Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 13, 2014

A “Liberty Tree” was planted in Savannah on June 13, 1775 to symbolize support for independence. The first liberty tree was an elm in Boston that became a meeting spot for patriots, but Savannah’s was actually a Liberty Pole. In 2006, a seedling grown from the last of the original Liberty Trees on the campus of St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland was planted in Dalton, Georgia. This year, the Dalton Liberty Tree BBQ and Music Festival is held on October 25th.

The Marquis de Lafayette arrived in South Carolina to assist General George Washington on June 13, 1775.

On June 13, 1966, the United States Supreme Court released its decision in Miranda v. Arizona. In Miranda, the Court held that a confession obtained by police without informing the suspect of his rights against self-incrimination (Fifth Amendment) and to the service of a lawyer (Sixth Amendment) was inadmissible.

Thurgood Marshall was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Lyndon B. Johnson on June 13, 1967.

As the NAACP’s chief counsel from 1938 to 1961, he argued 32 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, successfully challenging racial segregation, most notably in public education. He won 29 of these cases, including a groundbreaking victory in 1954′s Brown v. Board of Education, in which the Supreme Court ruled that segregation violated the 14th Amendment to the Constitution and was thus illegal. The decision served as a great impetus for the African American civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s and ultimately led to the abolishment of segregation in all public facilities and accommodations.

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy appointed Marshall to the U.S. Court of Appeals, but his nomination was opposed by many Southern senators, and he was not confirmed until the next year. In June 1967, President Johnson nominated him to the Supreme Court, and in late August he was confirmed. During his 24 years on the high court, Associate Justice Marshall consistently challenged discrimination based on race or sex, opposed the death penalty, and supported the rights of criminal defendants. He also defended affirmative action and women’s right to abortion. As appointments by a largely Republican White House changed the politics of the Court, Marshall found his liberal opinions increasingly in the minority. He retired in 1991, and two years later passed away.

The New York Times began publishing excerpts from the “Pentagon Papers” on June 13, 1971.

After failing to persuade the Times to voluntarily cease publication on June 14, Attorney General John N. Mitchell and Nixon obtained a federal court injunction forcing the Times to cease publication after three articles.Times publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger said:

Newspapers, as our editorial said this morning, we’re really a part of history that should have been made available, considerably longer ago. I just didn’t feel there was any breach of national security, in the sense that we were giving secrets to the enemy.[23]

The newspaper appealed the injunction, and the case New York Times Co. v. United States (403 U.S. 713) quickly rose through the U.S. legal system to the Supreme Court.

On June 18, 1971, The Washington Post began publishing its own series of articles based upon the Pentagon Papers;[8] Ellsberg gave portions to editor Ben Bradlee. That day, Assistant U.S. Attorney General William Rehnquist asked the Post to cease publication. After the paper refused, Rehnquist sought an injunction in U.S. district court. Judge Murray Gurfein declined to issue such an injunction, writing that “[t]he security of the Nation is not at the ramparts alone. Security also lies in the value of our free institutions. A cantankerous press, an obstinate press, a ubiquitous press must be suffered by those in authority in order to preserve the even greater values of freedom of expression and the right of the people to know.” The government appealed that decision, and on June 26 the Supreme Court agreed to hear it jointly with the New York Times case.Fifteen other newspapers received copies of the study and began publishing it.

On June 30, 1971, the Supreme Court decided, 6–3, that the government failed to meet the heavy burden of proof required for prior restraint injunction. The nine justices wrote nine opinions disagreeing on significant, substantive matters.

Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government. And paramount among the responsibilities of a free press is the duty to prevent any part of the government from deceiving the people and sending them off to distant lands to die of foreign fevers and foreign shot and shell.

—Justice Black

Pole Position

After earning the first and second slots at Le Mans in early qualifying, Porsche lost the top spot to Toyota, and holds the 2d and 4th positions in the starting grid. Porsche also took the third starting slot in both GTE-Pro and GTE-Am with the 911 RSR.

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A special edition 911 will be available with the historic Martini livery, under which Porsche has won Le Mans.

The Martini Racing Edition 911s will come in black or white, and will be powered by a 400-horsepower 3.8-liter flat 6 that can produce a 4.1-second zero-to-62-mile-per-hour time.

Poll Position

A poll by SurveyUSA for 11Alive showed Jack Kingston with an 11-point lead over David Perdue in the Republican Primary Runoff Election for United States Senate.

The SurveyUSA poll of 419 likely GOP runoff voters has Kingston with 52 percent of the vote. Perdue has 41 percent. 7 percent are undecided. The poll was conducted by phone June 3-5. The poll has a margin of error of 3.2 percent.

The same poll shows Republican Gov. Nathan Deal leading Democratic Sen. Jason Carter 44-38 percent. Libertarian Andrew Hunt got 7 percent. 11 percent of respondents said they were undecided.

The poll shows either Republican, Perdue or Kingston, would beat Democrat Michelle Nunn in November. Kingston would win 43-37; Perdue would win 43-38.

An automated poll by Magellan Strategies for the National Mining Association shows a generic matchup in which “the Republican nominee” takes 47% against Michelle Nunn, the Democrat, with 44%. The NMA poll also showed 53% of Georgia voters are likely to oppose a candidate who supports the Obama Administration’s new carbon emission regulations. Note that the survey included several questions criticizing the carbon emission regs before asking that question.

Yesterday, InsiderAdvantage (for whom I work part-time on their website) released a poll showing Kingston with an 11-point lead over Perdue headed toward a runoff that’s still weeks away.

InsiderAdvantage/Fox5 Political Analyst Matt Towery says: “Kingston has a comfortable lead at present but it has the potential to become a precarious lead. Key demographic groups such as female voters and voters age 65 and over are much more evenly split. Also, contrary to some earlier surveys, our poll suggests that there is a larger undecided vote.

“We conducted this survey before and after the defeat of Rep. Eric Cantor in Virginia– and the undecided vote started to increase after Cantor suffered his loss. Whether the Cantor loss will somehow impact the Georgia race remains to be seen. The July 22 primary race has many more weeks to go, so the numbers could change substantially as we get closer to the actual vote.”

Walter Jones of Morris News, writes about the InsiderAdvantage poll in the Savannah Morning News:

The poll represents a big swing in support since the primary when Perdue’s total was about 4 percentage points more than Kingston’s. Perdue, the former CEO of Dollar General and Reebok, benefited then from an expensive television ad campaign with crying babies that was so effective that even his opponents copied it. A new volley of ads from him could swing the support back in his favor.

The poll shows 19 percent of the likely runoff voters questioned still haven’t made up their minds.

