Category: Georgia Politics

26
May

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 26, 2016

Georgia Militia under General John Floyd began rounding up Cherokee Indians on May 26, 1838.

General Robert E. Lee wrote a letter dated May 26, 1861 to Georgia Governor Joseph E. Brown asking the state to send any weapons available for Georgia volunteers who arrived in Virginia unarmed.

President Calvin Coolidge signed the “Comprehensive Immigration Act” on May 26, 1924.

Many Americans saw the enormous influx of largely unskilled, uneducated immigrants during the early 1900s as causing unfair competition for jobs and land. Under the new law, immigration remained open to those with a college education and/or special skills, but entry was denied to Mexicans, and disproportionately to Eastern and Southern Europeans and Japanese. At the same time, the legislation allowed for more immigration from Northern European nations such as Britain, Ireland and Scandinavian countries. A quota was set that limited immigration to two percent of any given nation’s residents already in the U.S. as of 1890, a provision designed to maintain America’s largely Northern European racial composition. In 1927, the “two percent rule” was eliminated and a cap of 150,000 total immigrants annually was established.

The law particularly angered Japan, which in 1907 had forged with U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt a “Gentlemen’s Agreement,” which included more liberal immigration quotas for Japan. By 1924, strong U.S. agricultural and labor interests–particularly from California, which had already passed its own exclusionary laws against Japanese immigrants–favored the more restrictive legislation signed by Coolidge. The Japanese government viewed the American law as an insult, and protested by declaring May 26 a national day of humiliation in Japan.

Fort Frederica National Monument was established on St Simons Island, Georgia on May 26, 1936.

May 26, 1949 was named Clay Day in Marietta, Georgia in honor of General Lucius Clay, who spoke at the courthouse square.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Attorney General Sam Olens has joined a lawsuit against the Obama administration over the transgender bathroom “advice” letter.

Georgia sued the Obama administration Wednesday over a directive to public schools over transgender bathroom rules, joining a group of 11 states challenging the federal government over the controversial guidelines.

It was a surprising move from state leaders, who last week blasted the guidance that directed public schools to allow transgender students to use bathrooms that match their gender identity as a “federal overreach” but stopped short of endorsing a lawsuit.

Attorney General Sam Olens said Wednesday, though, that Georgia was compelled to act because of the implicit threat that the federal government could withhold funding from schools if they refuse to comply with what he called a “legally unsound mandate.”

“The guidance letter is yet another example of the president’s unconstitutional overreach,” Olens said. “The Constitution gives only Congress the power to write and rewrite laws.”

The biggest surprise to me on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning was not that Cobb County Chairman Tim Lee is in a runoff, but that he is in second place going into the July 26 runoff. From the Marietta Daily Journal,

According to unofficial results, Boyce had 17,662 votes, or 49.1 percent, compared to Lee’s 14,529 votes, or 40.4 percent.

Retired businessman Larry Savage had 3,775 votes, or 10.5 percent, to finish third. With no candidate earning the 50 percent plus one vote majority needed to win outright, the top two vote-getters — Boyce and Lee — will face off in the July 26 primary.

Boyce listed three factors leading to his success on Tuesday.

“First of all, it’s my volunteers, who were numerous and hardworking,” Boyce said. “Second of all, it’s the voters in Cobb County being informed and really wanting to hear their voices being heard. And third is our constant theme of, ‘You can vote on the $40 million park bond, why can’t we vote on a ($368 million) stadium bond?’ That’s how we framed it.”

Late Tuesday evening, Lee said he was preparing for his runoff.

“I am proud of what we had accomplished over the last several years and I plan to work harder than ever to communicate our record of conservative wins for Cobb over the coming weeks,” Lee said.

Here’s some analysis of the Cobb races, also from the MDJ,

While some political pundits have said the 2016 election year has been one dictated by an anti-incumbent wave, such a movement was not to be seen in Tuesday’s Cobb primaries, with perhaps one very notable exception.

“A lot of folks that thought they were going to have tougher races actually turned out to have easy races,” said Kerwin Swint, a professor of political science at Kennesaw State University, who cited U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk, state Rep. Bert Reeves, R-Marietta, and Cobb Commissioner Bob Ott as just a few of the incumbents who coasted easily to victory. “The big outlier is the (Cobb) chairman’s race, which I think was a surprise.”

Swint said the chairman’s race was the county’s only race that saw a strong incumbent backlash. That race saw retired Marine Col. Mike Boyce come less than 1 percent short of an outright victory against incumbent Tim Lee.

“The Cobb County Republican base is pretty conservative, the folks who show up in the primaries, and very anti-tax,” Swint said. “In the case of Lee and Boyce, you had a lot of controversy there that Boyce was able to take advantage of, and he’s been pounding the pavement, knocking on doors, showing up at meetings and has built a real following out there, a passionate following.”

Boyce on Wednesday said his grassroots efforts since January — he says he and his campaign had visited since then more than 23,000 homes and made more than 47,000 phone calls to voters — were among the factors that led to his first-place win Tuesday.

“That was the gist of our campaign — not the social media, not the website — it was getting out there and meeting people, and convincing them that our message, that their concern is my concern, and I need them to vote for me so I can express their opinion that their voices were not being heard and that their money was being spent without their approval,” Boyce said.

The MDJ also looked at voter turnout in Cobb County.

When the votes were tallied Tuesday, 13.3 percent, or 51,614 of Cobb’s 389,533 registered voters, had cast their ballots, according to unofficial results.

In 2012, the previous presidential election year, 31.4 percent of Cobb voters cast a ballot during the general primary. The number of registered voters in the county has also decreased by nearly 10,000 since 2012.

Voter turnout was higher in 2014, a non-presidential election year, when 17.61 percent of Cobb voters cast ballots in the general primary.

“I have no idea why voter turnout was so low,” [Cobb County Elections Director Janine] Eveler said. “I can never answer the why because I don’t know what gets people encouraged to vote and what doesn’t.”

We already mentioned a couple of State House runoffs, but the AJC looks at two long-time GOP State Representatives who wound up in runoffs this year.

Two prominent Georgia House incumbents facing runoffs after failing to get enough votes Tuesday are being promised help from the chamber’s Republican leadership, including colleague cash expected to flow into their campaigns ahead of the July 26 election.

Ninety-four-year-old state House Veterans Affairs Chairman John P. Yates, R-Griffin, the last World War II veteran serving in the Georgia Legislature, is one of them, locked in a tight race with Griffin chiropractor Karen Mathiak. The other, state Rep. Tom Dickson, is the retired schools superintendent of Whitfield County and a subcommittee chairman on the powerful House Appropriations Committee. He fell 16 votes short Tuesday of defeating two challengers outright and will now face Chatsworth farmer Jason Ridley in a runoff.

[House Speaker David Ralston said,] “I’m going all out” for Dickson and Yates. “They’re both great men,” the speaker said. “John Yates is a World War II hero, and Tom Dickson is probably the most solid guy in the Georgia House. We need both of them back.”

One incumbent House Democrat, veteran Rep. Darryl Jordan of Riverdale, who was first elected in 2000, was forced into a runoff with Rhonda Burnough. In the Democratic primaries, Rep. Rahn Mayo, D-Decatur, was beaten by medical sales representative Renitta Shannon, and Rep. Earnest Smith, D-Augusta, was ousted by retired U.S. Postal Service worker Sheila Clark Nelson.

In the Democratic Primary for House District 142, second-place finisher Gerald Harvey will challenge the election results, according to the Macon Telegraph.

The state of Georgia counted 2,923 votes for Miriam Paris as of Tuesday night. The tally for Gerald Harvey was 2,445 votes.

The state did not count an additional 844 votes that were cast for disqualified candidate Frank Austin.

Harvey contends that voters were not necessarily aware that votes for Austin were invalid. He said he thinks that if voters had been better informed, some of those votes would have gone his way, possibly changing the outcome.

“I’m in the process of launching a formal challenge,” said Harvey, who told The Telegraph he has met with an attorney and they are working on a strategy. He said they are doing the local legwork to build a case.

“If who won didn’t win, I say let’s do the whole damn thing over again,” Harvey said.

In Meigs, Georgia, a recall election was held Tuesday and passed by 94 votes to 48, setting up an eventual special election for Mayor.

Changing the Guard

DeKalb County elected Sherry Boston as the new District Attorney, ousting incumbent Robert James.

By casting District Attorney Robert James as part of DeKalb’s problems, Solicitor Sherry Boston was able to win a resounding victory Tuesday and replace him as the county’s top prosecutor.

Boston doubted James’ ability to eliminate corruption and questioned his personal integrity, citing missteps with his official spending, dealings with investigators and campaign finance filings. As a high-ranking incumbent running for re-election, he bore the brunt of voter angst over a county government stained by years of criminal behavior and dubious decisions.

Boston’s pitch to voters — that DeKalb needed a prosecutor they could believe in — worked. She unseated James, receiving 62 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary, and she’ll become the county’s next district attorney because no Republican is running in November’s general election.

She further dinged him for agreeing to pay $2,850 in fines for failing to file a campaign fundraising report and other required financial disclosures on time.

Forsyth County voters ousted incumbent Duane Piper with resounding support for challenger Ron Freeman.

Freeman’s lead of 64.88 percent, or 12,393 votes, put him well on his way to beating Incumbent Sheriff Duane Piper’s 35.12 percent, or 6,709 votes. Both candidates are Republicans.

Freeman, who spent 26 years at Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office before helping build the Brookhaven Police Department as its deputy chief of police, said he was humbled by the results.

He won every precinct, according to the Secretary of State website.

He said voters turned out for him as a “matter of transparency and integrity, and the fact that we ran a race on the issues facing Forsyth County.”

In Terrell County, incumbent Sheriff John Bowens faces challenger James Driver, Jr. in a July runoff election.

Congratulations to John Breakfield on winning his election for an open seat on Hall County State Court. Billy Powell was reelected to Hall County Commission District 2.

Al Scott will continue as Chatham County Commission Chair after winning reelection.

Congratulations also to Walker Garrett on a 2-1 win in two separate elections on the same ballot for Columbus City Council District 8.

Walker Garrett, one of two political newcomers seeking to replace a legend, the late Red McDaniel, on Columbus Council, prevailed easily Tuesday in the District 8 race.

Garrett, an attorney, topped electrical contractor Jonathan Davis 1,053-554 (or 66-34 percent). During a vigorous campaign, Garrett, 31, said he wants to see success that’s seen in some parts of the city spread city-wide.

“When I grew up here, you didn’t go downtown. It wasn’t safe,” Garrett said. “Now we see a vibrant community. I want to see that same community throughout our city.”

There was one quirk in the District 8 election, because it was actually two elections. One was to see who would serve the next term and one was to see who would fill out the rest of McDaniels’ term through January. Garrett won that election by practically the same margin.

After winning reelection in an uncontested race, Floyd County Superior Court Judge Jack Niedrach spoke about mental health court.

One of his own projects, with the help of others, has been the creation of a mental health court. The mental health court just started hearing cases at the beginning of the year and Niedrach believes it is making a difference for the participants.

Thirteen participants are enrolled in the program at this time, but there is room for probably 13 more, Niedrach said.

The mental health court is an accountability court, like a drug court, where the participants receive treatment and supervision.

