Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 16, 2014

April is the national month set aside to recognize Autism Awareness, Sexual Assault Awareness, and National Pecan Month. We are in the middle of National Library Week. April 16th is National Healthcare Decisions Day.

George Washington, recently elected President, left his Mount Vernon home on April 16, 1789 for his inauguration in New York.

“I bade adieu to Mount Vernon, to private life, and to domestic felicity; and with a mind oppressed with more anxious and painful sensations than I have words to express.”

On April 16, 1865, Columbus, Georgia fell to Union forces. The Battle of Columbus is widely considered to be the last battle of the Civil War. Though it is not unanimously held to be, a 1935 Act of the Georgia General Assembly declared it the war’s last battle. Continue reading

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 15, 2014

On April 15, 1741, the Georgia colony was divided into two counties – Savannah County and Frederica County.


Map courtesy of Carl Vinson Institute of Government.

On April 15, 1776, the Georgia Provincial Congress issued “Rules and Regulations,” which would serve as an interim state Constitution until the Constitution of 1777 was adopted.

On April 15, 1783, the United States Congress ratified a preliminary peace treaty with Great Britain, which was signed in November 1782.

President Abraham Lincoln died on April 15, 1865 of a gunshot suffered the previous evening.

The Atlanta Ladies Memorial Association was formed on April 15, 1966 to assist and honor Confederate veterans. One of its most well-known projects was the “Lion of the Confederacy” memorial in Oakland Cemetery.

Photo: J. Glover (AUTiger)

Photo: J. Glover (AUTiger)

RMS Titanic sunk at 2:20 AM on April 15,1912.

Jackie Robinson, born in Cairo, Georgia, became the first African-American professional baseball player in the Major Leagues on April 15, 1947, playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers against the Boston Braves. Robinson scored the winning run in that game.

On April 15, 1989, Chinese students and intellectuals in Tiananmen Square in Beijing, mourned the death of Communist Party General Secretary Hu Yaoban, considered a liberal reformer.

DeForest Kelley, born in Atlanta and known for playing Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy on the original Star Trek series, was inducted into the National Broadcasters Hall of Fame on April 15, 1992.

One year ago today, two bombs exploded near the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon killing three people and wounding more than 260 others.

Georgia Campaigns & Elections

Track City

As a candidate, you know you’re legitimate when another campaign or a party organization assigns a tracker to follow and video you. Daniel Malloy of the AJC writes about the now-ubiquitous practice.

As candidates for governor, U.S. Senate and U.S. House traverse Georgia in this blockbuster election year, their every utterance is being recorded and filed away in the hope of finding embarrassment, extremism or flip-floppery.

Multiple Georgia U.S. Senate candidates have had controversial comments publicized by trackers, via the news media. U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston faced scrutiny in December after a tracker caught him saying children could pay a small fee or “sweep the floor in the cafeteria” in exchange for free school lunches.

In 2012 U.S. Rep. Paul Broun told a crowd at a church in Hartwell that evolution, embryology and the Big Bang Theory are “lies from the pit of hell,” in video posted on the church website and distributed widely by a Democrat-allied super PAC.

Trackers hired to follow foes are as much a staple of the modern political campaign in statewide and national races as a Facebook page. In addition, anyone with a smartphone and a YouTube account can publish an off-message moment. It has made political research more dynamic and made candidates that much more cautious about everything they say.

Bobby Kahn, a Democratic political consultant and former state party chairman, said tracking cameras first started popping up in Georgia in 1990 – but then you had to hire an entire crew.

By 1998, they were becoming more common but still not quite accepted.

Former Secretary of State and Republican U.S. Senate candidate Karen Handel was the guest of honor at a recent GOP breakfast in a downtown Carrollton restaurant. As soon as she began speaking, a young man standing in the back wearing a Kingston sticker whipped out a handheld video camera to film her remarks. No one paid him any mind.

When Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Michelle Nunn showed up in Washington on Thursday, apparently for a fundraiser, she was greeted by two trackers as she exited her car. One asked “Why are you in Washington, D.C., raising money from lobbyists this morning?” Nunn did not respond, carrying on a conversation with a companion instead.

In Georgia, individual campaigns are doing some tracking, but state Democratic and Republican parties, and Washington-based outside groups have broader footprints.

The infamous remarks by then-Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., about “legitimate rape” – which killed his chances at a U.S. Senate seat – came in a local TV interview that might have been overlooked if American Bridge had not fed it to the national media. American Bridge did the same with Broun’s “lies from the pit of hell” video.

America Rising has 20 trackers throughout the country and in Georgia is following Nunn and U.S. Rep. John Barrow, D-Augusta, who faces a tough re-election. The Georgia GOP is following Nunn and Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Jason Carter.

Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight looked at whether candid camera moments are likely to change the dynamic in an election by looking back at three well-know instances; he found that they can be important when they motivate a candidate’s or party’s base.

the Republican PAC America Rising released a video of [Democrat Bruce] Braley, who represents the 1st Congressional District, referring to Iowa’s other senator, Chuck Grassley, as a “farmer from Iowa who never went to law school.” The comment might seem ill-considered in a state that generates the fourth-highest income per capita from crop production. It has sparked plenty of attention in the local news media; the Des Moines Register, Iowa’s newspaper of record, has published at least 14 pieces on Braley’s comment.

Is Braley’s remark another thing for Democrats to worry about — or is it the latest example of a purported “game changer” that will prove to have little effect?

Gaffes often resonate more with the news media than with voters. A reasonably large body of political science research has found their impact is usually overstated by those who cover campaigns.

Races for the Senate differ [from Presidential campaigns] in some important ways.

First, the candidates are usually less well-known to voters. Braley has strong name recognition in the northeastern quadrant of Iowa, which he represents in Congress. But statewide, 46 percent of Iowans hadn’t known enough about him to form an opinion, according to a Quinnipiac University poll conducted before the release of the “farmer” video. For some of them, the “farmer” comment will represent their first impression of the candidate.

The second difference is that the presidential race is never a sideshow. By contrast, senatorial campaigns compete against one another for scarce resources, such as funds from campaign committees, and attention from activists and the national press.

Braley’s remark might not matter much unto itself. But it’s plausible that it could spur activists and the news media into evaluating the Iowa race differently.

Got (Ground) Game?

Walter Jones of Morris News writes about modern campaigns and how to look at them for clues about strategy.

What aren’t visible in this phase of campaigns are efforts being made for the coming ground war critical to boosting turnout. Because so many voters who hate politics can’t avoid news about the president, they tend to only vote in presidential elections. Getting them to vote and to choose a particular candidate in an off year like 2014 requires considerable effort.

The Barack Obama campaigns of 2008 and 2012 developed stunningly effective techniques to reach these reluctant voters, largely through social media, email and precisely targeted canvasing. By their nature, these techniques are only obvious to the receiver rather than to outside observers like political reporters and rival campaigns, which is why Republicans were caught off guard by them both years Obama ran.

Staking yard signs on busy roads is a clear tipoff of a campaign’s activity. Blasting thousands of text messages to individual voters isn’t.

The question of get-out-the-vote tactics is also a mystery to pollsters because they don’t know how to adjust the raw results to match expected turnout. If the tactics are successful, there may be more young voters or women or blacks than in a typical off year, rendering a poll inaccurate if it is adjusted to account for the demographic mix of past elections in non-presidential years.

While political junkies can only speculate about what campaign is using which turnout techniques, they do have a front-row seat for watching the air war played out on their television screens. They’ll be making particular note of who has a coherent message and who switches to attack mode and whether the attacked candidates respond in a way that furthers their own message or that strays from it. There should be scorecards printed up for tracking the hits, strikeouts and errors.

For amateur scorekeepers, the first step is to isolate the core message from the trappings. Consider who the target is, such as a candidate talking about taxes or national defense is usually going after men while one talking about education or abortion rights is after younger voters and women.

Then, analyze future messages to see how closely they stick to that original message. It can actually make watching political ads fun, and it’s why diehard politicos are glad their wait is over for this visible phase to finally arrive.

Stuart Rothenberg writes today in about how to assess ground tactics.

In an era of micro-targeting and sophisticated get-out-the-vote operations, how can a handicapper know exactly how an election outcome will be affected by a strong ground game?

For me, the answer has always been pretty obvious: I can’t.

It’s not that I dismiss or undervalue the importance of a campaign’s “field operation” or denigrate the impact of registration efforts or voter turnout strategies by one or both parties. It’s that I have never found a way to measure the impact of “ground game” operations during an election.

Earlier this year, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee disclosed that through its Bannock Street project, it would spend $60 million to put 4,000 paid staffers on the ground in its attempt to retain control of the Senate.

Could Democrats register enough voters or turn out people who previously didn’t vote during midterms to flip a couple of House and Senate contests? Maybe. It certainly seems possible.

“According to Sasha Issenberg, the author of ‘The Victory Lab,’ a good ground operation can add a point or two to the vote,” reported veteran National Public Radio correspondent Mara Liasson in late March. (“Democrats Count On the Fine Art of Field Operations.”)

[W]hen evaluating a candidate’s chances of winning an election — or a party’s prospects across the country — the only way I know of including the results of field operations into my handicapping is through survey data showing enthusiasm and intensity of vote intention. And that certainly won’t show up now or, in all likelihood, for the next few months.When I asked one pollster about the best way to evaluate the impact of a party’s ground game, he told me to “wait until they count the votes.” At that point, it’s possible to compare election results to previous cycles and to consider what changes in turnout took place and how they may have been related to field operations.

Politics365 covers campaigns and elections from the perspective of communities of color. Much has been made of changing demographics in the Peach State, but the question for 2014 is how that will effect the composition of the electorate. Here’s the takeaway from political professional Kirk Clay from a social media conference discussion of Georgia politics from Politics365.

This conference was the launch of a plan to untie and mobilize large numbers of white progressive and “voters of color” (VOC) through the use of “predictive modeling” to strategically micro-target supporters. What’s even more impressive? You could see #GA123’s impact with 200 tweets being reproduced 66 times — a high ratio and strong online activity for a conference of this size.  What’s more, many in the audience were media personalities and local “influencers” with large followings so #GA123 could’ve potentially touched over 120,000 people.

The concept is simple, mobilize progressive voters to take three important steps: 1) Vote in the primary election, 2) early vote in the general election, and 3) get a friend to vote on November 4th.

mpact on Election 2014: “Republican candidates running for Georgia U.S. Senate want low turnout to win. Their support comes from precincts with plenty of older white male voters.” Therefore, the only hope progressives have of holding on the U.S. Senate is with the help of a “Voters of Color Fire Wall.” This wall can be built in “States of Influence” – places like Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, and North Carolina that are not necessarily majority minority but have enough diversity to effect the election. The question is how to ignite the “Rising Electorate” in a midterm.

Case: Georgia is undergoing a remarkable demographic transformation and will soon be an electoral swing state. For these reasons Georgia is at the center of the political universe as it relates to the “Rising Electorate.” As witnessed at the state level in 2012, this rising electorate helped give President Obama 46% (1,773,827) of the Georgia’s vote – only a point off his 2008 performance. More importantly, the VOC vote share grew from 32% in 2008 to 37% for the first time ever. As a result, we now know that a Democrat can successfully win a bid for U.S. Senator with support from 35% of the progressive white vote.

Read that last paragraph again, where it says, “the VOC vote share grew from 32% in 2008 to 37% for the first time ever. As a result, we now know that a Democrat can successfully win a bid for U.S. Senator with support from 35% of the progressive white vote.”

Turnout key in 2014

If turnout, especially among voters of color, will be determinative in 2014, how will parties and campaigns attempt to deal with this to their advantage? Sean Sullivan, writing for the Washington Post, asserts that it’s no accident that Democrats are talking about race and politics lately.

So what to make of Democrats’ rhetoric? Regardless of motivation, they’ve elevated the question of whether strains of racism exist within the GOP and that is far from a risk-free proposition, strategists in both parties say.

“Very risky to accuse the GOP of outright, overt racism,” said one Democratic strategist who was granted anonymity to speak candidly. “Midterms are about motivating your base, so perhaps that is what’s going on. I think more Democrats should take their cues from President Obama, who to my knowledge has never accused his opponents of being racially motivated.”

Saying outright that elements of the Republican Party are racist could potentially spur minorities — who vote overwhelmingly Democratic — to turn out in larger numbers and give them something to rally against. But it could also have the opposite effect: Energizing the Republican base to voice their disagreement at the polls with what Democrats are saying about their party.

Midterm voters “don’t turn out to vote for something, they turn out to vote against something,” said Republican pollster Glen Bolger. “Republicans have their motivation, but the Democratic leadership is casting about for ways to get their base to the polls. Maybe it’s one of their blind data tests; Harry Reid is crying about the Koch Brothers, while the House side has been assigned ‘Republican racism’ as their meme. It’s a pretty thin gruel the Democrats are trying to serve to their voters.”

Democrats are working every day to to get as many African Americans and Hispanics as they can to vote this year. Battleground elections that could decide control of the Senate are happening in states like Louisiana, Arkansas and North Carolina and Georgia, where the minority population — especially African Americans — is very substantial. Democrats’ success or failure there lies heavily in how successful they are in boosting turnout among minority groups.

Closer to home, Georgia Democrats are actively seeking to turnout young voters in hopes of bolstering their chances in November.

The Young Democrats of Georgia [held] their annual conference … April 11-13 in Columbus….
Jason Carter is the 38-year-old Democratic gubernatorial campaign, and he will be headlining a special awards dinner at the conference. Organizers say the weekend events are geared toward whipping up excitement among the party’s youth, in the hopes they will campaign for the candidates and come out and vote in November.

Non-presidential elections rarely galvanize younger voters, said Mark Rountree, a pollster and a political strategist who often works with Republicans.
“Off-year elections do generally become older,” he said. “You don’t see the turnout of young people that you see in presidential elections. I think you will see a reduced number who are voting.”
That could favor Republicans like Governor Nathan Deal, who is 71. He belongs to the largest block of registered voters in Georgia, those age 65 and up. With more than 890,000 people, the group is nearly double the size of the next largest block, 18-24-year-olds, who number about 500,000.
But it may not be that simple. Notably, Rountree says a recent poll conducted by his firm, Landmark Communications, in conjunction with WSB shows Deal doing well with youth voters. And that could be a problem for him.
“In our survey, Gov. Deal was actually winning among young people so low turnout could be a help to Sen. Carter,” Rountree said.
But while Deal may be having success courting younger people, Carter is simply young himself. At 48, so is Nunn. And party officials are banking that will pay off in connecting to voters.
“For folks in Jason’s age bracket, it is fresh on their minds trying to pay off student loans, trying to find a good-paying job, all of that,” said Michael Smith, a spokesman with the Democratic Party of Georgia. “It’s all fresh on Jason’s mind. Plus he has a young family and a lot of young Democrats have young families.”

