Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 25, 2014

On August 25, 325, the Council of Nicea adopted the Nicene Creed.

On August 25, 1864, Union troops stopped artillery bombardment of Atlanta and withdrew from fortifications around the city. On the same day, in Virginia, Confederate forces attacked Federals under Gen. Grant at Ream’s Station.

On August 25, 1877, delegates to the state Constitutional Convention approved a new post-Reconstruction state Constitution, the seventh in state history, to be submitted to the voters on December 5, 1877.

The all-time highest score in a professional baseball game was recorded on August 25, 1922, as the Chicago Cubs beat the Philadelphia Phillies by 26-23.

Paris was liberated from German army control on August 25, 1944.

On August 25, 1950, President Harry S. Truman ordered the seizure of the nation’s private railroads by executive order.

Our photo selections from Gould Hagler show two different shots of the same monument, the state’s second oldest Confederate monument in Griffin, Georgia. Here’s what it looked like before a cleaning and restoration.

Gould Hagler

And after cleaning and restoration:

Gould Hagler Griffin2

Gould’s book, Georgia’s Confederate Monuments: In Honor of a Fallen Nation, is available for ordering online from Mercer University Press. We receive no compensation for running these, and paid for our own copy.



Happy Birthday to Georgia Governor Nathan Deal

I didn’t get you anything, but you have my support and on November 4, 2014, I’ll vote to re-elect Governor Deal.

Nydia Tisdale arrested at Dawsonville GOP Rally

Nydia Tisdale is a Forsyth County political activist who has made a name of herself by shooting video at public meetings and political events and posting them on YouTube.

She’s not always welcomed. In 2012, Cumming Mayor H. Ford Gravitt had her removed from a meeting of the Cumming City Council.

Attorney General Sam Olens disagreed with the City’s video policy.

Olens filed suit in Forsyth County Superior Court against the city of Cumming and Mayor H. Ford Gravitt for the alleged violation of Georgia open meetings law on June 5, 2012.

On the same day of the alleged [2012] violations, Gov. Nathan Deal signed into law the updated version of Georgia’s Sunshine Law.

The law says that a person is allowed to make visual and audio recordings at a public meeting. The new law, which went into effect the same day, provides for visual and sound recordings of public meetings and authorizes the attorney general to sue violators and seek penalties.

This past Saturday, Tisdale uploaded to YouTube a video she shot of Gov. Nathan Deal, Senate candidate David Perdue and others at the North Fulton Victory 2014 Rally held earlier this month. (more…)

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 23, 2014

We are now 104 days from the General Election on November 4, 2014.

Once again, the Battle of Atlanta provides us with our metaphor for today. On July 23, 1864, Union and Confederate forces in and around Atlanta gathered the dead and worked to save the wounded. Union artillery began bombarding Atlanta.

Former President Ulysses S. Grant died on July 23, 1885.

The Cleveland Metropolitan Park District was established on July 23, 1917 and currently has a set of beautiful parks winding through the city. If you’re going to be in Cleveland for the 2016 Republican National Convention, take some time to tour the city, including the parks. When I visit my mother and grandmother in Cleveland, I regularly see deer in the parks in Shaker Heights, and outside my grandmother’s retirement home. We’re thirty years past the “mistake on the Lake“ era, and you’ll be missing out if you don’t get to learn about the city.

I’m planning on attending the 2016 Convention and may set up an event or two for my fellow Republicans who are there from Georgia. Stay tuned.

John Smoltz started his first game as a major league pitcher on July 23, 1988, as the Braves took a win over the New York Mets.

Hopefully this won’t be another metaphor for the election, but Great White Sharks have been spotted off the coast of Georgia.

he message from shark researchers sums it up: “Female shark hotspot?” tweeted the nonprofit Ocearch Tuesday afternoon. “Lydia, Genie & Mary Lee are off the coast of #Savannah, GA!”

All three great white sharks are fitted with satellite tags that last located them more than 100 miles off Savannah.

Campaigns and Elections

Today, we begin the General Election campaign for United States Senate, Governor, and for the “Shafer Amendment,” which will constitutionally limit the ability of the General Assembly to raise the state income tax rate. Visit to learn more and if you’re a leader in a local, district, or the state GOP, consider working to put your organization on the record as supporting Amendment One on the November ballot.

I’m not going to spend too much time on last night’s elections. I want to digest what happened, and there’s plenty of direct information out there on the news sites. We’ll spend a few minutes recapping yesterday’s election results and talking about lessons we learned.

What I learned yesterday

The important thing is not being right every time, but learning something every time you are wrong. That’s a valuable insight whether you’re talking about political prognostication or something else.

Taking the view of “I learned a lesson” when you’re beaten, knocked down, or just wrong on the internet also has the benefit of lifting your mood. One of my favorite websites that isn’t about politics has a short video on this valuable life lesson.

1. The first time I was a guest on GPB’s new radio show “Political Rewind” a couple weeks ago, I learned that when I’m the proper distance from the microphone, my 40-something year old eyes can’t focus on the mic’s windscreen, and there’s something disorienting about being that close to something you can’t focus your eyes on. Of course, vanity won’t let me simply get glasses for this.

There’s a reason we have a lot of metaphors like “can’t see the forest for the trees” or “preaching to the choir.” The problem is that it’s hard to see what’s going on among the majority of Republican Primary voters who are not activists or party types. A message to those folks who are disconnected from politics can connect in a way that moves them without necessary being visible to those who are concentrating on the party structure and activists.

For those of us involved in the General Election as pundits, professionals, or players, we need to learn this lesson and apply it.

2. David Perdue’s challenge will be to take the support he has received in the Primary and Primary Runoff from people who are not involved in the political process and try to make a coherent organization or movement out of people who are resistant to being part of the political process.

Perdue will inherit much of Jack Kingston’s organization the same way Kingston gained from Karen Handel, and he should take the time to figure out how Kingston’s volunteers and staff can best be brought into the tent. But he also has to recognize the limitations of that organization and of his own – if we couldn’t see the breadth of his support, it will be hard to identify those who voted for him and ensure they come back out in November and don’t fall for an outsider message from the other side.

3. We’re behind the eight-ball. Michelle Nunn has a lead in the polls, and $2.3 million in the bank. I still think Republicans are favored in the fall, but we have to get it together and that starts tomorrow. Sleep in and lick your wounds today, but be prepared to take the field tomorrow.

4. The Georgia Republican Party needs to consider whether it’s promoting a message today that connects with the broader electorate or whether they’re “preaching to the choir.”

Democratic Party of Georgia Chairman Dubose Porter released a statement last night that indicates what we’re in for from the DPG and the Michelle Nunn and Jason Carter campaigns: three months and twelve days of all-out class warfare. From Porter’s statement:

“There is a clear contrast in this race between Michelle Nunn, a leader who has spent the last 25 years leading volunteer organizations and lifting communities up, and David Perdue, someone who has spent his career enriching himself while often times tearing companies and communities apart,” said Democratic Party of Georgia Chair DuBose Porter. “Georgians want leaders who will fix the mess in Washington, not someone who puts personal profit ahead of regular people.”

So, we’re going to hear a lot about Pillowtex and a lot about what a greedy bunch the Republican party and their Wall Street cronies are. Major issues will be the gender gap in pay, Citizens United and the role of big money in politics, and the minimum wage.

Expect also to see Michelle Nunn on all the morning shows today and the rest of the week.

Runoff Roundup

As of this morning, David Perdue holds a roughly 8500-vote lead over Jack Kingston, besting the 22-year Congressman by less than a 51-49 margin. From Walter Jones with Morris News:

With all but two Georgia counties reporting their final vote tallies as of 7:30 a.m., Perdue had 50.9 percent to Kingston’s 49.1 percent. The difference was about 8,600 votes out of more than 482,000 ballots cast.

Voters said they were fed up with the situation in Washington and wanted a change. Perdue, a political newcomer convinced them he was better able to bring change than Kingston, a 22-year veteran of Congress.

“David offered voters a clear alternative to the typical politicians,” said his spokesman Derrick Dickey. “As a political outsider and first-time candidate, his message resonated with voters who are fed up with business as usual in Washington.”

Kingston told supporters that when he called Perdue to concede he had a simple message for the victor about the general election.

“Don’t call me. I’m on your team,” Kingston recounted. “This is so much bigger than David Perdue or Jack Kingston. It is about taking over the U.S. Senate and turning America around.”