The goal of the court is to improve public safety, improve the response to mental health issues and save tax dollars spent on incarceration and use them in a more effective manner — meaning treatment and supervision. “It’s a win-win for those involved,” he stated.

Hopefully the education the participants receive will stick with them for the rest of their lives, Niedrach added.

25
May

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 25, 2016

The Constitutional Convention of 1787 convened at Independence Hall in Philadelphia on May 25, 1787.

With George Washington presiding, the Constitutional Convention formally convenes on this day in 1787. The convention faced a daunting task: the peaceful overthrow of the new American government as it had been defined by the Article of Confederation.

The process began with the proposal of James Madison’s Virginia Plan. Madison had dedicated the winter of 1787 to the study of confederacies throughout history and arrived in Philadelphia with a wealth of knowledge and an idea for a new American government. It featured a bicameral legislature, with representation in both houses apportioned to states based upon population; this was seen immediately as giving more power to large states, like Virginia. The two houses would in turn elect the executive and the judiciary and would possess veto power over the state legislatures.

William Patterson soon countered with a plan more attractive to the new nation’s smaller states. It too bore the imprint of America’s British experience. Under the New Jersey Plan, as it became known, each state would have a single vote in Congress as it had been under the Articles of Confederation, to even out power between large and small states.

Alexander Hamilton then put forward to the delegates a third plan, a perfect copy of the British Constitution including an upper house and legislature that would serve on good behavior.

Confronted by three counter-revolutionary options, the representatives of Connecticut finally came up with a workable compromise: a government with an upper house made up of equal numbers of delegates from each state and a lower house with proportional representation based upon population. This idea formed the basis of the new U.S. Constitution, which became the law of the land in 1789.

The Battle of New Hope Church was fought near Dallas, Georgia May 25-26, 1864 between Confederates under General Joseph E. Johnston and Federal troops under General William T. Sherman.

On May 25, 1907, an equine statue of John B. Gordon was unveiled on the grounds of the Georgia State Capitol.

The United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia held on May 25, 1962 that the Georgia General Assembly was malapportioned and ordered the reapportionment of the State House and Senate.

Star Wars opened on May 25, 1977.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Yesterday could be called, “The Empire Strikes Back,” after the vast majority of incumbents were reelected.

Last week on “Political Rewind,” I predicted a very strong finish for Senator Johnny Isakson, saying, “Isakson’s challenge is to get a percentage of the vote that equals or exceeds his age.” Unofficial returns show Sen. Isakson receiving 77.45% of Republican Primary votes, and his long form birth certificate indicates his age at 71.

Also victorious against GOP challengers were Austin Scott (8th District, 77.75%) Doug Collins (9th District, 61.27%), Barry Loudermilk (11th District, 60.28%), Rick Allen (12th District, 78.96%), and Tom Graves (14th District, 75.64%).

The North Georgia incumbent State Senators who were challenged all beat back their GOP opponents: Bill Cowsert (46th District, 76.24%), Frank Ginn (47th District, 80.58%), John Wilkinson (50th District, 69.63%), Steve Gooch (51st District, 73.12%), Jeff Mullis (53d District, 66.55%), and Charlie Bethel (54th District, 75.33%). Senator Jesse Stone in the 23d District took 76.83% to win. Senator Fran Millar stomped his opponent, taking 79.95% to retain his seat.

Blake Tillery, a first-time legislative candidate beat former State Rep. Delvis Dutton with 57.62%, more than double the second-place candidate’s total, in a three-way race to take the District 19 seat vacated by Sen. Tommie Williams. Matt Brass took nearly 82% of the votes in Senate District 28 to claim the seat being vacated by Mike Crane.

In Senate District 21, Brandon Beach, whom I thought the most vulnerable Senate incumbent, beat back Aaron Barlow’s challenge with 58.33% of the vote, and winning both the Cherokee and Fulton county portions of the district.

We’ll have several State Senate runoffs to look forward to.

In Senate District 23 around Augusta, former State Rep. Lee Anderson (36.19%) heads to a runoff on July 26 with Greg Grzybowaki (18.75%).

On the Democratic side, Senate District 43 will see a runoff between former State Rep. Tonya Anderson (46.05%) and current State Rep. Dee Dawkins Haigler (34.45%) to take on Republican JaNice VanNess in November.

I’m going to cover most of the House races tomorrow, but two deserve special mention today. In Brookhaven’s House District 80, Meagan Hanson and Alan Cole advance to a July 26 runoff.

In House District 91, controversial former State House member and former DeKalb CEO Vernon Jones heads to a runoff with just under 49% of the vote, barely below the threshold for an outright win.

Finally, in House District 68, where the election campaign lasted twelve days from when the Georgia GOP re-opened qualifying after Rep. Dustin Hightower resigned to take a judgeship, former Villa Rica Mayor J. Collins beat former State Rep. Tim Bearden by piling up a large margin in Carroll County, while losing in the much smaller Douglas County portion of the district.

Tim Echols wins PSC nomination

Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols, one of five elected statewide, and the only one on this year’s ballot, won the Republican nomination with 68.93% against two opponents. This race is where I think we can see the best measure of the much-ballyhooed “anti-incumbent” sentiment this year.

In taking nearly 70% of the statewide vote against two challengers, Echols also won every single county in Georgia. Compare that to the 2012 Republican Primary elections for Public Service Commissioner.

That year, incumbent Chuck Eaton took just under 60% of the vote against a Republican challenger who had previously donated to Barack Obama, and incumbent Stan Wise took 56.5% against his challenger. In that contest, Wise lost thirteen counties, including Gwinnett, Hall, and ironically, Echols County.

The PSC is as good a measure of the effects of incumbency as I can think of. Incumbency is probably the strongest influencer on reelection to the PSC from an historical perspective, and individual voters are much less likely to have a personal relationship with a member of the PSC than their State Representative or State Senator.

Fraternity Members also win

The other winner of the 2016 Republican Primary elections was fraternity members. The Public Service Commission candidate who railed against fraternity alumni came in dead last, as did a State House candidate who made an insulting comment about “frat boys.”

24
May

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 24, 2016

John Hancock was elected President of the Second Continental Congress on May 24, 1775.

Then-Lt. Governor Marvin Griffin announced his candidacy for Governor on May 24, 1954.

John Smoltz tied the record for most strikeouts by a Braves pitcher, throwing 15 Ks against Montreal Expos on May 24, 1992.

Happy 75th Birthday to Bob Dylan, who was born on this day in 1941.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Today is election day from 7 AM to 7 PM. Take a photo ID when you go to vote. The AJC reports a dramatic increase in early voting in this year’s primary over 2014.

More than 329,000 Georgia voters cast early ballots ahead of Tuesday’s primary, a significant increase over the last big state elections season two years ago.

Early voting wrapped up Friday, with state and local election officials now prepping for Election Day. In 2014, more than 239,000 early voters cast their ballots ahead of the state primary.

The LaGrange Daily News has more on the pace of early voting against previous elections,

Secretary of State Brian Kemp predicts solid turnout Tuesday based on early voting numbers.

Kemp’s office reported about 329,000 people cast or mailed in ballots by Friday, the last day for early voting before Tuesday’s primary.

That’s a 38 percent increase from early voting totals in the 2012 primary. But it’s still far behind the more than 417,000 who set an early voting record in Georgia before the March presidential primaries.

Pay special attention if you’re in the City of Sandy Springs, as the Special Election for City Council, you have to vote in a separate election from the primary elections for state and county offices. For the state and county elections, go to your normal polling place, and to vote for City Council, go to the Hammond Park Round Program Building at 6005 Glenridge Drive.

Special Election for Sandy Springs City Council Seat – District 3

PUBLIC NOTICE is hereby given that, in accordance with O.C.G.A. §21-2-540, a non-partisan special election will be held in the City of Sandy Springs, Georgia, to elect a member of the City Council, District 3, to fill an unexpired term. The special election will be held on the 24th day of May, 2016.

Only registered voters who live within District 3 in Sandy Springs can cast a ballot for this election, with the only polling location on Election Day, the Hammond Park Round Program Building located at 6005 Glenridge Drive.

Candidates Seeking the Sandy Springs City Council Seat for District 3 include:

  • Chris Burnett
  • Brian Eufinger
  • Joe Houseman
  • Suzi Voyles
  • Larry Young

     

Click here for more voting information for Sandy Springs.

Peachtree Corners voters have a similar situation in the Special Election for City Council Post 2 – ballots may be cast today only at Peachtree Corners City Hall, 147 Technology Parkway, Peachtree Corners, GA 30092.

House District 68 will see the only day of voting after qualifying was reopened twelve days ago. I suspect it’ll be between former State Rep. Tim Bearden and former Villa Rica Mayor J. Collins.

Some of the races I’m watching today:

Georgia Public Service Commission – I’m voting for Tim Echols, a client and friend, and a great conservative. Fresh on the heels of the second recent reduction in electric rates, Tim Echols is likely headed for the winner’s circle without a runoff.

Cobb County Commission Chair, where I suspect incumbent Tim Lee will end up in a runoff with Mike Boyce.

Cobb County Commission District 2, where incumbent Bob Ott faces Jonathan Page, who is a client of mine.

DeKalb County CEO, where I’d bet Michael Thurmond will win, possibly without a runoff.

DeKalb County District Attorney, where incumbent Robert James is challenged by Sherry Boston.

DeKalb County Commission District 4, where voters can choose the thoroughly corrupt incumbent Sharon Barnes Sutton or Steve Bradshaw, a fine upstanding man. Here’s a mailpiece extolling the virtues of Commissioner Sutton.

Sharon Barnes Sutton Comparison Mailer

DeKalb County Commission Super District 7, where Warren Mosby, a political consultant and sometimes-boyfriend to Sharon Barnes Sutton is challenging incumbent Commissioner Kathie Gannon. Here’s a direct mail piece from that race.

Mosby Gannon Mailpiece

DeKalb County has two races I’d call “Anybody but” elections. In the race for Tax Commissioner, I hope my fellow voters do not choose Stan Watson, whose tenure on the County Commission has been disgraceful. In House District 91, some folks are calling for “ABV” – “Anyone but Vernon” Jones, but I’d be surprised if the former DeKalb County CEO doesn’t at least advance to a runoff.

In House District 105 (Gwinnett), Republican incumbent Joyce Chandler should handily win the nomination, though she’s opposed in the General Election as well. She has been the recipient of more than $36,000 in donations from colleagues recently.

In House District 21 (Cherokee), incumbent Scot Turner has been on the receiving end of incoming fire from business groups, but should win his reelection race.

In House District 80 (DeKalb), three Republicans meet today and two will likely advance to a runoff. Later this morning, I’ll walk over to my precinct and cast my ballot for Meagan Hanson, by far the best candidate in the race. The trick is to emerge from the runoff without being wounded in a way that makes the General Election against freshman Taylor Bennett more difficult than it already is.

In House District 81, a similar dynamic, with three Republicans running for the chance to take on Democratic incumbent Scott Holcomb in November.

Senate District 21, where Republican incumbent Brandon Beach seeks to defend his seat against aggressive challenger Aaron Barlow is a toss-up in my mind. Easily the nastiest race of the year so far and I have no idea who will win today’s GOP Primary.

I’ll be shocked if any of North Georgia’s GOP incumbent State Senators – Steve Gooch, John Wilkinson, Charlie Bethel, and Jeff Mullis – gets beaten.