After being weighted for age, race and gender to reflect the turnout in past runoffs, the poll shows Kingston with 46 percent and Perdue with 35, given a 4.9 percent margin of error.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 12, 2014

The first Georgia-Florida war game weekend began on June 12, 1740, as Georgia founder James Oglethorpe led 400 soldiers landing opposite the Spanish fort at St. Augustine.

The Virginia Convention adopted George Mason’s “Declaration of Rights” on June 12, 1776. From Wikipedia:

The Declaration was adopted unanimously by the Fifth Virginia Convention at Williamsburg, Virginia on June 12, 1776 as a separate document from theConstitution of Virginia which was later adopted on June 29, 1776.[2] In 1830, the Declaration of Rights was incorporated within the Virginia State Constitution as Article I, but even before that Virginia’s Declaration of Rights stated that it was ‘”the basis and foundation of government” in Virginia.[3] A slightly updated version may still be seen in Virginia’s Constitution, making it legally in effect to this day.

It was initially drafted by George Mason circa May 20, 1776; James Madison assisted him with the section on religious freedom.

The Virginia Declaration of Rights heavily influenced later documents. Thomas Jefferson is thought to have drawn on it when he drafted the United States Declaration of Independence in the same month (June 1776). James Madison was also influenced by the Declaration while drafting the Bill of Rights (introduced September 1789, ratified 1791), as was the Marquis de Lafayette in voting the French Revolution‘s Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (1789).

The importance of the Virginia Declaration of Rights is that it was the first constitutional protection of individual rights, rather than protecting only members of Parliament or consisting of simple laws that can be changed as easily as passed.

That means Liberty, y’all.

Delta Airlines began passenger service from Monroe, Louisiana to Atlanta on June 12, 1930.

On June 12, 1961, Ben E. King hit #1 on the R&B chart and #4 on the pop chart with “Standy By Me.”

On June 12, 1987, President Ronald Reagan spoke in then-divided Berlin and challenged Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall.”

[If that excerpt is not enough for you, here's a link to the entire speech.]

Kennesaw State College became Kennesaw State University on June 12, 1996.

Carol Hunstein, appointed by Governor Zell Miller to the Georgia Supreme Court, was elected Chief Justice by her peers on June 12, 2009.

Happy Birthday to former President George H.W. Bush, who turns 90 today.

#TBT to 1995

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Today, Jack Kingston is locked in a Runoff for the Senate seat currently held by then-Rep. Saxby Chambliss. John Linder has retired to Mississippi, though he made several endorsements in this year’s GOP Primaries. Newt Gingrich is on the new “Crossfire” after an unsuccessful run for President in 2012; Gingrich has endorsed Kingston for the Senate. Bob Barr is making a comeback bid in the 11th District. Mac Collins is frequently seen on the campaign trail supporting his son Mike Collins, in the Primary Runoff for CD-10. Paul Coverdell and Charlie Norwood passed away.

More on the Cantor loss and Georgia

InsiderAdvantage CEO (and sometimes my boss) Matt Towery writes for Creators Syndicate that the real culprits in Eric Cantor’s Primary loss were the out-of-touch consultants, pollsters, and political staffers who led his campaign and his Congressional office.

The Washington D.C. political class of arrogant aides, out-of-touch consultants and dim-witted pollsters has been slowly destroying the Republican Party in America for years. This cottage industry of self-important slicksters is finally being stripped bare and left without its blue smoke and mirrors. And inside their small echo chamber, where the slicksters talk only to one another and believe citizens in “the rest of the country” are easily understood — and easily fooled — the money and the high-five compliments are endless.

Maybe the embarrassing butt-kicking that Cantor received will trigger a second thought in the minds of those politicians who treat the words of their own advisors, consultants and pollsters as divine dispensation.

This collection of political “experts” and high-and-mighty staffers needs to consider the consequences of their gross underestimation of the mood of their constituents, and of the manner in which they have been trying to reach out to them.

The real problem was that Cantor and what is described by many as a very haughty staff (imagine that in D.C.) began to believe that they truly were “national.” You know, big deals that really did folks back home a favor by letting them be graced with the Majority Leader’s (occasional) presence in their district.

The truth be known, Cantor and his advisers were caught up in their obsession game of cat-and-mouse in whether or not to stage a coup to topple Speaker John Boehner. Alternatively, they wrestled with how to help preserve Boehner’s position, lest another member leapfrog over Cantor and become Speaker. As a result of all this, they really couldn’t be too bothered with the folks back home and some local college professor opponent.

Yes the “tea party” movement is not dead in the GOP. But even with half the national tea party leaders taking credit for an upset defeat in which they played no part whatsoever, the real message from Eric Cantor’s defeat can be found in how the candidate and his advisors lost touch with their voters.

Business Insider has a story questioning whether the Cantor loss provides a model for David Perdue in the Georgia Senate runoff.

One race where a similar dynamic could play out is Georgia’s hotly-contested U.S. Senate primary runoff between Republican Rep. Jack Kingston and businessman David Perdue.  Like [Dave] Brat, Perdue has run a campaign branding himself as an “outsider” and attempting to appeal to the conservative grassroots while running against an incumbent congressman.

Perdue is clearly eager to capture some of Brat’s mojo for himself. In an email to supporters Wednesday, he referenced Cantor’s shocking loss.

“As we saw last night in Virginia, our outsider message is powerful. The Majority Leader of the House of Representatives was defeated in the primary by a conservative outsider who won with the simple message that 14 years in Washington was enough,” said Perdue. “I believe the improbable victory was a clear rejection on the establishment and career politicians. The same anti-establishment sentiment is being felt all across the country, and on July 22nd we have an opportunity in Georgia to say 22 years in Washington is enough for my opponent Congressman Kingston.”

Tharon Johnson, a Democratic strategist who was National Southern Regional Director for the campaign of President Barack Obama in 2012, told Business Insider Wednesday Perdue could be the next Brat.

“Perdue is appealing to people who voted against Cantor, who are just tired of career politicians in Congress. If I’m Perdue, I look at the results last night, and I see that there’s hope there for me to emulate what happened in Cantor’s district here in Georgia, label Jack Kingston as the establishment candidate,” Johnson said.

My opinion differs:

Georgia-based Republican political consultant Todd Rehm disagrees. Rehm told Business Insider he sees little to no potential in Perdue’s future even after Cantor’s loss.

“One lesson from Cantor’s loss is that politicians who lose touch with the voters are more susceptible to attack. Perdue is running, I would argue, the most-detached campaign I’ve ever seen. It’s all TV with little actual voter contact,” Rehm said. “Contrast that with Kingston, who has quickly developed a reputation as being at all the party events, and whose CD-1 constituents thought highly enough of his time in office that they voted for him for Senate at a level of roughly 75%.”

Rehm also pointed out many voters in last month’s Republican primary voted for candidate’s who previously held elected office.