Recently, lawyers and “community activists” gathered in Atlanta to discuss voting rights and turnout. From National Public Radio,

Laughlin McDonald, director of the ACLU Voting Rights Project, has watched elections in Georgia since not long after Congress passed the Voting Rights Act in 1965. Last year, a divided Supreme Court gutted part of that law, throwing into chaos a system that had required Georgia and eight other states to ask for federal permission before making any election changes.

“We know that in Georgia it is having a negative impact in some of the jurisdictions, and one of them is Augusta-Richmond County,” McDonald said.

Before the Supreme Court ruled, the county planned to move up its elections from November to July. But the Justice Department objected to that plan, arguing it would depress black turnout. After the Supreme Court ruling, the county no longer had to ask for permission, so the change was made.

Already, the Atlanta Journal Constitution has found African-Americans are underrepresented in local governments across the state.

Not everyone at the training believes there’s reason for alarm in Georgia. Bryan Tyson, a young Atlanta lawyer, said the Supreme Court majority was right last year when it called out Congress for failing to update decades-old triggers in the Voting Rights Act.

“I haven’t really seen any sort of massive resurgence of problems as a result of that,” Tyson said. “Not really any major issues that I’ve seen as a result.”

Ann Brumbaugh is a lawyer who’s represented the state elections board and worked on a bipartisan rewrite of Georgia’s elections code. She sees more cause for concern.

“It makes some people more willing to do reckless things, and it makes other people less willing to do necessary things,” Brumbaugh said, explaining that not many eyes are focused on what small counties and towns are doing.

County Connections

Governor Nathan Deal spoke to the Association of County Commissioners in Savannah. From the Savannah Morning News:

Gov. Nathan Deal said Monday jobs have been the focus of his administration and county commissioners have been his partners in that process.

“With your cooperation, we have achieved the designation as the No. 1 state in the nation in which to do business,” Deal said. “And we’re working hard to keep it.

“With your help in the last three-plus years, we have seen more than 235,000 private-sector jobs created in Georgia.”

Then Deal, speaking to the crowd of 1,000-plus members of the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia at the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center, offered more good news: State revenues for March were 12.3 percent higher than a year earlier.

“Folks, we’re coming out of this thing,” Deal said, adding that the state is almost at 5.5 percent growth in fiscal year to date.

“But we recognize that we have things we need to do to help your communities prosper and keep our state growing,” Deal said.

High on that list is job training.

Deal’s campaign rolled out 145 local elected officials who have endorsed the Governor’s reelection bid.

Deal Commissioners

“Along with the municipal leaders they partner with, Georgia’s county commissioners know the needs and challenges of their communities better than anyone else,” Deal said. “I am honored and humbled by their endorsements and support. In conjunction with our mayors coalition and county chairs in all 159 counties, Commissioners for Deal adds to our unrivaled grassroots organization in every corner of the state. I pledge my continued partnership with each of these county commissioners to guarantee Georgia remains the No. 1 state in the nation to do business.”

Commissioners for Deal Co-Chair Charlotte Nash (Gwinnett) said, “Gov. Deal is a strong partner for our counties and local communities as we have joined together to make Georgia the No. 1 state in the nation to do business. I’m proud to stand alongside these elected officials from every corner of our state and offer the governor our support.  His vision and strong leadership are crucial to ensuring Georgia’s continued economic success.”

Commissioners for Deal co-chairs include:
Co-Chair: Chairman Bob Blackburn-Coweta County
Co-Chair: Chairman Charlotte Nash-Gwinnett County
Co-Chair: Chairman Kevin Little-Walton County
Co-Chair: Commissioner Carvel Lewis-Quitman County

For a complete list of Commissioners for Deal endorsements, click here.


Muscogee Lunch April 15 2014

The Greater Fayette Republican Women’s Club will hold our Thursday, April 17th evening meeting beginning at 6:30pm at Fayette County Republican Party Event Center, 174 Glynn Street North, Fayetteville. The guest speaker will be U.S. Representative Phil Gingrey M.D., candidate for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate. Also speaking will be Richard Woods, candidate for the Republican nomination for State School Superintendent. Local candidates who are vying for seats on the Board of Education and the County Board of Commissioners will be introduced and offered the opportunity to speak for a few minutes on relevant issues. A light supper will be provided by GFRWC. For more information, please contact Debby Dickinson, 404-376-4132 or [email protected]

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 14, 2014

The first American society advocating for abolition of slavery was founded on April 14, 1775, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Benjamin Franklin would later serve as President of the organization.

On April 14, 1865, John Wilkes Booth shot President Abraham Lincoln as the President attended a showing of Our American Cousin at Ford’s Theater, seven blocks from the White House.

RMS Titanic hit an iceberg just before midnight on April 14, 1912. Among those losing their lives was Major Archibald Butt of Augusta, Georgia, who had served as a military aide to Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft.

“Captain Smith and Major Archibald Butt, military aide to the President of the United States, were among the coolest men on board. A number of steerage passengers were yelling and screaming and fighting to get to the boats. Officers drew guns and told them that if they moved towards the boats they would be shot dead. Major Butt had a gun in his hand and covered the men who tried to get to the boats. The following story of his bravery was told by Mrs. Henry B. Harris, wife of the theatrical manager: ‘The world should rise in praise of Major Butt. That man’s conduct will remain in my memory forever. The American army is honored by him and the way he taught some of the other men how to behave when women and children were suffering that awful mental fear of death. Major Butt was near me and I noticed everything that he did.”

“When the order to man the boats came, the captain whispered something to Major Butt. The two of them had become friends. The major immediately became as one in supreme command. You would have thought he was at a White House reception. A dozen or more women became hysterical all at once, as something connected with a life-boat went wrong. Major Butt stepped over to them and said: ‘Really, you must not act like that; we are all going to see you through this thing.’”

“He helped the sailors rearrange the rope or chain that had gone wrong and lifted some of the women in with a touch of gallantry. Not only was there a complete lack of any fear in his manner, but there was the action of an aristocrat. ‘When the time came he was a man to be feared. In one of the earlier boats fifty women, it seemed, were about to be lowered, when a man, suddenly panic-stricken, ran to the stern of it. Major Butt shot one arm out, caught him by the back of the neck and jerked him backward like a pillow. His head cracked against a rail and he was stunned. ‘Sorry,’ said Major Butt, ‘women will be attended to first or I’ll break every damned bone in your body.’”

“The boats were lowered one by one, and as I stood by, my husband said to me, ‘Thank God, for Archie Butt.’ Perhaps Major Butt heard it, for he turned his face towards us for a second and smiled.”

Kennesaw Junior College became a senior college on April 14, 1976 by vote of the Georgia Board of Regents.

By this time, enrollment had tripled from an initial student count of 1,014 in the fall of 1966 to 3,098 in the fall of 1975. Numerous local leaders were involved in the fight for four-year status, but the two politicians playing the most pivotal roles were state Representatives Joe Mack Wilson and Al Burruss of Marietta. In time the memories of both would be honored by having buildings named for them on the Kennesaw campus

A U.S. Postage stamp bearing Georgia’s state bird and state flower was issued as part of a series including all 50 states on April 14, 1982, with first day ceremonies held in Washington and each state.

On April 14, 2010, a signature by Button Gwinnett, one of Georgia’s three signers of the Declaration of Independence sold at auction for $722,500 at an auction by Sotheby’s. About 50 examples of his signature are known to exist and six have been auctioned since 1974.

Happy birthday to former Atlanta Braves David Justice and Greg Madden, who were both born on this date in 1966.

Congratulations to former University of Georgia golfer Bubba Watson, who won the Masters on Sunday, his second green jacket in three years. Bubba’s son, Caleb, stole the show at the end of the round, as he toddled out to meet his dad after the last hole.

On the Campaign Trail

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

For a continuously-updated list of bills signed by Governor Nathan Deal, check out his official state webpage listing of 2014 Bills Signed. This weekend, Gov. Deal signed Senate Bill 365, the third set of recommendations from the Criminal Justice Reform Council.

“Building on the success of the landmark criminal justice reforms passed in the 2012 and 2013 sessions, the General Assembly and the Criminal Justice Reform Council worked with me to revolutionize Georgia’s criminal justice standards and strengthen our state’s economy,” Deal said. “The incentives and re-entry programs included in this legislation are cost-effective strategies that will increase the number of former offenders returning to the workforce and supporting their families.”

The new law requires the Board of Corrections to create and implement a program and treatment completion certificate to assist adult offenders with re-entry into society upon release from prison. In order to earn the certificate, the offender must complete any required treatment plan and vocational training while in prison and comply with any re-entry plan while on probation or parole. This bill states that employers demonstrate due care when hiring ex-offenders that earn this certificate, providing them a certain level of immunity from negligent hiring liability that often drives hiring decisions.

This legislation also provides judges with the discretion to deviate from the automatic license suspension for minor drug offenses. This discretion is only available when the drug offense was not directly related to the operation of the motor vehicle and is contingent upon the offender’s completion of any and all treatment programs.

“It is counterproductive to devote the state’s resources to rehabilitating nonviolent offenders and then deny them the ability to independently travel to their place of work,” Deal said. “This legislation strikes the proper balance between opportunity and accountability. Along with the previous two phases of my criminal justice reform, this law will pay dividends to taxpayers and improve the quality of life for all Georgians.”

The Cobb County court system has been busy implementing “accountability courts” in accordance with earlier parts of the earlier criminal justice reform.

Cobb’s Superior Court will start another avenue for military veterans in line with recent “smart on crime” reforms to criminal justice systems around the country and in Georgia.

Cobb’s Senior Assistant District Attorney Grady Moore said the Cobb veteran court will join nearly 3,000 similar veteran courts nationwide, with 120,000 to 150,000 Americans participating in the programs.

Most cases involving felony offenses by veterans are due to a drug addiction, Moore said. Although there is a high likelihood of relapse and multiple arrests, the goal is to intervene to “break the revolving door cycle,” he said.

The veterans court is an alternative to prosecution, and the new program will be modeled on the 12-year-old Cobb drug court, focused on treatment and accountability instead of incarceration.

“We try to get away from the adversarial structure of most courtroom proceedings,” Moore said.

Questions have been raised about whether unsuccessful candidates can roll leftover funds forward to a new campaign for the same office.

Former state Rep. Bill Hembree’s exit from the political stage in 2012 was unexpected. He served the west Georgia area in the House for nearly 20 years and was the favorite to win an open state Senate seat in District 30, which covers almost all of Carroll County and western Douglas and southern Paulding counties.

But political newcomer Mike Dugan (R-Carrollton) stunned Hembree, beating him by 11 points in a Dec. 2012 runoff election.

The sting from that untimely departure from the Legislature may be why Hembree continues to defy the head of the state ethics commission by carrying over nearly $35,000 in unspent contributions from that race two years ago for a May 20 Republican primary rematch with Dugan.

Hembree, of Winston, has loaned his campaign $35,000, according to his latest Campaign Contribution Disclosure Report. And Hembree said he’s still planning to carry over $34,985.25 from his 2012 campaign despite warnings from Holly LaBerge, who heads the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission, formerly the state ethics commission, that doing so is illegal.Hembree says he has consulted attorneys and feels that it is legal and appropriate.

LaBerge told the Sentinel last month it is against the law for Hembree to transfer campaign funds from one campaign cycle to the next. She said Hembree could face penalties if a citizen files an ethics complaint against him.

LaBerge said Hembree and other candidates who are out of office must also file a new Declaration of Intent (DOI), which allows candidates to begin fundraising. Hembree hasn’t filed a new DOI and said he doesn’t plan to.

After the initial story ran in the Sentinel on March 16, Hembree teed off on LaBerge, saying she “does not get to make up the rules as she goes.”

Hembree’s attorney, Stefan Passantino, who heads the political law team at McKenna Long and Aldridge, told the Sentinel last month that because Hembree is “running for the same office with the same body of electors” that he doesn’t need to go through the steps LaBerge said are required.

Months after both chambers of the Georgia General Assembly passed legislation seeking to make medicinal Cannabis oil available to some parents whose children suffer from intractable seizures, voters in Waleska, Georgia, will go to the polls on the question of whether to allow Sunday sales of alcohol by the drink and in package sales.

City Manager Aimee Abernathy said the referendum up for a vote later this year is a “big deal,” and, if approved, could allow for the sale of beer and wine, and the sale of beer, wine and distilled spirits by the drink, on Sundays.

“There will be two different referendums,” Abernathy explained. “One will be for beer and wine package sale on Sundays; one will be for beer, wine and distilled spirits pouring on Sundays.”

If approved by voters, the Sunday sale of alcohol would be allowed beginning at 12:30 p.m.

In a separate vote, the council decided to move forward with writing an ordinance to allow the sale of distilled spirits by the drink, which would go back to the council for final approval at a future meeting.


Events Calendar

Tea Party Patriot Alliance: Tax Day Rally

April 14, 2014,  5:30 PM – 8:00 PM

Forsyth County Courthouse, 100 Courthouse Square, Cumming, GA 30040

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 Tax Day Rally  LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD !  SPEAKERS: U.S. Representative Tom Price     Gubernatorial Candidate David Pennington     Former State Representative Tom Knox      U.S. Senate Candidate Derrick Grayson  BRING SIGNS, VOICES AND MAKE A STATEMENT! For information, CONTACT TRILBY LEECH 770 886 1616

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Rep. Paul Broun: Baldwin County Town Hall

April 14, 2014, 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM

Allen’s Market, 101 E. McIntosh Street, Milledgeville, GA 31061

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Baldwin County Town Hall Who:  U.S. Representative Paul Broun and Baldwin Area Residents

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Rep. Lynn Westmoreland: Hosts Veterans Workshop

April 15, 2014, 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Asa M. Powell Expo Center, 197 Temple Ave, Newnan, GA 30265

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Westmoreland Hosts Veterans Workshop  There will be representatives from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the Georgia Department of Veterans Service to discuss the opportunities and services they provide, as well as an opportunity to speak about your case with them and with Congressman Westmoreland’s staff. “I want to thank the Veterans of Georgia’s Third District for their service to our nation,” stated Westmoreland. “I’d also like to thank the speakers and representatives from the local Veteran’s affairs offices for giving their time…

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Cherokee YR: Happy Hour

April 15, 2014, 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Sixes Tavern, 3568 Sixes Road, Canton, GA 30114

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Happy Hour!