In Columbus, I’ll be watching the City Council District 8 race, where Walker Garrett, who was a classmate of mine in Republican Leadership for Georgia, appears poised to win two elections today – one for the remainder of the current term, and one for a full term beginning in January.

Glynn County may see runoff elections for local offices, Clerk of Superior Court and Coroner, with each race featuring five candidates. Long County also has potential for a runoff for Coroner, with three candidates. Speaking of Coroners, Forsyth County will see Lauren McDonald, III attempt a return to the post he held from 2000 to 2012, facing off against current Deputy Coroner Stan Rutledge.

In Gwinnett County, I’d expect the incumbent judges – Ronnie Batchelor on Superior Court; Carla Brown and Shawn Bratton on State Court — to be reelected today.

As far as Congressional elections, I expect all the incumbents to win their primaries. In the Third District race to succeed retiring Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, I think there are two tickets to the runoff and three candidate – State Sen. Mike Crane, former LaGrange Mayor Drew Ferguson, and Peachtree City Businessman Jim Pace – are equally likely to claim a ticket to the dance.

Now it’s time for me to feed and walk the dogs, walk over to my polling place to vote, and then get to what it is that political consultants really do on election day. Laundry.

23
May

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 23, 1016

On May 23, 1954, the NAACP petitioned the Fulton County Board of Education to desegregate after the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education.

Former Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter won the Virginia Caucus on May 23, 1976, gaining 24 delegates. On May 25, 1976, Carter won the Arkansas, Tennessee, and Kentucky Primary Elections for President.

On May 23, 1990, the NFL announced that Atlanta would host the 1994 Super Bowl.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Early voting is closed today, your last chance to vote in the 2016 Primary and Nonpartisan elections is tomorrow from 7 AM to 7 PM.

In Cherokee County, voters will see precinct changes in four precincts and those affected should have received postcards about the changes.

For Republican primary voters, three candidates are vying for the nomination for Public Service Commissioner. From the AJC:

In a recent editorial in the Atlanta Business Chronicle, Echols extolled the progress he and fellow commissioners made in rate reductions.

“Our rates are about 14 percent below the national average,”he wrote. “Not bad considering we don’t drill for gas or oil, and have no mines of coal or uranium.”

Tim Echols hit the road talking about the rate decreases and three-year rate freeze the PSC negotiated with the electric utility.

Commissioner Tim Echols made a stop at the Flint RiverQuarium Friday as part of his statewide energy tour.

Echols and students from schools all over the U.S. are traveling in a propane fueled van, visiting seven cities in Georgia.

He announced Georgia Power customers will see a nearly $5 decrease each month in their bills.

“This is in addition to a $5 drop last December, making an almost $10 drop over the last six months,” said Echols.

In the Third Congressional District, the Club for Growth has released a 30-second ad supporting former State Senator Mike Crane.

In the aftermath of a divisive legislative session, a group called the Georgia Coalition for Job Creation is supporting some incumbent legislators.

Lawmakers are getting help from the big business lobby for supporting its agenda the past two years, especially its top priority of the 2015 session, the $900 million-a-year tax hike to pay for transportation projects.

The business giants are also funding mailings against one suburban Atlanta Republican who voted against the tax increase.

The Georgia Chamber and the Georgia Coalition for Job Creation, whose donors tend to overlap, have combined to spend about $300,000 in recent weeks, more than half for mailings by Quick Response Communications, a company incorporated in 2014 shortly before the GOP primaries.

The Georgia Chamber reported paying Quick Response about $20,000 from May 10 to 13 for mailings in support of House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge; House Majority Leader Jon Burns, R-Newington; Senate Economic Development Chairman Brandon Beach, R-Alpharetta; and Senate Majority Whip Steve Gooch, R-Dahlonega.

Each faces Republican opponents in Tuesday’s primary, with Beach probably having the toughest challenge, from self-funding candidate Aaron Barlow, a Milton investor.

The Georgia Coalition for Job Creation listed spending on mailings for Beach; House Regulated Industries Chairman Howard Maxwell, R-Dallas;House Banking Chairman Greg Morris, R-Vidalia; Rep. Tom Dickson, R-Cohutta, chairman of the budget subcommittee on education; Rep. David Wilkerson, D-Powder Springs; and candidates for several open seats.

The coalition has sent out mailings for Canton business owner Kevin Moore, who’s running against Rep. Scot Turner, R-Holly Springs, who voted against the transportation tax hike in 2015.

“I was surprised by it,” Turner said. “They have never come to me on anything other than the tax increase vote. I have a pro-business record.”

Turner said he may have been a target because he was “louder than most” in his opposition to the tax hike. “I live in a very Republican district that opposes tax increases,” he said. “I was voting with my constituents.”

On the other side, American for Prosperity has targeted two incumbent state Senators for defeat.

The Georgia chapter of Americans for Prosperity has targeted Steve Gooch of Dahlonega and Brandon Beach of Alpharetta for their support of HB 951, which offers sales tax breaks on tickets sold to the Super Bowl and other one-of-a-kind sporting events.

Both senators have opposition in Tuesday’s GOP primary. Gooch faces John Williamson of Ellijay. Aaron Barlow, running against Beach for the Senate District 21 seat, has primarily focused on issues related to MARTA and transportation.

The AFP flyers aren’t technically campaign material, given that they don’t mention opposition candidates. But the timing surely indicates they are intended to wound both incumbents.

In her campaign for reelection to the Gwinnett County State Court, Judge Carla Brown received “Qualified,” “Well-qualified,” or “Best-qualified” ratings from more than 95% of respondents.

DeKalb County will elect a new CEO after interim CEO Lee May decided not to run for a full term.

Three Democrats are seeking to replace Lee May, who has been interim DeKalb County CEO since June 2013. They are former state senator Connie Stokes, former school superintendent Mike Thurmond and automotive services business owner Joe Bembry.

Retired businessman Jack Lovelace is the only Republican in the race.

State Senator Fran Millar (R-Dunwoody) is opposing the E-SPLOST sales tax for DeKalb schools on tomorrow’s ballot.

State Sen. Fran Millar, R-Dunwoody, is opposing DeKalb’s E-SPLOST vote this year because the district decided not to publish a detailed project list.

“What bothered me here is they’re [putting E-SPLOST on the ballot] in the May primary,” Millar said. “They could do it in November. They could probably do it next spring and put together a list of projects.”

In the past, the district has come up with such a list. This time around, the ballot names general projects, like facility and technology improvements. Millar said that violates the state constitution. He worries the district could face a legal challenge, which could deprive the schools of E-SPLOST funding for a number of years.

Millar wrote a letter to DeKalb Superintendent Stephen Green, asking him to delay the E-SPLOST vote until the list is ready. Green refused. Millar, who has supported past E-SPLOSTs, opposes this one.

“For me, this is a principle vote,’” Millar said. “I won’t enjoy hitting ‘no.’”

If voters reject the tax, it could put the district in a bind.

“Without the SPLOST money coming in, I’m not sure how they would fund a lot of the renovations that are needed and a lot of the major capital items, like roof replacements,” said Richard Boyd, DeKalb County School District’s director of design and construction.

I live in House District 80, which is hosting a spirited Republican Primary election for the chance to take on freshman Democratic Rep. Taylor Bennett. From the Dunwoody Crier,

Meagan Hanson, an attorney, has come under attack from Alan Cole who falsely charged her with suing the Republican Party and being part of a law firm that contributed to Democratic Gov. Roy Barnes.

Hansen did not sue the party and was not a member of the firm when it contributed to Barnes.

In turn, she points out that Cole voted in five Democratic primaries from 2000 through 2008. She also points out that the third candidate, Catherine Bernard, voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and against Mitt Romney in 2012. Bernard, also a lawyer, came into politics as a Ron Paul supporter. She recently responded to ethics charges against her by saying she would amend several years of campaign reports, without specifying the amendments.

As an illustration of how vigorously contested the HD 80 race is, I received five mail pieces on Saturday from two candidates in that race: three from Meagan Hanson and two from Alan Cole.

Former DeKalb County Commissioner Elaine Boyer was released from federal prison after pleading guilty to corruption charges.

In Muscogee County, not just one, but two previously disqualified candidates for Sheriff have been ruled eligible for the ballot and their votes will count.

Superior Court Judge Gary McCorvey has ruled that the Muscogee County elections board wrongly disqualified Republican candidate Mark LaJoye and Democratic candidate Donna Tompkins.

LaJoye and Tompkins, along with two other candidates, Pam Brown and Robert Keith Smith, both Democrats, were disqualified for what the elections board said were failures to meet deadlines.

But the circumstances were different, in that Brown and Smith failed to comply with a state law that requires fingerprinting for a criminal background check before a pre-primary deadline. In the case of LaJoye and Tompkins, the board ruled that they had failed to meet the same March 16 deadline for filing certified birth certificate copies and affidavits attesting that they are high school graduates.

Yet Tompkins, in a May 5 deposition challenging the disqualification, cited a March 11 email from the elections board saying she had qualified, and also asserting that on March 15, the day before the deadline, she was told by two board officials that her qualifying affidavit was “completed and fine.”

LaJoye’s attorney, Mark Shelnutt, recounted a similar experience on his client’s part, saying that on March 11, five days before the deadline, election workers had told both LaJoye and Muscogee County Republican Chairman Rick Allen that the candidate had satisfied all the requirements for eligibility to appear on the ballot.

Then the board later challenged, and disqualified, both candidates, leaving incumbent Sheriff John Darr, who will run as an independent in the November general election, effectively unopposed.

A $10k shopping spree on the taxpayers’ credit card landed a retired Hall County resource officer in hot water, according to the Gainesville Times.

Eight weapons, including two rifles and a shotgun, worth roughly $4,000 were purchased with school system money though none of the officers ever received the firearms and the superintendent said the purchases were not approved.

All of the purchases were made between November 2013 and October 2015 on a Hall County Board of Education credit card and were registered under the name of Lt. Earl Roach, who retired Feb. 29, according to a Sheriff’s Office internal affairs report obtained by The Times.

“It appears that he just took it upon himself to kind of put together this mobile command station that none of us knew anything about,” Hall County Schools Superintendent Will Schofield said last week.

Roach’s purchases totalling $10,164.64, including video equipment, a drone and firearms, led to an internal affairs investigation at the Hall County Sheriff’s Office and now an independent inquiry by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

All of the purchased items have been returned to Hall County, with the weapons secured at the Sheriff’s Office.

“Anytime you use taxpayer money, there needs to be a definite system of checks and balances in place,” Hall County Sheriff Gerald Couch said. “I did not see that with these purchases that he made, and it caused me great concern as I looked through that list of items because we would have never approved any of those purchases.”

 

20
May

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 20, 2016

On May 20, 1791, George Washington spent his third day in Augusta, where he visited Richmond Academy.

Blue jeans with copper rivets were patented by Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis on May 20, 1873.

On May 20, 1916, more than 20,000 visited Stone Mountain for the dedication ceremony to mark the beginning of a Confederate memorial on the north face.

On May 20, 1995, the section of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House was closed to automotive traffic.

The 400th episode of The Simpsons aired on May 20, 2007.

Two years ago today, Georgia voters went to the polls in the earliest Primary elections in modern history. In the Republican Primary, 605,355 ballots were cast in the Senate contest, while the Democratic Primary for Senate saw 328,710 ballots.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Today is the last day of early voting before the Tuesday primary elections.

