Category: Georgia Politics


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 29, 2016

On May 1, 1707, the Act of Union with England, passed by the Scottish Parliament brought together England and Scotland and made the Union Jack the official flag of Great Britain.

1200px-Flag_of_the_United_Kingdom.svg copy

George Washington was inaugurated as the first President of the United States of America in New York City on April 30, 1789. From Washington’s inaugural address:

it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official act my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that His benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes, and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success the functions allotted to his charge.

In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good, I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own, nor those of my fellow-citizens at large less than either.

No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States.

On April 30, 1803, negotiators from France and the United States finished discussions of the Louisiana Purchase, which would double the size of the country.

By the middle of the 18th century, France controlled more of the modern United States than any other European power: from New Orleans northeast to the Great Lakes and northwest to modern-day Montana. In 1762, during the French and Indian War, France ceded its America territory west of the Mississippi River to Spain and in 1763 transferred nearly all of its remaining North American holdings to Great Britain. Spain, no longer a dominant European power, did little to develop Louisiana Territory during the next three decades. In 1796, Spain allied itself with France, leading Britain to use its powerful navy to cut off Spain from America.In 1801, Spain signed a secret treaty with France to return Louisiana Territory to France.

Reports of the retrocession caused considerable uneasiness in the United States. Since the late 1780s, Americans had been moving westward into the Ohio and Tennessee River valleys, and these settlers were highly dependent on free access to the Mississippi River and the strategic port of New Orleans. U.S. officials feared that France, resurgent under the leadership of Napoleon Bonaparte, would soon seek to dominate the Mississippi River and access to the Gulf of Mexico.

U.S. envoys agreed to pay $11,250,000 and assumed claims of its citizens against France in the amount of $3,750,000. In exchange, the United States acquired the vast domain of Louisiana Territory, some 828,000 square miles of land. In October, Congress ratified the purchase, and in December 1803 France formally transferred authority over the region to the United States. The acquisition of the Louisiana Territory for the bargain price of less than three cents an acre was Thomas Jefferson’s most notable achievement as president.

The Second Confederate National Flag was adopted on May 1, 1863.


On April 30, 1886, former Confederate President Jefferson Davis stopped in LaGrange, Georgia en route to Atlanta for the unveiling of a monument to Benjamin Hill. On May 1, 1886, Jefferson Davis visited the Benjamin Hill monument at Peachtree and West Peachtree Streets in Atlanta, having arrived the previous day.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt made his fourth trip to Georgia on April 29, 1926, closing on the purchase of property at Warm Springs, Ga.

Dachau concentration camp was liberated by American troops on April 29, 1945. At least 31,951 inmates died there, more than 30,000 survivors were found on liberation day, and more than 250,000 passed through the camp and its subcamps.

Dobbins Air Force Base was dedicated on April 29, 1950, named for in honor of the late Capt. Charles M. Dobbins and in memory of the other servicemen from Cobb County. Dobbins was shot down over Sicily in 1943 and his family attended the opening of the base.

Hank Aaron hit his first home run in Atlanta against the Houston Astros on April 29, 1966, providing the winning margin as the Braves won 4-3.

Kennesaw, Georgia City Council adopted an ordinance on May 1, 1982 requiring each household to own a gun and ammunition.

(a) In order to provide for the emergency management of the city, and further in order to provide for and protect the safety, security and general welfare of the city and its inhabitants, every head of household residing in the city limits is required to maintain a firearm, together with ammunition therefore.

(b) Exempt from the effect of this section are those heads of households who suffer a physical or mental disability which would prohibit them from using such a firearm. Further exempt from the effect of this section are those heads of households who are paupers or who conscientiously oppose maintaining firearms as a result of beliefs or religious doctrine, or persons convicted of a felony.

Atlanta was selected as the host city for the 1996 Summer Olympics on April 29, 1988.

On April 29, 1993, Barry White guest-starred on The Simpsons. I guess that makes today “Whacking Day.”

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal ordered flags to half-staff on all state buildings today in honor of the four University of Georgia students killed in a car accident and the survivor who remains hospitalized in critical condition. Our prayers are with all affected by the accident.

Upon the signing of Senate Bill 367 by Sen. John F. Kennedy (R-Macon), Governor Deal told a press conference that the measure continues the criminal justice reforms of previous years.