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Cobb GOP Women: Campaign Forum – U.S. Senate

April 15, 2014, 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Cobb County Commission Meeting Room, 100 Cherokee Street, Marietta, GA 30090 United States

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Cobb County Republican Women’s Club Campaign Forums Candidates for U.S. Senate Televised Live on Channel 23

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Rep. Paul Broun: Coffee with Your Congressman in Walton County

April 16, 2014, 8:00 AM – 9:00 AM

Potluck Café , 117 N Midland Ave, Monroe, GA 30655

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“Coffee with Your Congressman” in Walton Join Congressman Broun for a Free Cup of Coffee!

Sen. Mike Dugan Campaign Kick-off

April 17, 2014, 4:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Sam and Rosco’s, 7450 Douglas Blvd, Douglasville, GA 30135

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Senator Mike Dugan Campaign Kick-off Please help support State Senator Mike Dugan!

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The Cherokee County Black Republican Council: Inaugural Meeting

April 17, 2014, 5:30 PM – 7:00 PM

Clubhouse of the Village at Town Lake, 310 Gray Shingle Lane, Woodstock , GA 31059

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You’re invited to the Inaugural Meeting of The Cherokee County Black Republican Council 5:30 pm Business Meeting 6:00 pm Black Conservatives Roundtable: “Race in American Politics, Will It Ever End?” Live Broadcast/Taping of “the black & white of it” Internet Talk Show Meeting Is Free and Open to All Who Believe and Support African-American Participation in the Republican Party and Conservative Movement. Mr. Conrad Quagilaroli, Chairman, Cherokee County Tea Party The Honorable Ashley Bell, Commissioner Hall County, Georgia (2008 – 2012) The…

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April 17, 2014, 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM

Danny Reid’s Barn, 6844 Majors Road, Cumming, GA 30040

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Reception honoring  Senator Jack Murphy - Chair-Regulated Industries & Utilities Host $1,000 | Sponsor $500 | Patron $250 | Guest $50 RSVP to Denise Deal at 678-617-1625

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Forsyth County GOP: GA House District 26 Debate

April 17, 2014, 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Forsyth County Recreation Center, 2300 Keith Bridge Rd, Cumming , GA 30040

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Debate – Georgia House District 26 (Geoff Duncan, Tom Knox)

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Cobb GOP Women: Candidate Forum – House Districts 34 & 44, Cobb Superior Court Judge, & Cobb Solicitor General

April 17, 2014, 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Cobb County Commission Meeting Room, 100 Cherokee Street, Marietta, GA 30090

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Cobb County Republican Women’s Club Campaign Forums Candidates for State Representative for House Districts 34 and 44, Candidates for Cobb Superior Court Judge, and Candidates for Cobb Solicitor General Televised Live on Channel 23

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Gwinnett County GOP: State School Superintendent Forum

April 17, 2014, 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Gwinnett Justice & Administration Center, 75 Langley Drive , Lawrenceville, GA 30046

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Bulloch County GOP: Gov. Nathan Deal Meet & Greet

April 19, 2014, 8:30 AM – 10:00 AM

RJ’s Seafood and Steaks, 434 S Main St, Statesboro , GA 30458

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The Bulloch County Republican Party would like to extend an invitation to you to attend a Meet and Greet with Governor Nathan Deal Gov. Deal Meet and Greet RJ’s Seafood and Steaks Saturday, April 19 8:30 – 10 a.m.

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GA GOP: US Senate Primary Debate / Augusta

April 19, 2014, 12:30 PM – 2:30 PM

Columbia County Exhibition Center, 212 Partnership Drive, Grovetown, GA 30813

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The Georgia Republican Party has partnered with District and County GOP organizations to host a series of U.S. Senate debates across Georgia. The debate in Augusta will be held at the Columbia County Exhibition Center. Tickets are free, but will be required to guarantee admission. Get your tickets at the Eventbrite link below: Doors will open at 11:00am – Seating is first-come, first-serve There will be food and gift vendors available prior to the debate. There will be a…

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April 20, 2014 12:00 AM

Christ the Lord is Risen Today  - Hallelujah!

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 11, 2014

Thomas Jefferson was born on April 13, 1743 in what is now Albemarle County, Virginia. Jefferson served as Governor of Virginia, United States Secretary of State, delegate to the Second Continental Congress, and Third President of the United States. Jefferson is credited with writing the first draft of the Declaration of Independence

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

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

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

On April 12, 1861, Confederates in Charleston, SC opened fire on Federal-held Fort Sumter opening the Civil War.

During the next 34 hours, 50 Confederate guns and mortars launched more than 4,000 rounds at the poorly supplied fort. On April 13, U.S. Major Robert Anderson surrendered the fort. Two days later, U.S. President Abraham Lincolnissued a proclamation calling for 75,000 volunteer soldiers to quell the Southern “insurrection.”

“The General” Locomotive was hijacked at Big Shanty (now Kennesaw), Georgia on April 12, 1862, leading to “The Great Locomotive Chase.” The locomotive is now housed in the Southern Museum in Kennesaw.

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

President Franklin D. Roosevelt died on April 12, 1945 in Warm Springs, Georgia.

On April 12, 1961, Russian Commienaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human being to go to outer space and the first to orbit earth.

The triumph of the Soviet space program in putting the first man into space was a great blow to the United States, which had scheduled its first space flight for May 1961. Moreover, Gagarin had orbited Earth, a feat that eluded the U.S. space program until February 1962, when astronaut John Glenn made three orbits in Friendship 7.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was arrested in Birmingham, Alabama on April 12, 1963; while there he would write his famed, “Letter from Birmingham Jail.”

The Braves played their first home game in Atlanta on April 12, 1966.

Apollo 13 was launched on April 11, 1970.

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

The Space Shuttle Columbia became the first reusable orbital vehicle when it launched on April 12, 1981.

The Vidalia Sweet Onion was named Georgia’s official state vegetable when Gov. Joe Frank Harris signed legislation designating it such on April 11, 1990.

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

The Augusta Chronicle wrote a great “day in the life” piece in 1967 about Jack Nicklaus’s attempt to take a third straight green jacket.

It is almost like a 1960s-era TV sitcom, with golf-playing Jack trying to get ready for the big tournament while wife Barbara and kids tag along. The family even drops him off at the Augusta National Clubhouse for his round.

To me, one of the funniest parts is of the then-27-year-old Golden Bear enjoying his breakfast of Masters champions, described as “an attack on half of a melon, ‘lots of bacon,’ … two eggs and some rye toast.”

Campaigns & Elections

What do Phil Gingrey, Jack Kingston, and Paul Broun have in common other than four-letter first names? They all voted against the Paul Ryan Budget.

This is the first year Kingston has voted against the House Republican budget since the party gained control in 2011. Broun voted for the 2011 Ryan budget but did not vote one way or another on a similar budget in 2012 and voted against the budget last year. Gingrey had supported the Ryan budgets in 2011 and 2012, but voted against it last year as well.

Despite the 12 Republican defections Thursday, the budget passed the House, 219 to 205.

The Hill looked at the other nine Republicans who voted against the Ryan Budget and found this:

Rep. Austin Scott (R-Ga.) also voted against the budget despite backing previous Ryan budgets.

Other “no” votes include Republicans facing primaries who voted against the bill from the right and others in swing districts who may have opposed it from the left. Democrats often use the Ryan budget plan’s changes to Medicare to attack GOP candidates.

Despite a starring role in Democrat Michelle Nunn’s first commercial, former President George H.W. Bush (41) said that he will endorse the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, whomever that may be.

Likely Democratic nominee Michelle Nunn, a former executive at the Bush-inspired Points of Light Foundation, uses images of the former president in her first campaign ads that try to paint her as a bipartisan leader.

“While leading President Bush’s Points of Light Foundation, we grew it into the world’s largest organization dedicated to volunteer service,” Nunn says in the ad.

Hoping to head off confusion, Bush spokesman Jim McGrath on Thursday tweeted that “TV ads notwithstanding, @GeorgeHWBush looking forward to endorsing GOP nominee in #gasenate race.” He added that it is “critical that @GOP retake the Senate.”

Republicans are in the middle of a seven-way primary race in Georgia, with no clear front-runner emerging as voters start paying attention ahead of the May 20 primary.

Republican Reps. Paul Broun, Jack Kingston and Phil Gingrey are facing former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel and attorney Art Gardner. Conservative activist Derrick Grayson and businessman David Perdue are also in the race to replace Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss, who is retiring.


Nonprofit Quarterly has an unique take on the possibility of a Karen Handel v. Michelle Nunn matchup in November.

On the Democratic side of the ledger competing for the Senate in Georgia is Points of Light CEO Michelle Nunn, the daughter of former Democratic Senator Sam Nunn. Although on leave as CEO of the nonprofit, Nunn is using her Points of Lights home base to project an image of bipartisan reasonableness in the otherwise red state, including running her first television ad with George H.W. Bush, the forty-first president and the founder of Points of Light, highlighted. (George W. Bush’s brother Neil is actually the current chairman of the Points of Light board of directors.)

Nunn appears to be the candidate of choice for Democrats, but Republicans have a big slate of choices, one of whom is former Susan G. Komen for the Cure executive Karen Handel, who generated plenty of press headlines for her role in trying to separate Komen from a funding relationship with Planned Parenthood. Having some difficulties in raising money compared to better-known GOP opponents in the upcoming primary, Handel’s campaign was languishing until this past week’s endorsement by the American Future Fund, one of the big-money conservative groups that puts big money behind favored candidates. AFF’s endorsement may be more of a positive jolt to Handel’s campaign than the recent campaign swing she did in the company of endorser Sarah Palin.

Although Nunn is no liberal, a campaign between her and Handel would reflect somewhat different wings of the nonprofit world. The brief discussion of “issues” on Handel’s campaign website touches on nearly every hard-right policy position she might support….

Nunn is just about assured the Democratic nomination, while Handel is running well behind her primary opponents at the moment. It would be interesting, however, to see the two of them face off, particularly to watch how much Nunn tries to avoid sounding too Democratic and pro-Obama and how Handel tempers (or doesn’t) her beyond-the-pale right-wing positions.

If you really think Karen Handel’s positions are “beyond-the-pale right-wing,” you might want to consider leaving your ivory tower once in a while and experiencing “the real world.”

Speaking of Karen Handel, she wins the college debate with “Bless his heart.”

Governor Nathan Deal spoke yesterday in a press conference about two paths to allowing the use of medicinal CDB oil for Georgia patients suffering from intractable seizures.

Deal has consulted with the federal Food and Drug Administration on how the state can begin legal clinical trials with cannabis oil products at Georgia Regents University Augusta.

“So far we have identified two tracks worthy of pursuit,” Deal said. “Our most promising solution involves pairing GRU with a private pharmaceutical company that has developed a purified liquid cannabinoid currently in the FDA testing phase. The product contains no THC, which is the component in marijuana that intoxicates a user. The university would create a well-designed trial for children with epileptic disorders, and in order to serve as many children as we can, we would like to pursue a statewide investigational new drug program through a multicenter study that would allow GRU to partner with other research facilities across the state. We have talked with the pharmaceutical company to gauge interest, and the company is willing to continue those initial talks.

“Georgia will also possibly pursue a second clinical trial at GRU that would use cannabidiol oil obtained from cannabis product grown by the National Institute on Drug Abuse at its farm located at the University of Mississippi. This road would perhaps take more time because it would require GRU to work through an approval process with NIDA and the FDA.

“We do not see these options as mutually exclusive, and we’re looking to move forward on both options at this time.

“The General Assembly this year gave serious consideration to legislation that would pave the way for patients in need of cannabis to receive it safely and legally. An issue that could have triggered controversy instead yielded teamwork and a commitment to see this through, as legislators – and I as well – learned the stories of these brave families who are desperately seeking relief for their children’s debilitating conditions. The legislation earned significant levels of support in both houses and in both parties but didn’t make into any bills that reached my desk.

“Even if the legislation had passed, we still would need to take these steps, so we haven’t lost any time. As we progress, we’ll determine if the General Assembly needs to take additional action next year.”

Georgia Regents University expressed its excitement about the clinical trials.

“As the state’s academic health center encompassing a 154-bed children’s hospital, we have a responsibility to address the needs of families whose children are suffering,” said Georgia Regents University President Ricardo Azziz. “We are appreciative of Gov. Nathan Deal for this vote of confidence and look forward to working with the state to establish clinical trials to research the benefits of treating epilepsy and other neurological conditions with cannabidiol oil.”

The realities of clinical trials are that it is likely to be years before patients are actually receiving CBD oil as therapy in a trial, and that numbers of patients will likely be severely restricted once trial begin. The Augusta Chronicle has more on how this would work at GRU.

The news release doesn’t name the company but GW Pharmaceuticals is testing a drug called Epidiolex that is a purified cannabidiol oil. GRU has already submitted information about its patient population and its center to the company and is waiting to hear back from them, said Dr. Yong Park, who heads the pediatric epilepsy program.

“Hopefully they will select our center to participate in this study,” he said. “That’s the first step.”

The first study would be limited to children with Dravet syndrome who suffer from difficult to control seizures. Even if GRU gets the nod, it could take a while, Park said.

“Hopefully they go fast track but you have to have a contract with the pharmaceutical company” and the university, he said. “Contract issues, usually in my experience, take about three to four months, sometimes six months to get the contract.”

The other route Deal mentioned would be to get the oil from the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s marijuana farm at the University of Mississippi, which would probably take longer because it would mean going through that agency and the FDA for approval, Deal said in a news release.

You can keep up with the progress of Haleigh, the namesake of the Haleigh’s Hope legislation this year on Facebook.

Neighboring South Carolina will have a ballot question in the Democratic Primary election asking about legalizing marijuana for medicinal uses.