Wednesday morning will be the first day of the general-election campaign. Perdue must immediately shift his sights from attacking his fellow Republican to blasting Democratic nominee Michelle Nunn. She’ll be fighting back, and both sides will have large financial commitments from political-action committees.

“Tomorrow it becomes more of a national race with a lot of outside groups weighing in, but we plan to keep our nucleus,” Kingston said.

Even closer is the margin between State School Superintendent candidates Richard Woods (199,071 votes) and Mike Buck (198,343 votes). The race will almost certainly have a recount. From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

First, a crowded primary. Then, a runoff that doesn’t run either candidate off the ballot.

Now, the race between Mike Buck and Richard L. Woods, the two Republican candidates for Georgia school superintendent, appears to be headed for a recount.

Woods, a longtime educator from Irwin County making his second bid for superintendent, held a paper-thin edge over Buck, the chief academic officer for the Georgia Department of Educator. With nearly all of the state’s counties reporting their results late Tuesday night, that edge was within the 1 percent threshold that would give Buck the right to request a recount. He told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he would request a recount if the margin turns out to be closer than 1 percent.

“We would all like to have some closure, but it looks like sometime tomorrow at the very earliest before we’ll know,” Buck said from his campaign headquarters late Tuesday night. “So, we’ll stick it out and see what happens.”

Democrat Valarie Wilson took her party’s nomination over State Rep. Alisha Thomas Morgan. From the Athens Banner-Herald and Morris News:

Wilson won with 53.4 percent of the vote over Alisha Thomas Morgan, an Austell legislator, who garnered 46.6 percent, as of 10:50 p.m.

Kerwin Swint, political science professor at Kennesaw State University, said the support from established organizations likely helped Wilson.

“It’s about infrastructure,” he said. “Getting out the vote is something where, if you have the establishment behind you, you have people manning the phones, you have people willing to hand out literature.”

While Wilson has support of large education groups like the Georgia Association of Educators through her connections as former City of Decatur school board member and former Georgia School Board Association president, Morgan had sought the support of Democrats in favor of education reform and school-choice. She also had the backing of some national school-choice organizations, which rankled with some Georgia Democrats.

In Congressional District One, State Senator Buddy Carter beat Dr. Bob Johnson.

Carter won 53 percent of the votes, while his opponent, Bob Johnson, garnered 46 percent.

Johnson, a surgeon from Isle of Hope, ran as a political outsider in support of term limits and firmly against the Affordable Care Act also known as Obamacare. His success came from the lower half of the district in Glynn and Camden counties and a few small counties.

Johnson claimed he was supported by about 85 percent of local tea party members and virtually all tea partiers nationally, including former vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, who lent her support after a last-minute “gentle probe.” The Club for Growth, FreedomWorks and a few other conservative groups backed him also.

But behind Carter were key mainline conservatives, including many area mayors and sheriffs, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He also positioned himself closely to the Republican incumbent, Jack Kingston, a longtime Savannah congressman running in a closely watched U.S. Senate primary runoff.

The Republican nominee is heavily favored against Democratic nominee Brian Reese of Savannah in the Nov. 4 general election.

Carter, the primary’s top vote-getter, ran in favor of tax reform, reining in the national debt, balancing the budget, repealing Obamacare, and protecting gun rights – picking up a National Rifle Association endorsement.

He said he felt most confident of his popularity in his state Senate district, western counties and some areas down south where he was banking on endorsements from such people as a third place primary rival to pay electoral dividends.

Jody Hice, the ideological and stylistic heir to Dr. Paul Broun, took the GOP nomination in the Tenth District, which opened when Broun ran for U.S. Senate.

With 54 percent of 49,632 votes recorded by 10:45 p.m. Tuesday, Hice dominated the 10th District, winning 15 of its 25 counties.

Hice, a conservative radio host from Walton County, took first place in the May 20 primary with 37 percent of the total vote. Mike Collins, a trucking company owner from Jackson, came in second in the primary with 33 percent.

Clarke County voters preferred Collins, though. He earned about 62 percent of about 3,700 votes cast in the race here, while his lead in neighboring Oconee County hovered around 52 percent of the total vote late Tuesday. Hice took Barrow County with 68 percent of 4,446 votes.

More than half of Hice’s margin came from Walton County, his home and the most populous county in the district that sprawls across eastern Georgia. With 8826 votes cast in yesterday’s runoff, Walton County produced more votes than it did in May’s Republican Primary.

Barry Loudermilk handily won the 11th District over Bob Barr.

As of midnight, with all precincts in every county reporting, Loudermilk had received a total of 34,641 votes or 66 percent compared to Barr’s 17,794 votes or 34 percent.
Loudermilk’s lead was smaller in Cobb County, which he won with 59 percent of the vote to Barr’s 41 percent. Loudermilk took home 13,591 votes in Cobb County, while Barr received 9,314. In total, 22,905 of the 52,435 votes that had been tallied at press time were cast in Cobb County.
Loudermilk said he felt “awesome” after his win, though he added the victory was still sinking in.
“My heart goes out to everybody that went to the polls and elected me to this position,” he said. “It’s people responding to a positive message that there is hope for America we get our nation back on track.”
The newly-elected congressman attributed his victory to a positive message and style of campaigning.
“I think (my) message resonated with people more than the negative attacks we’ve seen,” Loudermilk said.


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

President Zachary Taylor died of cholera on July 9, 1850 and was succeeded in office by Millard Fillmore.On July 9, 1864, Confederate troops retreated across the Chattahoochee River from Cobb County into Fulton County. Upriver, Sherman’s troops had already crossed and moved toward Atlanta.

Best line of the day

From the Marietta Daily Journal previewing last night’s debate for Cobb County Commission between Bob Weatherford and Bill Byrne.

“Our personalities are different. I have one and he doesn’t,” Weatherford declared.

Then at the debate, the moderator explained how to use the microphones:

moderator Pete Combs pointed to the microphones.
“They’re microphones, they’re not clubs,” Combs said, prompting laughter.

Debate two: Collins and Hice

I moderated the debate in Oconee County between Mike Collins and Jody Hice for the Republican nomination for Congress in the Tenth District. Hice is a fine candidate on the stump and outperformed Mike Collins, but one thing he said gave me pause.

The question was whether Christianity is under attack in America, the role of Christianity in government, and whether the federal government should play a role in the issue.

Jody Hice said,

“Government has every reason not to restrict and suppress religion and Christianity but to embrace it, and promote it, and allow it to flourish. For therein, and only therein, is an environment in which limited state government can exist in our lives.”

That’s a small snippet of a longer answer to the question, but that excerpt concerns me as a Chrisitan and a Conservative.

The concern I have is that as a Conservative, I believe that government is an inefficient tool for solving social and cultural problems. Looking at the war on drugs that began in the 1980s, after nearly thirty years, government intervention yielded stronger and more effective horrifying drugs like the rising popularity of methamphetamine, a jail system so overcrowded that many states, including Georgia, are rethinking and reducing drug sentences, and a culture that is more tolerant than ever of the recreational use of drugs and alcohol.

If that’s the kind of results we could expect from government embracing and promoting Christianity, as a Christian I’d say, “no, thank you.”

Kelsey Cochran of the Athen Banner-Herald covered the debate and writes about an exciting moment.

The most contested portion of a debate between the remaining Republican candidates vying for the 10th Congressional District came after Jody Hice took a jab at his opponent Mike Collins’ father, former U.S. Rep. Mac Collins.

“You’ve said a number of times that your political philosophy is closely identified with that of your dad. He was very good on some social issues, but he went along with the establishment. …This looks like a sequel that’s a nightmare,” Hice said after citing several votes by the elder Collins to raise the debt ceiling, his own salary and to approve the No Child Left Behind Act.

Collins defended his father’s conservative voting record before pointing his finger at Hice for statements in his 2012 book perceived by some as anti-Islamic.

“In order to be a good congressman, you’ve got to be effective. My opponent wants to limit First Amendment rights for certain American citizens,” Collins said.

Hice rebutted by saying Collins was “truth-challenged” and said his published statements were taken out of context and lain with liberal talking points in recent news reports.

Rather, he said, his statements “clearly made a distinction between peace-loving Muslims who want to worship and Islamic radical terrorists and jihadists.”

In the end, both men said they are in favor of protecting the First Amendment rights of U.S. citizens.

Former Congressman Mac Collins spoke to me after the debate and said, “If Jody Hice is going to attack my record, I should be given time to respond to it.”

