles to programs other than traditional youth detention centers.

“Currently, if we take a child and put them into a called ‘secure detention,’ that child is going to cost the state over $90,000 a year. You could put children through the finest college in this country for less cost than that,” said Rep. Wendell Willard, (R) Sandy Springs, the bill’s primary sponsor.

That high price tag is attributed to the cost of educating a child while he or she is incarcerated. Instead, the community-based programs will keep youth offenders at home with their families and at their regular schools, greatly reducing the cost to the state.

Legislation to address concussions in youth sports, called the “Return to Play Act,” also goes into effect today.

Georgia’s Return to Play Act of 2013 requires coaches to pull kids displaying signs of concussions off the fields for medical evaluation.

The law will keep children who’ve suffered head injuries from playing until they’re cleared by a doctor.  Some say it sounds good, but others worry it won’t work.  The players dashing down the field each game now have extra protection.

“It’s always in the back of your mind when any of your children play sports that, you know, there’s always a chance that it could happen,” said Larry Smith, Parent.

A new state law requires coaches to pull players who may have suffered a concussion out of the game.

“Basically, what it does it makes people aware of what they are and what dangers it could lead to,” said Dr. Mike Busman, Family Medicine and Sports Medicine Physician.

Busman said recognizing concussions can be tricky.  He said removing injured players from games is essential before they get hit again.

“It could cause loss of consciousness, bleeds on the brain, swelling on the brain, and could lead to death,” he said.

Doctors said concussions are fairly common among younger athletes, especially in high contact sports like football and soccer.  They said younger athletes are also more prone to second impact syndrome, leading to more serious complications.

There’s a burning Mercedes in your yard

State Senator Brandon Beach had an unexpected visitor in the form of a flaming Mercedes that his a brick wall feet from his house.

“We heard a loud noise, ‘boom,’” said Sen. Brandon Beach, whose home sits just on the other side of the wall. “I thought a transformer blew or something.”

Beach told Channel 2′s Mike Petchenik his son looked out the window and saw Cobb’s Mercedes in flames.

“It would have (hit) my car if that hadn’t stopped him,” he said of the wall that curtailed the car’s momentum.

Neighbor Theresa Lynch said she also heard the impact and ran outside to investigate.

“I saw fireball, ran back, got the phone, called 911,” she said. “That fire licked up about 4 feet in a short time.”

Bob Bar drops the “I Bomb”

That’s several letters more serious than the “F Bomb.” From Barr’s column that ran in Town Hall:

December 19th marked the fifteenth anniversary of the impeachment of then- President Bill Clinton by the House of Representatives. As the first member of Congress to file an official impeachment document and one of the 13 House members who prosecuted Clinton’s subsequent trial in the Senate, I was intimately involved with — and in — that process. Not only was the 1998 impeachment a powerful and necessary response to the gauntlet throw at the feet of Congress by the Clinton Administration, it was an important exercise employing a mechanism purposefully incorporated in our Constitution by our Founding Fathers.

Today, talk of impeachment is once again growing, but the lessons from previous impeachment proceedings must not be ignored. As was the case with President Richard Nixon in 1974 and Clinton in 1998, there is growing evidence President Barack Obama has engaged in “serious offenses” that “subvert” our government and “undermine the integrity of office.” It is interesting to note (as I did in an April 25, 1997 opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal) that such terminology was used in a February 1974 report written by the staff of the Nixon impeachment inquiry, outlining the “constitutional grounds for presidential impeachment” – a report a young lawyer named Hillary Clinton helped draft.

Even a passive observer of the machinations of the Obama Administration would be hard pressed to deny that such damning language is applicable today as it was to Bill Clinton and before him to Richard Nixon. Like his predecessors, Obama ascribes to the philosophy blatantly articulated by Richard Nixon a generation ago, that “[w]hen the president does it, that means it is not illegal.” It is for this very reason why the impeachment process exists, and why Republicans should never consider impeachment “off the table” in addressing the misconduct of President Obama who is, as Hamilton declares for us, a “public man” abusing the “public trust.”

Such an inquiry is needed today. Republicans should only fear impeachment if they abuse the process by letting politics guide their inquiry, rather than the pursuit of objective truth. And, Democrats should only fear impeachment if they care more for the health of their party than the health of the nation.

As in 1998, the integrity of the office of the presidency hangs in the balance; and our Founding Fathers watch us still.

Matt Towery:

In his national column, this week titled “US Chamber Vow to Take on Tea Party a Stupid, Divisive Move,” InsiderAdvantage CEO Matt Towery writes:

The most likely nominee for the GOP Senate nomination is longtime Republican Congressman Jack Kingston.

Make of it what you will.