[South Carolina State] House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford said Wednesday he wanted it on the ballot so the Legislature’s Republican leaders could see what voters think of the issue.
He has proposed legislation allowing patients certified by a doctor as suffering a debilitating illness to use marijuana. Last week, the House rejected his effort to attach it to a bill allowing patients with severe epilepsy to legally possess nonpsychoactive cannabidiol, known as CBD oil, which is derived from marijuana.

That limited bill, sponsored by Republicans, passed the chamber 90-24, a week after the Senate passed a similar – but even more restrictive – version.

While the House defeated Rutherford’s amendment, legislators of both parties encouraged him to re-introduce his measure next year. Patients it would allow to use marijuana include those suffering from cancer, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy and chronic pain.

“I don’t know how we can continue to deprive families of what many consider miracle medicine,” said Rutherford, D-Columbia. Let’s “put patients in the hands of a doctor, not the Legislature.”

Republicans in South Carolina will see different ballot questions:

Question 1: Should Article I, Section 3, of the S.C. Constitution be amended to include the following language? The privileges and immunities of citizens of South Carolina and the United States shall not be abridged, so that no person shall be deprived of life without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws. These rights shall extend to both born and pre-born persons beginning at conception.

Question 2: Should S.C. law be amended to replace the state income tax imposed on individuals, estates, trusts and others by reducing the rate of taxation by 1.4 percentage points each year until the state income tax rate for all brackets is zero percent?

Former State Senator Miriam Paris (D) opened her campaign office in the rematch against Senator David Lucas, who defeated her in 2012.

Paris says she’s learned a lot from that loss, and hopes to use that to win the election this year.
“You learn a tremendous amount of knowledge when you lose,” said Paris. “I really learned a lot. You know how hindsight is 20/20. But it was amazing. It was a great thing. I think I grew a lot. I really realize and understand the importance of really staying in touch with the constituency.”
Paris hopes to be aggressive at the grassroots level with voters.

The FBI arrested five in Augusta in a sting targeting prostitution and sex trafficking around a major sporting event.

Former President Jimmy Carter is also speaking against sex trafficking,

89-year-old Carter rattled off statistics about employment discrimination, sexual assault, human trafficking, sex-selective abortion, and female genital mutilation everywhere from Atlanta, Georgia to Egypt to China, calling violence against women “the worst human rights violation on Earth.”

Since founding the Carter Center in 1982, a global human rights organization, Carter said he’d traveled around the world and seen “an almost unbelievable prejudice and persecution of women and girls.”

Serious question: why is abortion for gender selection any worse than any other abortion? Why is it worst than abortion for convenience? Why is there no discussion of the role of pressure by men and other women in abortion decisions made by women?

Selected Events this Weekend

The Georgia Conservative Summit

April 11, 2014, 11:00 AM - 3:00 PM

GA State Capitol, 206 Washington Street, S.W., Atlanta, 30334

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Real people. Real Leaders. Real Answers. Come and hear and exchange with business and government experts that can and do impact your every day lives. Click Link To Register

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Jack Kingston Senate: Event With Vince Dooley

April 11, 2014, 5:30 PM - 7:30 PM

Home of Barbara & Vince Dooley, 755 Milledge Circle, Athens , GA 30606

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Jack Kingston Senate – Event With Vince Dooley

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DeKalb County GOP: Breakfast with Todd Rehm – oh, also Jack Kingston & Karen Handel

April 12, 2014, 8:30 AM - 10:00 AM

DeKalb County GOP, 532 Dunwoody Village Parkway , Atlanta , 30338

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We are looking forward to continuing our series of “Meet the Candidates” with US Senate candidates Jack and Karen. Todd Rehm from the GaPundit will emcee the morning activities and we will look forward to hearing all of the latest news from two of the most exciting senate candidates.  Come ready to ask questions. RSVP Required – Click here We look forward to seeing you Saturday. Sincerely, Linda Kelley Smith DeKalb Republican [email protected] 404-287-4412

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Cherokee County GOP: Breakfast with Gov. Nathan Deal, Rep. Phil Gingrey, & Bob Barr

April 12, 2014, 9:00 AM - 10:00 AM

Winchester Woodfire Grille, 110 Mountain Vista Blvd, Canton, GA 30114

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Governor Nathan Deal, Phil Gingrey and Bob Barr will be joining us to talk about their respective campaigns for Georgia’s Governorship, US Senate and US Congress Brandon Beach will be our sponsor for this month’s Breakfast.

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Jody Hice Congress: Coffee and Doughnuts

April 12, 2014, 9:00 AM - 10:00 AM

Jasper County High School, 14477 Hwy. 11 North, Monticello, GA 31064

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The Jasper County GOP will be hosting a debate this Saturday Come to the high school an hour before the debate to start your morning off right with coffee and doughnuts provided by Jody Hice for Congress. We hope to see you there!

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Hall County GOP: Conservative Forum with Mark Rountree

April 12, 2014, 9:00 AM - 10:00 AM

Fairfield Inn & Suites, 1755 Browns Bridge Road,, Gainesville , GA 30501

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April Conservative Forum Theme: Campaign Training Speaker: Mark Rountree, Landmark Communications

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GA GOP District 10: Congressional Debate

April 12, 2014, 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM

Jasper County High School, 14477 Ga Highway 11 N, Monticello, GA 31064

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David Perdue Senate: Alpharetta Meet & Greet

April 12, 2014, Noon - 1:00 PM

das Gallery, 2225 Old Milton Pkwy, Alpharetta, GA 30009

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I hope you will join me and my campaign as we meet with voters in Alpharetta to discuss the important issues facing our state and nation today. I hope to see you there

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Lanier Tea Party Patriots: Tax Day Rally

April 12, 2014, 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM
Poultry Park, 444 Jesse Jewell Parkway, SW , Gainesville , GA 30501

The Lanier Tea Party Patriots will host the 3rd Annual Tax Day Rally Patriots from Hall and the surrounding counties are encouraged to join the Lanier Tea Party Patriots as they rally to stop IRS targeting, increase awareness of local, state and federal taxes, and inform the public our our constitutional rights.  Attendees are encouraged to bring their own chairs and/or blanket to sit out on the lawn.  This is a family event, so children and grand children are encouraged to…

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AFP – GA: Hosts Day of Action To Combat Government Spending

April 12, 2014, @ 2:00 PM - 6:00 PM
Marietta / Savannah

AFP Hosts Day of Action To Combat Government Spending “Activists in GA compete against others nationwide in Freedom Phone Marathon sessions”   Americans For Prosperity Georgia (AFP), the state’s premiere grassroots organization for economic freedom, is launching a Day of Action this Saturday in response to Tax Day. The events, part of AFP’s Freedom Phone Marathon, are a series of phone bank parties going on around the State. AFP Georgia activists at the Atlanta headquarters will compete against activists in…

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 10, 2014

Button Gwinnett, one of Georgia’s signers of the Declaration of Independence, was born on April 10, 1735 in Gloucester, England, though some authorities say it was his baptism that was recorded that day. Gwinnett also served in the Georgia legislature, where he wrote the first draft of the state Constitution and served as Speaker.

General Robert E. Lee gave his last address to the Army of Northern Virginia on April 10, 1865.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was founded on April 10, 1866.

On April 10, 1947, Jackie Robinson became the first African-American professional major league baseball player when the Brooklyn Dodgers bought his contract.

Winners of the Masters Tournament on April 10 include Sam Snead (1949), Gary Player (1961), Tom Watson (1977) and Tiger Woods (4th – 2005).

Campaigns and Elections

In forty days, voters go to the polls in the May 20th Primary Elections. If your campaign is not firing on all cylinders, you’re in very deep trouble. Early voting begins in 18 days.

The voter registration deadline for the May 20, 2014 Primary Election is April 21st.

You can register to vote online using the official “GA Votes” app on your iphone or check your voter registration and absentee ballot application status on the Secretary of State’s MVP page. The “GA Votes” app is also available for Android.

Today, you can begin the early voting process by printing this Application for Official Absentee Ballot and mail, fax, email (as an attachment) or take in person to your local county board of elections.

SuperPACs come to play in Georgia

On the heels of news that a conservative SuperPAC that is attacking presumed Democratic nominee Michelle Nunn has also aimed its fire at Congressman Phil Gingrey in the Senate race comes word that The American Future Fund will be spending money in the Peach State to support Karen Handel’s candidacy for Senate.

The American Future Fund, a heavy-spending national conservative group, is preparing to shake up the Georgia Senate race by throwing its support behind Republican Karen Handel in the state’s unsettled GOP primary.

A former Georgia secretary of state and Susan G. Komen official, Handel has attracted some national support – Sarah Palin recently endorsed her – but has struggled to raise money. AFF’s backing could offer a critical boost against better-funded opponents, including former Reebok CEO David Perdue and Rep. Jack Kingston.

AFF president Nick Ryan said in an email that Handel is an “excellent conservative record and is a proven leader.”

“Karen will be an outstanding U.S. Senator and we will do everything we can do ensure she is successful,” Ryan said.

AFF and Ending Spending are the first two truly big-spending groups on the right to engage in the Georgia race, though several activist outfits have issued endorsements. A number of the country’s best-financed conservative groups – including the Chamber of Commerce, American Crossroads and the harder-line Club for Growth – have not yet signaled whether they will get involved in the primary.

The first quarter reports for federal candidates are not yet due, but Jack Kingston says he will report raising $1.1 million during the period.

Kingston’s quarterly haul stemmed in part from 45 fundraisers and meet-and-greets held from January through March, the campaign said, and 89 percent of the total haul were from within the Peach State. Kingston ended March with $2.1 million in cash on hand.

“The generosity of so many both in volunteer hours and financial support has been overwhelming,” Kingston said in a statement. “Libby and I cannot thank everyone enough for their dedication to our campaign. Together we can retake the Senate and restore the American Dream.”

David Perdue has released his third television ad in the crying babies series.

Sabato rating change for Georgia Governor race

UVA Political Scientist Larry Sabato’s “Crystal Ball” has moved the Georgia Governor’s race between incumbent Republican Nathan Deal and Democratic challenger Jason Carter to “Leans Republican,” a downgrade in GOP chances from “Likely Republican.” The change is on the basis of the $700k verdict for former Georgia State Ethics Commission Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Reform Executive Director Stacey Kalberman against the agency she once headed and Carter’s impressive first-quarter fundraising haul.

Pew rates Georgia 32d for Election Administration

Pew Charitable Trusts rated Georgia 32d in the nation in its Election Performance Index. Areas in which Georgia turned in low scores include Date Completeness (40), Percentage of Military and Overseas Ballots Returned (44), and 42d in Voting Wait Time with an average wait of just under 18 minutes.

Georgia Right to Life Endorses

Georgia Right to Life has released additional endorsements. In the race for State School Superintendent, Republican Nancy Jester received the GRTL-PAC endorsement as did Mary Kay Bacallao, also a Republican.

State Rep. Delvis Dutton, a Republican, received the endorsement in his bid for the Twelfth Congressional District spot to take on incumbent Democrat John Barrow.

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

After two days of exchanging letters with his Union counterpart, Lt. General Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee agreed to meet and make arrangements for the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia. At 2 PM, Lee and Grant met in a private home owned by Wilmer McLean at Appomattox Court House, Virginia and Lee agreed to the surrender of his army.

Lee was resplendent in his dress uniform and a fine sword at his side. Grant arrived wearing a simple soldier’s coat that was muddy from his long ride. The great generals spoke of their service in the Mexican War, and then set about the business at hand. Grant offered generous terms. Officers could keep their side arms, and all men would be immediately released to return home. Any officers and enlisted men who owned horses could take them home, Grant said, to help put crops in the field and carry their families through the next winter. These terms, said Lee, would have “the best possible effect upon the men,” and “will do much toward conciliating our people.” The papers were signed and Lee prepared to return to his men.

An excellent account of the laying down of their arms on April 12, 1865, by the Army of Northern Virginia was written by Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain.

On April 9, 1968, Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta held the funeral for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. More than 100,000 mourners reportedly showed up for the funeral, which could accomodate only 800; 200,000 mourners followed the mule-drawn hearse to Morehouse College.

Campaigns & Elections

It’s not really a campaign, but Governor Deal makes a cameo in the new “Chop Arm Strong” video.

State Senator Buddy Carter has a second ad out in his Congressional bid, again touting his credentials as a pharmacist.

Since at least 2009, Gallup polling has shown pharmacists to be one of the most-trusted pharmacists by survey respondents, and Gallup’s December 2013 ratings showed pharmacists ranked second for honesty and ethical standards. Also unsurprising, Gallup found the two lowest ranked professions are car salesmen and Members of Congress.

Phil Gingrey’s television debut this cycle hasn’t exactly gone as planned.

(Hat tip to Georgia Tipsheet for capturing the video above)

What was expected to be a soft opener for more than $700k in media time bought by the Gingrey campaign turned into a SuperPAC slap and the resulting recriminations. From Daniel Malloy of the AJC:

Ending Spending PAC has been on the air in Georgia hitting Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Michelle Nunn, but the group does not limit its antipathy to Democrats: It’s now attacking Rep. Phil Gingrey.

The group, funded by Ameritrade founder and Chicago Cubs owner Joe Ricketts, has bought $1.3 million in ad time between now and the May 20 primary. We assumed this was all to bash Nunn, but that is not the case.

The Ending Spending ad comes as Gingrey — sitting on more $2 million at the beginning of the year — announces he’s back up on the air with his ad pledging to repeal Obamacare or go home after one term. He’s bought time through primary day.

Gingrey’s campaign responded swiftly, issuing a statement from Campaign Manager Patrick Sebastian:

“This attack on Rep. Gingrey is a clear indication his establishment opponents see he’s on-the-move, and is the most viable conservative in the race.

“The attacks on conservative Republicans like Phil Gingrey from this special interest group are straight out of Barack Obama’s liberal playbook. Georgians will not let these Chicago-style tactics on leaders who have proven records in cutting spending, protecting our military and veterans, and fighting Obamacare stop them from supporting conservative Republicans like Phil Gingrey.”

Later yesterday an email to supporters sounded this note:

Their motivation is a clear indication that his establishment opponents see he’s moving up in the polls, and is the most viable Constitutional conservative in the race for U.S. Senate.

Twice named most conservative member of Congress, the establishment will stop at nothing to elect a moderate to the U.S. Senate.