I hadn’t realized that Mac Collins was in the audience, but if I were in charge of the next debate, I’d give serious consideration to allowing that opportunity.

There was a lot more to the debate, and I got home late last night, so I will discuss more of what happened in the next couple of days. I want to thank the Tenth District Georgia Republican Party, Tenth District GAGOP Chairman Brian Burdette, and Dennis Coxwell, chairman of the 10th Congressional District Republican Debate Planning Committee for allowing me to participate.

The hundred chairs set out by Dennis Coxwell and Oconee County GOP Chair Jay Hanley were filled with voters, many of whom were not the “usual suspects” who show up for GOP meetings, but instead ordinary voters looking for information. It was one of the best debates I’ve attended.

Barr and Loudermilk meet in CD-11

Last night, Bob Barr and Barry Loudermilk spoke at a candidate forum hosted by the Acworth Business Association and Barr questioned Loudermilk over an issue originally raised by WSB-TV.

Critics are questioning a local politician who now says he owns the copyright to a video that was produced with $10,000 of taxpayer money.
The video, called “It’s My Constitution,” features former state senator and current congressional candidate Barry Loudermilk and his three children talking about the importance of the U.S. Constitution. It also features an introduction from State Education Superintendent John Barge, and was sent to Georgia classrooms for use in studying Constitution Day.
“It’s paid for with taxpayer dollars; arguably the public owns that,” said Georgia Department of Education spokesman Matt Cardoza.
During the credits of the 15-minute video, a copyright in the name of “Firm Reliance” appears on the screen. Firm Reliance is a non-profit organization registered to Loudermilk. The video is prominently featured on the non-profit’s website.
“If it’s in the public domain and the public paid for it and it’s for the public, why have any copyright on it?” Fleischer asked Cardoza.
He replied, “Right. I can’t answer that question. I really don’t know why it says it’s copyrighted there.”

Loudermilk said because he and his children were not paid for their time writing and casting the video, they legally hold the copyright, not the Department of Education. He said they are going to use the copyright to protect the video.
“We didn’t want anyone to go in there and try to change what was in it, and also wanted to make sure no one went out and used it for profit,” Loudermilk said. “We want this available, we want it out there.”
Loudermilk added that his family and non-profit have never charged anyone to use the video and will continue to allow access to the video for educational purposes.

Here is the question from Barr last night and Loudermilk’s response, via the AJC:

Are you willing now to come forward tonight — with a degree of transparency that you seem to hold very high when you talk about these issues — and tell the voters what you are hiding with regard to your lack of transparency on these and other issues involving abuse of taxpayer money,” Barr said on the stage at NorthStar Church in Kennesaw.

Loudermilk said he has never made any money on the film and that it was copyrighted to protect its content.

“Well, Bob, you even surprise me with those accusations because there is absolutely no truth to any of those and I think you know the truth regarding those,” Loudermilk said. “The state owns the video. It is free for everyone. You can go to YouTube and see it.”


The “other issues involving abuse of taxpayer money” that the AJC saw fit to omit included a payment of $80,000 by the state (that means your taxpayer dollars) to settle an employment discrimination lawsuit by a woman who worked in the office that Barry Loudermilk shared with another state Senator.

From WSB-TV:

In a statement, [then-Senate President Pro Tem Tommie] Williams’ office told Geary the state Senate is not subject to the open records act and the matter related is a personnel matter.

At the time, Loudermilk claimed no knowledge of the lawsuit.

In a statement released Wednesday, Loudermilk named the employee as Ethel Blackmon.

“Though Ms. Blackmon did work in my senate office for a short time, I have never discriminated against her or anyone else, and this issue has never been raised to me. The media has also reported an alleged monetary settlement made to her, which they claim had something to do with me. I have never been consulted about a settlement, nor did I know anything about one before hearing of media reports [Tuesday],” Loudermilk said.

Barr also answered Loudermilk’s challenge about a letter Barr wrote before Eric Holder took office as Attorney General. Again from the AJC’s Jeremy Redmon:

Barr pointed out that he has since called for Holder’s resignation because he “has enabled this president through his inaction and through providing legal opinions to the White House… to continue violating the law.”

“So rather than focus on the letter, why don’t we focus on the things that Eric Holder has done in office that have led me to believe that he needs to resign and for which I have called for repeatedly,” Barr said. “Maybe you would like to join me.”

Marietta Daily Journal endorses Jack Kingston for U.S. Senate

From the MDJ Editorial Board:

Georgia has been represented on Capitol Hill in recent years by a pair of the steadiest and most-respected members of the U.S. Senate: Saxby Chambliss (R-Moultrie) and Johnny Isakson (R-east Cobb). Now, Chambliss is calling it a career and retiring at year’s end. Vying to take his place are two Republicans who will meet in a July 22 primary runoff election: Jack Kingston and David Perdue.

Perdue is one of the big surprises of this campaign season. The multi-millionaire former CEO of a string of well-known companies largely self-funded his campaign and came out of nowhere to be the leading vote-getter in the May 20 GOP primary. In the process he gathered more votes than a number of better-known candidates, including three incumbent congressmen — one of them Kingston.

Perdue trades on his “outsider” status as a non-politician and plays to those fed up by the constant bickering and gridlock on Capitol Hill. It’s a feeling with which we sympathize.

Yet Perdue has never crafted a bill, advocated for it and shepherded it to passage. He’s never had to rally his party’s faithful, line up votes or — as successful legislators must do — learn how to compromise on the occasional detail without selling out on his underlying principles.

In other words, Perdue has the luxury of having no record to run on. He is a blank slate on which voters can pin their hopes. He talks a good game about transforming Washington, but, as every president learns, even the most powerful man in the world can only change the culture there by so much. And as just one senator of 100, whoever is elected will find there is no magic wand awaiting him.

Jack Kingston, on the other hand, has written and passed many a bill and cast thousands of thousands of votes during his time in Congress. He stands by what he’s done for his district, this state and this country. He’s a known quantity — and he’s not the kind of lawmaker who’s been corrupted by the Capitol Hill experience.

Perdue is eager and affable, but given how he’s spent recent decades rubbing elbows with upper-crust business types, we’re not sure he truly understands the economic challenges of the merchants on Marietta Square, or of those shopping at the Avenues in east and west Cobb, much less the grind of living from paycheck-to-paycheck like far too many do, even in a prosperous community such as ours.

And here’s the money quote:

Keep in mind a Nunn win would mean another vote for a continuation of an Obama-type/Reid/Pelosi agenda. That makes it incumbent on Republican voters to choose the candidate who will offer Nunn the strongest challenge. And Jack Kingston is that Republican.

Doug Collins endorses Jack Kingston

Ninth District Congressman Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) also endorsed Jack Kingston for United States Senate, saying,

“Jack Kingston is a proven leader for Georgia Republicans who has always stood up for the folks at home, not Washington insiders,” said Collins.  “In the short time I’ve been in Washington, I’ve made it my purpose to put people before politics, and I’ve seen Jack Kingston do the same. Jack has been a presence in North Georgia throughout the campaign, and his message of renewing America, cutting taxes, and reducing energy costs have resonated.”

“I trust Jack to go to the Senate, break the gridlock, and give life to the conservative solutions we’ve started in the House. I encourage my fellow Georgians to vote for Jack Kingston on July 22nd and ensure a Republican takeover of the Senate in November.”

More data on voter turnout

Yesterday, Secretary of State Brian Kemp released information on the number of votes cast so far in early voting.


Number of ballots cast: 44,342

Number of ballots voted in person:  28,000

Number of mail-in ballots returned:  16,342

Number of mail-in ballots outstanding:  18,345



Cobb: 2,439


Fulton: 1,706

Chatham: 1,705

Gwinnett: 1,687

Those numbers differ from those we wrote about yesterday because Kemp’s numbers were based on a later version of the Voter Absentee File that was not yet publicly available when we were writing yesterday.

Illegal immigrants shipped to Georgia?

The AJC was skeptical of claims that illegal immigrants were being brought to Georgia when Bob Barr raised the issue on Monday.

The AJC’s Jeremy Redmon queried the Barr campaign – specifically, campaign manager and son Derek Barr – for actual evidence of dangerous women and children from the outer reaches of Guatemala, dispatched to subvert the wisdom and justice, constitutionally dispensed in moderation, of our fair state.

Yesterday, the AJC’s partner in the Cox Media Group, WSB-TV reported that indeed, “unaccompanied minors” are being transported to Georgia.