“Perdue’s ‘outsider’ schtick was obviously enough to get him into the runoff, but more than 66% of GOP Primary voters chose one of the ‘typical political insider’ candidates,” Rehm explained.

Maybe Lindsey Graham’s cruise to victory in the South Carolina Primary last night is a better model for the Peach State runoff. Graham, first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1994 and elevated to the Senate in 2002 was targeted by Tea Party activists for being too moderate.

Back to Matt Towery’s column for a word on Lindsey Graham:

Graham never swallowed the story that he is bigger than the people who elect him. He has remained approachable to his constituents and has never come to believe that people from his state were simply “the masses” to somehow be placated on his road to power.

That sounds more like Jack Kingston’s approach to the voters than Perdue’s. Kingston has earned the reputation as an indefatigable campaigner, and some days, I’ve seen him at more local GOP events than I’ve seen Perdue at all year.

Kyle Wingfield on the Shafer Amendment

AJC conservative columnist Kyle Wingfield writes about the “Shafer Amendment,” which will prohibit the Georgia legislature from raising the top income tax rate.

A number of people, particularly those who want to see tax rates fall, have questioned whether the amendment is worthwhile or just a fig leaf for legislative inaction. I agree it would be better if we not only capped the rate constitutionally but lowered it. So did the economists, representing 10 of of our state’s colleges and universities in all, who signed Shafer’s statement.

But they also agreed that, in the meantime, the amendment “provides a large and important measure of long-run certainty in Georgia’s business environment.” Why?

“I think we know for sure that … increased risk assessment really holds down investment activity, especially when you’re going state to state,” says Christine Ries, professor of economics at Georgia Tech. “One of the risk assessment problems is political risk.

“Companies do this all the time, (judging) whether a particular political climate is inherent in a state or is going to change over time. Right now, Georgia is seen as a fiscally conservative state, and I don’t think most analysts are looking at it and saying Georgia might turn around and change tomorrow. … But anything that makes the public policy more reliable is going to lower the risk assessment and increase investment in the state or country.”

“Interestingly,” says Jeffrey Dorfman, professor of agricultural and applied economics at UGA, “I had done some research on how communities can attract jobs. And we found that sticking to your plans is pretty much the best thing you can do.

“It’s the credibility thing: If businesses feel like they can trust you, then they’re more likely to create jobs in your community. So this cap signals to businesses, we promise we’re not going to become New York or California or Illinois. We’re going to stay a good place to do business.”

Dodge County: where the voters, like the past, are never dead

William Faulkner wrote in Requiem for a Nun, that The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” I mentioned earlier this week that Dodge County might be the most-haunted county in Georgia, if the number of votes cast by dead people is any indication.

Five years ago, a number of Dodge County locals pled guilty to vote fraud that included zombie votes.

More than two dozen people including several county officials either were convicted or pleaded guilty to charges that included vote buying and that people voted under the names of the dead.

This is just the 2004 election,” said Greg Harvey, agent in charge of the GBI office in Eastman. “We’’re still investigating the 2008 election.”

Earlier this week, the State Elections Board heard allegations about 2008.

The Georgia State Election board wants state prosecutors to look at seven names in 2008 Dodge County voter fraud allegations, despite a plea deal that may have closed the case when it sent two of the people to prison.

State allegations vary among the seven people, including unlawful possession of ballots and vote buying in the 2008 general primary.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Georgia Campaigns and Elections

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

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

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

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

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

Jack Kingston was also recently endorsed by Congressman Tom Price,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Shafer Amendment” boosted

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

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

( ) YES
( ) NO

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

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

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

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

 

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 5, 2014

According to “This Day in Georgia History, on June 5, 1775, the first Liberty Pole in Georgia was raised in Augusta, Georgia. Another account holds that the first Liberty Pole in Georgia was raised June 4, 1775 at Tondee’s Tavern in Savannah. Those who fly the “Appeal to Heaven” flag should know that it has some common history with Liberty Poles.

Light Horse Harry Lee, later the father of Robert E. Lee, led a group of Continental soldiers, South Carolina and Georgia militia as the British surrendered Augusta on June 5, 1781. The capture of Augusta led to Georgia’s inclusion in the United States, though it had previously been so divided between Patriots and Loyalists that Georgia was the only American colony to not participate in the First Continental Congress.

The Republican National Convention met in Philadelphia on June 5, 1872, nominating Ulysses S. Grant for President the next day. Twelve years later, on June 5, 1884, William T. Sherman refused the Republican nomination for President, saying, “I will not accept if nominated and will not serve if elected.”

Republican candidate for Governor A. Ed Smith died in a car accident on June 5, 1962.

Senator Robert F. Kennedy was shot after winning the California Primary on June 5, 1968 and died the next day.

President Ronald Reagan died on June 5, 2004. USA Today has ten memorable Reagan quotes along with videos.

Governor Deal suspends gas tax

Earlier this week, Governor Nathan Deal suspended an increase in the state tax on gasoline.

“We’re seeing a steady rebound in Georgia’s economy, with our unemployment rate going down and state revenues heading up, but Georgians are still paying gas prices that are high by historical standards,” Deal said. “To remove this financial burden on Georgia taxpayers and businesses, I signed an executive order suspending the motor fuel tax increase set for next month. This will help cut costs for families and keep us the No. 1 place in the nation for business.”

Gingrey endorses Jack Kingston for Senate

Jack Kingston Phil Gingrey

Fourth-place finisher in the U.S. Senate Primary Phil Gingrey released a statement endorsing Jack Kingston and appeared with Kingston at an event in Marietta:

Through the years Jack Kingston and I have been colleagues – and more importantly friends – he has been a relentless advocate for our shared conservative principles. Today I am proud to announce my support for Jack to be our next United States Senator from the great State of Georgia.

With the needs and values of Georgians serving as his barometer, Jack has always put Georgians first. He is a hard working and proven leader who has stood strong fighting for the expansion of the Port of Savannah and has been a tireless champion for our national defense and our veterans. We can count on Jack to continue fighting to cut spending, restore order to our nation’s fiscal house, and spur private sector job creation.

I have every confidence that Jack will serve us well in the United States Senate and am pleased to back his campaign.

From Walter Jones at Morris News:

“These folks have let me know they want me to support Jack Kingston,” Gingrey said. “I’ve not heard from one of my former supporters telling me they are supporting Perdue.”

“In addition to being friends, Phil and I have a great philosophical affinity,” Kingston said.

From the Macon Telegraph:

Kingston said his campaign is trying to “unite the conservative family” and pointed to the support of two former opponents and from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as evidence he’s making progress.

“We believe that united, the conservative family will prevail not just in this race in November but also in taking back the Senate and taking back the White House in 2016,” he said.