“This legislation is the latest step in advancing our criminal justice reforms,” Deal said. “Along with restoring the original intent of the First Offender Act, this bill increases access to charter schools in our prison system and seeks to address the ‘school to prison pipeline.’ If a minor enters the corrections system and is sent to a youth detention center, even just once, they are significantly more likely to offend again. We need to divert these children from a life of imprisonment and difficulty in order for them to lead a successful life. This bill makes great strides in reducing our recidivism rates, ensuring safer communities and expanding our accountability court system. The incentives included in this legislation are cost-effective strategies that will increase the number of former offenders returning to the workforce and supporting their families.”

Among other initiatives, this legislation:

  • Restores the intent of the First Offender Act, updating the process for the 21st century to ensure that cases are properly closed upon completion of sentences
  • Codifies Georgia’s accountability courts in order to grant them the authority they need to efficiently administer justice to those under their purview
  • Restricts secure detention for all youth ages 13 and under, except for those charged with the most egregious of offenses where a clear public safety issue exists
  • Adjusts public school disruption statutes so that students are appropriately handled through the disciplinary process rather than sent to a youth detention center or delinquent facility
  • Removes the lifetime ban on food stamp eligibility after a felony drug conviction, subject to the successful completion of their sentence and probation
  • Extends parole eligibility to non-violent recidivist drug offenders, allowing them the needed transition period for proper reentry upon completion of their sentences
  • Furthers last year’s executive order “banning the box” for most state government jobs, now expanding to licensure applications

Deal’s emphasis on criminal justice reform will continue next session of the legislature with an attempt to address the large number of Georgians on probation, according to Greg Bluestein of the AJC.

[Deal] wants to target the rise of “split sentencing” in Georgia – a practice in which a defendant serves part of the sentence behind bars, and then often a greater time outside prison. He called it an “unusual phenomenon, and we don’t know why it’s happening.”

“We have a significantly high number of people who are under probation supervision – an extraordinarily high number compared with most other states,” he said. “You’re going to see the general area of probation being a focus point.”

Georgia led the nation in placing its citizens on probation in 2015 and topped the charts for its probation rate, which critics said reflected an overuse of the system.

Deal also signed legislation to limit fireworks after 9 PM most of the year.

Responding to angry complaints from residents jolted awake by sparkly explosions on mundane weekdays, Gov. Nathan Deal signed legislation this week that bans residents from setting off fireworks after 9 p.m. most of the year.

It carves out exceptions to allow the use of fireworks until 1 a.m. on New Year’s and Fourth of July. The measure, House Bill 727, also bans people from igniting fireworks on roads and highways and within 100 yards of a hospital, nursing home and prisons. It took effect immediately.

A statewide ban on burning yard clippings and debris goes into effect covering 54 counties on May 1 and lasts through September 30th.

Jim Barksdale, the hand-picked candidate of the Democratic establishment in Georgia will run as an outsider, according to an interview from the AJC Political Insider.

Barksdale broke his public silence in an interview Wednesday in his Buckhead office, pledging to run as an outsider who will seize on familiar themes of economic distress in Georgia and stifling gridlock in Washington to make his case.

The investment manager pointed to the more than $1 million he’s already pumped into his campaign as evidence he’ll have the resources he needs to compete against Isakson, a popular incumbent sitting on a mountain of cash as he seeks a third term in office.

Barksdale repeatedly ducked questions on most of his policy stances, saying that he’s not ready for a “deep dive” ahead of an upcoming listening tour around the state. But he said he would build his case around business-friendly policies to boost Georgia’s economy and tap into his party’s frustration over GOP opposition to President Barack Obama’s nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“It’s going to be a competitive race,” he said. “Have no doubt.”

An election for Tax Commissioner sounds about as interesting as watching paint dry, but the Macon-Bibb election has some serious issues, according to the Macon Telegraph.

The two candidates for Macon-Bibb County tax commissioner — former Macon Mayor C. Jack Ellis and interim Tax Commissioner Wade McCord — squared off during a candidate forum Thursday.

Two issues in the campaign resurfaced Thursday: $7 million in uncollected garbage fees owed to Macon-Bibb, and liens that have been placed on some properties for nonpayment. Ellis said if he is elected tax commissioner he would not place a lien on properties because of late garbage fees.

“I’ve made it clear I would never sell anyone’s property on courthouse steps,” Ellis said. “I’ve also made it clear I would not act as a collection agency.”

McCord said he works with people to help them through the tax cycle.

“We do that honorably by working with taxpayers on a day-to-day basis,” McCord said. “Not only is it a position that is elected, but it’s a position that you have to care about what you do and care about taxpayers.”

In Savannah, the local NAACP announced plans to boost voter turnout in 2016, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Richard Shinhoster, first vice president of the Savannah Branch of the NAAP, said during a press conference in front of the organization’s downtown office Thursday the organization has already started working on its annual effort to assist voters with registration and absentee voting. What’s special about this year, he told reporters, is the collaboration.