Earlier this week, more than 10,000 ballots had been cast in DeKalb, where the CEO position is contested in the Democratic Primary.

Early voting is available from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Brookhaven City Hall, the Chamblee Civic Center, the Clark Harrison Building in Decatur, the Dunwoody Library, Berean Christian Church Community Center, the Stonecrest Library, South DeKalb Mall, the Tucker Recreation Center and the DeKalb Elections Office on Memorial Drive.

In Hall County, nearly 2500 early ballots had been cast.

Hall County Elections Director Charlotte Sosebee says 2,455 voters had voted early through Thursday and is projecting an overall turnout of 35 percent.

Statewide voter turnout has been strong, according to Secretary of State Brian Kemp.

In Hall and other North Georgia counties, voters can select among five GOP candidates for the 9th District House seat, plus candidates for the state legislature, Board of Commissioners and school board. Each party also has nonbinding ballot questions on various issues.

Early voting is available in Hall from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Hall County Government Center, 2875 Browns Bridge Road, Gainesville, and other local election offices. Check your county registrar for specific sites.

Athens-Clarke County election officials said early voting turnout was “kind of slow.”

As of Tuesday, just 529 people had cast early ballots. Early voting opened on May 2.

In part, Wright attributed the low turnout to the fact that none of the Athens-Clarke County commissioners up for re-election this year drew any opposition.

There are, in fact, just two contested local races on Athens-Clarke ballots. In a countywide race, local attorney Dave Hudgins and Toni Meadow, the county’s deputy tax commissioner, are vying as Democrats for the tax commissioner’s post. Incumbent tax commissioner Mitch Schrader is not seeking re-election.

Meanwhile, voters in the eastern part of the county are deciding whether Athens attorney A. Kamau Hull or University of Georgia professor John A. Knox will occupy the District 8 seat on the Clarke County Board of Education, where incumbent David Huff decided not to seek re-election to the nonpartisan board seat.

Polk County may see more than 2000 early and advance ballots, according to Northwest Georgia News.

According to the Board of Elections at the close of business of Wedneday, May 18, the vote tally was up to 1,997 ballots cast early in person or by mail.

Cedartown and Rockmart’s early voting precincts at the Board of Elections office in the County Administration building in Cedartown or at the Nathan Dean Center in Rockmart will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday for the final day of the early voting period.

Early voting in Columbus appears to be correlated to contested local elections for Columbus City Council and Board of Education, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Most precincts topping the rankings for early votes cast so far are in districts where candidates either are vying for vacant seats or challenging incumbents, and most are either in midtown or on the south side of town.

Also driving the vote in Columbus, this time literally, a teenager named David Smith.

“During the last two primaries going on I’ve been taking a lot of friends and family to come vote, well over a hundred,” said David Smith who has taken on the challenge of packing the polls.

This includes friends and family who need a ride to cast their ballot, or who need a nudge to vote at all.

“It’s a combination of different people, it is people who need a ride to the polls, my friends who don’t have that ride. It’s also people who need a little nudge. Young people have a bad tendency not to go out and vote, not to care about local elections but I try to instill in them, I say hey this is an important race whoever you vote for.”

In Columbus, Georgia, Mark LaJoye was restored to the ballot in his campaign for Sheriff of Muscogee County after an earlier decision to disqualify him.

A Superior Court judge has reversed the Muscogee County elections board’s decision to disqualify Republican sheriff’s candidate Mark LaJoye.

LaJoye’s attorney, Mark Shelnutt, confirmed the decision Thursday night.

Officials had yet to hear results of Democrat Donna Tompkins’ appeal, which was based on the same issues as LaJoye’s.

In his decision, Judge Gary McCorvey wrote that the law setting standards for sheriff’s candidates had the stated intent of ensuring such candidates were qualified, and the local elections board did not contend LaJoye was not qualified, only that he failed to meet specific deadlines for filing paperwork.

The board decided to disqualify LaJoye and Tompkins for failing to comply with another section of the state law setting qualifications for sheriff candidates. The board ruled they neglected to provide certified copies of their birth certificates and file an affidavit swearing they graduated high school by the same March 16 deadline Brown and Smith faced to submit fingerprints.

Frank Austin has dropped his appeal of a decision removing him from the ballot in House District 142.

[L]ess than an hour before his scheduled appearance in Fulton County Superior Court to challenge the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office, Austin announced via written message that he was withdrawing his petition for appeal.

“It was highly unlikely that the judge would have overturned the state’s decision,” Austin wrote.

Candidates must live in a district for a full year ahead of a state House general election. The investigation of Austin was triggered when another candidate, Gerald Harvey, filed a complaint with the Secretary of State’s office.

Last month, an administrative law judge ruled that Austin has lived in the district only since this past March. He needed to have lived there since November 8, 2015, to qualify to run.

That administrative law judge found that Austin had not changed the address on his driver’s license or his voter registration to the Bethesda Avenue address in the district until this year. The house also was without water service for much of the past year. Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp formally accepted that ruling last month and announced that votes for Austin would not count.

Yet another Georgia mayor in hot water with the law, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

A spokesperson for the Office of Georgia Governor Nathan Deal confirmed that the indictment for City of Meigs Mayor Linda Harris has been received and a commission will be formed to determine if Harris should be suspended from office. Any action by the commission will not take place until well after Tuesday’s recall election for the controversial mayor.

Harris was indicted by a Thomas County Superior Court grand jury on May 5 for theft by taking and violation of oath of office for an incident in October 2015 in which she allegedly stole $80 from the Meigs City Hall. According to Southern Judicial Circuit District Attorney David Miller, per Georgia code, his office mailed a certified copy of the indictment to the governor’s office on May 6, the day after it was handed down.

Republican State Senator Charlie Bethel faces an intraparty challenge on Tuesday.

Bethel, 40, is the chair of the Insurance and Labor Committee, vice chair of the Reapportionment and Redistricting Committee, and holds seats on Appropriations and both Judiciary committees. Bethel said being a veteran member of the Senate has given him more opportunities to work on legislative projects and a greater role in helping to shape the future of the state.

“Success comes along the way and what you measure as success changes the longer you are there,” Bethel said. “Your first year, you learn the system and you just try not to make a mistake. As you are there longer, you have more understanding of the dynamics and more relationships are built, and you want to work more strategically and with a little more focus.”

“Obviously education and a quality workforce have been a big part of my agenda, and those are quality pieces,” Bethel said when asked about his biggest accomplishments.

Bethel was an original sponsor of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Language from that bill was included in the bill that Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed earlier this year. Bethel said both that bill and a bill vetoed by Deal that would have allowed registered gun owners to carry guns in some parts of college campuses will be in the spotlight again next session.

“Neither one of them are going away,” Bethel said. “What they will look like and in what form they will be in when they get there remains to be seen.”

More and more, the middle class in Georgia is losing its voice in state politics, according to Conda Lowery Goodson.

Goodson, 42, says she wants to be that voice of the middle class in the Georgia Senate and is running against incumbent Charlie Bethel in Tuesday’s Republican primary for District 54. No Democrat qualified. District 54 includes all of Whitfield and Murray counties and parts of Gordon and Pickens counties.

“So many people have problems or expenses due to a lot of the laws and regulations passed and there is no one for them to go to with their problems and the people’s voices are not being heard,” Goodson said. “They are passing a lot of laws that are hurting the people and not benefiting the people. With a lot of research, I decided someone needed to step up for the people and truly be their voice.”

I’d love to hear the 911 call and police radio chatter on this one. A man was arrested in full Stormtrooper turnout in Newborn, Georgia.

A Newton County man had to spend a night in jail and is now facing charges after his Star Wars hobby may have taken him to the dark side.

Justin Marling’s Stormtrooper fandom created concern on Sunday in the small town of Newborn, which is about 20 miles north of Monticello.

Marling was walking down Pitts Chapel Road in full armor and a plastic gun.

He says he did it was to raise awareness for a charitable cause: Star Wars Force for Change.

The Jasper County Sheriff’s Office stopped him.

“According to the incident report, when deputies pulled up, Marling had two hands on what they thought was a real weapon. They told him to put the weapon down, but Marling turned away and continued walking. Deputies gave a second command, and it was at that point Marling put the gun down and took a step back.

“I was scared, because their guns are real. Mine isn’t.”

He was arrested for reckless conduct and wearing a mask. Georgia Law says that’s not allowed unless it’s for a holiday or a function.

Marling was released from jail Tuesday on a $2,000 bond.

It turns out that the anti-masking statute has been upheld by the Georgia Supreme Court.

Georgia’s highest court ruled the opposite way in a 1990 decision upholding that state’s anti-masking law, In that case, Klan member Shade Miller challenged his conviction for publicly wearing a Klan hood.

The Georgia Supreme Court found that the purposes of the law were the same as those of the Goshen, Ind., ordinance: to protect the public from intimidation and violence and to aid law enforcement officials in apprehending criminals. But, unlike the federal judge in Indiana, the Georgia court found that these purposes far outweighed the Klan’s right to associate anonymously.

Looking at the history of the Klan in general, rather than at the activities of the particular group whose member had filed the case, the court emphasized that masked Klansmen had a long record of “harassment, intimidation and violence against racial and religious minorities.”

Unlike laws struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court, the Georgia court reasoned, the anti-masking laws do not require the Klan to reveal the names and addresses of its members, nor do they stop Klan members from meeting secretly or wearing their hoods on private property.

The anti-masking law “only prevents masked appearance in public under circumstances that give rise to a reasonable apprehension of intimidation, threats or impending violence.” See State v. Miller, 260 Ga. 669 (1990).

19
May

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 19, 2016

Button Gwinnett died on May 19, 1777 of a gunshot wound received in a duel with Lachlan McIntosh.

Georgia ratified the Twelfth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which governs voting for President and Vice President on May 19, 1804.

The Battle of Spotsylvania ended on May 19, 1864. In Georgia, the Affair at Cassville occurred on May 19, 1864.

The Rubik’s Cube is 42 years old today.

When, in the spring of 1974, Ernő Rubik, a Hungarian professor of design, invented his eponymous cube, he had no idea that it would become one of the world’s best-selling toys. Nor did he envision that it would impact fields as diverse as science, art, and design – the subject of “Beyond Rubik’s Cube”, an exhibit at the Liberty Science Center, in Jersey City, New Jersey, that opened 26 April to celebrate the puzzle’s 40th anniversary. And he certainly couldn’t have imagined that, one day, his puzzle would be at the center of a competitive sport in which the top performers can re-solve it in less time than it takes to read this sentence aloud.

The first Rubik’s Cube competitions began in the early 1980s and were largely a promotional affair that vanished with the collapse of the initial fad for the puzzle. But in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the Internet allowed hobbyists around the world to find each other and run competitions of their own. More than 1,700 competitions have taken place in 66 countries since the 2004 founding of the World Cube Association, a governing body modeled after FIFA, the arbiter of international soccer. (Unlike, soccer, however, there is no qualification for any of these tourneys, including the World Championship: anyone can sign up.)

On May 19, 1977, “Smokey and the Bandit” was released.

President Barack Obama delivered the commencement address at Morehouse College on May 19, 2013.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

It seems the urge to incorporate new cities has spread outside the Metro Atlanta area. From the Times-Georgian,

The three Republican candidates in the District 68 House of Representatives race agree that if residents in the gated community of Fairfield want it to become a municipality, they should be allowed to do so.