The race is among a dozen or so nationally that will decide congressional control. Republicans are looking to gain six seats to claim a majority in the Senate and can’t afford to lose the Georgia seat.

Gingrey said he expects his backing to help in Georgia’s 11th congressional district, where he’s held the seat since 2003. The district includes Bartow and Cherokee and parts of Cobb and Fulton counties northwest of metro Atlanta. He brushed off barbs traded during an often contentious GOP primary as politics and said he was urged by supporters to back his fellow congressman.

“During a campaign, you look for little differences,” Gingrey said. “That’s basically what we were doing: ‘Well you voted for this, you voted for that.’ That back and forth occurs as you try to struggle to get in the runoff and hopefully ultimately be the next senator.”

Another bad life decision

A Gwinnett County teenager threatened to kidnap District Attorney Danny Porter if the DA did not drop charges.

In an original email sent on May 25, Collins allegedly contacted Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter regarding his case. He demanded the case against him be dropped, asked for $1 million and said that “if he does not get the money, he is going to kidnap Mr. Porter and hold him hostage,” warrants said.

The next day, authorities said, Collins emailed Porter’s office manager, making the same demands and threats but asking only for $100,000.

On the same day, the suspect reportedly wrote a letter to his own defense attorney, demanding again that the case against him be dropped, threatening to kidnap and hold her hostage and requesting $100,000.

Danny Porter is on any sensible person’s list of people NOT to threaten. It would be like trying to kidnap Chuck Norris or Jack Bauer – the only thing scarier than threatening to kidnap him would be actually succeeding.

Minnesota Marijuana Bill to debut in Georgia?

Georgia Regents University recently announced a deal to begin cannabidiol (CBD) oil trials for intractable seizures. State Rep. Allen Peake will renew his push to legalize use of CBD oil for children with specific medical diagnoses.

But after the CBD bill, “then I hope we will have a broader, more comprehensive approach to establishing a medical cannabis infrastructure,” he said. “The big question will be, ‘Are we ready to start growing in Georgia?’”

That where-to-grow question has stymied medical marijuana research in Georgia for decades. A dusty state law allows medical cannabis trials for glaucoma and cancer, but the only source it allows is federal research marijuana. Right now, there’s only one farm nationwide growing the stuff.

Peake will push for an in-state grow. One of his models is a new Minnesota law that will authorize two companies with a total of eight distribution centers to grow cannabis and manufacture pills, liquid and oil medications for treatment of ailments, including epilepsy, glaucoma, cancer and multiple sclerosis.

Lets hope for the sake of the families Peake is trying to help that he abandons the scorched earth politics he practiced as it became clear in the last session that the lack of a well-though out bill would doom the legislation. It was either a simple lapse of judgment or the most cynical political move I’ve seen in more than twenty years.

The runoff will eventually begin and end

Mark your calendars for June 30, 2014, when early voting begins for the Primary Runoff Election.

Voters who selected a Republican or Democratic primary ballot May 20 must vote on the same party runoff ballot, but those who chose a nonpartisan ballot May 20 can select either party in the runoff, Bailey said.

The late summer runoff is unlikely to attract many voters….

We mentioned yesterday that Mississippi’s “Ranked Choice” runoff ballot for overseas voters allowed them to keep the runoff election to three weeks this year, unlike Georgia, which had to go to a never-ending nine-week runoff. We questioned why Georgia can’t do something similar and were pointed to legislation by Senator Josh McKoon that would have done exactly that. Let’s hope the General Assembly takes a long look at the primary schedule next year.

An article in the Washington Post yesterday about the genesis of runoff elections reminded me of a fact I often take for granted that other politicos understand: runoff elections were instituted by the Democratic party as a means of controlling their primary elections and preventing African-Americans from winning elections.

The runoff system is a vestige of a time when white Democrats controlled Southern politics, and manipulated election rules to make sure they stayed in power.

“They trace their lineage back to an era when there was only one party in politics,” said Charles Bullock, a political scientist at the University of Georgia who wrote a definitive history of runoff elections in 1992. “Back in the day when the South was one-party Democratic, the runoff was often the determinative election. So you often had more people participating in the runoff than in the original primary.”

Southern states started implementing runoff systems in the late 19th and early 20th Century, when state parties used to run primary elections. Democrats controlled the South then; when a constitutional amendment allowed for the direct election of senators in 1914, Democrats held every Senate seat in the South. So the runoff system, first adopted by South Carolina in the late 1800s in order to exert more control over gubernatorial primaries, allowed party bosses to select nominees.

And because the Republican Party was such a small percentage of the overall electorate in the South, general elections mattered far less than primaries; the winner of a primary was virtually guaranteed to win the general election.

“The Democratic Party had a monopoly on politics in the region,” said Merle Black, a political scientist at Emory University. “After blacks were eliminated as voters in the South, that ended the Republican Party.”

Votes that will make heads explode

The Fulton County Commission is expected to vote again on moving forward with a property tax hike. Homeowners and their advocates are not impressed.

Fulton County commissioners will try again in two weeks to take the first step toward a 17 percent tax increase after failing Wednesday to get the number of votes necessary to start the process.

Fulton’s first countywide tax hike in 23 years would cost the owner of a $275,000 home an extra $140 a year. But it failed to clear its first hurdle at the Fulton Board of Commissioners on Wednesday. With several commissioner absent, a proposal to advertise the tax increase and schedule public hearings failed on a 3-1 vote. It needed four votes to pass.

The proposal will be back on the commission’s agenda June 18. Critics say the tax hike is illegal and unnecessary.

“It’s reckless because Fulton County residents are still recovering from the worst recession in modern history,” said state Rep. Jan Jones, R-Milton. “The last thing they need is the county reaching further into their wallets.”

Supporters say the tax increase is needed to protect vital services and stabilize a budget still reeling from the Great Recession. Commissioner Joan Garner said Wednesday she supports the tax hike, but also wants to make sure Fulton is spending its money wisely.

I don’t know if any vote occurred or if it was an administrative decision by State School Superintendent John Barge, but a $107 million contract to develop testing for Georgia students has been awarded. Common Core opponents will not be amused.

The Georgia Department of Education on Wednesday announced a new testing system, called the Georgia Milestones Assessment System, which will arrive during the upcoming school year. In late May, the DOE awarded a five-year, $107.58 million contract to CTB/McGraw-Hill to develop the new system

DOE officials said the test will be aligned to the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards and will require more from students than the CRCT and EOCT it replaces, in order to better prepare students for college and career and to provide a more realistic picture of academic progress.

State School Superintendent John Barge touted the new system as being consistent from third grade through high school, which is different than the previous series of individual tests.