“They’ve been flooding into Atlanta for the past probably month and a-half,” attorney Rebecca Salmon told Channel 2’s Kerry Kavanaugh.

Salmon runs the Access to Law Foundation. The nonprofit represents children who arrived in America alone. The federal government calls them unaccompanied minors. The Gwinnett County-based foundation represents kids who have reunified with family in Georgia, Alabama, parts of Tennessee and South Carolina.

“Our current caseload is well over a thousand kids,” Salmon said.

Salmon said she helps the children determine the best option for them, which she said is often voluntarily leaving the U.S.

The majority, she said, will ultimately be deported. A small percentage could stay under special circumstances, like if they meet criteria for political asylum.


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

On July 8, 1776, the bell now known as the Liberty Bell rang in the tower of the Pennsylvania State House, now called Independence Hall, to announce the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence.

Rung to call the Pennsylvania Assembly together and to summon people for special announcements and events, it was also rung on important occasions, such as King George III’s 1761 ascension to the British throne and, in 1765, to call the people together to discuss Parliament’s controversial Stamp Act. With the outbreak of the American Revolution in April 1775, the bell was rung to announce the battles of Lexington and Concord. Its most famous tolling, however, was on July 8, 1776, when it summoned Philadelphia citizens for the first reading of the Declaration of Independence.

The Liberty Bell inscription includes a reference to Leviticus 25:10, “Proclaim Liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.”

The first of General William Tecumseh Sherman’s troops, under Major General Schofield, crossed the Chattahoochee River between Powers Ferry and Johnson Ferry on July 8, 1864.

Former United States Senator from Texas Phil Gramm (R) was born on July 8, 1942 in Columbus, Georgia, where his father was stationed at Fort Benning.

On July 8, 1975, President Gerald Ford announced his candidacy for President in the 1976 elections.

Barry Loudermilk: Not much of an Historian

Speaking of the Declaration of Independence, Congressional candidate Barry Loudermilk told the Marietta Daily Journal last week that:

“Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, the document that changed the entire world. He was the youngest, newest freshman in the Second Continental Congress, and so I think it’s a good idea to bring somebody new.”

Part of that statement is incorrect. Perhaps that’s surprising for a candidate who describes himself as an “historian and Constitutional scholar.”

The incorrect statement is that Thomas Jefferson was the “youngest, newest freshman in the Second Continental Congress.”

John Jay, who would serve as the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court was a delegate to both Continental Congresses was born in 1745 – two years after Jefferson was born in 1743. Also younger than Jefferson was Edward Rutledge of South Carolina. From Georgia, George Walton, born in 1749, was younger than Jefferson and was first elected as a delegate to the Continental Congress in 1776, the same year as Jefferson. Jefferson was elected a delegate to the Continental Congress on March 29, 1775, while Walton was elected from Georgia in February 1776, making him both younger and newer to Congress.

If Loudermilk made a single historical misstatement, it might just be an error – after all, I regularly have to correct myself here. But it appears to be part of a pattern of misstating history to serve his political ambition.

On April 27, 2013, Loudermilk spoke to the Bartow County Republican Party, and said,

“What the amazing thing was, when President Kennedy set out there and said, ‘we’re going to go to the moon in this decade,’ he didn’t create a government bureaucracy to do it, we created NASA to oversee it and turned it over to the private sector. We turned it over to the free market system and said ‘you guys figure out how to get there.,” said Loudermilk.

In fact, NASA was, and continues to be, a government agency. Also, it was not created by President Kennedy, but by President Eisenhower in 1958.

The folks from took exception to my pointing out Loudermilk’s errors, writing,

“An attack has been leveled that Sen. Loudermilk revised history in saying private companies helped get a man on the moon. In fact, IBM was one such private company that NASA turned to for help in this important project.”

These folks didn’t revise history, they just misstated what I wrote. Loudermilk didn’t say private companies help get a man on the moon – he said that President Kennedy turned the moon shot over to the private sector, which is untrue. Once again, we have the Loudermilk campaign distorting the truth to serve Barry Loudermilk’s desperate need to get himself elected to Congress.

Barr on immigration

Loudermilk’s opponent Bob Barr is raising the issue of whether the Obama Administration is shipping immigrants to Georgia.

Bob Barr, a former member of Congress locked in a tight Republican runoff with former Barry Loudermilk of Cassville for the 11th District congressional seat, has declared an immigration emergency in Georgia. From the press release:

“As tens of thousands of illegals continue streaming across our southern border, citizens of Georgia are increasingly concerned that the Obama Administration is planning to surreptitiously ship many to locations in our state; or that our government may already have begun doing so under cloak of secrecy.

“Questions from this campaign to federal agencies inquiring whether shipments of these illegals are planned for Georgia – or whether such shipments may already be underway – have been met with silence or refusals to provide meaningful answers. Our questions have been prompted by accounts stating that Georgia is in fact a recipient state for some of these illegals….”

The AJC’s Jeremy Redmon queried the Barr campaign – specifically, campaign manager and son Derek Barr – for actual evidence of dangerous women and children from the outer reaches of Guatemala, dispatched to subvert the wisdom and justice, constitutionally dispensed in moderation, of our fair state. Said Derek Barr:

“Additionally, the NBC Nightly News reported Saturday night that some illegals are on their way to Georgia. From Maryland, Indiana, Pennsylvania, to California communities have received unannounced shipments of these illegals. The state and local taxpayers are left paying the bills.”

Walter Jones interviews Kingston, Perdue

Walter Jones with Morris News is must-read for political junkies in Georgia, and has published profiles of both candidates for United States Senate in the Republican Primary Runoff on July 22d. First up is Congressman Jack Kingston.

Kingston’s hard work and connections led to winning a seat in the state House of Representatives for Savannah in 1984. Six years later he became the first Republican to hold the First District congressional seat since Reconstruction, and he’s been in Washington ever since, rising in seniority and power over those 22 years.

Although he never had serious opposition after his first legislative race, he says he still likes campaigning. These days, he frequently runs into questions about his years in Congress spawned by negative television ads from runoff opponent David Perdue attacking him primarily for his votes on spending.

“One of the constant concerns you have is that people are too polite when they come up to you. I’d rather have them ask me head on,” he said.

“People conveniently overlook the fact that I introduced the first earmarks reform back in 2007 and called on a moratorium that is in effect now,” he said.

And David Perdue:

“If I were out of touch, there is no way that I would have been successful in a competitive business career,” he said, adding that he could have never marketed to bargain-conscious consumers at Dollar General or motivated rank-and-file Reebok employees without an understanding of their needs.

The biggest misunderstanding of the campaign, according to Perdue, is that he genuinely cares about people.

What he has been out of touch with, undeniably, is the phraseology of conservative activists.

“The vocabulary of politics is just unbelievable,” he says. “You just have to be so careful, I believe, with the terminology.”

His imprecise rambles created many verbal snares that have repeatedly come back to trip him up. Various statements have been replayed to make him seem to be a snob, an advocate for tax increases, supporter of gun control and the Common Core school standards and an opponent of repealing the Dodd-Frank banking law that many Republicans loath.

Savannah Morning News endorses Kingston

Not surprisingly, the Savannah Morning News has endorsed hometown Rep. Jack Kingston for Senate.

JACK KINGSTON and David Perdue have been beating each other up as the July 22 runoff for the Republican Senate nomination gets closer.

If you didn’t know it, you might think they belonged to opposing parties.

Such is the sad nature of today’s politics. Don’t promote your own ideas and qualifications. Just rip the other guy.

That’s unfortunate, because Mr. Kingston and Mr. Perdue have solid resumés. They don’t need to be heaving mud balls.

That said, we believe Mr. Kingston deserves the GOP nomination for this statewide seat. He has shown what he can do in the U.S. House, representing Georgia’s First Congressional District. He’s ready to step up to the next level as the GOP nominee and face Democratic nominee Michelle Nunn in the November general election.

Mr. Kingston also has demonstrated a good combination of guts and brains. It’s not easy for someone from this part of Georgia to win statewide. South Georgia candidates are at a distinct disadvantage when they compete against those from the more populous northern region. But by earning a spot in the GOP runoff, Mr. Kingston has proven he can build coalitions — a skill that’s needed in the Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate more than ever.