Event Calendar


9th District GOP: A Visit with Governor Nathan Deal

January 2, 2014 from 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Achasta Club House Grille, 639 Birch River Drive, Dahlonega, GA 30533

+ Google Map

9th District GOP of Georgia Save the date for a visit with Governor Nathan Deal on Thursday, January 2, 2014, at 7 PM, at the Achasta Club House Grille in Dahlonega, 639 Birch River Drive. This intimate gathering around the fire with refreshments is being co hosted by the Dawson County Republican Party, Lumpkin County Republican Party and Foothills Republican Women.

Find out more »


Buckhead YR: Happy Hour

January 2, 2014 from 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Twin Peaks Buckhead, 3365 Piedmont Rd NE, Atlanta, GA 30305

+ Google Map

Twin Peaks? Really, Bro? Is that before or after the gender sensitivity training session?

Find out more »


Spalding GOP: Meeting with David Pennington

January 2, 2014 from 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM

J. Henry’s, 110 W. College St., Griffin, GA 30224

+ Google Map

Come join us for our regularly scheduled monthly meeting and start off the New Year right! The meeting will be Thursday, January 2nd at J. Henry’s. Those wishing to socialize and purchase dinner should arrive at 6 PM, with meeting starting at 7 PM. Our guest speaker will be David Pennington. David is running for Governor of Georgia. He is a small business owner and Mayor of Dalton. Please make every effort to attend this meeting and be an informed…

Find out more »


Gwinnett GOP: Breakfast with David Pennington, Karen Handel, Nancy Jester, & Dahlys Hamilton

January 4, 2014 from 8:30 AM - 10:00 AM

550 Trackside, 550 North Clayton Street, Lawrenceville, GA 30046

+ Google Map

Join us for our first breakfast of 2014, when our speakers will be candidate for Governor David Pennington, Senate candidate Karen Handel, State School Superintendent candidate Nancy Jester and House 97 candidate Dahlys Hamilton. Doors open at 7:45 AM for breakfast, and the meeting starts at 8:30. You can order a full buffet breakfast for $10, juice and coffee for $5, or pay a $3 door charge. Make your reservations for breakfast before January 3rd.

Find out more »


Fayette County GOP: Meeting with John Barge, David Perdue, & Richard Woods

January 4, 2014 from 8:30 AM - 9:30 AM

Fayette GOP HQ, 174 Glynn St. N (GA Hwy 85), Fayetteville, GA 30214

+ Google Map

Three Republican Speakers: John Barge - GA Gubernatorial Candidate Richard Woods -Candidate for State School Supertintendent  David Perdue -  Candidate for US Senate

Find out more »


Jack Kingston: Grand Opening New Campaign HQ

January 5, 2014 from 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Jack Kingston Senate HQ, 3360 Satellite Blvd Duluth, GA 30096

+ Google Map

Jack Kingston is having a Grand Opening kickoff party for the new headquarters of his US Senate campaign. The party is open to all– volunteers, supporters and anyone else who can make it out to meet Jack, and your invitation is attached. Please come, bring any guests you would like, and welcome the Kingston for Senate campaign to the neighborhood!

Find out more »


Downton Abbey – Season 4 Premier

January 5, 2014 from 9:00 PM - 10:00 PM
GPB

Glynn GOP: US Senate Candidate Forum with Rep. Jack Kingston

January 6, 2014 from 6:30 PM - 7:30 PM

Christian Renewal Church, 4265 Norwich St Ext (aka Hwy 341), Brunswick, GA 31520

+ Google Map

Jack Kingston, US House Representative for Dist 1 and US Senate Candidate for GA, is appearing in the fourth of our US Senate candidate forums We are expecting a large crowd so come early to get your seat and to spend time talking with Rep Kingston before the program begins. Short candidate speech followed by questions posed by our panel Please bring a friend, neighbor, spouse – or even a stranger – who is interested in learning more about candidates…

Find out more »


Campaign Fundraiser for State Rep. Mike Jacobs

January 7, 2014 from 4:00 PM - 6:00 PM

Olde Blind Dog Irish Pub, 705 Town Boulevard, Brookhaven, GA 30319

+ Google Map

Please join Speaker David Ralston, Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones, Majority Leader Larry O’Neal, Brookhaven Mayor J Max Davis, Chamblee Mayor Eric Clarkson and Dunwoody Mayor Mike Davis at a campaign fundraiser for State Rep. Mike Jacobs. With Ron Paul inspired primary opposition set to formally announce after the start of the legislative session, we need your help now. Olde Blind Dog is located in Town Brookhaven, off of Peachtree Road just south of Oglethorpe University.

Find out more »


Fundraiser for Senator Judson Hill

January 7, 2014 from 4:00 PM - 6:00 PM

The Georgian Club, 100 Galleria Parkway, Atlanta, GA 30339

+ Google Map

You are Invited to a Reception for Senator Judson Hill, Vice Chairman of the Republican Senate Caucus, Chairman Senate Finance Committee. Suggested Contribution $250    Contributions may be made payable to Friends of Judson Hill, 3102 Raines Court, Marietta, GA 30062. In lieu of your appearance, please consider making an online contribution at www.judsonhill.com

Find out more »