Education officials also warned that the new test may mean initially lower scores than the previous years’ CRCT or EOCT scores. That is to be expected and should bring Georgia’s tests in line with other indicators of how our students are performing, Barge said.

“We need to know that students are being prepared, not at a minimum-competency level but with rigorous, relevant education, to enter college, the workforce or the military at a level that makes them competitive with students from other states,” Barge said.

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

On June 4, 1785, James Oglethorpe, founder of Georgia, met with John Adams, the first ambassador from the new United States to Great Britain.

On June 4, 1919, Congress passed the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, granting women the right to vote. In August 1920, enough states had ratified the 19th Amendment that it took effect.

The Battle of Midway began on June 4, 1942. During the battle, four Japanese aircraft carriers that had participated in the attack on Pearl Harbor and one cruiser were sunk at the cost of one American carrier and one destroyer.

Today is the 25th Anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre in Beijing, China.

Jim Galloway was in Beijing during the protests and crackdown and writes about it at the AJC Political Insider Blog.

Mississippi Runoff

In Mississippi, Tea Party favorite Chris McDaniel forced 36-year incumbent Senator Thad Cochran into a runoff election three weeks from yesterday.

Mr. McDaniel held 49.6 percent of the vote after a stupendous hometown turnout, which surged far ahead of the turnout for the 2012 Republican presidential primary and gave him a lead over Mr. Cochran, who is at 48.9 percent with 99 percent of precincts reporting.

The contest is expected to be decided in a runoff election on June 24, assuming that the final votes, mainly in Rankin County, a suburb of Jackson, don’t break decidedly and unexpected toward Mr. McDaniel.

My question is why Mississippi wasn’t forced into a 45-day or more runoff like Georgia was as the result of a federal lawsuit.

Mississippi is currently in talks with the federal government about remedying the issue, but it’s beyond me why the United States Department of Justice sued Georgia more than two years before taking action in Mississippi. Did they fail to use Google to find out which states have runoffs? In an article dated March 18, 2014:

The [Mississippi] Secretary of State’s Office has been notified by the U.S. Department of Justice that current state law conflicts with federal military and overseas voting laws.

Recent changes to the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) require states to send absentee ballots to military and overseas voters who request them at least 45 days before an election for federal office. State law provides only 21 days between a primary election and a primary run-off election.

“Rather than be sued by the federal government for failing to comply with federal law, the State Board of Election Commissioners have decided to provide military voters with both their primary and primary run-off ballot when electronically transmitting overseas absentee ballots,” said Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann. “Mississippi is a leading state in allowing electronic voting for the military, and I intend to keep it that way.”

Military and overseas voters will rank the candidates of their choice for the primary run-off ballot, in a so-called “ranked choice” ballot. When the primary run-off ballot is returned to the Circuit Clerk’s Office with the primary election ballot, it will be placed in a separate absentee ballot envelope in the event there is a primary run-off election.

Mississippi has a number of electronic methods for overseas military and civilian voters, including via email on election day.

Mississippi also uses ranked choice ballots for the Primary election to allow voters to cast one ballot that covers both primary and primary runoff choices. Four other states, including neighboring Alabama, use this type of ballot for overseas voters.

I hope the Georgia General Assembly will consider other options like this during the next Session.

Campaigns and Elections

When Jeff Northway signed up to run for Mayor of Springfield, Georgia, he had to indicate on the form that he’d never been convicted and sentenced for a felony involving moral turpitude. The problem is that Northway had two 1983 convictions in Texas on felonies involving moral turpitude. In July 2012, Northway resigned, and now he’s been indicted for false swearing and perjury. That’ll ratchet the felony count up to four if he’s convicted or pleads guilty.

Jack Kingston will be endorsed by Congressman Phil Gingrey, who finished out of the money in the Senate race last month.

Kingston’s campaign is trying to parlay a unique accord between establishment forces, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and outsider elements on the GOP’s right flank. He has picked up the blessing of former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel, who finished in third place with the help of tea party support, as well as the backing of most of Georgia’s congressional delegation.

Kingston’s campaign declined to comment but said it would hold a “major political announcement” on Wednesday morning. Gingrey, who has represented a northwest Atlanta district for more than a decade, could help Kingston make inroads to vote-rich metro Atlanta. Gingrey won four counties in northwest Georgia, and he and Handel helped dampen Perdue’s lead across the northern part of the state.

For Perdue’s camp, getting spurned by elected officials could play into his message of being an outsider set on shaking up the Washington status quo. He’s long run on his business credentials and his campaign has argued that rank-and-file Republicans will make up their minds on who to support on their own.

In addition to former Secretary of State Karen Handel, Congressman Lynn Westmoreland has endorsed Jack Kingston in the runoff.

“Jack Kingston and I have been friends for 20 years, during which I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know him and his wonderful family,” Westmoreland said according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “For the last ten of those years, we’ve been colleagues and I have seen firsthand how Jack commits whole-heartedly to his work. Jack is one of the most gracious, humble, and hard-working men I know. His honesty and dedication to serving Georgians can¹t be matched.”

Westmoreland mentioned Kingston’s work on the Savannah port, commitment to conservative values, and attention to issues facing the military, veterans and farmers as some of the values that make him the right pick for the U.S. Senate. Kingston represents Georgia’s first congressional district.

In State House District 112, outgoing State Rep. Doug Holt has endorsed Dave Belton in the runoff election.

Holt announced his endorsement of Belton Tuesday after several people asked who he believed would do the best job.
“I believe it is time for me to state openly and publicly that ‘Dave Belton is that person,’” Holt said in a press release. “Over the last 10 years, I have come to know Dave very well on both a personal and professional level. His commitment to our country and to public service is without equal.”
Holt said Belton’s military career includes 23 years of service as a pilot in the Navy and Air Force, involving countless missions flown during the Persian Gulf War and in four other conflicts around the world.
“Just weeks ago, he donated his time once again as a volunteer pilot to bring more than 100 of our service men and women from Kyrgyzstan back home. As always, he responded to the call of service,” Holt said. “It is this call to service that I believe has led him to run for the House District 112 seat.”

Poll: Jack Kingston, Karen Handel fighting for 2nd in Ga. Senate race | savannahnow.com

David Perdue has gained some support, allowing him to pull further away from his rivals in the Republican Senate primary, according to a survey released Thursday.

Karen Handel and Jack Kingston are effectively tied for second, and Paul Broun and Phil Gingrey remain back in the pack in the InsiderAdvantage survey conducted by automatic phone callers to 531 likely primary voters Wednesday evening for Morris News and Fox5 of Atlanta.

Perdue has held onto first place in every independent poll made public this year. His 26 percent in the new results is an improvement of 4 points since InsiderAdvantage’s last survey on May 1. Handel’s 18 and Kingston’s 17 fall within the 4.2 percent margin of error and represents a 3-point retreat for Handel.