They know Phil has fought to reduce the debt, cut the deficit, cap spending, balance the budget, and — throughout his time in D.C. — has returned more than $1.4 million of his personal office’s funds to the U.S. Treasury.

Most importantly, they know Phil will never waver on our conservative values.

Here’s the ad that Gingrey put at least part of his $725k ad buy behind.

New Polling Index for Governor’s Race

Yesterday, we got our hands on a new poll in the Governor’s race between Republican incumbent Nathan Deal and Democratic challenger Jason Carter, this one by Public Policy Polling (PPP) and sponsored by ultra-lefties Hat tip to Greg Bluestein for bringing it to our attention and providing the documents.

If the election for Governor were held today, would you vote for Jason Carter or Nathan Deal?

Jason Carter …………………………………………… 43%
Nathan Deal ……………………………………………. 42%
Not sure …………………………………………………. 15%

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 ……………………………………………….. 35%
Republican ……………………………………………… 36%
Independent / Other …………………………………. 29%

We have re-calculated the Polling Index for this race. Below is a chart of the three-poll index and tables that also include a four-poll version.

3-poll index Governor 04082014

Deal v Carter
JanuaryFebruaryMarchApril 1April 8
Nathan Deal4745384342
Jason Carter3842413943
NetDeal +9Deal +3Carter +3Deal +4Carter +1

Here’s the weighted average for the last three polls:

3-Poll Index
April 1, 2014
April 8, 2014

And the weighted average for the last four polls:

4-Poll Index
April 1, 2014
April 8, 2014

The weighted average or index looks backwards at the most recent 3 or 4 polls and computes an average that account for the sample size. An 800 sample survey will have more effect on the final number than a 400 sample survey.

This naturally reduces the appearance of volatility and, we think, accounts for differences in pollsters’ methods.

Will Keystone XL open a rift on the left?

Michelle Nunn, the presumed Democratic nominee for United States Senate has endorsed the Keystone XL pipeline. WIll this open a rift within the Democratic Party?

“I have a lot of friends who have different perspectives on Keystone,” Nunn said, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We need to continue to focus on green energy and finding sustainable sources of energy, but I do believe we should move forward with Keystone.”
Keystone XL remains a contentious issue on Capitol Hill as Republicans crank up pressure on President Obama to sign it. Nunn would be among the ranks of other oil and gas-friendly Democrats, like Sens. Mary Landrieu (La.) and Mark Begich (Alaska), who support the pipeline.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 8, 2014

Hank Aaron hit home run number 715 on April 8, 1974 to become the all-time home run champion, a title he holds to this day.

Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig wrote yesterday about what Aaron meant to baseball and America.

As the last major league player who was a part of the Negro leagues, he was one of the game’s most prominent bridges to integration. For 23 years on the field, this humble native of Mobile, Ala., represented the game with unfailing grace, overcoming obstacles that most of us could not even imagine. In the years since then, Hank has remained one of the most distinguished and revered figures in American public life.

Aaron himself spoke to the Associated Press about the 40th anniversary of his record-breaking home run.

Aaron’s record-breaking homer will be celebrated tonight before the Atlanta Braves’ home opener against the New York Mets.

Hate mail and threats made it impossible for him to savor the chase of Ruth’s revered record, but on Monday he said he’ll enjoy the anniversary because such old friends as former teammate Dusty Baker will return for the pregame ceremony.

Aaron, 80, said he has a greater appreciation for fans who still celebrate his career.

“It does. It means an awful lot to me,” Aaron said.

“I’m not one to go around bragging about certain things. I played the game because I loved the game. … I am quite thrilled that people say that he, whatever he did, should be appreciated. That makes me feel good.”

The Braves will wear an Aaron 40th anniversary patch on their uniform sleeves this season. An outfield sign at Turner Field also will mark the anniversary.

Before hitting the homer into the Braves’ bullpen beyond the left-field wall, Aaron told [Dusty] Baker what was about to happen.

“That I can remember like it was yesterday,” Baker said. “It was a cold, cold night in April. Hank told me, ‘I’m going to get this over with now.’ He knew every pitch that was coming. He had total recall of pitch sequences. He was as smart as they came.”

Aaron confirmed Baker’s tale on Monday: “I think that was right. I think I made that remark and made it to Dusty maybe three or four times. I just felt within myself that eventually before the night was over I was going to hit a home run.”

Kurt Cobain was found dead by his own hand on April 8, 1994.

Governor Zell Miller signed legislation proclaiming Gainesville, Georgia the Poultry Capital of the World on April 8, 1995.

The Square Dance became the official state folk dance on April 8, 1996, when Gov. Zell Miller signed legislation recognizing it.

On April 8, 2005, Eric Rudolph agreed to plead guilty to the fatal 1996 bombing at Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park.

The Masters Tournament was won on this date by Gene Sarazen (1935), Jack Burke, Jr. (1956), Nick Faldo (2nd win – 1990), Tiger Woods (2nd win – 2001), and former University of Georgia player Bubba Watson in 2012.

A local variation of the “no white before Easter” rule was proposed, which I can support. It holds that the wearing of white may commence in Augusta, Georgia, upon the opening of the Masters Tournament. This begins with the practice rounds, which started yesterday and continue today.

Georgia Campaigns and Elections

Fulton GOP Road to Victory Dinner

Matt Towery writes for InsiderAdvantage that the Georgia Senate race could go into overtime if Libertarian nominee Amanda Swafford pulls enough votes to deny a majority to the two major-party candidates.

The Washington Post’s The Fix considers the possibility that runoff elections in Louisiana and Georgia may determine partisan control of the United States Senate.

Two states holding top Senate races this year hold runoffs if neither candidate attains 50 percent of the vote on Nov. 4: Georgia and Louisiana.

So what are the odds that runoffs in either (or both) of these states might determine who controls the Senate come 2015?

A runoff in Georgia is less likely, because Nov. 4 will feature a more standard general-election matchup between a Republican nominee, a Democratic nominee and third-party candidates. This means: 1) There needs to be a somewhat-viable third-party candidate, and 2) the race needs to be quite close.

On that first count, there is a Libertarian Party candidate  — former Flowery Branch city councilwoman Amanda Swafford  — but nobody else at this point.

The Libertarian nominee in 2008 took enough of the vote to push Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) and Democrat Jim Martin into a runoff, but that candidate  — Allen Buckley  — was more well-known than Swafford. And, of course, Democrats had a favorable national environment that allowed them to compete in a red state like Georgia.

In 2014, Democrats likely need Republicans to nominate a candidate with liabilities. National Republicans worry that Rep. Paul Broun or Rep. Phil Gingrey might open the door to a competitive race, but right now, there’s a crowded GOP primary featuring five viable candidates.

So let’s say, for argument’s sake, that the odds of the Georgia Senate race going to a runoff are about 10 percent.

A fly in the ointment for Democrats may be their complicated relationship with senior voters.

Democrats are facing a senior problem that could get even worse this year.

The party has traditionally had trouble with older voters, losing the group aged 65 and older by 21 points in 2010 — when Republicans picked up 63 seats — and by 12 points in the 2012 presidential race.

Seniors are the GOP’s most reliable voting bloc in midterm years, turning out in higher numbers than Democratic base voters. A recent Gallup poll showed seniors have become even more Republican over the last two decades; in 2013, 48 percent considered themselves Republican.

In 2008, the last year for which exit polls are available for Georgia, seniors (65+) gave an eight-point advantage to Republican John McCain over Democrat Barack Obama with a 54-46 margin, but Republican Saxby Chambliss only eked out a 49-46 margin over Democrat Jim Martin to head to overtime, where Chambliss took a 57-43 margin among seniors in the runoff.

The Senate Republican leadership in Washington is already preparing lists of committee chairs and agendas in preparation for the possible GOP takeover.

In interviews with The Hill, the senators promised to work closely with House Republicans to break the legislative gridlock that has defined Congress since 2011.

They are also vowing to step up oversight of the Obama administration dramatically and battle the president’s use of administrative power.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) has vowed that if elected majority leader, he would give Republican committee chairmen more power to legislate.

If Republicans capture the majority, the incoming chairmen must be elected by the Republican members of each committee and ratified by a vote of the Senate GOP conference. Senate Republicans have almost always followed seniority, however.

Jim Galloway, in the AJC’s Political Insider has a chart that shows committed spending so far on the Georgia Senate race.

The screaming headline is that more than $5 million has already been spent by the candidates and outside forces ahead of the May 20 primary.

Look a little closer, though, and you’ll find some other interesting tidbits. One is that Ending Spending, the conservative Super PAC going after Democrat Michelle Nunn is spending a lot more than the $150,000 initially reported. Ending Spending confirmed the $1.3 million buy and said it will pay for more than just that one anti-Nunn ad, but the group would not provide further details.

Not surprisingly, Rep. Jack Kingston ($1.98 million bought) and businessman David Perdue, ($1.35 million bought) who have some of the biggest hauls, also have the biggest buys. And Democrat Michelle Nunn, facing little-known challengers in her party’s primary, seems to be conserving her campaign cash with the exception of a few strategic TV buys.

Rep. Phil Gingrey is focusing his ad spending on his home base of Atlanta with an ad buy of $725,000 in the metro market, while Kingston and Perdue are spreading their buys around the state.

Republican John McCallum has released the second television spot in his campaign for the First Congressional District.

After a Fulton County jury awarded former Georgia State Ethics Commission Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission Executive Director Stacey Kalbermann $700k in her whistleblower lawsuits, Gov. Deal has proposed ethics reform for the next session of the legislature.

He proposes that the three branches of government – judicial, executive and legislative – each appoint four members to a commission. The 12 members would select a chair, and they would not be allowed to hear any cases involving their branch. Said Deal:

“It is very clear we have had an ineffective commission in terms of being able to deal with cases appropriately and in the fashion they have been dealt with. We have seen for example in the case involving me. … It appears that the staff spent almost a year focusing exclusively on my campaign.

The governor said this more “comprehensive” commission would not infringe on legislative ethics committees or the Judicial Qualifications Commission, which probes judicial branch issues.

“It is important to remember that this commission now and under any new configuration only deals with issues relating not to taxpayer funds but to private campaign funds that have been raised by candidates,” he said.


Deal reported $3.9 million cash on hand headed into the Primary elections to $1.6 for Democratic challenger Jason Carter.

Deal campaign spokeswoman Jen Talaber said 100 percent of their contributions came from within Georgia and criticized the Carter campaign for promoting a fundraiser before the session ended. By law, legislators and statewide officials are prohibited from raising money during the session, which began Jan. 13 and ended March 20.

“We followed the rules about not lining up fundraisers during session. Carter for Governor had no such concerns,” Talaber said. “Our cash-on-hand advantage allows the governor to dedicate this month to reviewing and signing bills that will benefit the people of Georgia and keep us the number one place to do business.”

Carter campaign spokesman Bryan Thomas dismissed the criticism, noting the fundraiser was for the Democratic Party of Georgia and that Deal had attended a fundraiser during the session for the Republican Governors Association.

“These numbers show that Jason has all the momentum in this race,” Thomas said. “Our campaign has seen an outpouring of grassroots support from people who are tired of the governor’s scandals and are looking for real leadership.”


Democratic primary voters will see four non-binding referendum questions on their May 20 ballots. From Walter Jones with Morris News:

Monday, the Secretary of State’s Office released the list of non-binding questions that will appear on Democratic ballots. The Democratic Party of Georgia submitted them during last month’s candidate qualifying period, but the Republican Party did not offer any, according to Jared Thomas, the agency’s spokesman.

Here are the questions that will appear on Democratic ballots. Voters can choose which primary they want to participate in, or can request a non-partisan ballot just to vote for the judicial candidates.

1. Should Georgia raise the state minimum wage above the current $5.15 an hour?

2. Should Georgians’ federal tax dollars be returned to Georgia to fund Medicaid expansion and relieve the indigent-care burden on our hospitals?

3. Should the Constitution of Georgia be amended to create an independent ethics commission, not tied to the governor’s office, legislature or other elected office, to more effectively police potential ethics violations by elected officials?

4. Should the Constitution of Georgia be amended to make the education budget Georgia’s first funding priority?

W.M. “Dick” Dickey, Jr., who served in the State House in the early 1970s and on Macon City Council from 1991 to 2003, has died.

“He was a great guy who was really good to me,” said Dickey’s nephew, state Rep. Robert Dickey, R-Musella. “He gave me good advice when I got elected and told me I’d have to do a lot of lifting those first few years … and that it’s all about relationships up there” in Atlanta.

Dickey was born in Crawford County on March 15, 1933, the younger son of Wilmer M. and Gladys Neel Dickey. His brother, Bob Dickey, followed their father in the peach business. But Dick Dickey preferred banking and politics. He worked for nearly 40 years in the banking sector and carved out a place for himself in the Republican Party when there were few other Georgia politicians carrying the GOP banner.

In 1972, Dickey beat Jack Chiles for a seat in the state House, but he didn’t seek re-election because at the time, he was busy helping run Macon Bank and Trust Co. Dickey was the bank’s first president.

Dickey sought a House seat again in 1976 but lost to Democrat Frank Horne.

During the rest of the decade and throughout the 1980s, Dickey remained a devoted member of the Bibb County Republican Party. But it wasn’t until 1991 that he was elected to a City Council seat.

“He prided himself in being a Republican,” said longtime City Councilman Ed DeFore, who now serves on the Macon-Bibb County Commission. “He worked closely with independents and Democrats on the City Council, but he really loved his party.”

Yesterday, in advance of the Georgia Republican Party’s Spring Fling featuring Republican former Oklahoma Speaker of the House T.W. Shannon, a fundraiser for Shannon’s OK Senate bid was hosted by Senator David Shafer, President Pro Tem of the Georgia Senate at the Commerce Club. Shafer wrote:

T.W. got his start in politics working for Congressman J.C. Watts. He won election in his own right to the Oklahoma House of Representatives and then was elected Speaker fo the House. He has stepped down from that office to seek the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate.

If T.W. wins this election, he will instantly be a national leader in our party.

To learn more about T.W. Shannon or to contribute to his Senate campaign, please visit his website,

Political Events Calendar

GA GOP: GA 12 District Debate – Laurens County

April 8, 2014, 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM
Parkway Guesthouse, 1127 Hillcrest Pkwy, Dublin, GA 31021

This is the second of four debates for candidates vying for the Republican Party nomination for the 12th Congressional District.  Rick Allen, Delvis Dutton, John Stone, Diane Vann and Eugene Yu will square off in an hour long debate to show primary voters who is the strongest candidate to defeat incumbent Democrat John Barrow.