“The officers and members of the Savannah Branch of the (NAACP) and a coalition of Greek letter fraternities, sororities, clergy and socio-civic organizations unite today to encourage, urge and appeal to unregistered citizens to register and vote in all elections,” Shinhoster said. “The NAACP, along with other concerned organizations, fought for the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. However, the Voting Rights Act did not make voting mandatory. That is left up to the individual citizen.”

He said the NAACP will meet with its partners in the coalition in a planning session next week to strategize for increasing voter registration, education and turnout. The main objective, he said, is improved turnout for the May 24 primary and the Nov. 8 general election.

“For the last election, less than 6 percent of registered voters actually voted,” he said. “That’s why this session we planned is so important.”

In the primary next month, he said, a respectable turnout would be at least 30 percent of registered voters. For the general election in November, Shinhoster said, he’s aiming for more than half of registered voters to cast their ballots.

Suwanee has named two new associate judges to its municipal court.

Catherine Lucey of the Associated Press writes that “Putting political candidates out in public can be risky.”

Competitive races in both parties have sustained the intensity of the primary face-offs far beyond their usual seasons this year, increasing the spotlight on candidates and the requisite local know-how. Most recently, in New York City, Ohio Gov. John Kasich took flack for eating pizza with a knife and fork, Hillary Clinton was mocked for struggling to use a Metrocard to ride the subway and Bernie Sanders revealed he thought the subway still took tokens, which were phased out in 2003.

Whether or not these moments are disqualifying, they can reinforce an unwelcome perception about a candidate. Mo Elleithee, who served as Clinton’s spokesman in the 2008 race, said the problem is when things go badly and “it feeds into a narrative that already exists.” So it was for Kerry and his cheese choice in 2003; it fed into the perception that he did not relate to common people.

“You do those types of events, you do those types of photo ops if you want to show the candidates in everyday settings,” Elleithee said. “There’s a natural barrier between presidential candidates and the public. They become caricatures. Campaign staff is constantly looking for ways to help them see the other side.”

And in the Eleventh District of Georgia, a Republican candidate became an object lesson in those risks.

Congressional candidate Billy Davis, a political newcomer, told the audience to look at his record as a successful businessman.

So, the FOX 5 I-Team did.

Our investigation found Davis was a felon, who served time in 1997, for lying on a loan application.

And it kind of got worse from there.


Adoptable Georgia Dogs for April 28, 2016

For the rest of the month, Fulton County Animal Services has an Adoption Special where any dog over 25 pounds or any cat can be adopted for just $25, including full vetting. The same deal is also available at DeKalb County Animal Services.

Macintosh is an adult male yellow Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from Fulton County Animal Services in Atlanta, GA.

This is one happy boy! He stood in his kennel begging to come outside for some fresh air and play time. He would be a pleasure to have around the house. Unfortunately, he is heartworm positive, but that can be taken care of. Macintosh is a nice medium-size at 45 pounds.


McLovin is an adult male Pit Bull Terrier who is available for adoption from Fulton County Animal Services in Atlanta, GA.


Zimbo is a male Labrador Retriever puppy who is available for adoption from Fulton County Animal Services in Atlanta, GA.


Zelda is a female Labrador Retriever puppy who is available for adoption from Fulton County Animal Services in Atlanta, GA.


Keisha is a young female Black and Tan Coonhound mix who is available for adoption from Fulton County Animal Services in Atlanta, GA.

In Snellville, the Mayor and City Council honored K9 Bart, a retiring police dog.

Bart received National Police Working Dog Association Certification and with Collins became a formidable team, the city said. The duo recorded more than 101 drug-related arrests and apprehended nine criminal offenders during their time together.

[Mayor Tom] Witts presented the proclamation to “express our deep appreciation and gratitude to Sgt. Collins and K-9 Bart for their dedicated service during their tenure with the city of Snellville.” The proclamation also sent the city’s “very best wishes for happiness and good health in the future.”


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 28, 2016

On April 28, 1776, Colonel Lachlan McIntosh wrote from Savannah to General George Washington.

he concluded his letter with the report that because the South had limited manufacturing capability, the price of needed goods was two or three times higher than in the North, making procurement of clothing and arms for the new recruits difficult.

This last tidbit would prove prescient as lack of manufacturing proved an insuperable problem for the Confederacy. On May 16, 1777, McIntosh dueled against Button Gwinnett, scoring a fatal wound against one of Georgia’s signers of the Declaration of Independence. McIntosh was acquitted at trial but forced to leave Georgia and eventually served under Washington at Valley Forge.