Broun has the support of 12 percent while Gingrey claims 11, with 13 percent undecided and 3 percent backing either Art Gardner or Derrick Grayson. Broun and Gingrey each lost 1 point from the previous poll while the percentage undecided rose 2 points.

When the votes are counted May 20, if no one claims more than half of them, the top two candidates go into a July runoff. That’s why the second place is so critical.

The winner will likely face Michelle Nunn, the frontrunner in the Democratic primary who announced Thursday that she had raised another $840,000 one month before the primary for a total of $6.6 million. In this latest report, 86 percent of her donors gave less than $100, suggesting she will have a formidable war chest and broad support by the time the GOP runoff winner emerges, quite likely bloodied and broke.

“The battle between Kingston and Handel for the critical second place position has tightened,” said pollster Matt Towery, CEO of InsiderAdvantage. “Handel may be reaching a ceiling, which she might not be able to rise above without a major presence of ads on broadcast television.”

via Poll: Jack Kingston, Karen Handel fighting for 2nd in Ga. Senate race | savannahnow.com.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 24, 2014

The Library of Congress was founded on April 24, 18000 and is the largest library in the world today.

Jack Kingston was born on April 24, 1955. He was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1984 and served four terms and in 1992 was elected to the United States Congress.

“Georgia On My Mind” became the official state song on April 24, 1979, when Governor George Busbee signed legislation designating it.

IBM introduced the Personal Computer Model 5150 on April 24, 1981, though some authorities date the introduction to April 12. It sported an Intel 8088 processor at 4.77 Mhz, a whopping 16k of RAM, which was expandable to 256k, and a clicky keyboard. The initial price tag was $1565, equivalent to more than $4000 today.

Gov. Deal signs legislation

Governor Nathan Deal continues to sign legislation for the next several days. Click here for a comprehensive list of bills he has signed so far this year.

Yesterday, Gov. Deal signed House Bill 60, often referred to simply as “the gun bill.”

“We as Georgians believe in the right of people to defend themselves, therefore we believe in the Second Amendment….  Thomas Jefferson told the world, in the Declaration of Independence, that we are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights. He believed in the right to bear arms. He said, and I quote, ‘”The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.’”

That Jefferson quote appears to be spurious, though the sentiment is accurate.

The bill has received coverage nationally. CNN wrote,

House Bill 60, or the Safe Carry Protection Act of 2014 — which opponents have nicknamed the “guns everywhere bill” — specifies where Georgia residents can carry weapons. Included are provisions that allow residents who have concealed carry permits to take guns into some bars, churches, school zones, government buildings and certain parts of airports.

GeorgiaCarry, which lobbied for the bill, calls it “meaningful pro-gun legislation,” despite it being watered down from the group’s perspective. Still, the group has lauded the legislation, which will go into effect July 1. Americans for Responsible Solutions opposed the bill, calling it “extremism in action.”

Calling it “a great day to reaffirm our liberties,” Deal said the law allows residents to protect their families and expands the list of places where they can legally carry firearms, while allowing certain property owners, namely churches and bars, to make judgments on whether they want worshippers and patrons carrying guns.

“The Second Amendment should never be an afterthought. It should be at the forefront of our minds,” Deal said while touting his NRA endorsement for governor and “A” rating during his 17 years in Congress.

The governor said the law “will protect the constitutional rights of Georgians who have gone through a background check to legally obtain a Georgia Weapons Carry License.

Americans for Responsible Solutions opposed the original bill that GeorgiaCarry pushed for, and while the group is pleased that the version Deal signed Wednesday doesn’t allow guns on college campuses or in churches, except in certain cases, it feels the legislation “takes Georgia out of the mainstream.”

“Among its many extreme provisions, it allows guns in TSA lines at the country’s busiest airport, forces community school boards into bitter, divisive debates about whether they should allow guns in their children’s classrooms, and broadens the conceal carry eligibility to people who have previously committed crimes with guns,” said Pia Carusone, the group’s senior adviser.

Time magazine called it “radical.”

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed into law Wednesday radical new gun legislation that will allow licensed owners to carry firearms into more public places than at any time in the past century, including government buildings, bars, and a wide variety of public places.

The law, called the “Safe Carry Protection Act,” allows churches to “opt-in” to permit weapons, school districts to appoint staff carrying firearms, and requires bars to opt out if they wish to ban firearms, NBC reports. Gun owners caught at airport security checkpoints can pick up their weapons and leave with no criminal penalty.

Critics have called the new legislation the “Guns Everywhere Bill,” and gun control groups including Americans for Responsible Solutions and Mayors Against Illegal Guns have strongly criticized the bill, as has the executive director of the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police, Frank Rotondo. “Police officers do not want more people carrying guns on the street,” said Rotondo, “particularly police officers in inner city areas.”

Predictably, FoxNews took a different tone.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal on Wednesday signed legislation significantly expanding gun rights in the state.

The bill, described by the National Rifle Association’s lobbying arm as “the most comprehensive pro-gun reform legislation introduced in recent state history,” expands the scope of public places where licensed owners are allowed to carry firearms.

Associated Press had the money quote:

House Speaker David Ralston offered a thinly veiled critique of those who might oppose the bill while describing the people of his district.

“This is the apple capital of Georgia. And, yes, it’s a community where we cling to our religion and our guns,” Ralston said, drawing big applause in referencing a past comment made by President Barack Obama.

Via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, here’s a link to the Senate Research Office report on the bill.

The Washington Post has a good rundown on what HB 60 actually does.

One aspect of the bill is that it now allows the use of suppressors for hunting, a change lauded by the American Silencer Association and a local manufacturer.

Bibb County Sheriff David Davis says the bill will present some challenges for local law enforcement.

Nunn 2014 a roadmap for Hilary 2016?

Yesterday, I wrote at InsiderAdvantage.com that a Michelle Nunn victory in Georgia changes the electoral map dramatically for 2016 in two important ways. That is behind the paywall, but I have republished it on GaPundit.com for free. Following is an excerpt.

ElectoralCollege2012

The Deep South states of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana were solid red in 2008 and 2012, but Democratic progress in Georgia could remake the electoral college map in 2016. Forty-eight electoral votes are in play in those states, but Georgia’s 16 makes it the biggest target, especially if Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp gets his wish of an “SEC Presidential Primary.”

ElectoralCollege2008

A Michelle Nunn victory this November means that even in less-promising circumstances than 2016, demographic changes will have moved Georgia into the purple category. And it would give the eventual Democratic nominee a much-needed Peach State ally.