As it pertains to Fairfield becoming a city of it’s own, Bearden said he is not going to dictate to residents what to do. However, if they want to become their own city, if elected he is going to work to make sure they get what they want and will speak to the property owners association board and residents. He said he is pretty sure the state doesn’t like being dictated to by the federal government and local government doesn’t like being dictated to by the state.

Collins agreed that the most important thing would be to listen to what the concerns of the constituents are. He said that as a former mayor, he knows the importance of working with a city council and with constituents. He said that taxation would have to be discussed. He said that Fairfield does provide some local services through its POA fees.

Lattanzio, a resident of the community, said he supports what the residents want and if they desire to become a city, and meet what the state law requires of them to be considered a city, then they should be allowed to do that. As a resident, he said that there are many benefits within the community and there could be more if the community was incorporated. He pointed at that Villa Rica has a water shortage and there are many reservoirs that could be utilized within Fairfield. He said that he would like to have more discussion about that aspect.

Loganville City Council member Chuck Bagley has died. Our condolences to his family and community.

Bagley was re-elected to the City Council in 2013 to serve a 4-year term. He served on the Loganville City Council for two previous 2-year terms, from 2005 to 2006 and from 2007 to 2008. He also served as the District 2 representative of the Walton County Board of Commissioners from 2008 to 2012.

According to his bio on the City of Loganville website, he and his wife, Fran, moved to Loganville in 1998. Bagley has served in many capacities as a volunteer, including serving as past chairman and member of the Board of Directors for the Communities in Schools of Walton County.  He was an active member of Loganville First United Methodist Church and a Certified Lay Speaker for the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church.  He was a member of the Loganville Legacy Lions Club and Chairman of Communications and Publicity for American Legion Post 233. Bagley was a U.S. Veteran.

Marietta City Council member Anthony Coleman’s days in office are numbered.

A resolution calling for the immediate suspension of Councilman Anthony Coleman was drafted and sent by Mayor Steve Tumlin to Marietta’s six other council members Wednesday for review.

The council is scheduled to vote on the resolution at a special-called meeting Friday.

The resolution states that, “Based upon Councilman Coleman’s conviction for a felony, and that pursuant to (Georgia law), Councilman Coleman has been immediately and without further action suspended from office by operation of law and the Marietta City Council.”

The local Hardees rolled out the red carpet for a visit by Canton Mayor Gene Hobgood.

A Cherokee County State Court judge is under fire from her opponent over handling of vehicular homicide cases.

Local attorney Bart Glasgow, a challenger in the non-partisan race for State Court judge, has created and posted a video of a man speaking about his brother, who was killed riding his motorcycle. The video, which has been viewed more than 52,000 times as of Wednesday afternoon, shows Duane Ferree speaking about how the person driving the vehicle that struck and killed his brother was charged with vehicular homicide, but only given 28 days in jail by incumbent Judge Michelle Homier.

Glasgow’s campaign maintains that Homier is inconsistent and often too lenient on those who appear before her in court.

Homier expressed frustration with her opponent’s campaign tactics, saying she’s received a number of hateful comments in the weeks leading up to the election.

“He’s run a very negative campaign,” Homier said of her opponent, saying Glasgow has been disingenuous and even deceitful at times. “It’s spurred people to call me heartless, brainless and some have said they hope I burn in hell.”

Homier said she’s been campaigning door-to-door to win votes in the week leading up to the election, saying her campaign has gone to more than 3,800 houses so far.

Glasgow has received the endorsement of several elected officials, including Woodstock Mayor Donnie Henriques and Rep. Wes Cantrell, R-Woodstock. He said he’s also received the endorsement of Holly Springs Police Chief Ken Ball, adding that he was thrilled to have the endorsements of a mayor, a state representative and a law enforcement leader.

Homier, however, has the financial backing of a number of local attorneys and their firms. Homier said receiving financial support from lawyers is typical of an incumbent judge, particularly from attorneys who regularly appear in a judge’s courtroom.

Lula, Georgia’s city council is working toward putting expanded alcohol sales on the November ballot.

Councilmen Marvin Moore, Garnett Smith and Mordecai Wilson said they are in favor of proceeding with ballot issues related to alcohol on the November 2016 ballot.

Councilmen Lamb Griffin and Vince Evans said they are undecided at this time.

Chandler said the city should have “no problem whatsoever meeting deadlines if the council wants to put anything on the [November] ballot.”

After council discussion, Chandler agreed to draft language for possible ballot questions to be considered by the council at an upcoming meeting.

“I assume we’re going to do it,” said Councilman Vince Evans.

Brad Morris has been reappointed Public Defender for Hall and Dawson Counties.

The Gwinnett Daily Post interviewed candidates for Superior and State Courts.

The Muscogee Couny School Board and Columbus consolidated government will join together in the creation of Tax Allocation Districts.

United States Senator David Perdue spoke to the Savannah Morning News about working for upgrades at Hunter Army Airfield.

The Georgia Republican has offered an amendment to the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill, asking the Army to offer a plan to modernize its aging airfield hangars. As a point of reference, Perdue mentioned the Apache hangars at Savannah’s Hunter Army Airfield.

“Modernizing the Apache hangars at Hunter Army Airfield is a clear example of one way we can ensure a safe and responsible working environment for our personnel as they prepare for combat missions abroad.”

The Augusta Chronicle takes a look at the House District 124 challenge against incumbent State Rep. Henry “Wayne” Howard.

As a legislator, Hill said he’ll push for incentives to attract the type of businesses – those with military ties, for instance – that the area needs.

In the General Assembly, Hill said he’ll also make himself available to Richmond County Board of Education, the Augusta Commission and Mayor Hardie Davis, whom he’ll ask, “what do you need from State Representative Hill,” he said.

He disagrees with the November referendum allowing state takeover of failing schools, but said the school system needs to face its issues locally.

For his part, Howard said at a recent forum that he shares Hill’s sentiments about the referendum and on raising the minimum wage.

The chairman for several years of the Augusta legislative delegation said he seeks re-election on his record of service.

That includes five two-year terms in the House seat inherited from his father, the late Rep. Henry Howard, with whom he worked closely for many years.

18
May

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 18, 2016

Abraham Lincoln was nominated for President by the Republican National Convention on May 18, 1860.

The United States Supreme Court handed down its decision in Plessy v. Ferguson on May 18, 1896.

The U.S. Supreme Court rule[d] seven to one that a Louisiana law providing for “equal but separate accommodations for the white and colored races” on its railroad cars is constitutional. The high court held that as long as equal accommodations were provided, segregation was not discrimination and thus did not deprive African Americans of equal protection under the law as guaranteed by the 14th Amendment.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Yesterday, Governor Nathan Deal released a statement on the federal “guidance” letter regarding school bathrooms.

“The Obama administration’s directive, recently announced by press release, to local school systems regarding accommodations for transgender students has generated confusion and controversy among parents, students and school officials,” said Deal.

“While I do not believe this directive carries the force of law, the Departments of Justice and Education have threatened to revoke federal funding from schools that fail to comply. Georgia’s constitution and state laws, however, require these decisions be made at the local level. While our 181 school systems must each determine an appropriate response to this federal overreach, I have asked State School Superintendent Richard Woods to provide guidance to those local school systems seeking assistance and clarity on this issue in order to ensure that there will be as much uniformity across our state as possible,” said Deal.

“Until Congress acts, I assure the citizens of Georgia that the offices of the governor, attorney general and state school superintendent will work cooperatively to protect the interests of Georgia’s children from this abuse of federal executive,” said Deal.

Attorney General Sam Olens wrote on Facebook, and likely elsewhere, about the Obama directive,

The “Guidance” Letter recently issued by the Obama Administration addresses a sensitive and complex issue with a sledgehammer. In yet another example of executive overreach, the Administration is attempting to use executive fiat to push schools toward whatever policy outcomes it desires without any legal or constitutional support, in this case relating to dorm rooms, bathrooms, and locker rooms.

State Senator Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega), locked in a primary election, also hit the Obama administration on bathroom rules.

“We’re asking the governor and lieutenant governor to look at the president’s policy initiative that he announced this week that basically threatens local governments with withholding their funds for their local schools,” Gooch said Tuesday. “We think that’s a wrong direction for our country. We shouldn’t be controlling local school boards and dictating them and holding this over their head.”

“We have a lot of concerns with this transgender policy that [President Obama] has basically adopted and he’s announced and we want to make sure going forward we protect the safety of our children and our school systems,” Gooch said. “It’s concerning when you see hundreds and thousands of parents come to a school board meeting like we saw up in Fannin County this week, and it’s going to affect every county in Georgia and across the country, so we’ve asked the governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general to take a strong stand against it, and we’re going to stand against it as well in the Senate.”

The three candidates in the House District 68 Sprint Special Election addressed the goofy 12-day campaign for a seat that could be equivalent to a lifetime appointment. From the Times-Georgian.

The three candidates in the 68th District Georgia House of Representatives race agree that it’s a “low-down dirty shame” that early voters will not be able to cast ballots for them. One candidate on Tuesday night called the voters disenfranchised while another said the secretary of state should create a ballot with just the House seat for early voters since there is a record of who voted and they technically would not be voting twice.

“I personally don’t agree with how things have happened,” said Lattanzio. “We live in a democracy where the people have the choice to choose who they want and I feel like we were given a pill to swallow. We have less than two weeks to decide this race, we had one day to qualify and a lot of people felt disenfranchised by the way the system works.”

Bearden said he plans to speak to the Legislature to ask that the current state law be changed. He agreed that it is not fair for candidates or voters.

“I think it is very simple for the Board of Elections or the secretary of state to create one ballot box in District 68,” he said. “They know who voted already. Yes, we have state law that says you can only vote one time, and that’s the law. But the citizens didn’t change their minds, the ballot changed on them and they should have the right to come back and vote for any of the three of us. So if elected, I promise you we are going to address this bill … to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Collins, who last week resigned as mayor of Villa Rica, said the whole situation was nothing but politics at its finest and as a result many people will feel as if their vote is not going to count.

“I don’t agree with it and I don’t like it,” said Collins. “This has to be changed and it should be changed. My 85-year-old granddaddy voted early and he can’t vote for me now and that’s a shame. This is what your state Legislature has passed. But again, this is state politics at its finest and it is a low-down dirty shame. It needs to be changed. Period. Bottom line.”

In Villa Rica, former deputy city manager Jeff Reese is the first announced candidate for the Mayoral seat vacated by J. Collins.

House District 52, vacated by State Rep. Joe Wilkinson, who is not running for reelection, features two candidates who are close on the issues, but are choosing to focus on personal issues.

Deborah Silcox and Graham McDonald, who are running to fill the House District 52 seat Joe Wilkinson is leaving after 16 years, both said they support Gov. Nathan Deal’s campus carry and religious freedom vetoes.

Silcox, 52, said her son is a college student in Texas, where campus carry is the law. At his school, a dean resigned in part because of the law. Additionally, she said, she did not think the religious freedom law would withstand a judicial challenge.

McDonald, 36, said he was a strong supporter of both vetoes.

Where they differ, though, is in their backing. Silcox is being supported be Wilkinson, who qualified for re-election, then dropped out after former backers threw their support to a different candidate.