During his 20-plus years in the House, Mr. Kingston has compiled a record that’s pro-job and pro-growth. He’s a fiscal conservative. He has worked for health-care reform that would benefit America, not break the bank. He knows the military (the Army’s Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield and the Navy’s Kings Bay Naval Base are in his backyard) and the ports — two key parts of Georgia’s economic engine.

GPB’s Adam Ragusea on Senate Race

Georgia Public Broadcasting’s Adam Ragusea has a piece on the Senate race, examining the avalanche of endorsements that has come out for Jack Kingston.

On the GOP side, losing candidates like Phil Gingrey and Karen Handel, establishment Republican figures like Newt Gingrich, and even Tea Partyers are backing Congressman Jack Kingston, even though he came in five points behind businessman David Perdue in the May 20 primary.

Widespread Republican support for Kingston is likely the result of familiarity with the 11-term U.S. House member, said Chris Grant, a political science professor at Mercer University.
“They know him, they have a trust level with him,” Grant said of the politicians who have served with Kingston in congress and before that in Georgia’s General Assembly. “I think a lot of these folks have seen Kingston as a reliable ally, someone they owe some favors to, and right now he’s cashing in on them.”

Grant sees the political dynamic largely in terms of who owes favors to whom, continuing,

A counterintuitive advantage that Kingston has over Perdue, Grant said, is that Kingston’s use of favors to get endorsements and contributions means that he will owe supporters favors if he makes it to the Senate.

I would argue that much of Kingston’s advantage is ideological – voters supporting a candidate who understands their needs. The extraordinarily strong turnout for Kingston across South Georgia suggests to me that his understanding of the agricultural economy, which includes the Port of Savannah, through which Georgia products are exported, fueled his popularity there.

Then Grant ends with this, which I don’t see at all

“I think Kingston has the organizational ability to turnout votes,” Grant said, “but enthusiasm may be on Perdue’s side, so the run-off could go a different way.”

I would argue from my recent experiences in the field that enthusiasm is much more pronounced in the Kingston camp.

Runoff Turnout Strong?

As of yesterday’s Voter Absentee File from the Secretary of State, 37,097 Georgians completed advance voting ballots for the July 22d Primary Runoff Election. The true number of advance voters may be higher, as sometimes reporting lags.

In comparison, for the first week of early voting for the May 20th Primary Election, 46,376 advance voting ballots had been completed.

First week Primary Runoff turnout was about 80% of the first week Primary total, quite remarkable, given that last week had one fewer voting day due to the July 4th holiday, meaning there were 80% as many voting days that week versus the first week of Primary advance voting.

DeKalb Ethics: a full diaper house

If the DeKalb County Commission were a poker hand, it’d be a Full House, indictments over investigation.

Currently, CEO Burrell Ellis is under indictment and awaiting trial for alleged ethical misconduct. While no Georgia indictment have come yet, a South Carolina jury convicted Jonathan Pinson of 29 felony counts involving an alleged scheme to bribe DeKalb County Commissioner Stan Watson.

A witness, former construction company CEO Richard Zahn, had testified that the defendants told him Watson could help him get work on the county’s $1.7 billion water and sewer upgrade project if he paid Watson $50,000 or $60,000. Zahn also said the defendants wanted him to buy Atlanta Falcons box seats for Walton.

U.S. District Judge David Norton said there wasn’t enough evidence to support allegations that an illegal deal was struck or that any public official in DeKalb received anything improperly.

Watson has said the judge’s ruling clears his name, and he said he didn’t have anything to do with the case.

An FBI agent testified in court that Georgia-based agents are investigating corruption in DeKalb County. He didn’t say whether Watson was a target.

Commissioner Kathie Gannon was the subject of an ethics complaint, making a clean sweep of the Commission, with all members now facing ethics complaints.

An ethics complaint filed Monday against DeKalb County Commissioner Kathie Gannon accuses her and an assistant of spending government money on gift cards and lawyers.

There are now ethics complaints pending against all six DeKalb County commissioners and Interim DeKalb CEO Lee May.

Gannon said the allegations are unfounded, and she said she has legitimate explanations for every expenditure in her budget.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 2, 2014

On July 2, 1776, the Second Continental Congress adopted a resolution by Richard Henry Lee (father of Robert E. Lee) calling for independence from Britain. The delegations of twelve colonies voted in favor, while New York’s abstained, not knowing how their constituents would wish them to vote.

On July 2, 1826, representatives from Georgia and Alabama met to begin surveying the border between the two.

On July 2, 1861, Georgia voters approved a new state Constitution, which had been adopted by the state’s Secession Convention.

July 2, 1863 saw day 2 of the Battle of Gettysburg, with Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia attacking Meade’s Army of the Potomac.

On July 2, 1898, the first pot of delicious Brunswick Stew was made in Brunswick, Georgia. I think I’ll celebrate with a bowl for lunch today.

President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 on July 2, 1864. Major provisions included outlawing discriminatory application of voting laws, prohibiting racial discrimination in public accomodations, allowing the Attorney General to join lawsuits against states operating segregated public schools, and prohibiting discrimination by state and local governments or agencies receiving federal funds.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was a witness to Johnson’s signature, standing behind the President in the Oval Office. Johnson presented King with one of the 72 pens used in signing the legislation.

Occasionally, pens from the Civil Rights Act signing come onto the collectors’ market. A collection of 50 pens used to sign legislation by Presidents Kennedy and Johnson went across the block in November 2013. This pen went unsold.

As a student of Dr. Merle Black in the political science department at Emory, we began our study of Southern politics from the premise that race relations and the legacy of racial discrimination shaped Southern politics. One book we read every year was The Longest Debate: A Legislative History of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which belongs on the bookshelf of any serious student of American politics, political history, and legislative process.

Modern Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Incumbent Cobb County Board of Educations member Tim Stultz came in second on May 20th and will defend his seat in the runoff election July 22d.

“As you know, the district has been running deficits up until this past year,” said the Georgia Tech graduate and engineer. “I’ve been one of the board members trying to get the district past that using some good fiscal sense. Now that money’s coming in, I think it’s an even more important time to make sure that what we’re spending is in line with what the taxpayers expect.”
Stultz commands the respect of such Cobb County conservatives as state Rep. Ed Setzler (R-Acworth).
“I admire Tim,” Setzler said. “I think he’s the kind of thoughtful, independent-minded person that the school board needs. He’s a detailed person, and he’s got the independence that the 700,000 people of Cobb County expect from school board members. I think it’s important that there be a healthy distinction between board members and staff of the district, and I think Tim’s done a very good job of striking that balance.”

Asked if he’d consider a millage rate hike if re-elected this year, Stultz replied, “Absolutely not.”

His opponent, Susan Thayer, thinks things are looking up for her campaign.

“I’m not critiquing his performance. I’m just saying I think I could give our system good representation for our area,” Thayer said.

“Stultz took 33 percent of the vote, which means 67 percent of the voters wanted a change on the board,” Thayer said.
Abel has officially endorsed Thayer.

A major difference between Thayer and her primary opponent is the controversial Common Core education standards. Stultz has long been against the standards, but Thayer sees them as merely a framework for education that will have little effect on the day-to-day learning environment.
“I don’t know whether Mr. Stultz has reviewed all of the Common Core standards,” she said. “I have not. I doubt very seriously that he has either. It would be hard to give an analysis of Common Core. What I do know is that I totally dislike the fact it has caused controversy for our schools.”

Thayer feels the standards, which some conservative critics have denounced as “Obamacore,” have been politicized unfairly.
“I think there is some confusion on terms,” she said. “There is a difference between standards, curriculum and instruction. Standards are simply a framework upon which you build your curriculum.”

Thayer was asked if there were any circumstances in which she would vote for a tax increase if elected. She responded by pointing out the district’s millage rate, capped at 20 mills, was already at 18.9 mills. Raising it to 20 mills would be enough to hire 240 teachers.

“Spread that over 115 schools,” Thayer said. “That’s not the solution for our school system, so I don’t see it as a solution. We’re going to have to find other ways to deal with it. So I would need some real convincing before I would be willing to do that. I’m not saying it can’t happen. You know, never say never. And you certainly get more information when you’re in a situation to look at it more clearly.”

Convincing lawmakers to kill Cobb’s senior exemption, which waives the school portion of a senior’s property tax bill, is not something she believes will happen either. But she wouldn’t say the option is off the table, either.

“I’m not saying that. I don’t have the information to say what I’d really do, but I can’t imagine our legislators doing that, so it’s not going to be my consideration.”