Beyond that, however, it changes the dynamic in the Democratic Presidential nomination race by allowing Hilary Clinton to argue that a woman can put in play states otherwise considered at least likely Republican.

Campaigns and Elections

I generally don’t comment on polling done by InsiderAdvantage, because I work on their website, but an article at zpolitics requires a rebuttal with better information rather than hand-picked polls chosen to undermine IA’s reputation. Here’s what zpolitics wrote:

The race for the Republican nomination to fill retiring Saxby Chambliss’s U.S. Senate seat has besieged Georgians with a myriad of polls.

But how accurate are these polls and how much credibility should they command?

In seeking answers to these questions, we looked back  to the last time there was a wide open, statewide GOP Primary in Georgia: the 2010 gubernatorial campaign.

With the benefit of hindsight, it seems implausible that then-Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine led the race for the majority of the primary. But that’s precisely what happened. In fact, Oxendine set the pace until late summer, or at least according to the polling at the time:

  • On May 30th, Insider Advantage had Oxendine in the lead at 23%, with Deal in second at 15%, followed by Karen Handel at 14%.
  • On July 5th – just two weeks out from election day – Insider Advantage again had Oxendine in the lead, tied with Karen Handel at 18%. Deal was a distant 3rd at 12%.

As we all know, Oxendine failed miserably, finishing a distant 4th on Election Day, with Karen Handel and Nathan Deal heading into a runoff.

So what can we learn from these polling blunders? We’re just four weeks away from Election Day and, if we attempt to foretell the primary victor based upon surveys produced by some of Georgia’s pollsters, there’s a chance we may all end up with egg on our faces on May 21st.

To be fair, it was an InsiderAdvantage poll that first showed Karen Handel moving into a statistical dead heat with Oxendine. Here’s what my predecessor Dick Pettys wrote on July 5, 2010:

A new InsiderAdvantage poll conducted this week for WSB-TV shows the Republican gubernatorial race in Georgia is now neck-and-neck between Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine, for months the unquestioned king of the polling hill in this campaign, and former Secretary of State Karen Handel.

For the next two weeks, four polls showed the lead swapping between Oxendine and Handel, and only beginning July 13, 2010 did polls settle on Handel in first place. IA’s last poll of the Primary showed Handel and Deal in first and second.

As it turns out, a more accurate measure than any single was the RealClearPolitics.com average. That’s why, rather than relying on any single poll, I prefer to use a weighted average I call the GaPundit Polling Index.

While we’re discussing zpolitics, I was on with Martha Zoller and Tim Bryant earlier this week, discussing the Senate race.

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In the Senate race, Congressman Phil Gingrey has a new television ad up:

From the press release:

The ad features the story of Patti Saylor, who turned to Rep. Gingrey for help when seeking answers from the Department of Defense that she – and the Saylor family – deserved after her son, U.S. Army Sergeant Paul Saylor, was tragically killed while on duty serving in Iraq.

In the First Congressional District race, Dr. Bob Johnson has his first ad up.

Rick W. Allen dropped his first ad in the 12th Congressional District race to meet incumbent Democratic Congressman John Barrow in November.

Governor Nathan Deal is asking for campaign volunteers to help at the campaign headquarters on Saturday.

Tractor Pull in 12th Congressional District?

Yesterday, we received competing announcements. State Rep. Delvis Dutton announced the “Farmers for Delvis Coalition,” in his campaign for 12th District GOP nomination.

Kyle Durrence, a Reidsville pecan farmer, said, “I’m enthusiastically supporting Delvis because he understands the importance of farming not only for South Georgia, but for the entire country. The agriculture community has no better friend than Delvis Dutton –  he’s one of us.” Delvis has been a strong advocate for the agriculture community while in Atlanta and will continue to look out for the best interests of Georgia farmers.

Meanwhile Rick Allen announced the Chair of “Farmers for Rick,”

Rick Allen Announces H.G. Yeomans as Farmers For Rick Coalition Chair.

Yeomans, of Swainsboro, endorsed Rick by saying, “I support Rick Allen because he understands the importance of a strong farming and agricultural economy. I believe Rick Allen’s conservative ideas will help lead our country back to the principles we believe in.”

At the risk of invoking the spectre of Lee Anderson, I can say there’s only one way to settle the battle of the “Farmers for” groups: tractor pull.

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

William Shakespeare was born April 23, 1564 and died April 23, 1616.

Lucius D. Clay was born on April 23, 1898, the son of Georgia U.S. Senator Alexander Stephens Clay, who served in the Senate from 1896 until his death in 1910. Clay graduated West Point in 1915 and eventually rose to serve as Supreme Allied Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Deputy for Military Government. During the Berlin Airlift, Clay helped keep Allied-occupied West Berlin supplied with food for almost a year after Soviet forces blockaded all land routes into the city.

Hank Aaron his his first home run in major league baseball on April 23, 1954, playing for the Milwaukee Braves against the St. Louis Cardinals.

New Coke was announced on April 23, 1985.

Lawrenceville’s Mountain View High School held a second prom to allow a student who was in the hospital for the original prom to attend.

A dual enrollment student, Abbie Williamson was on her way to afternoon classes at Georgia Gwinnett College, but instead was transported to Gwinnett Medical Center with life-threatening injuries.

The collision left Williamson with a broken pelvis in two places, which has since healed, and a diffuse axonal injury, a type of traumatic brain injury. In the beginning, her prognosis was questionable. When she walked for the first time in six weeks, her mother, Mary Beth, called it a joyous day and a time to celebrate.

The next time to celebrate was Friday when about 80 people from the Mountain View community, Williamson family friends and Shepherd staff attended a prom specifically for Williamson to make up for the prom she missed.

“I thought it was a great idea because Abbie’s missed so much of the activites at school and she’s been so involved,” Mary Beth said. “This would be a nice way to re-introduce her back to her friends, because she’s doing so well and we’re so grateful to the whole Mountain View – Lawrenceville community. The prom is just a part of what the whole community has done in standing behind us and supporting Abbie.”

Eight weeks after her family didn’t know if she’d be able to talk, walk or laugh, she participated in a daddy-daughter dance at the prom. An Atlanta disc jockey, “Johnny D,” donated his services, and a tapas bar restaurant provided catered food for the event.

Georgia Politics

A new poll was released yesterday, not on a political race, but the “State of the State” Poll by Georgia College and State University’s Department of Government and Sociology in Milledgeville. It’s kind of a Rorschach test for readers of surveys.

The Savannah Morning News story on the poll highlighted support for the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project.

The majority of Georgians, according to the poll, support the deepening of the Savannah Port (56 percent) and oppose public funding for professional stadiums (76 percent).

“Key highlights from respondents include that Georgians are optimistic about the direction of the state,” said Costas Spirou, Georgia College professor and chair of the Department of Government and Sociology. “We also found that jobs, education and health care are the three most important issues facing the state.”