Rep. Wendell Willard, R-Sandy Springs, and Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul encouraged McDonald to jump into the race opposite Wilkinson, before he dropped out.

Wilkinson [said Silcox] has the intellect and temperament to be successful.

“I just feel much more comfortable that she could be a very, very effective member of the House right away,” he said. “She will be a great success in the House.”

The race got more personal in a forum sponsored by Sandy Springs’ Riverside Homeowners Association.

Silcox called McDonald—who resigned from the Sandy Springs City Council to make the House run—someone willing to quit on voters at taxpayer expense. McDonald called Silcox a negative campaigner who tells different people different things to win votes.

“I don’t think anyone wants to see a close-up of my nose, large pores and all, with the word ‘quitter’ on it,” said McDonald, referring to a Silcox campaign flyer. He emphasized that local leaders had urged him to run to help preserve a community “very dear to my heart.”

“I am running, not a negative campaign, and it is not preposterous, what I’m saying,” Silcox said. “I’m running just on the facts,” she added, noting that McDonald’s decision to leave the council mid-term means the city is spending more than $70,000 to hold a special election. “I will not quit…I will not seek a higher office,” Silcox said.

“First of all, 70 to 80 thousand is a lot of money, a lot of taxpayer money,” McDonald replied, “but it pales in comparison to having the wrong person in our state House seat. That’s just the bottom line.”

Things are also getting personal in GOP Primaries for seats centered in North DeKalb, according to Dick Williams of the Dunwoody Crier,

State Sen. Fran Millar (R-Dunwoody) is being challenged by Paul Maner, a financial adviser who promises to invest according to biblical principles. Maner is part of a gaggle of dissidents who blame incumbent legislators for immigrants being re-located to Georgia. He also faced a lawsuit by a campaign consultant for non-payment of bills.

A similar situation faces state Rep. Tom Taylor (R-Dunwoody) whose opponent, Tom Owens of Doraville, is listed at the state capitol as “Escorted Entrance Only” after his many attempts to intimidate legislators on the immigration question. Taylor has a pending charge of driving under the influence with which to contend.

In the state House District that includes Brookhaven and parts of Sandy Springs and Chamblee, three Republicans seek to oppose state Rep. Taylor Bennett (D-Brookhaven).

Meagan Hanson, an attorney, has come under attack from Alan Cole who falsely charged her with suing the Republican Party and being part of a law firm that contributed to Democratic Gov. Roy Barnes.

Hanson did not sue the party and was not a member of the firm when it contributed to Barnes.

In turn, she points out that Cole voted in five Democratic primaries from 2000 through 2008. She also points out that the third candidate, Catherine Bernard, voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and against Mitt Romney in 2012. Bernard, also a lawyer, came into politics as a Ron Paul supporter. She recently responded to ethics charges against her by saying she would amend several years of campaign reports, without specifying the amendments.

The Gwinnett County Commission approved the creation of a new Sugarloaf Community Improvement District.

Gwinnett County Sheriff Butch Conway and his challenger talked law enforcement issues with the Gwinnett Daily Post.

17
May

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 17, 2016

Georgia’s trustees asked Britain to repeal the law against importing slaves to the colonies on May 17, 1749.

On May 17, 1769, George Washington introduced resolutions in the Virginia House of Burgesses, drafted by George Mason, criticizing Britain’s “taxation without representation” policies toward the colonies.

George Washington continued his tour of Georgia on May 17, 1791, staying overnight in Waynesboro; on May 18 he arrived in Augusta.

General Winfield Scott issued an order on the removal of Cherokee people from Georgia on May 17, 1838.

On May 17, 1864, Sherman and Johnston engaged in the Battle of Adairsville, Georgia.

The United States Supreme Court released its unanimous decision in Brown v. Board of Education on May 17, 1954, overturning Plessy v. Ferguson.

The historic decision, which brought an end to federal tolerance of racial segregation, specifically dealt with Linda Brown, a young African American girl who had been denied admission to her local elementary school in Topeka, Kansas, because of the color of her skin.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution takes a look at Senate District 21, where Brandon Beach is the most-imperiled incumbent state Senator facing a reelection challenge.

Beach, an Alpharetta Republican, was a big backer of last year’s blockbuster transportation bill and championed horse-racing legislation and MARTA expansion this year. But he faces a GOP primary challenge on May 24 from an investment manager, Aaron Barlow, who both in person and in a flurry of self-funded political mailers attacks Beach over those votes and what he says is a “tax first and ask questions later” approach.

“I’m a conservative Republican trying to get rid of a liberal Republican,” the 41-year-old Barlow tells Kemp. “He’s the one who did the billion-dollar gas tax when we had a state surplus that could pay for the same projects.”

“My opponent is trying to scare people,” said Beach, who doesn’t believe his opponent has presented actual solutions to the problems involving traffic or other issues that upset residents. In lieu of that, Beach said, Barlow has gone negative. “He had to tear me down. … He’s just attacking me.”

[Beach's] supporters have all but accused Barlow of carpetbagging, sending out mailers that say the “invisible” Barlow “wants to buy a Senate district” and doesn’t understand local issues. Legal records show Barlow as recently as last year listing a Chicago mailing address, something Barlow says was the result of a work assignment.

Mailers supporting Barlow have labeled Beach a “liar.” Barlow says Beach can’t beat him on issues, so he is attacking his family by questioning where they live.

The Cobb Board of Elections reports that early voting is down from this point in the last election cycle, according to the Marietta Daily Journal.

About 400 to 500 people were voting per day leading up to the 2012 general primary. This year, about 200 vote a day, said Janine Eveler, Cobb County Elections director.

Through Saturday, 2,435 people have voted in person over the course of 11 days of voting and 1,174 mail-in ballots have been returned. Early voting continues through Friday this week.

Eveler said election cycles with contentious races and issues bring more voters to the polls, but she is expecting about 30 percent voter turnout on Election Day next Tuesday. About 31 percent of Cobb County voters participated in the 2012 general primary. She said elections generally only see a surge with November general elections.

If a race requires a runoff, that election will be July 26, and voters are required to vote in the same party ballot.

One major difference between 2012 and this year is timing – in 2012, the Primary Election was held on July 31, a full two months and one week later when schools were out. This year is the first year in my career that Primary Elections in a Presidential years were before Memorial Day.

Oh, how things have changed in Gwinnett County. One of my first political memories is of attending a meeting in Lawrenceville when the school system had banned a book or books by Judy Blume in the mid-1980s. Now, Gwinnett leads in the opposite direction, announcing that gender-neutral bathrooms will be made available to students.

Gwinnett County Public Schools leaders clearly aren’t pleased with federal guidance on school restroom policies, but the district, Georgia’s largest, revealed plans over the weekend to add gender-neutral facilities for transgender students.

“After carefully considering the issue, GCPS will continue to provide students with sex-designated restroom facilities, while offering gender-neutral facilities to any student who does not wish to use the restroom facility designated for his or her biological sex,” the district said in a Sunday statement posted to its website.

Gwinnett school officials blasted the threat of pulled federal money and called the situation a case of federal “overreach.”

“Although the new agency ‘guidance’ does not have the force of law or regulation, it does infringe upon the abilities of school districts to determine appropriate education policy, procedures, and practices for their students,” the GCPS statement, which wasn’t signed by a particular official, said. “We believe our current practice is reasonable, logical, and workable, and therefore, it should not be uprooted by what we consider an overreach by two federal agencies.”

“Given the unique safety and privacy concerns of elementary and secondary school students,” the district said, “this issue should be handled at the local level where school leadership can best address the needs of its students in accordance with the shared values of order, fairness, and respect.”

Georgia State School Superintendent Richard Woods also has concerns about the federal directive.

“I believe there are safety concerns associated with allowing students of different genders to use the same bathroom,” Woods said in a statement. “For that reason, I do not believe a student of another gender should use a restroom alongside students of the opposite sex. We will communicate with districts when we’ve had time to fully evaluate the issue.”

The Stephens County Board of Education will interview applicants before appointing a new Board member to fill a vacancy.

[Former Board member Jeff] Webb resigned last month after being arrested and charged with Driving Under the Influence by the Toccoa Police Department.

Stephens County School Superintendent Bryan Dorsey said that the process that is laid out in board policy for filling a vacancy can be very simple.

“Your current process by law is basically it has to be someone eligible from the District and it requires a motion, second, and a majority vote,” said Dorsey.

Board members noted that when filling past vacancies, the school board has accepted applications, then conducted interviews with the candidates before voting on its choice.

School board member David Fricks said he thinks that is a good process that the school board should use again here.

Hillary Stringfellow and Heath Garrett have resigned from the Georgia State Ethics Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission on good terms.

Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle yesterday launched the Georgia Consortium of Advanced Technical Training (GA CATT) Program with the Central Educational Center, Coweta County’s College and Career Academy.

The program unites the German American Chamber of Commerce of the Southern U.S., Inc. with the Technical College System of Georgia and eight Coweta County manufacturing companies. Beginning in the 10th grade, high school students will now have the opportunity to complete their education with a high school diploma, German apprenticeship certificate and an associate degree in Industrial Mechanics through West Georgia Technical College.

“Today is the culmination of many months of hard work and dedication by numerous stakeholders to ensure our high school students have access to the world renowned German apprenticeship model right in here in Georgia,” said Lt. Gov. Cagle. “Georgia is the first state to secure these kinds of dynamic workforce development opportunities in the nation and our students will see tremendous benefits from this revolutionary program. We will begin by selecting 11 10th grade students to take part in this world class program and I look forward to expanding this model across the state for years to come.”

GA CATT will allow students to begin their apprenticeship in 10th grade with a combination of traditional high school classes, college level manufacturing courses, and apprenticeship modules that will pay $8/hour. By the 12th grade, students will spend 80% of their day learning at the manufacturing site earning $12/hour. The German model has proven effective in securing skilled labor while increasing student motivation by securing a professional career track for students at no additional cost for them or their families.

Governor Nathan Deal has named review commissions following the indictments of Alamo Mayor Debra Joyce Fountain for theft and Mt. Vernon Mayor Joey Fountain for Burglary.

Mayor Debbie Fountain’s indictment along with city clerk Gail Brown stems from allegations of missing money.

The GBI’s Eastman post launched a probe into the alleged theft of government money three months ago.

A source familiar with the case said the alleged theft involved about $50,000.

Alamo, a town of about 3,400 people, is roughly 30 miles south of Dublin.

The mayor’s position there, a part-time job, pays less than $4,000.

Mayor Joey Fountain was indicted in connection with an alleged break-in at the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office.

According to Oconee Circuit District Attorney Tim Vaughn, several people, including Mount Vernon Mayor Joey Fountain and Montgomery County Sheriff’s deputy Todd Yancey, have been indicted in connection with items removed from Sheriff Ladson O’Connor’s office hours after his fatal crash.

If you’re named Fountain and serve as Mayor of a town in Georgia, be warned: you might be next.

The GBI is also investigating allegations of misuse of a credit card issued to the Hall County school system.

Gainesville City schools have proposed three percent raises for employees in the 2016-17 school year.

Warner Robins City Council has proposed a 2017 budget that has no fee or millage rate increases.

United States Senate candidate Mary Kay Bacallao will visit Lowndes County voters at Austin’s Steakhouse off 84 at 5:30 tonight.

Two disqualified candidates for Muscogee County Sheriff appealed the decisions of the county elections board in Superior Court.