Find out more »

Muscogee County GOP April meeting
April 8, 2014, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Ben’s Chop House, 300 Sidney Simons Blvd., Suite 14, Columbus, GA 31909

+ Google Map

Expected speakers include – two Candidates for State School Superintendent, Mary Kay Bacallao and Nancy Jester – Nikki Broun on behalf of Paul Broun, Candidate for United States Senate – and State Senator Josh McKoon. Please join us Tuesday evening, April 8 starting at 6:00 PM! Come out and support your local party and let’s show a warm Columbus welcome to these Candidates who are running for State and National Office. Our sincere apologies go out to Mr. Dean Gemberling of…

Whitfield County GOP: Local Candidate Forum

April 8, 2014 7:00 PM @ 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Mack Gaston Community Center, 218 Fredrick Street, Dalton , GA 30721

Please join the Whitfield County Republican Party, as we host a forum for ALL “contested” Republican Primary candidates for consideration of the Voters of Whitfield County! On May 20th, the Republican Voters of Whitfield County will go to the polls to decide among many good and qualified candidates, as to who shall represent the ideals and principles of Republican Voters in November’s General Election. Please make plans to join us on April 8th to hear directly from these Republican Primary…

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The Georgia Conservative Summit

April 11, 2014, 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM
GA State Capitol, 206 Washington Street, S.W., Atlanta, 30334

Real people. Real Leaders. Real Answers. Come and hear and exchange with business and government experts that can and do impact your every day lives. Click Link To Register

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ACCG: 100th Annual Conference

April 12, 2014
Savannah International Trade & Convention Center, 1 International Dr, Savannah , GA 31421

ACCG Annual Conference – County Buyers Mart Exhibitor Information Join ACCG, Georgia’s county association, as we celebrate our centennial anniversary at the 2014 Annual Conference.  In addition to traditional conference activities, such as continuing education sessions and the Buyers Mart, the conference will include many special events to commemorate this historic milestone. The new conference location at the Savannah International Trade & Convention Center offers expanded opportunities for vendors to showcase their products and services.  ACCG looks forward to having…

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Coweta County GOP: Meeting with Niki Broun, Mike Buck, & Oleg Ivutin

April 12, 2014, 9:00 AM – 10:00 AM
Golden Corral, 605 Bullsboro Drive, Newnan, GA 30265

Please join us for the monthly Coweta GOP breakfast meeting. This month’s speakers will be Niki Broun, State School Superintendent candidate Mike Buck and Cobb GOP Leader Oleg Ivutin. We encourage everyone to come early and have breakfast. We look forward to seeing you Saturday!

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GA GOP District 10: Congressional Debate

April 12, 2014, 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM
Jasper County High School, 14477 Ga Highway 11 N, Monticello, GA 31064

David Perdue Senate: Alpharetta Meet & Greet

April 12, 2014, 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM
das Gallery, 2225 Old Milton Pkwy, Alpharetta, GA 30009

I hope you will join me and my campaign as we meet with voters in Alpharetta to discuss the important issues facing our state and nation today. I hope to see you there

Find out more »

Tea Party Patriot Alliance: Tax Day Rally

April 14, 2014, 5:30 PM – 8:00 PM
Forsyth County Courthouse, 100 Courthouse Square, Cumming, GA 30040
Tax Day Rally  LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD !  SPEAKERS: U.S. Representative Tom Price     Gubernatorial Candidate David Pennington     Former State Representative Tom Knox      U.S. Senate Candidate Derrick Grayson  BRING SIGNS, VOICES AND MAKE A STATEMENT! For information, CONTACT TRILBY LEECH 770 886 1616 www.fcteapartypatriotalliance.orgFind out more »

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 7, 2014

On April 6, 1776, the United States Congress opened American ports to all countries not under British rule.

President George Washington exercised the veto power for the first time on April 5, 1792.

The bill introduced a new plan for dividing seats in the House of Representatives that would have increased the amount of seats for northern states. After consulting with his politically divided and contentious cabinet, Washington, who came from the southern state of Virginia, ultimately decided that the plan was unconstitutional because, in providing for additional representatives for some states, it would have introduced a number of representatives higher than that proscribed by the Constitution.

On April 7, 1798, President John Adams signed legislation authorizing negotiations between three representatives of Georgia and three Presidential appointees over Georgia’s claim to land west of what is now the Georgia-Alabama state lines. Georgia would continue to claim most of what are currently Alabama and Mississippi until 1802.

Map by Carl Vinson Institute of Government at UGA

Map by Carl Vinson Institute of Government at UGA.

Georgia Map 1795

Above: a 1795 map showing Georgia extending west to Louisiana. “These Parts are little known.”

John Tyler was sworn in as the tenth President of the United States on April 6, 1841.

Tyler was elected as William Harrison’s vice president earlier in 1841 and was suddenly thrust into the role of president when Harrison died one month into office. He was the first vice president to immediately assume the role of president after a sitting president’s untimely exit and set the precedent for succession thereafter.

The Brown Thrasher was first recognized as the official state bird of Georgia on April 5, 1935 through an Executive Order signed by Governor Eugene Talmadge. Later the designation of official state symbols through executive fiat was challenged and the General Assembly would recognize the Brown Thrasher again as official state bird in 1970.

On April 5, 1962, Governor Ernest Vandiver called a Special Session of the Georgia General Assembly to revise the state’s election code following a decision by the United States Supreme Court in the case of Baker v. Carr.

On April 5, 1977, Wyche Fowler won a runoff election over John Lewis for the Fifth Congressional District, following the appointment of Andrew Young as Ambassador to the United Nations. Fowler would win election to the United States Senate in 1986, and ironically, lose his seat in a 1992 runoff election to the late Paul Coverdell.

On April 7, 1985, Governor Zell Miller signed legislation recognizing the peach as the official state fruit of Georgia.

This Weekend in Campaigns and Elections

State School Superintendent Debate

MKB debate


Nancy Jester Debate


Kira Willis at Debate

Richard Woods Debate

The Marietta Daily Journal covered the debate among candidates for State School Superintendent.

Six Democrats and nine Republicans are running for the seat now held by Georgia Superintendent John Barge, who opted not to seek re-election so he could challenge Gov. Nathan Deal in the May 20 Republican gubernatorial primary.

Republicans who attended the debate were Nancy Jester, Kira Willis, Mary Kay Bacallao, Ashley Bell, Richard Woods and Fitz Johnson. Democrats present were Jurita Mays and Tarnisha Dent.

Common Core unpopular but views differ

Few of the candidates had anything good to say about the much maligned Common Core national testing standards, though some said the state was stuck with the standards and should try to make the best of a bad situation.

Nancy Jester, an actuarial consultant, called the standards pushed by the federal government and adopted by 45 states “quasi-governmental” and “another bureaucracy.”

“That’s six-figure jobs that don’t help the classroom,” said Jester, who served on the DeKalb County Board of Education.

State standards should be developed by Georgians for Georgians, Jester said.

Common Core is in Georgia, said Kira Willis, a graduate coach at a Fulton County charter school, and educators have to make the most of what has been adopted, even though it may not be ideal.

“We’ve got to stop changing the standards on our teachers,” Willis said.

It’s possible to raise the bar above what Common Core requires, she said, and “we can do that with what we have.”

“Standards does not equal curriculum, and we need to remember that,” Willis said.

But Mary Kay Bacallao argued the word “standards” has been used merely to circumvent laws preventing the federal government from sponsoring a common curriculum.

The former member of the Fayette County Board of Education is vehemently opposed to Common Core.

“I will work with everything I have to fight against Common Core,” Bacallao said.

Ashley Bell, who chairs a charter school in Gainesville, maintains the standards are an example of the federal government working to undermine local control over education.

“There is no way you can create a national standard with an apples to apples comparison,” said Bell.

Others, such as Richard Woods, who ran for the seat in 2010, and Cobb native Fitz Johnson, said standards should be rigorous, should give students an opportunity to compete and should be measurable. Johnson’s three children graduated from public schools in the city of Marietta.

Eleventh Congressional District Debate

Scott Johnson Debate

Bob Barr Debate

Ed Lindsey Debate

Barry Loudermilk Debate

Tricia Pridemore Debate

The Cherokee Tribune included some coverage from the 11th District debate:

Stop Obama with the power of the purse, Barr says One of the questions candidates were asked is how they would serve as a check against the “uncontrolled power” of President Barack Obama.

Former U.S. Rep. Bob Barr of Smyrna was first to answer.

“As the House of Representatives member who first called for the impeachment of President Clinton, I have a little familiarity with how to stop a president run amok,” Barr said to applause.

Barr said the president cannot spend “a dime” on the running of the White House without funds appropriated by law from Congress.


indsey says Georgia won’t participate in Obamacare

State Rep. Ed Lindsey (R-Buckhead) said he has already started several measures to pull back on “the imperial presidency.” Lindsey spoke of cosponsoring House Bill 707 this year.

“What it simply does is it takes on Obamacare, says the state of Georgia will not be a participant in this economic train wreck,” Lindsey said. “The second thing we did this year in the Georgia House and the Georgia Senate is we passed that Constitutional Convention that I called for that will call for a balanced budget.”

Lindsey said the best way to curtail government overreach is to limit how much can be spent.

“Now the federal government has a blank check,” he said. “We need to put an end to that.”


Former state Sen. Barry Loudermilk (R-Cassville) said Congress can’t control the other branches if it doesn’t have a budget.

“For years, we didn’t even have a budget. We were giving a blank check to the president,” Loudermilk said.


Pridemore called for a balanced budget.

“We cannot go on continuing to spend over $17 trillion in the future, borrowing money that we simply may never be able to afford to repay,” Pridemore said. “The second of which we need to use the power of the House committee structure to call in the department heads and call in those agency executives, those bureaucrats, and make them answer for the policies and procedures that they’re passing off as laws. Laws are made by the legislative branch. They’re enacted by the executive branch. And we need to stand firm on that.”

Who won the debate in the 11th District? At least three of the campaigns have sent out emails claiming, if not victory, then at least satisfaction with their candidate’s performance.

Professor Kerwin Swint of Kennesaw State served as a moderator and told the Cherokee Tribune that he thought Loudermilk scored some points.

Swint said after the debate the evening’s winner couldn’t be chosen based on applause given how many of the candidates’ supporters were in attendance.

“If you were looking for thoughtful answers, stuff that’s not just canned in a box, I thought Barry Loudermilk did a good job of answering the questions in a thoughtful way, putting forth ideas that aren’t focus-grouped and ballot-tested and all that,” Swint said. “I thought Tricia Pridemore did a good job, too, of answering the questions in a thoughtful way. If you were looking for red meat, it was Bob Barr. And Ed Lindsey did a little bit of both. He had some red meat in there, but I think he had some interesting things to say, too.”

As for who Swint believes won the evening: “If I was an unattached voter and just was coming in trying to learn, I would probably go with Loudermilk, but that’s just an off-the-cuff reaction,” he said.

Back in 2009, I was taking classed in statistics and Political Science at Kennesaw State as a post-baccalaureate student. Dr. Swint declined my request to be added to his class on campaigns, and ever since then I have considered his judgment suspect.

This morning, I wrote at InsiderAdvantage that the biggest question from a day full of debates is whether the party primary debate has become the straw poll of 2014 – full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Next month, the RNC convenes again, this time in Memphis, and will take up the issue of debates in the Republican nomination process. RNC Chairman Reince Priebus is expected to propose fewer than half the number of debate for 2016, down to 10 or less, from the 27 that 2012 saw.

In 2012, the debate-heavy schedule is credited, or blamed, with Newt Gingrich’s temporary ascent, as well as Texas Governor Rick Perry’s hasty retreat. Last month, Priebus described the rigorous debate schedule as “a traveling circus” in speaking to the California GOP. I suspect that after the 2014 Elections are over, Georgia voters, and especially Republicans, may view debates in the same way as Chairman Priebus.

This year, Georgia’s GOP has been pitching its tent across the state, in debates that sometimes resemble a clown car, with as many as eight candidates for United States Senate appearing in a GAGOP-sponsored series taking place mostly outside Metro Atlanta, and nine State School Superintendent hopefuls appearing in various forums and debate before local parties or conservative groups.

This weekend, Cobb County saw debates for State School Superintendent sponsored by conservative activist group Americans for Prosperity, a Cobb GOP Breakfast with two candidates for Congress and one Senate hopeful, and an afternoon debate for Commission District One. Later that evening, the 11th District GOP and local Young Republican groups sponsored a very good debate for CD11 aspirants seeking the seat being vacated by Phil Gingrey.

“Strategist” means “Consultant without a Client”

Twice this weekend I’ve been called a Republican strategist in the national media, and both times it was because I appear to be the last Republican consultant in Georgia who isn’t drawing a retainer from anybody in the Senate race.

In Ballot Box, The Hill’s Campaign Blog, I talked to Cameron Joseph about the Senate race and David Perdue‘s appearing to have stepped in something.

The wealthy businessman had been starting to build a lead in public polls and it appeared that he was on his way towards winning a spot in the two-person primary runoff. But that was before video surfaced of him attacking former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel’s (R ) qualifications.

“It’s a major gaffe,” Georgia Republican strategist and state blogger Todd Rehm told The Hill. “I think five candidates have conceivable paths to a runoff and David Perdue, who had the clearest path, just made his a lot more complicated.”

Footage obtained by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution this week from a January GOP captured the now-infamous slight.

I mean, there’s a high school graduate in this race, OK? I’m sorry, but these issues are so much broader, so complex,” said Perdue. “There’s only one candidate in this race that’s ever lived outside the United States. How can you bring value to a debate about the economy unless you have any understanding about the free enterprise system and how — what it takes to compete in the global economy?”

The remarks drew rebukes from across the political spectrum, including an entire segment on Fox News’s “The Five” ripping Perdue.

“One of the reasons you have a primary is to figure out who’s going to be your best candidate to run against an opponent. I think the voters in Georgia who are going to vote in the Republican primary have their answer: Not him,” former White House Press Secretary Dana Perino said on the show.

I also spoke to Bill Barrow of the Associated Press about the tension for Congressmen between pressure from some conservative voters to vote against any government spending, and the expectation from the home district to bring home federal funds for economic development projects.