If I lived in Cobb County, I would cast my ballot for Tim Stultz on July 22d, not because of his opposition to Common Core, but because of his opposition to raising property taxes.

Georgia Public Broadcasting has a story on how two churches are handling the new gun bill that went into effect this week differently.

A new law goes into effect July 1 that allows places of worship to “opt-in” to church carry. And it’s been a tough decision for people on both sides of the issue.

Inside his office at Berean Baptist Church in Social Circle, Pastor Tom Rush has met with a church deacon about everything from the church’s community cookout, to how the new gun law will impact their small congregation. Rush says the church has about 90 members, and it averages about 70 on a Sunday morning.

Church leadership has already decided they want to “opt-in”, but Rush knows that might not sit well with everyone.

“Quite frankly, we may have some people in our church that are uncomfortable with the idea. I’m uncomfortable with it,” said Rush. “You know, I grew up in a day when we left the sanctuary doors open so people could come in at any time and pray. Unfortunately, we don’t live in those days anymore.”

Bishop Robert Wright of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta announced that the 109 parishes he leads would not welcome firearms.

“I saw this as a wonderful opportunity to talk about what it means to be a follower of Jesus in the 21st Century,” says Wright. “Even though permission has been given to have guns everywhere, that stops for us at the sanctuary. This is a gun-free zone.”

Bishop Wright says even though he was active in lobbying against the gun bill this spring, this was not a political decision, but one based on faith. The Bishop calls this a “respectful disagreement” with state lawmakers and even other Christians.

“We know that there are people who this has been a tough conversation for them and some people are choosing to leave, though these have been very isolated incidents. I can tell you what I have heard. I’ve heard that more people are wanting to come to the Episcopal Church now, because of the stance.”

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has decided that city property will be gun-free. Except for law enforcement and criminals.

“As Mayor, I have made public safety the top priority of my administration. Accordingly, in response to a new statewide gun law that took effect today, the City has taken extra security measures to keep employees and citizens safe at our facilities.

“Effective today, City recreation centers with extensive summer programming will be staffed with security officers to screen entrants and prevent firearms from entering the buildings.

With the exception of certain public safety officials and employees, there is no place for firearms in a city facility. Every City of Atlanta government facility that screens the entrance into the facility with security personnel will continue to prohibit firearms.

One beneficiary, likely unintended, of the new law: sign printers and manufacturers.

Melvin La Pan with Fast Signs says orders for signs started coming in the last few weeks. “We’ve definitely seen a lot more signs that say please don’t bring weapons in here,” he said.

But he doesn’t think they’ll do much good. “People who break the law all the time they’re not gonna listen to a sign,” La Pan said.

But Williamson says, these signs, could make a world of difference. “Because they’re a reminder. They’re something more visible to remind people,” he said.

Already, Richmond County Schools also have signs up around the schools. There are some leading up from the streets and on the doors to make sure visitors know, no weapons are allowed.

Hobby Lobby fallout coming to Georgia?

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) was at the center of the Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case. The Court’s decision was that the contraceptive coverage mandate in Obamacare violated the RFRA.

The high court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case refocused attention on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act that passed Congress overwhelmingly in 1993, with the support of some lawmakers still serving in both the House and Senate. The statute requires federal laws to accommodate individuals’ religious beliefs unless there is a compelling interest at stake that can’t be attained through other means.

Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, the lead Republican sponsor of the religious-freedom law when it passed the Senate in a 97-3 vote, said Monday’s decision affirmed Congress’ decision to pass the law in the first place.

“As the Supreme Court rightfully said today, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act could not have been clearer in saying religious liberty of all Americans must be equally protected and not unnecessarily burdened,” Mr. Hatch said in a statement. “That’s why RFRA passed Congress overwhelmingly more than 20 years ago.”

Georgia state Senator Josh McKoon wrote on Facebook:

The Federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) passed in 1993 is what allowed today’s historic decision. Did you know there is no Georgia RFRA protecting you from intrusion into your religious liberties by state and local government? Help us pass a Georgia RFRA next year!

This year, McKoon worked to pass Senate Bill 377, the “Preservation of Religious Freedom Act”, co-sponsored by Senate President Pro Tem David Shafer. In the House, State Rep. Sam Teasley and Majority Whip Matt Ramsey introduced a version of the bill.

Liberal columnist Tom Crawford wrote that a state act mirroring the RFRA was not necessary.

We don’t need religious protection laws because we already have one of the strongest measures in the world protecting the right to worship: the First Amendment. It has been part of the U.S. Constitution for more than 220 years and the last time I checked, it had not been repealed.

What I think Crawford doesn’t understand was that sometimes legislation is required to make the promises of the Bill of Rights more than mere words on paper. Absent a cause of action, provided in the Hobby Lobby case by the RFRA, the Bill of Rights on its own is not always sufficient. I would argue that was the case as well with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Senate race continues heating up

Yesterday, Karen Handel released, via the Kingston campaign, a scathing criticism of David Perdue’s remarks on foreign relations.

Former Secretary of State Karen Handel today called on David Perdue to apologize for his disparaging comments about Americans made during an interview the Macon Telegraph editorial board.  In the interview, Perdue says, “We see the world through the ugly American’s eyes.”

When a questioner declared that Americans are the “arrogant teenagers” of the world, Perdue responded with an unequivocal, “Absolutely.”  He added, “The rest of the world gets it.”

“David Perdue just can’t seem to keep his arrogance in check,” said Handel.  “First, he belittles Georgians who don’t have a four-year college degree and haven’t lived overseas.  Then, he patronizes the grassroots core of the GOP.  Now, he’s insulting Americans in general.”

That led me to remember that in French, perdu means lost. More to the point, “il est perdu,” means “he has lost,” or “there is no hope for him.”

If you added up the people of whom David Perdue said something like “he/she/they don’t get it,” I suspect you’d have a majority of Georgians included.

Yesterday, state Senator and former Senate President Pro Tem Tommie Williams endorsed David Perdue for United States Senate.

Leadership is absent in Washington. We have people who I believe are well intentioned, but they simply don’t have the ability to make a difference. This year in Georgia we have a chance to elect a proven leader to shake up Washington and actually get results. I believe that leader is David Perdue. I’m proud to endorse him in this runoff election for U.S. Senate.

This was not an easy public endorsement for me to make – I’ve known Congressman Kingston for years, and I’m from his area here in southeast Georgia – but it’s the right thing to do. My endorsement is nothing personal against Congressman Kingston. He’s a fine man who has done some good things for Georgia. I just believe David is better qualified to make a difference in Washington and address the crisis of the day. I meet with candidates routinely who want to run for office and I always ask myself could they lead the body in which they seek to serve. I have no doubt David can and will be a natural leader in the Senate and help save our country.

A fellow called Don Cole wrote about Tommie Williams’s endorsement and added what is to me an even better endorsement.

I know a side of David that I have shared with a few people on an individual basis. Several months ago, I woke up early on a Sunday morning and felt a strong sense to pray for David and Bonnie. Some of the first hits of the campaign were starting to come out that portrayed him as arrogant and conceited.  You know how it feels to be misrepresented and have your name smeared. I knew that it was probably hitting Bonnie harder than David.

As I prayed I wrote a quick e-mail to say, “I’m praying for you right now.”  I did not expect a reply and hoped that the e-mail would offer some encouragement. Later that afternoon Bonnie wrote me back with words of sincere thanks. David also wrote back with words of thanks and he also added a passage of Scripture that he had been studying.  He went on to add how he was applying that Scripture in this particular situation.

I was not expecting any reply.  When I saw that David replied, I anticipated seeing, “thank you for your prayers” and maybe something like, “they mean a lot to me.”  I did not expect his in depth response sharing what Scripture he had been studying and how he was applying it.

Since that time, I have spent more time in prayer, study of Scripture, and reflections on his spiritual walk than with any other person that I have prayed for in public life. He has also prayed for me.  David is in this race because he has no other option. He is answering a call to run. Like anyone of us, he doesn’t know what tomorrow holds, but he knows what he must do today, be obedient to a calling. That is why he is in this race.

Pat Gartland endorses Bob Barr

Former Georgia Christian Coalition Chair Pat Gartland has endorsed Bob Barr in the 11th Congressional District runoff election.

“Bob Barr understands that serving in Congress is serious business.  I trust Bob Barr to represent the 11th District because I know Bob to be a consistent champion for conservative Georgia values, and I am honored to support him. Bob Barr has always fought for our community, our small businesses, our veterans, and our values.