Other sources mentioned opposition to Obamacare and support for education spending.

Most Georgians would be willing to pay higher taxes to improve education, but don’t want to spend public money on a new stadium for a pro sports team.

The Peach State generally opposes President Obama’s health-care law — although most blacks and Hispanics support “Obamacare” and most whites oppose it.

And nearly 60 percent of Georgians disagree with the state’s decision not to expand Medicaid under the health care law.

Cameron McWhirter, writing for the Wall Street Journal noted this from the Political section of the survey results:

The GOP dominates Georgia politics, but a new poll may give its leaders reason to worry.

When asked which party they trusted most to lead the state in the next four years, 40.2% chose the Democratic Party while 36.9% chose the GOP. More than 15% chose other parties and 7.6% didn’t give an answer.

“You could read that as a response to a party that has been dominating and maybe we are getting close to shifting,” said Costas Spirou, who is chairman of the college’s Department of Government and Sociology.

About 51% of whites polled said they trusted the Republican Party, and only 24.6% of whites trusted the Democratic Party. But 77.9% of blacks supported the Democrats, and only 9.3% of blacks backed the GOP. Hispanic voters, a fast-growing part of the Georgia electorate, were split, with 30.4% backing the GOP and 29.9% backing the Democratic Party. Almost 40% of Hispanics polled supported third parties.

Even though the Democratic Party polled well, individual Democratic candidates still have hurdles, according to the poll. The poll did not ask about individual political races but it did ask about perceptions of some leading politicians. For example, 8.2% of those polled listed gubernatorial candidate Jason Carter, the grandson of former President Jimmy Carter as the most trusted Democrat, while 16.7% declared Gov. Nathan Deal, the incumbent, the most trusted Republican.

The survey of 500 adults between Feb. 5 and Feb. 18 has a 4.4 percentage point margin of error.

We’ll be discussing the poll and its results at length in coming days. But for now, here’s your glimmer of hope for Republicans, if only we don’t squander it.

Glimmer of hope

While the GOP is likely to hang onto to everything this year on the strength of white voting in a non-Presidential year, here’s a glimpse at the reality going forward, courtesy of the Washington Post.

The math isn’t complicated.  Winning 27 percent of the Hispanic vote and six percent of the African American vote -- as Romney did in 2012 — makes it hard to win a majority of the overall vote when those groups represent 10 percent and 13 percent of the electorate, respectively. If Hispanics grow to 20 percent of the electorate by 2024 or 2028 and the Republican presidential nominee performs roughly equivalent to Romney’s 2012 showing, it will be impossible — or damn close to impossible — for that GOP nominee to win a national majority.

The concentration of young minority population in the Southwest and South means that states like Texas and Arizona as well as Georgia and South Carolina — all of which have been conservative redoubts at the presidential level for decades could be in real jeopardy for the party in the medium and long term.

Republicans have a demographic problem. And it is going to get way, way worse unless they find a way to improve their numbers among Hispanics.

The problem, in my opinion, with GOP outreach to Hispanic voters is that we tend to treat them the way we treat touring Europe – to make ourselves understood, we simply speak more loudly. Perhaps we should begin listening more, talking less.

Georgia Senate 2014 really about 2016

This morning, I wrote at InsiderAdvantage.com that a Michelle Nunn win this year has a far greater impact than one Senate seat or even partisan control of the United States Senate. It could show a path for Hilary Clinton as the Democratic nominee and eventual winner of the Presidency in 2016. Read it and panic.  If you’re not an InsiderAdvantage subscriber, I’ll be posting the entire article on GaPundit.com in a day or two.

But consider this also in the light of what I just wrote: Atlanta has been asked by the Democratic National Committee to prepare a bid for the 2016 Democratic National Convention. If Georgia’s in play for the next Presidential election, our electoral math gets tougher. We’ll watch that process as sort of a canary in the coal mine.

That said, the New York Times prognistication machines predicts a 73% chance of Georgia electing a Republican to the Senate this year.

Sean Sullivan, writing in the Washington Post’s “The Fix” blog calls the Georgia Senate race a “SuperPAC arms race.” As what could be considered a political campaign arms merchant, I like the sound of that.

The Republican primary for U.S. Senate in Georgia has caught the attention of super PACs — but not the usual heavy hitters that typically muscle into primaries with tea party-vs.-establishment battle lines. Instead, obscurer cousins like Ending Spending Action Fund and Citizens for a Working America have populated the air space. In a crowded race most watchers predict will head to a top-two runoff on May 20, that dynamic is mostly good news for Republicans hoping to nominate an electable contender. It’s especially good news for businessman David Perdue, who has not taken any blows on the air from a third-party group yet.

If the election were held today, most observers feel that Perdue and Kingston would be best-positioned to make an all-but-certain runoff. If no candidate receives a majority of the May 20 vote — and no candidate is polling anywhere near 50 percent right now — the top two would face off in July.

If the runoff ends up being Kingston vs. Perdue, Republicans with an eye on the majority will be breathing a little easier.

Campaigns on Facebook

PenningtonSignReaders

What do you do when you send me a campaign photo and I don’t include it in the morning news email? Stephanie Coop from Valdosta got it right: rather than criticizing what was an honest oversight, she addressed it with a sense of humor and a photo of the world’s largest Chihuahua with a yardsign.

Personally, I support Governor Nathan Deal and intend to vote for him as many times as I can. But, I also support Georgians who care enough about our government to get off the couch and go get involved in the political process.

ChihuahuaPennington

Jason Lovett Campaign

And the most interesting campaign photo award for today goes to Jason Lovett, a Republican candidate for State House District 130, currently held by incumbent Republican David Knight. That’s a funny looking dog.

Brookhaven gets more interesting

Last night, City Council member Jim Eyre resigned his seat effective immediately during a meeting of the Brookhaven City Council.

Open seat! Special Election!

On news that Brookhaven’s 30319 is the fastest-growing zip code in Metro Atlanta, the City Council becomes more important as it is clear that the planning and zoning horizon is getting closer. While the diversity (especially among restaurants) of the Buford Highway corridor is a great asset to the City, dilapidated apartments lining the roadside are likely candidates for upgrade or redevelopment as inspections begin actually happening. How much the Brookhaven of 2024 will look like the Brookhaven of 2014 will likely be determined in planning meetings and city council.

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 MoveOn.org. 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
Change
 
 
 
Deal42.642.5-.1
Carter38.739.7+1

And the weighted average for the last four polls:

4-Poll Index
April 1, 2014
April 8, 2014
Change
 
 
 
Deal43.642.4-1.2
Carter38.538.6+0.1

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, TWShannon.com.

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

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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 »