Republicans can’t seem to reach an official party line this election year on the old Washington custom of using the federal budget to benefit the folks back home.

The disagreement is a byproduct of divisions between conservative and establishment Republicans, and is on display in three races that will help determine whether the GOP wins control of the U.S. Senate for the final two years of Barack Obama‘s presidency.

It’s forcing veteran appropriators and their opponents in Mississippi, Georgia and Kentucky to navigate between conservatives’ distaste for tax-and-spend government and voters’ fondness for public projects and programs.

“There’s all this pressure on Republicans on spending, most of it self-generated,” said GOP strategist Todd Rehm of Georgia. “It creates a bind between wanting to campaign as a fiscal conservative while still meeting people’s expectations for economic development help.”

In Georgia, some of the challengers even advocate for spending restraint everywhere except at home.

Kingston is one of three U.S. House members vying for promotion to the Senate in Georgia, along with Paul Broun and Phil Gingrey. Two other top GOP hopefuls — Karen Handel and David Perdue — saddle the congressmen with responsibility for the nation’s balance sheet, noting their previous votes for deficit budgets and debt-limit increases.

But Kingston, the only candidate with a budget leadership post, gets hit from both sides.

At the most recent debate, Handel, a former secretary of state, and Perdue, a former Reebok and Dollar General CEO, blasted Kingston because a planned Savannah port expansion in Kingston’s district lacks financing. Previously, the candidates focused their ire on Obama for not financing the project.

As for the long-sought port development, Kingston avoids accusing his opponents of hypocrisy on fiscal restraint, instead chiding them for not working for the federal support they want. “They have no fingerprints on anything,” he said. “I’ve been engaged from the beginning.”

I wrote about this recently at, noting that Kingston’s vote for the federal Farm Bill also set him apart from the field, as he cast his vote for a measure widely seen as positive among those in Georgia’s largest industry, agriculture.

Last month, Kingston also showed a policy difference, being the only candidate on stage to support the federal Farm Bill. Support for the Farm Bill also has both an upside with Kingston’s district and much of the Agriculture and Agribusinesses that compose the state’s largest industry, but carries the possibility of criticism from ideological purists.

Time will tell whether the advantages gained by a voting record in line with Coastal and South Georgia will outweigh the need for ideological purity on government spending and regulation issues, but Kingston is emerging as not just a front-runner in the election, but as a candidate with distinct differences on policy issues related to his current constituency.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 4, 2014

President William Henry Harrison died in office on April 4, 1841, a month after his inauguration.

At the inauguration of America’s first Whig president, on March 4, 1841, a bitterly cold day, Harrison declined to wear a jacket or hat, made a two-hour speech, and attended three inauguration balls. Soon afterward, he developed pneumonia. On April 4, President Harrison died in Washington, and Vice President John Tyler ascended to the presidency, becoming the first individual in U.S. history to reach the office through the death of a president.

The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4, 1968, where he was supporting a protest of working conditions by sanitation workers. Jame Earl Ray would later be arrested and plead guilty to the assassination.

On April 4, 1974, Hank Aaron hit home run 714, tying Babe Ruth’s record.

On April 4, 1988, the Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly was recognized as the official state butterfly of Georgia.

The Atlanta Braves played their first game in Turner Field on April 4, 1997, defeating the Chicago Cubs 5-4. Denny Neagle started on the mound for the Braves and Mark Wohlers earned a save. Atlanta’s Michael Tucker hit the first homerun in the new stadium.

Georgia Campaigns and Elections

Jack Kingston released a new ad yesterday titled, “Call Me Maybe,” featuring a voiceover by a very talented impersonator of President Barack Obama.

David Perdue also released a new ad called, “Bring”.

At the time of writing, Kingston’s new ad had been viewed 613 times to 504 for Perdue’s. That probably doesn’t mean much, but measurable metrics are one way to judge how campaigns are doing.

Which ad do you think is better or more effective?

Watching the first ad from Democratic candidate Michelle Nunn, you could believe that she too is running for the Republican nomination for Senate.

President George H.W. Bush? Check.
Candidate talking to military veteran? Check.
Church in the background? Check.
The word, “Democrat” or “Democratic”? Nope.
President Obama? No.
Obamacare? No.

It’s those last two points that ironically show that she’s running from President Obama and Obamacare and for the Democratic nomination. Any GOP ad would include a denunciation of at least one of those.

How bad was Perdue’s gaffe?

For months, the narrative about the U.S. Senate race has been that Georgia Republicans might nominate someone like Phil Gingrey or Paul Broun who might make an epic gaffe and hand victory to the Democrats. But to the surprise of many, it was David Perdue who caught the first case of foot-in-mount disease. And the national media are pouncing on it. From US News & World Reports yesterday:

a video has emerged showing Perdue slighting one of his opponents who only has a high school degree and the rest of the primary field for never having lived overseas – two comments that drip of elitism and will undoubtedly open him up for immediate attacks and greater scrutiny.

Speaking to a county GOP group back in January, Perdue is recorded on video saying, “There’s a high school graduate in this race, OK? I’m sorry, but these issues are so much broader, so complex. There’s only one candidate in this race that’s ever lived outside of the U.S.”

“It has really steamed a significant portion of activists,” says Todd Rehm, a Republican consultant and author of the blog, who rendered it “David Perdue’s 47 Percent Moment” on his site. “The issue may not be one just for the primary election … this could be a major issue in the general election.”

According to U.S. Census data, only 28 percent of Georgians hold college degrees. In 2008, those without a college degree accounted for 56 percent of the general election vote there.

And not only did it give a fresh jolt of inspiration to many of Karen Handel’s grassroots supporters, it also moved Congressman Lynn Westmoreland (R-Senoia) to address Perdue’s gaffe,

Rep. Lynn Westmoreland on Thursday knocked down Georgia Senate candidate David Perdue’s assertion that his opponent is not qualified to run for the Senate because she does not have a college education.

Westmoreland, who himself never graduated from college, said Perdue’s comments about former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel are “stupid.” He is a five-term Georgia Republican and has yet to endorse a candidate in the race, which includes three of his House colleagues, Reps. Paul Broun, Phil Gingrey and Jack Kingston. He noted that Perdue’s comment is unlikely to affect his choice.

Westmoreland noted that Perdue’s comment is unlikely to affect his choice.

“It’s not going to affect it. This just shows the different personalities,” he said. “I think it’s stupid. I’m sure that’s the way he feels, but I feel like you don’t have to be a college degree to be good at whatever you want to do. It’s never hindered me.”

So, 56 percent of the general election voters attained a formal education level less than a college degree. But aren’t those folks all going to vote Democratic anyway? Not so much.

University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato wrote in 2012, “… The higher the education level, the more likely they are to vote Democratic.”

So, we decided to look at the 2008 General Election Exit Polls to check out what kind of an effect this might have in Georgia. There are no Georgia exit polls available from 2010 or 2012 that we have found. In the Presidential Race, we see that, indeed, 56% of voters then had less than a college degree.

2008 Presidential Election (Georgia) Exit Polls
Obama (D)McCain (R)GOP % =/-% of votersGOP +/-
Not high school grad6337-267-1.82
High school grad455510212.1
Some college5149-228-0.56
College graduate435613324.16
High school grad or some college1.54
Statewide Results52.247

But more of a problem for Republicans is that middle bracket comprising voters with a high school degree only or some college but no diploma. That was a battleground in 2008. John McCain carried High School Graduates by ten points, contributing a net 2.1 points to his 52.2 percent margin over Obama. Notably, McCain carried college graduates in Georgia by a 13-point margin, but nationally, college grads gave Obama an 8-point lead.

But the problem becomes more serious when we look at the education-level breakdown of the United States Senate race between Saxby Chambliss (R)(i) and Jim Martin (D), in which Chambliss carried only 49.8 percent of the vote and was forced into a runoff.

2008 United States Senate Election (Georgia) Exit Polls
Martin (D)Chambliss (R)GOP % =/-% of votersGOP +/-
Not high school grad6337-265-1.3
High school grad47492200.4
Some college4948-130-0.3
College graduate425513324.16
High school grad or some college0.1
Statewide Results49.846.8
McCain – Chambliss2.42.85

McCain’s lead among high school graduates evaporated in Chambliss’s race, and the GOP Senate nominee gave back 1.7 bottom line points for this, though he gained some back from voters with some college leading to a net loss of 1.14 bottom line points. Had Chambliss carried votes of high school grads and those with some college at the same level that John McCain did, he could have avoided a risky runoff.

So if demographics this year are like they were in 2008, those voters whom Perdue arguably disparaged will have the margin of victory in their hands. Michelle Nunn running against Perdue will hammer this episode over and over and the Democratic Party’s lead in voter targeting will allow them to deliver the message exactly where it hurts Republicans the most. If Democrats are able to force a runoff this year, it will be an extended slog, due to the same changes that pushed Georgia’s primary earlier than ever this year, with the general election runoff scheduled for January 6, 2015. National money will pour into Georgia like the winter rains, and voter identification and turnout, a Democratic strong suit if the Obama election campaign model is used, will be the keys to victory.

Do we want to risk the balance of power in the United States Senate on a January runoff?

The other important point this illustrates cuts both ways for Democrats and Republicans alike. It’s not the veteran politicians like Paul Broun or Phil Gingrey who present the highest risk of making an impromptu gaffe. It’s the untested candidates. David Perdue has had his unscripted moment, and we sincerely hope it is his last. But Michelle Nunn is also liable to fall into that trap, though the national media are unlikely to pile on in the same way as with a Republican. I guess that’s why the Democratic nomination race has become a game of “Where’s Michelle.”

This is as good a time as I can find in today’s edition to drop a quote by the AJC’s liberal columnist Jay Bookman. While I disagree with him on many things, this sums up so much about politics:

It’s like they say in the military: Amateurs talk strategy, the professionals talk logistics.

The other thing that differentiates professionals from amateurs is that pros talk numbers.

May is National Drug Court Month

The National Association of Drug Court Professionals recognizes May as National Drug Court Month, celebrating 25 years of drug courts as an alternative to traditional sentencing. Here are some bullet points they’d like to raise:

• Over the past 25 years Drug Courts have served over 1.3 million seriously addicted people.
• There are now over 2,800 Drug Courts nationwide. Drug Courts are located in every U.S. state and territory, as well as 23 other countries.
• Drug Courts now serve 142,000 seriously addicted, prison-bound individuals a year.
• Drug Courts annually refer more people to treatment than any other system in America.
• Drug Courts save money, cut crime and serve veterans in need of substance abuse and mental health treatment.
• Drug Courts are a critical component of criminal justice reform.
• Drug Courts are the nation’s most successful criminal justice program.
Drug courts and other “accountability courts” have been part of Gov. Nathan Deal’s criminal justice reform agenda, and his son, a Superior Court Judge, also presides over a
drug court.

Deal said those special courts will save the state money through lower recidivism, but they will also save lives and families. Deal’s son, Jason, is a superior court judge in Hall and Dawson counties and oversees  drug courts there. Deal said he and his wife, Sandra, who was also at the bill signing, had attended the program’s graduation ceremonies.

“To listen to the stories, to the lives that have been changed, the families who have been reunited and lives that have, quite frankly, been cast aside by the system that was in place, had a tremendous emotional effect on me,” Deal said as he fought back tears.

Georgia is now home to 81 drug courts.

The Times-Georgian of Carrolton has a story today about the effectiveness of drug courts in their community.

The attorney handed her client a piece of paper before her plea, having written only four words: “prison or drug court?”

The client in question, who related the story before a courtroom of spectators during Friday morning’s drug court graduation, said she’s glad she chose the way she did.

“I haven’t felt this strong in a long time,” said the woman, who wish to be referred to only by her initials, T.J. “I can stand on my own two feet now, drug-free.”

The five drug court graduates, ranging in ages and walks in life, shook hands with U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, who gave the key address, and Superior Court Judge John Simpson before accepting their graduation certificates.

Since its inception in 1998, 154 Carroll County residents have graduated from the court. Five graduated Friday morning in this quarter’s ceremony.

Simpson, who serves as judge over the program, said a recent study found that when severely addicted people go to prison, 80 percent of them end up back in the system within a year.

“That’s not being effective,” he said. “Drug court is much more effective, and the costs to taxpayers are much lower — we’re talking $5 per day for drug court, compared to $60 per day if the person is being incarcerated.”

Medicinal CBD oil faces federal roadblock

In an interview with All-News 106.7, which is not available online, Gov. Deal said that a major impediment to medicinal CBD oil use in Georgia remains the federal prohibition on interstate transport of the substance. That was also a major issue in HB 885′s failure, though proponents of the bill prefer to throw Senator Renee Unterman under the bus for allegedly snuffing the bill.

Lt. Governor Casey Cagle urges prosecutors in Georgia to not prosecute families who obtain medicinal CBD oil to treat their children. From Georgia Public Broadcasting:

He told reporters, “I’m calling upon every prosecutor in the state not to prosecute families” that possess cannabidiol (CBD) oil, a non-smokable, non-psychoactive derivative of marijuana, for use with their children.
Cagle made his remarks on medical marijuana at a state Capitol news conference to discuss the prevalence of autism and the Georgia Senate’s efforts to mandate private insurance coverage for the condition.
The Republican lieutenant governor’s surprise remarks addressed the medical marijuana legislation that failed during the 2014 General Assembly session. The House bill would have provided parents immunity from state prosecution for using CBD oil in Georgia.
The legislation however, recognized that people would have to get the CBD oil in another state where medical marijuana is legal and would risk arrest by federal authorities in transporting it back to Georgia.

Twenty states have legalized medical marijuana, and two, Colorado and Washington, have legalized medical and recreational marijuana. But federal laws against marijuana remain.

Cagle told GHN that he had talked with district attorneys, and he said they have no interest in prosecuting parents with CBD oil.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 3, 2014

Georgia began its love affair with the regulation of what can and cannot be sold on this date in 1735, when James Oglethorpe, founder of the colony, helped gain passage of “An Act to prevent the Importation and Use of Rum and Brandies in the Province of Georgia.” The act provided that after June 24, 1735, “no Rum, Brandies, Spirits or Strong Waters” shall be imported into Georgia.” Permission was also required to sell beer, wine, and ale.