Georgia’s Department of Community Health is looking for cost savings in the state employees health plan, including auditing covered dependents, and auditing a pharmacy benefits management company.

Wendell Pierce, an actor I’ve never heard of, is certainly feeling the Bern after being arrested in Atlanta.

Actor Wendell Pierce was arrested in Atlanta at the weekend and charged with battery, according to court records, over what TMZ website said was an altercation sparked by differences over the U.S. presidential race.

The entertainment news website said the incident occurred after Pierce, a Hillary Clinton backer, got into a political discussion with a couple who were supporting rival Bernie Sanders for the Democratic nomination.

A group of Republicans is raising money to encourage Amish and Mennonite people to vote, something that cuts across the grain of their philosophy toward government and worldly people. Amish voting in particular may be impacted by voter ID requirements, as many do not operate cars, and so do not need drivers licenses, and many Amish avoid being photographed.

Child Sex Trafficking Bust in South Georgia

Eighteen men were arrested in “Operation Riptide,” an anti-sex trafficking sting coordinated by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s Child Exploitation and Computer Crimes Unit (CEACC), the Georgia Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force and the Glynn County Police Department.

The purpose of the operation was to arrest those who communicate with children online and then traveled to meet them for sexual activity or exploit them by purchasing sex with a minor.

“The children in our community need people to keep them safe,” said Glynn County Police Chief Matt Doering. “We will be their guardian angels.  We will look out for them.”

Garner says this operation should also serve as a warning to parents to monitor their kids online activities. “Know how to monitor (your kids) Snapchat account, Instagram account, Facebook account.”

The US Secret Service arrested eight of the suspects. All of those polygraphed admitted to the crime they were arrested for, according to police. Some admitted to viewing porn and having previous sexual contact with children, the release said.

A Woodstock, GA man was arrested for possession of child pornography.

16
May

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 16, 2016

Button Gwinnett and Lachlan McIntosh met outside Savannah on May 16, 1777 and fought a duel; Gwinnett was mortally wounded.

Gwinnett returned to Georgia immediately after signing the [Declaration of Independence] to find city Whig Lachlan McIntosh commanding Georgia’s nascent military efforts. Determined to take control of Georgia politics, Gwinnett became speaker of the legislature, guided the Georgia Constitution of 1777 into existence and took over as governor when Archibald Bulloch died suddenly in office.

Gwinnett then wanted to lead an expedition to secure Georgia’s border with Florida. A dispute between McIntosh and Gwinnett over who would command the effort ultimately led to their duel and Gwinnett’s death.

A Constitutional Convention met on May 16, 1795 in the capital of Louisville to amend the Georgia Constitution of 1789.

On May 15, 1791, George Washington left Augusta for Savannah.

On May 15, 1800, President John Adams ordered all 125 employees of the federal government to begin packing to move the capital from Philadelphia to Washington, DC.

The United States Senate voted to acquit President Andrew Johnson of 11 Articles of Impeachment passed by the House of Representatives on May 16, 1868.

The North Georgia Electric Company was incorporated on May 16, 1901 to build a hydroelectric dam on the Chattahoochee River near Gainesville; in 1916, it would be bought by the company that today is known as Georgia Power.

JasperJohnsThree_Flags

American artist Jasper Johns was born May 15, 1930 in Augusta, Georgia.

Carl Sanders was born on May 15, 1925 in Augusta, Georgia. He served in the United States Air Force, Georgia House of Representatives and State Senate, where he was President Pro Tem. In 1962, Sanders won the Democratic Primary for Governor, defeating former Governor Marvin Griffin, and in November was the first Governor of Georgia elected by popular vote after the County Unit System was abolished.

Former Atlanta Braves pitcher John Smoltz was born on May 15, 1967 in Lansing, Michigan. Smoltz pitched a complete game shutout against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the seventh game of the National League Championship Series in 1991, sending the Braves to their first World Series since moving to Atlanta in 1966. Smoltz was chosen for the All Star team eight times and won the Cy Young award in 1996.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

This isn’t politics, but it’s awesome: Gregg Allman played at Mercer’s graduation this weekend before being awarded an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree.

While we’re on the topic of higher education, Donald J. Trump will be the subject of a Savannah State University summer class called “The Trump Factor in American Politics.”

“It’s about sort of balancing those perspectives out and trying to use a lens that I hope illuminates some of these arguments in terms of why Donald Trump, despite some of that support from fringe elements of the political spectrum or controversial statements, and figuring out why are people still attracted to him?” [Professor Robert] Smith said. “And to me, that’s what’s fascinating and I think deserves that serious study in the class.”

State Rep. Ron Stephens, R-Savannah, said he questions the merits behind the Savannah State course, and he hoped that the course remained unbiased. He sees Trump as someone who won’t heed lobbyists. Given the endurance of Sanders’ antiestablishment bid on the Democratic side, he said, the idea of a president who isn’t influenced by lobbyists is obviously something that resonates with the electorate at large.

“Washington is bought and paid for — there’s no doubt about that,” Stephens said. “Hopefully he’ll hit on that appeal. Donald Trump has done something that hasn’t been done for a very long time. Even though his mouth needs a censor sometimes, he’s hit on the silent majority — and the middle is what wins elections.”

U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter said there’s “no question” that Trump has changed the political landscape.

“People are frustrated,” said Carter, who’s in his second year representing Georgia’s First District in Washington. “I’m frustrated. I was frustrated midafternoon the first day I got here. The system is broken and we need someone to shake it up. I think he’s going to be that guy.”

After the re-opened qualifying for State House District 68, three candidates will run in the Republican Primary next Tuesday.

J.Collins, funeral home owner and until last week, Mayor of Villa Rica

Marc Lattanzio, a law enforcement officer with the City of Temple

Tim Bearden, former State Rep., former Director of the Georgia Public Safety Training Center

The Times-Georgian interviewed Lattanzio about the election,

Temple police officer and University of West Georgia political science major Matt Lattanzio joins former Villa Rica mayor J. Collins and former House 68 representative Tim Bearden in the race. All are Republicans.

The League of Women Voters of Carrollton-Carroll County will hold a forum for the three candidates on Tuesday, May 17, at Bay Springs Middle School in Villa Rica.

“I’ve always been interested in government and trying to make our area a better place to be, so I decided to run because I wanted to represent the people in the 68th District and bring positive growth to the area,” said Lattanzio. “If we all attract good companies to the Carroll County area, and by working with the Chamber of Commerce, I think we could bring jobs here and positive growth and just make a big difference here and be the voice of the people.”

With just more than a week left before the May 24 election, Lattanzio said he is working on a grassroots campaign and relying on social media.

“This is not just a sprint, this is an all-out run,” he said. “I am working at it as much as I can. I’ve been setting up a couple of meet-and-greets and taking time to visit Temple, Villa Rica and Fairfield, Whitesburg and try to get everyone together. I’m not a career politician and I think sometimes people are just tired of the career politicians. I’m an outsider, I’m a hard worker, I work for the people and I will be a true representative to the people of District 68.”

“I feel like some of the citizens are a little disenfranchised,” he said. “Those people that early voted won’t be able to recast their vote so those votes are gone at this point. It would be nice for people to be able to vote again. I don’t think anybody’s vote should be lost. The way this went down, I think it kinda cheated people. I don’t think it’s fair for the people who have to decide who is the best candidate for the job in just 11 days.”

Mark Niesse with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes about the potential return of Vernon Jones to the State House.

In his fourth bid for public office in the past eight years, Vernon Jones is touting himself as an experienced leader who will address real-life problems, like traffic and unemployment, if elected representative of House District 91.

His opponents, however, are working to paint another picture of the former DeKalb CEO. They portray him as a polarizing figure more interested in regaining power than serving the community.

Jones dismisses his challengers, saying they’re amateurs who don’t have what it takes to get things done in the Georgia General Assembly.

“You need a legislator who’s there on Day 1 getting the job done,” Jones said at a recent candidate forum at the Rockdale County Auditorium in Conyers. “Nobody can touch my record. Nobody can touch my experience. Nobody can work as hard as I can.”

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is out with another poll that’s essentially meaningless.

Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump are locked in a statistical tie in Georgia, according to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll that laid bare the deep divide over the presidential race.

Trump’s 4-point lead over Clinton — he’s at 45 percent — is within the poll’s margin of error, meaning neither can confidently claim a state that’s voted for the GOP nominee since 1996. Sprinkled throughout are reminders of the challenges both face in capturing Georgia: dim voter enthusiasm, high unfavorability ratings and deep skepticism from voters.

Both front-runners have sky-high name recognition — and devastatingly high unfavorability ratings. Nearly two out of three voters have a negative view of Clinton, including a crushing majority of Republicans. A slightly lower number of voters have a negative view of Trump, including a crushing majority of Democrats.

That gives Georgia’s independent voters, a reliably conservative bunch that has backed Republicans the past two decades, an even more influential role in November. The poll found independents were split right down the middle over the leading contenders. An additional 13 percent of independents either said they are undecided or support neither candidate.

At this point in 2014, the AJC poll showed Michelle Nunn with a +1 point lead over David Perdue, who ended up winning by eight points and Nathan Deal with a 4-point lead over Democrat Jason Carter.

Politico ran a story on the AJC poll and gave some context:

The last Democrat to carry Georgia was Bill Clinton in 1992, when he beat incumbent George H.W. Bush by less than 15,000 votes; in 1996, Clinton lost the state by about 27,000 votes. Barack Obama never came within 200,000 votes either time.

The poll was conducted May 9-12, and surveyed 822 registered voters in Georgia.

Meanwhile, the AJC also writes that Nathan Deal has lost support among Republican Primary voters and gained among Democrats, after vetoing both religious liberty and campus carry legislation.

State Rep. John Pezold (R-Columbus) took up his pen to address the issue of a line-item veto of funding for a couple Columbus-area projects.

Much has been written recently about the ongoing saga of recent budget cuts made by the politically powerful in order to punish Senator Josh McKoon. Multiple members of the Columbus delegation have admitted as much and apparently have no problem with the fact that bullying tactics are used on a regular basis in politics. This certainly isn’t the first time Columbus State’s funding has been held hostage over a member acting on his conscience.

In 2013, my first year in the Georgia House we were to vote on Senate Bill 24. I won’t bore you with the details other than to say that the politically powerful wanted it passed. When I made it clear that I would be voting against SB 24 because it went against my principles, I was issued an ultimatum: If I voted against the bill, funding would be cut for Columbus State and for an upcoming additional judgeship for the Chattahoochee Circuit.

Don’t the people of Georgia deserve better than the politics of retribution? Aren’t we better than bullying? We are in a day and age when people don’t trust politicians for one simple reason: Once elected, many of us vote much differently from the way we campaigned. We’re not trusted because we allow garbage like this to occur and say, “It’s just the way things are done around here.” Yet there are countless examples of people actually doing the right thing and voting their conscience, and being punished for it.

Bullying isn’t tolerated in our schools. When this kind of behavior is brought to the attention of school leaders, it is addressed clearly and swiftly. We expect our children to behave better than this. Why then are we turning a blind eye when grown men and women leading our state resort to these tactics?

Fannin County is in an uproar over bathrooms for people who are transgender. From Fetch Your News:

Fannin County Board of Education held a three and one-half hour meeting on Thursday night, May 12th. Two and a half hours were public comments about transgender bathrooms in Fannin County Schools.