“When I served Georgia as state Chairman of the Christian Coalition, I had the opportunity to work with Bob Barr on many issues impacting our families and our community. Bob Barr was always willing to stand for those values that are important to our families, and I trust Bob Barr to continue that leadership in Congress.

“When I served in the Small Business Administration for President George W. Bush, I had the opportunity to work with Bob Barr on many issues important to the small business community. Bob Barr never hesitated to go to work on behalf of our business owners and their employees, as well as fight the bureaucrats in Washington. I know that Bob Barr will continue his leadership for our small business leaders in Congress.

“As a veteran, I know Bob Barr stands with us. From his leadership in Congress on the Veterans Affairs Committee, to his leadership in the creation of the Georgia National Cemetery in Canton and the Veterans out-patient clinic in Marietta, I know Bob Barr will continue to fight for our veterans because he has a proven track record with veterans.”

Just in case you haven’t read it a dozen times, I have worked for Bob Barr’s campaign.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 25, 2014

On June 25, 1788, the Commonwealth of Virginia became the tenth states to vote for ratification of the United States Constitution by a vote of 89 to 79. A committee was appointed to be chaired by George Wythe to draft a proposed Bill of Rights.

On June 25, 1868, the United States Congress provisionally readmitted Georgia to the Union following the Civil War with the requirements that they ratify the Fourteenth Amendment and never deprive any citizens of voting rights.

On June 25, 1876, Indians under the leadership of Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse defeated the U.S. Army 7th Cavalry under Lt. Colonel George Custer at the Battle of Little Big Horn.

On June 25, 1888, the Republican National Convention nominated Benjamin Harrison for President of the United States; Harrison’s grandfather was WIlliam Henry Harrison, ninth President of the United States.

On June 25, 1990, the United States Supreme Court released its opinion in Georgia v. South Carolina, a boundary dispute. From Wikipedia:

A… 1922 Supreme Court decision, also called Georgia v. South Carolina, 257 U. S. 516, also held that all islands in the river belong to Georgia, but that the border should be in the middle of the river between the two shores, with the border half way between any island and the South Carolina shore.

Since the 1922 case, a number of new islands were created in the river between the city of Savannah and the ocean, due to the deposit of dredging spoilage or the natural deposit of sediments. In some cases, the new islands were on the South Carolina side of the previously drawn boundary, and Georgia claimed that once a new island emerged, the border should be moved to the midpoint between the new island and the South Carolina shore of the river. In some cases, the state of South Carolina had been collecting property tax from the land owners and policing the land in question for a number of years.

When an island causes the border to leave the middle of the river, it raises the question as to how the border line should return to the middle of the river at each end of the island. South Carolina advocated a right angle bend at each tip of the island, while Georgia advocated a “triequidistant” method which kept the border an equal distance between the two shores and the tip of the island (resulting in a smooth curve.

This Thursday through Sunday, Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield Park will commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, which took place on June 27, 1864.

Click here for the schedule of events at Kennesaw Mountain.

Georgia and National Politics Today

Yesterday, CNBC declared Georgia is the number one state in which to do business.

The state scores a solid 1,659 points out of a possible 2,500, finishing at or near the top in three categories and in the top half in all but two. Since we began rating the states for competitiveness in 2007, Georgia has never finished outside the top 10 overall, with fourth-place finishes in 2007 and 2011, and a respectable eighth place in 2013.

Governor Nathan Deal responded from a trade trip to Israel.

“Since taking office, I have worked every day to make Georgia the No. 1 place in the nation in which to do business,” Deal said. “Last year, Site Selection magazine named Georgia No. 1 for business, and today CNBC followed suit. These rankings are a testament to the commitment from Georgia businesses, communities, our economic development partners and the people of Georgia. As more people see Georgia’s successes, more businesses will consider expanding or relocating here. I am confident that our state’s highly skilled workforce and seamlessly connected logistics infrastructure will enable these businesses to be successful and competitive. This is good news for Georgia, and my goal going forward is to maintain our status as a leader in the global marketplace.”

Greg Bluestein with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution got a reaction from Jason Carter’s Democratic campaign for Governor.

Carter’s campaign responded with a press release saying that the ranking that matters most show Deal’s administration is “leaving too many people behind.”

“Instead of crowing about arbitrary rankings, maybe Gov. Deal should focus a bit more on the rankings that actually mean something to Georgia families,” said Carter spokesman Bryan Thomas, citing some of the above statistics. “I bet we won’t see those facts in any of Gov. Deal’s campaign ads.”

Prepare for another round of pundits discussing what Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran’s narrow win in yesterday’s Primary Runoff means for the Tea Party and the Georgia Senate race. Politico discusses how Cochran and his allies pulled it off.

Within a week, a powerful operation had swung into motion to save the 76-year-old legislator. Rather than making peace with his firebrand challenger, state and national Republicans redoubled their efforts to tear down Chris McDaniel, whom they considered a political lightweight taking advantage of a virulently anti-Washington mood. In interviews on the day and night of the runoff vote, strategists and party leaders described the campaign as a near-perfect turnaround – considering the slimness of Cochran’s victory, it had to be.

By the time the second round of balloting rolled around on June 24, a collection of groups that might be dubbed the Emergency Committee for Mississippi had spent millions on new television ads, knocked on tens of thousands of doors and reached out to voters – including African-Americans and Democrats – who had likely never voted before in a GOP primary.

The hoped-for payoff came Tuesday night, when Cochran bested McDaniel by some 6,400 votes – a margin of less than 2 percentage points. In a gut punch to conservative activists, Cochran’s survival proved just how much swat national party leaders have when they compete to win by any means necessary.

Joe Sanderson, Cochran’s finance chair, said he always believed that Cochran would win once his legions of admirers realized what was truly at stake. “I think they came out en masse,” Sanderson said. “I’ll be honest with you, I think some African-Americans came out to support him – I don’t know that, I believe that – because they did not want Chris McDaniel and the tea party to win.”

Sanderson, with a confidence matched by few in the Cochran camp, added that he was “not surprised” by the result: “I believed all the time that Sen. McDaniel got all the votes he was going to get in the first primary.”

For the pro-Cochran alliance, the race came down to a huge strategic gamble: That the universe of Mississippians who wanted to see Cochran back in the Senate was substantially larger than the group that voted in the primary – and that rather than serving as a death knell for Cochran, the June 3 ballot would serve instead as a wake-up call for apathetic Mississippians.

Most controversially – and perhaps most importantly – the Mississippi super PAC formed to support Cochran’s reelection shifted its resources dramatically from television advertising to get-out-the-vote operations.

But this time, the Mississippi Conservative PAC didn’t spend a dime on television or radio. Instead, the group – headed by Republican National Committeeman Henry Barbour –spent untold sums identifying and turning out longer-shot voters, including non-Republicans and African-Americans who were unlikely to have participated in the first vote.

Fifty years ago, “Freedom Summer” brought a concerted effort to register African-Americans to vote in Mississippi and met local resistance. From PBS:

Over 10 weeks, 37 churches were bombed or burned. Four civil rights workers were killed. Many more were hurt.

The Freedom Summer volunteers took the baton from another group called the Freedom Riders, who risked their lives to challenge segregated travel centers in the South.

Ernest McMillan was one of the young civil rights workers who traveled to the heart of the South to help blacks register to vote in 1964.

A college student then at Morehouse College in Atlanta, he’d go on to run the Dallas chapter of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. He’d also lose a close friend to violence and spend time in prison for demonstrating at a neighborhood grocery store.

Before all that, he was just a kid at a protest.

Hank Thomas of Atlanta discusses his experience in the Freedom Rides and what they meant for the Freedom Summer.

TR: You said it would have been easier for you to travel in East Berlin before the destruction of the Berlin Wall than it was to ride on the front seat of a bus through the South. Did you have any idea of the impact that the Freedom Riders would have on interstate travel while you were involved?

HT: I knew what our goal was. It was indeed to get the law that had been affirmed by the Supreme Court: that racial discrimination in interstate transportation was unconstitutional. But the reason we did the ride, and the way we did it, was to virtually force the federal government to enforce those laws. None of the Southern states abided by the laws.

We knew that eventually we would force the federal government to act, and we did. But what I did not realize at the time was the reaching effect of what this would do. Little did we really realize that this was just one of the battles to what would be the ultimate victory—in President Lyndon Johnson signing the 1964 civil rights bill.

TR: This summer marks the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer. How much of an impact do you believe the Freedom Rides had on its inception?