On April 3, 1776, the Continental Congress authorized “privateers” holding a letter of marque and reprisal to attack British ships. This essentially legalizes what would otherwise be considered piracy. Issuing letters of marque and reprisal is among the enumerated powers of Congress under Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, though they have seldom been used. Thus, I hope to someday see the Jolly Roger flying at Tea Party rallies alongside the Gadsden flag.

On April 3, 1865, Richmond fell.

On April 3, 1898, President William McKinley called on Georgians to contribute 3000 volunteers for the Spanish-American War.

The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., accompanied by Georgians Hosea Williams and Ralph D. Abernathy, was in Memphis, Tennessee, supporting a strike by sanitation workers on April 3, 1968. He delivered what is known as the “Mountaintop Speech.”

“[L]ike anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over, and I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the promised land. So I’m happy tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”


Georgia State Government

Governor Nathan Deal yesterday signed two local bills, HB 1115 related to Fulton County, and HB 850 for the City of Valdosta.

As the private lawsuit by disgruntled former Georgia State Ethics Commission Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission Executive Director Stacey Kalberman is underway, a major contention by the defense is that the Commission’s budgetary strain was the reason Kalberman was fired.

The state ethics commission was “broke” and needed fixing, and that’s the only reason its former director had her salary cut, former commission Chairman Patrick Millsaps testified Tuesday.

Millsaps was the first witness called in the trial involving the commission and its investigation into Gov. Nathan Deal’s 2010 campaign. Former commission director Stacey Kalberman sued the agency, claiming she was forced from her job for investigating Deal’s campaign.

Millsaps was chairman when Kalberman and her top deputy, Sherilyn Streicker, presented the commission draft subpoenas for records related to a series of complaints filed against Deal’s campaign. Shortly after, however, Millsaps told Kalberman the agency faced a financial crisis and said her salary would be cut 30 percent and Streicker’s job would be eliminated.

The idea that the personnel moves were related to the Deal investigation is false, Millsaps testified. “It was clear to me this was an attempt to successfully take the spotlight away from the budget issues and on to, oh, me and my buddy Governor Deal, whom I’d only met twice at that juncture,” he said.

Assistant Attorney General Bryan Webb, however, said the Deal investigation was not the reason commissioners moved to restructure the agency’s leadership. The budget crisis was real, he said, and salaries accounted for nearly 90 percent of the entire commission budget.

That the Commission was at the time in a budget crisis was also supported by former Commissioner Kent Alexander.

Wednesday, former ethics Commissioner Kent Alexander seemed to surprise Kalberman’s lawyers by testifying that he believed the commission faced a real budget crisis in spring 2011. That crisis was the reason former commission Chairman Patrick Millsaps cited as the need to cut Kalberman’s salary by 30 percent and eliminate Streicker’s job. Kalberman has said that the budget was sound and that Millsaps and others really wanted to force her out over the Deal investigation.

“That’s what it was, it was a budgetary decision,” Alexander said.

In August of 2011, I spoke to then-Commissioner Josh Belinfante about the strain the Commission was under due to legislation that passed earlier that year, and the cost structure of the Commission at that time.

The Fulton County Board of Ethics might as well start reserving a seat for Arthur Ferdinand, as he is becoming a frequent flyer before them. Yesterday, the Board of Ethics heard a new complaint against Ferdinand, the Fulton County Tax Commissioner, while dismissing three earlier complaints.

Real estate investor and one-time tax commissioner candidate R.J. Morris claims Ferdinand broke the law when he waived the property taxes on more than a dozen Atlanta properties without first seeking permission from the Atlanta Board of Education. Ferdinand says he did not do anything illegal.

The ethics board postponed action on the complaint, saying it needed more time to investigate. It also dismissed two other claims that Ferdinand had abused his authority and a third claim that one of its own members should not have voted when the board dismissed another complaint against Ferdinand in February.

Wednesday’s developments show Ferdinand remains a magnet for criticism over the way he runs his tax collection operations – and that his critics have a hard time reining in those practices or showing he’s broken any laws. Other ethics complaints against him have been dismissed, and efforts in the General Assembly to change laws to address perceived abuses also have failed.

Morris claims Ferdinand illegally waived school property taxes on 13 Atlanta properties. Ferdinand waived more than $100,000 of taxes on the properties at the direction of the Fulton County/City of Atlanta Land Bank Authority, which has the authority under state law to erase back taxes to spark redevelopment in blighted areas.

The properties were owned by the Historic District Development Corp., a nonprofit that formerly had ties to the family of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. As the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported in 2012, the transactions were unusual because the land bank turned the properties back over to the nonprofit after the taxes were waived, instead of seeking new owners to develop the properties, as is typical.

Yesterday, Lt. Governor Casey Cagle and members of the Senate held a press conference to discuss the failure by the General Assembly to pass legislation to require coverage by insurance companies for certain treatments for autism.

I’m sorry for the way things worked out,” state Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Buford, said on what was recognized internationally as World Autism Awareness Day.” We want to take care of all children, not one particular segment.”

Her comments were the first since the Georgia Legislature finished work last month without agreement on two of the legislative session’s most controversial issues. Both started as separate pieces of legislation, but Unterman — chairwoman of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee — combined the two late in the session under one bill she dubbed the “Kids Care Act.”

The move angered supporters of the medical marijuana effort, who felt they had a better chance of passage without the autism language attached. The Senate passed the combined measure unanimously, but House leaders blocked it on the session’s final day.

“The Senate took a very strong position, and we took that message seriously,” said Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, who traditionally presides over the Senate as its president. “We believe if the bill had come to the floor (of the House), it would have passed.”

The medical marijuana legislation, House Bill 885, was designed to allow Georgia families to use cannabis oil to treat certain seizure disorders, afflictions that can cause hundreds of seizures a day and often lead to death. It would have provided immunity from prosecution in Georgia to anyone in possession of the oil and cleared a path for patients and their parents to travel outside the state to find a supply, most likely in Colorado because it allows the oil’s use in limited amounts.

But the bill, Cagle said, would not have outweighed federal law banning the oil. He hoped a study committee to be formed over the summer could come up with a better solution. “I don’t want anyone to think the Senate doesn’t have compassion” for those families, Cagle said.

Gov. Nathan Deal proposed funding coverage of autism in the State Employee Health Plan starting July 1. Deal is expected to sign the budget as early as next week.

Why is no one asking why the House didn’t bother to vote on the combined legislation? Couldn’t they have stripped the Autism language out and passed the rest of it?

Here’s the most important quote, from Lt. Gov. Cagle, “a law that does not allow prosecution of the cannabis oil does not solve the problem. And it does not solve the problem because it is still illegal to receive [CBD oil].”

Polling in Senate and Governor’s Races

Yesterday, WSB-TV released new polling numbers showing match ups between the major candidates for the Republican nomination for United States Senate against presumed Democratic nominee Michelle Nunn.

WSB-TV poll released April 2, 2014
Michelle Nunn (D)33David Perdue (R)37.5
Michelle Nunn (D)37.6Phil Gingrey (R)40.5
Michelle Nunn (D)38.2Paul Broun (R)38.5
Michelle Nunn (D)38.1Karen Handel (R)37
Michelle Nunn (D)37.0Jack Kingston (R)37.7

WSB also spoke to Tharon Johnson, who ran the Obama 2012 campaign in the Southeast, and Eric Tanenblatt, who was a Finance Committee Co-Chair for the Romney campaign that year.

“It’s a great position for her to be in,” Democratic strategist Tharon Johnson said of Nunn. “I think right now, Republicans are very scared. They don’t really have a clear nominee that they want to support that can beat Michelle in November.”

“Right now, no one is going after Michelle,” Republican strategist Eric Tanenblatt said. “Come general election time, you’re going to have a well-prepared nominee and Michelle has avoided debates, avoided the media, hasn’t had a contested primary.”

David Perdue’s “47 percent” moment

David Perdue showed the pitfalls of being an inexperienced politician when he had his “47 percent” moment – like Romney’s famous gaffe, it was caught on video.

Many Georgia Republicans have voiced their repulsion for the denigration of a well-respected professional woman who, due to circumstances in her youth many years ago, did not complete college.

My mother didn’t complete college either, because she joined my father and moved all over the country as he was stationed in various places as a sailor in the United States Navy. She might not be a college graduate, and she’s never lived overseas, but she’s been successful in owning a number of small businesses. Add me to the list of folks who think David Perdue is arrogant and condescending. We’ll be talking more about this. At length. For day.s

On to the Governor’s Race

If you pay attention to media polling, it’s been a real horse race for Governor of Georgia, with incumbent Republican Nathan Deal swapping places with Democratic challenger Jason Carter on a daily basis. The problem is that depiction is not accurate.

Here’s a comparison of polling for the first four months of 2014 between Deal and Carter and February through April of 2010 between Deal and Roy Barnes. We couldn’t find Deal v. Barnes numbers for January 2010, but we did have two sets of poll results for February, so we used those. If any pollster ever claims the ability to make predictions about the future, ask them why they never ask the questions we wish they had asked years ago.

What I’ve done in the chart below is to simply plot out the Deal v. Carter and Deal v. Barnes numbers over comparable periods of time. Then below, I have computed a weighted average of the last three polls in the series, and all four polls.

Deal v Carter and Barnes 4 month chart
What is striking is that both races show nearly the same averages for Democratic and Republican candidates suggesting this is close to baseline performance. Of course there are differences between Carter and Barnes, but at this point, Carter has not started advertising, and we have a relatively stable electorate.

So at about this time in 2010, we had a four-month GaPundit Polling Index of Deal 42.7% to Barnes 39.6% and today, our four-month GaPundit Polling Index shows Deal 43.6% to Carter 38.5%.

The two races also show a remarkably similar range, with Deal v. Carter ranging from Deal +9 to Carter +3, a 12-point spread, while Deal v. Barnes ranged from Deal +6 to Barnes +5, an 11-point spread. So the volatility is similar between the two races.

Next is a time-series plot of the Deal v. Carter polls, and over that we have laid the GaPundit Polling Index, which we noted above is Deal 43.6% to Carter 38.5%.

Deal V. Carter 4 Month Chart 04022014

What this shows is that the 2014 elections polls for Governor of Georgia do not depict a wildly volatile electorate in which the lead is constantly shifting. By removing the noise created by different polling firms using different methodologies and different sample size, we see that the situation today, from a polling perspective, is fundamentally the same as it was four years ago.

Now, you might criticize this approach, and that’s fine. But applying the logical tool of Occam’s Razor is instructive here. That test generally prefers simpler explanations, and in my mind, the competing scenarios are (a) a highly-engaged electorate swinging wildly between the Democratic and Republican candidates for Governor, despite little-to-no television advertising or other media events; or (b) that the apparent differences between polls are really more differences between pollsters and the random noise that is inherent in any series of public opinion surveys.

Even if we account for the snowstorms that buffeted Georgia during this period, it appears that any organic voter backlash has dissipated and we’re back to a baseline race with the most recent polling numbers extremely close to the calculated GaPundit Polling Index.

This goes back to a point I’ve made several times recently: I don’t let any single poll influence my opinion of where an election stands if multiple data sources are available. You shouldn’t either. So, why does everyone treat it like a horse race swapping lead constantly? Because it gives political professionals and hobbyists something to talk about, and because it drives both television ratings and website traffic. Not because it gives you any special insight into the dynamics of an election.

SCOTUS rules in McCutcheon case

Yesterday, the United States Supreme Court released its latest campaign finance decision, in a case called McCutcheon v. Federal Elections Commission. Click here for the official opinion.

Politico has a brief report on the effects of the case:

1.) What does the ruling do? Before the ruling, people could only donate $48,600 to federal candidates every two years and $74,600 to political parties and committees. Those caps are gone, meaning a donor can give to as many federal candidates as they want — and donate freely to political parties. Why the ruling? The First Amendment. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote in his controlling opinion: “There is no right in our democracy more basic than the right to participate in electing our political leaders.”

2.) What doesn’t the ruling do? SCOTUS didn’t touch base limit contributions. That means a donor can still only give $2,600 to a candidate in primary and general elections. But in his dissenting opinion, Justice Stephen G. Breyer wrote: “If the court in Citizens United opened a door, today’s decision may well open a floodgate.” Dems, including the White House, denounced the decision today, too.

3.) What’s this mean for campaigns? A lot. It means that political parties can fundraise just as much money as super PACs and other outside political groups. But it also means that those same rich megadonors could have a lot more influence in party politics. SCOTUS struck down campaign caps for corporations and unions in the 2010 Citizens United case. Josh Gerstein and Byron Tau report:

Yesterday, replying to a reporter, I wrote my initial thoughts on the case, which I’ll share with you here.

“As a First Amendment purist, I think that any movement by the Court to remove limitations on personal political speech is worth celebrating.

As a political consultant, this is not a major case that will affect the day-to-day fundraising of candidates here in Georgia in a major way. There are too few of these “whale“ donors for it to mean an influx of dollars into most campaign accounts.
And for those with both the will and the means to pour more money into campaigns than is currently allowed under the individual aggregate limits, Citizens United gave them the tools to spend more money on elections.
From a first glance at the opinion, I’d say the most important thing about McCutcheon is what it doesn’t do – it doesn’t strike down the $2600 per candidate per election limitation that is closer to the heart of the current scheme of federal campaign finance regulation.
Striking down the individual limitation on contributions to a single campaign would have a major effect, and clearly, Justice Clarence Thomas was willing to go there but a majority of the Court was not.
I cannot personally think of any times in which I had a potential donor tell a candidates they’d be happy to make a donation, but it would put them over the individual aggregate limits.”
Not surprisingly, the Republican National Committee was giddy. RNC Chairman Reince Priebus released a statement:
“Today’s Court decision in McCutcheon v FEC is an important first step toward restoring the voice of candidates and party committees and a vindication for all those who support robust, transparent political discourse. I am proud that the RNC led the way in bringing this case and pleased that the Court agreed that limits on how many candidates or committees a person may support unconstitutionally burden core First Amendment political activities. When free speech is allowed to flourish, our democracy is stronger.”
The difference between their reaction and mine is this: Reince Priebus has a rolodex filled with people for whom the individual aggregate limitation actually limited what they could do. It also limited the RNC’s ability to ask them to give to races across the country. I don’t have such a rolodex, though if anyone out there falls into, or even near, this category, please call me. I’d be happy to help you decide how to spend your considerable pot of political cash.