The overwhelming theme of the forty plus people who gave comments was about privacy and safety of the children.  Many parents asked the Board why the schools couldn’t have a third bathroom option for transgender students.  At least two parents said that if the school allowed transgender children to use the bathroom of their choice, they will sue the school to build a private bathroom stall for their children. Parent after parent said that they would pull their children out of the Fannin County School system if the schools have transgender bathrooms.  Some parents scolded the Board for putting federal funding ahead of their children’s well-being. If the Fannin County School System chooses to not have transgender bathrooms, the school system could lose $3.5 million in federal funding.

Almost every speaker identified him or herself as a Christian.  Most talked about how the Bible teaches two genders, male and female.  Some parents, like Deena Daughtery, said that they had moved to Fannin County because of its morals.  Many speakers said that they couldn’t believe that the fight over transgender bathrooms had come to Fannin County.

Some high school and middle school students spoke.  They indicated that students were not ready to accept transgender bathrooms at school.  Two 8th grade girls had the shortest and most simple comment about transgender bathroom.  It summed up what many parents said without a long explanations. The girls said, “I don’t want to go to the bathroom and see a boy there.”

Fannin County Attorney Lynn Doss spoke for the Board of Education.  She first cleared up some rumors that have been going around.  She said that Fannin County schools do not have unisex bathrooms and that the School Board is not voting on transgender bathrooms.  Also, no one in the Fannin County school system has had their job threatened over this issue. About the $3.5 million the school system could lose if it provides transgender bathrooms, she said that Fannin County can do without the $3.5 million.  The real money problem is that the school system could be fined $1,000 a day for not providing bathroom. The school system could not take that financial loss.  Like Mr. Fletcher, she said that requiring transgender bathrooms in public schools is another example of government overreach.

Ms. Doss went on to tell the audience that if they really don’t want transgender bathrooms in the schools, they should take their fight to people who have the possibility to change this rule.   The Fannin County School System could refuse to provide transgender bathrooms, but the school system’s action has no power to change the law.  Ms. Doss encouraged everyone to write Gov. Deal and their state and national Senators and Representatives.  She thanked Georgia House Speaker David Ralston for taking a proactive stand for Fannin County.

Cobb County District Attorney Vic Reynolds addressed what he calls a heroin epidemic, according to the Marietta Daily Journal.

“Categorically, without any hesitation … we have a heroin epidemic in Cobb County,” said Cobb District Attorney Vic Reynolds.

In 2015 alone, there were 60 overdose deaths in Cobb, according to Reynolds.

Speaking at a recent meeting of the Marietta Area Council, Reynolds said from 1995 through 2014, about 3.5 pounds of heroin was confiscated by the undercover agents of the Marietta-Cobb-Smyrna Narcotics unit.

In 2015, more than 18 pounds of heroin was confiscated.

“Six times (the amount) in one year what we had in the last 20 years,” Reynolds said, adding that his office has a special unit prosecutes only major narcotics trafficking cases, the majority of which are heroin related. “Hopefully that gives you some idea of what we’re seeing.”

13
May

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 13, 2015

On May 13, 1607, English settlers founded the first permanent English settlement in America, at Jamestown on the James River. This led to the first English-language politics in America:

Dispatched from England by the London Company, the colonists had sailed across the Atlantic aboard the Susan Constant,Godspeed, and Discovery. Upon landing at Jamestown, the first colonial council was held by seven settlers whose names had been chosen and placed in a sealed box by King James I. The council, which included Captain John Smith, an English adventurer, chose Edward Wingfield as its first president.

Lyman Hall arrived in Philadelphia as a delegate to the Second Continental Congress on May 13, 1775.

On May 13, 1798, a Constitutional Convention adopted the Georgia Constitution of 1798.

The Mexican War began on May 13, 1846.

Georgia Whigs, led by Governor George Crawford, Alexander Stephens, and Robert Toombs, criticized the war for raising divisive questions about slavery in the territories. Georgia Democrats, led by Howell Cobb and Herschel Johnson, staunchly supported the war and states’ rights afterward. Because Whigs, nationally, appeared to be antislavery, Georgia Whigs lost the governorship in 1847. The Compromise of 1850 temporarily settled the slavery question in the territories, but the moderating influence of Georgia’s Whigs dissolved in the heated rhetoric of states’ rights in the 1850s. The next war would find Americans fighting Americans.

The first fighting at Resaca, Georgia took place on May 13, 1864 and Union forces marched into Dalton. On May 13, 1864, 257 cadets from the Virginia Military Institute camped at Mt. Crawford near Harrisonburg.The next day they would continue their march to New Market, Virginia.

On May 13, 1981, Pope John Paul II was shot at St. Peter’s Square in Rome.

On May 13, 2005, the Pentagon Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) recommended the closing of Fort McPherson in Atlanta, Fort Gillem in Forest Park, the Naval Air Station in Marietta, and the Naval Supply Corps School in Athens.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Tomorrow has the only mandatory Saturday early voting for the May 24 primary elections, meaning that every county elections board will have early voting hours. Click here to sign in to the Secretary of State’s MVP webpage and check your local early voting locations.

Yesterday, former Congressman Jack Kingston endorsed Rep. Austin Scott for reelection in the 8th District.

Jack Kingston endorses Austin Scott

Not only is Austin Scott a great conservative who is fighting to protect the unborn, defend our 2nd Amendment rights and repeal Obamacare, he cares very deeply about supporting our military and our war fighters.

The 8th District needs Austin Scott to keep up the fight, and Georgia needs him at the table as well. I am proud to endorse my friend Austin Scott in his re-election, he has stepped up to the plate and gone to bat for our military and Georgia’s military communities year after year, and I know he will continue to make the people of Middle and South Georgia proud.

Learn more about Austin Scott for Georgia at The 8th District needs Austin Scott to keep up the fight, and Georgia needs him at the table as well. I am proud to endorse my friend Austin Scott in his re-election, he has stepped up to the plate and gone to bat for our military and Georgia’s military communities year after year, and I know he will continue to make the people of Middle and South Georgia proud.

Learn more about Austin Scott for Georgia at www.scottforga.com

Here are the latest television ads in the Third Congressional District.

The Oglethorpe County Republican Party held a straw poll and reports the following results:

Trump — 37 votes
Never Trump — 4 votes
Only if I have to — 9 votes

On how to balance Republican misgivings with Trump, especially among minority voters:

“Donald Trump doesn’t stop me from minority engagement, from shaping and transforming the structure of the Georgia Republican Party so we’re more financially solvent. He doesn’t stop me from messaging, from strategically creating partnerships with independent expenditure groups. … When we lose sight of that and blame one person, that’s scapegoat-ism. And I’m not going to use him as a scapegoat to absolve my responsibility.

“I’m finding some of my strongest and most stalwart warriors right now are black Americans. We’re underestimating the type of support Donald Trump can get in the race. Donald Trump can easily get 20 percent of black voters.”

On his most immediate goals:

“We have a long-term goal and that’s party stability. Our party in general views that it isn’t efficient to support voter education drives. And as we mature, I think it will be viewed as a must for us. How can we know what makes American exceptional unless we educate people about the facts?”

“I have a meeting soon with 10 investors who want to shore up minority engagement in Georgia for the long term. If we can create a strong best-practices in Georgia, we can create a template for the whole nation. My goal is to keep Georgia red and create a systemic template for minority engagement that’s effective, affordable and aspirational. It will be something that builds team morale for the entire party.”

The Associated Press takes a look at “outsider” candidates in Georgia Congressional races and the hurdles they face.

Incumbents Rep. Doug Collins and Rep. Barry Loudermilk each drew four challengers.

Both incumbents are under fire for supporting John Boehner in his final bid for Speaker of the House over long-shot challengers and for backing a spending bill.

Kerwin Swint, chair of Kennesaw State University’s Department of Political Science, said GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump’s apparent success positioning himself as an “outsider” hasn’t translated to down-ballot races in other states.

“I think we are seeing this in different parts of the country and we are seeing challengers from outside the political realm,” Swint said. “But challenges from the right in the Republican Party aren’t unusual either.”

“It’s always an uphill battle when you go against an incumbent because they have so much advantage in money and a network that (challengers) have to build,” [Mike] Scupin said. “And they know that, so they go up there and vote any way they want.”

“It’s not an insider-outsider issue, it’s about doing what’s best for constituents,” Collins said. “I think when you look at our record, it’s close to home and not representing the rhetoric of passing time in Washington.”

“The biggest thing this year is that I have a proven record,” Loudermilk said. “Action speaks louder than lies in a mailbox.”

His challengers include engineer project manager and conservative radio host Hayden Collins, businessman Daniel Cowan, developer Billy Davis and accountant William Llop.

“We have to give Donald Trump the prize for people opening their eyes, because now people are saying ‘Hey, we want change,’” said Davis, who decided not to accept campaign contributions.

And earlier in the week, the Wall Street Journal touched on Georgia in a story about outsider candidates.

“This is the man I’ve been looking for,” Georgia GOP congressional candidate Eugene Yu recalls saying when Mr. Trump announced his White House bid nearly 11 months ago. “Everything he says, I’ve been saying all along.”

An immigrant from South Korea, Mr. Yu supports Mr. Trump’s plan to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. He said he came to this country legally as a teenager, and on his campaign website he writes, “If you are here illegally YOU NEED TO LEAVE!”

The retired business owner from Augusta, who ran for the same congressional seat in 2014, also backs Mr. Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims from entering the U.S., saying it is a matter of common sense.

Todd Rehm, a Republican strategist from Georgia, said down-ballot contenders often try to emulate the messaging and strategy they see at the top of the ticket. But much of what has been effective for the former reality TV star likely wouldn’t translate on a smaller stage, he said. “The theatricality Trump brings really only works in the theater,” he said.

The Third Man in Senate District 19

Because all of the craziness in the Senate District 19 campaign revolves around two candidates, I didn’t mention the third candidate in the Republican Primary, Kevin Parker. Because he brought it to my attention nicely, here’s a little bit about Kevin.

Senate 19 Candidate Kevin Parker

As President of the Georgia Small Business Council, Parker spends time advocating for small business in Atlanta and says his platform has three major planks.

Georgia needs jobs and you create jobs by lowering taxes and transforming our tax system. We need to eliminate the state income tax on personal and corporations and replace it with a simple Fair Sales tax.

“The second is to sunset all the unneeded regulations that we have. Regulations strangle the life out of small business and our educators. Our teachers are the ones who train our children to fill the high paying jobs that Tax Reform will produce..

“The third leg is to transform our education system so that federal and state government block grant the education funds back to the local school districts. Each school district then serves as a laboratory to decide how we best educate our children. Our educators are the most innovative and creative people in the world. Today they are forced to teach kids how to pass numerous tests. We need to free the most creative people on earth to teach and educate our children the right way. Our children need to learn to respect authority and we need to put corporal punishment back in the school system,” Parker said.

“I have a tremendous amount of support throughout the district. I am not just a single county candidate. Small business owners support me almost hundred percent. My message is very well received, because I am truly a Conservative –Christian-Constitutional candidate,” he says.

Parker also says, if elected he will sponsor a stronger version of the Religious Freedom Bill than the one Governor Nathan Deal vetoed. (Picture courtesy of Vidalia Communications).