HT: It was once again the escalation of the battle. We won the two battles in reference to the [sit-ins] and the Freedom Rides. So all of these are battles that are being won, and all culminating in the ultimate. At the time, we didn’t have the historical perspective for being able to see beyond what we were doing and the effect it was going to have. We were building the momentum, certainly in 1964 after the Freedom Rides and the rebellions of the summer.

And a group of Freedom Riders spoke at Atlanta’s National Center for Civil and Human Rights.

South Carolina saw a major dropoff in voter turnout in their Primary Runoff yesterday.

The June 10th primary had a voter turnout of 16 percent, but Tuesday saw a major drop as just six percent of the voters came to the polls to vote in this runoff.

Election experts believe this result is not unusual given the offices up for grabs.

Former South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster won the Palmetto State GOP Primary Runoff for Lt. Governor.

McMaster, 67, ran on his experience, saying he has the knowledge to get things done. McMaster was a U.S. attorney during President Ronald Reagan’s first term and state GOP chairman from 1993 to 2002 before being elected to two terms as the state’s attorney general.

McMaster also touted his ties to Gov. Nikki Haley, who had no primary opponent.

McMaster brought Boots, his white bulldog, to his campaign celebration, calling him a secret weapon. Boots had appeared in McMaster’s television ads.

I award +1 for having a secret weapon in a political campaign, and it being a dog. No doubt someone in South Carolina is docking McMaster a point for it being the same breed as the University of Georgia mascot.

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp says that the answer for Georgians who want to reduce regulation is at the ballot box.

Kemp, whose office oversees new corporate registrations in the state, toured the 1-year-old Macon Beer Company’s operations in a downtown converted warehouse Monday.
“I think you’ve seen it, you know, in breweries like Sweetwater [in Atlanta] and Terrapin [in Athens], where they’re fixtures in their communities now. I have no doubt that these guys will do the same thing in Macon,” he said.

Last year, a Republican-led study committee of state legislators rejected a regulatory tweak that craft brewers have been asking for — they want to be able to sell packaged beer directly to consumers at their breweries, rather than going through third-party distributors and retailers as mandated by state law.
Responding to a question about that process, Kemp said: “I think people have to vote at the ballot box about how they want government regulations to be.”

The Georgia Senate has named four members to a joint legislative committee to study the legalization of CBD oil, derived from marijuana, for a limited set of medical conditions.

Sen. Butch Miller, R-Gainesville, Sen. Dean Burke, R-Bainbridge, and Sen. Curt Thompson, D-Tucker, will join Senate Health and Human Services Chairwoman Renee Unterman, R-Buford, on the panel.

Unterman and [a state Rep. from Macon], will lead the committee, which is charged with making recommendations by year’s end about allowing medical marijuana in Georgia. It comes after the state House and Senate failed to reach a compromise on legalization in the waning hours of this year’s legislative session.

Veterans question Loudermilk

A group of military veterans followed up on the letter one of them sent to the Marietta Daily Journal asking whether Congressional candidate Barry Loudermilk has embellished his record.

A group led by retired U.S. Army Col. Larry Mrozinski says 11th Congressional District hopeful Barry Loudermilk is exaggerating his military record on the campaign trail.
The group gathered in downtown Smyrna on Tuesday morning for a news conference. They say Loudermilk, a former state senator from Bartow County, has repeatedly implied he was a pilot during his time in the Air Force, when in fact he was a communications specialist.
“Serving one’s nation or representing those who serve is a sacred trust and honored tradition in America, not to be embellished or used to manipulate or mislead the public for personal gain,” Mrozinski said during the conference. “We cannot afford to send representatives to Washington D.C. with a cloud hanging over their heads.”

There is no question that Barry Loudermilk served. The question is how he has portrayed that in speeches.

But I say there are three completely different reasons to vote for Barry Loudermilk for Congress.

1. You believe that forced implantation of microchips in humans is a real threat.

That’s right. Barry Loudermilk wrote legislation to stop forced implantation of microchips in human beings.

“I have worked closely with other legislators over the past several years to pass legislation that would protect Georgians from mandatory microchip implants. There are many in the legislature that believe there are certain groups of citizens that should be chipped for security or identification purposes. We have not been successful in passing this legislation in the past. This amendment not only protects us from required implantation, but it puts in place a statewide ban on mandating the implantation of tracking chips.”

Todd Tinfoil Hat2

2. You think that discussing government-developed mind control techniques is a good use of the State Capitol and taxpayer money.

Lucky for you, Barry Loudermilk attended a session at the Georgia State Capitol to learn about government-developed mind control techniques. I bet we even paid him mileage and a per diem for it.

Linda Flory, a political activist from Ball Ground, said she does not think taxpayers should have paid to host the meeting or to have the senators attend.

“Any (senator) that attended received taxpayer money for being there,” Flory said, as senators can receive per diem reimbursement for their attendance at such meetings. “I don’t think that was a useful outlet for our tax dollars. I think its ludicrous that our senators are involved in listening to any kind of theory on that.”

3. You learned something about the Constitution from the $10,000 video he made using your taxpayer dollars that you didn’t already know from “Schoolhouse Rock.”

That’s right, Barry Loudermilk says he owns a video that $10,000 of your taxpayer dollars paid for.

Critics are questioning a local politician who now says he owns the copyright to a video that was produced with $10,000 of taxpayer money.

The video, called “It’s My Constitution,” features former state senator and current congressional candidate Barry Loudermilk and his three children talking about the importance of the U.S. Constitution. It also features an introduction from State Education Superintendent John Barge, and was sent to Georgia classrooms for use in studying Constitution Day.

“It’s paid for with taxpayer dollars; arguably the public owns that,” said Georgia Department of Education spokesman Matt Cardoza.

During the credits of the 15-minute video, a copyright in the name of “Firm Reliance” appears on the screen. Firm Reliance is a non-profit organization registered to Loudermilk. The video is prominently featured on the non-profit’s website.

“If it’s in the public domain and the public paid for it and it’s for the public, why have any copyright on it?” Fleischer asked Cardoza.
He replied, “Right. I can’t answer that question. I really don’t know why it says it’s copyrighted there.”

LoudermilkCopyright1 Loudermilk Copyright2

DeKalb County Commission. Facepalm.

So here in DeKalb, we have an elected Chief Executive Officer and seven County Commissioners. Our elected CEO Burrell Ellis has been indicted and suspended from office and awaits trial. The County Ethics Board has opened investigations into three Commissioners over alleged misuse of county funds and the Feds are investigating.

The board voted to investigate thousands of dollars of charges by Commissioners Sharon Barnes Sutton and Commissioner Larry Johnson, as well as an aide to Barnes Sutton. Both commissioners say the purchases in question were for legitimate government business.

Commissioner Elaine Boyer and her chief of staff Bob Lundsten are already under investigation for similar allegations. Boyer denies the allegations.

Meanwhile, the FBI reportedly has begun issuing subpoenas over the alleged spending abuses by commissioners and their staffers.

A fourth Commissioner, Stan Watson, is caught up in a South Carolina corruption investigation.

DeKalb County Commissioner Stan Watson claimed to know nothing about a South Carolina case involving attempted bribery of an unnamed DeKalb official. But records obtained by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution show his phone repeatedly called the office of one of the businessmen on trial in the wide-ranging corruption scheme.

Now, he told the AJC that he is being subpoenaed in connection with the case, though he says he has done nothing wrong.

“I’ve been asked to come testify, and that’s it,” Watson said before referring further questions to his attorney. “When I get served, I will go and figure out what’s going on and try and make it work.”

He would not answer questions about the phone calls, which he tried to hide from the newspaper.

Watson turned over 586 pages from his personal cell phone bills, from November 2012 through April 2014. The records were subject to the Open Records Act because he paid the bills with his county Visa card.

Without any legal justification, Watson used a black marker to try to obscure 16 calls between his phone and defendant Eric Robinson’s business line. But phone numbers and other information could still be read through the ink, and Watson apparently missed striking out two other calls to Robinson’s office, The Bridge Corporation Group.

And former CEO Vernon Jones has a good shot at being elected our next Sheriff in the Primary Runoff on July 22d. (Any eligbile voters in DeKalb can return to the polls and vote in the runoff, regardless of whether they voted on May 20th.)

Having devoted my career to the proposition that the best government is obtained by citizens voting, I’m now faced with the ultimate repudiation of that idea.

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