In 1787, McIntosh was a Commissioner representing Georgia in a series of three boudary disputes with South Carolina, two which were resolved on April 28, 1787 with the Convention of Beaufort.

In 1874, the Georgia General Assembly passed legislation designating April 26th of each year as “Confederate Memorial Day,” choosing the day of Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston’s surrender to Union General William T. Sherman at Durham Station, North Carolina. There is no longer a statutorily-recognized Confederate Memorial Day, but it has become custom for Governors to issue a proclamation yearly designating April 26th as Confederate Memorial Day or to make it the Monday or Friday closest to the 26th.

On April 28, 2014, the earliest ever Primary Elections in Georgia began, as in-person early voting started across the state.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Voters have four ways to prevent a candidate from running for office or remove them once in office – disqualification from the ballot, disqualification after the fact, challenging an election in court, or impeachment. All four of these are in play today in Georgia politics.

Elected officials can also be removed after an indictment or conviction in some cases, but that’s not a challenge that most voters are able to file, being reserved for prosecutors and grand juries.

Yesterday, Secretary of State Brian Kemp announced his decision to disqualify four candidates from the May 24 ballot.Continue Reading..


Secretary of State Kemp disqualifies five candidates

ATLANTA, GEORGIA – Today Secretary of State Brian Kemp issued his final decision in candidate challenges for five contests on the upcoming May 24 General Primary and Nonpartisan Election ballot.

To initiate a candidate challenge, an elector residing within a district must submit a complaint to the Secretary of State’s office alleging grounds for the disqualification of a candidate. The Secretary of State may also initiate a challenge upon his or her own motion.

When an elector’s challenge is received by the office, a hearing is requested at the Office of State Administrative Hearings where the challenged candidate may present evidence establishing his or her qualifications for the office. An OSAH judge reports his or her findings on the evidence to the Secretary of State who then determines whether a candidate is qualified or not qualified to remain on the ballot.

Four candidates have been disqualified from running for office in the Georgia General Assembly. District Attorney candidate, William Jeremy Salter, has been deemed qualified to run for office in the Rome Judicial Circuit in May.

via kemp issues final decision in five candidate challenges2.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 27, 2016

On April 27, 1773, the British Parliament enacted the Tea Act, granting a monopoly on selling tea to the American colonies.

On April 26, 1866, the Atlanta Ladies’ Memorial Association held a Confederate memorial observance at Oakland Cemetery for the first time.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Gov Deal Signs Adoptable Dog Bill2

Yesterday, Governor Nathan Deal signed Senate Bill 168, designating the “Adoptable Dog” as the Official State Dog of Georgia in a brief signing ceremony in his office.

Gov. Deal also signed House Bill 941, which reforms privileges for law enforcement personnel in front of grand juries.

Police will no longer be present in the entire grand jury proceeding, listen to all the evidence against them and make a statement at the end that can’t be challenged or questioned. Georgia was the only state that allowed this broad special treatment for police officers facing possible criminal charges.

Yesterday, Carl Gilliard won the Special Runoff Election in House District 162 by a 73.5-26.5 margin over Alicia Blakely. The election was to serve the remainder of the term of the late Rep. Bob Bryant and the two candidates will meet again at the ballot box on May 24th for a full term in office.

The Georgia Supreme Court upheld the Governor’s power to appoint judges to newly-created seats on the Georgia Court of Appeals.

The Georgia Supreme Court issued an opinion Tuesday upholding Gov. Nathan Deal’s right to appoint three lawyers to fill newly created judgeships on the state Court of Appeals in lieu of having the positions filled by a statewide election.

Former Macon City Councilman Henry Ficklin and state NAACP President Francys Johnson Jr., along with three other men, filed a petition last year in Fulton County Superior Court challenging the constitutionality of the appointments. A judge ruled in December, denying the petition. Tuesday’s decision by the state Supreme Court affirmed that decision, according to a case summary prepared by a court spokeswoman.

The term for the appointed judges will end in December 2018. They must win re-election to hold their posts.

Tim Gaylor, a Republican candidate for Bryan County Commission Chair has pledged to donate his first year’s salary if he wins.

“When elected chairman, I will donate my entire first year’s base salary, with the assistance of tax attorney, Jeffrey L. Williamson, to establish a scholarship fund to benefit graduates of the Bryan County school system. My wife, Lori Gaylor and I are a both small business owners in Bryan County and this is just one way to thank the school system that has educated our children and helped us build successful lives here in Bryan County. I believe that this donation will inspire future donations and positively impact all of Bryan County.” Gaylor said.

“To me this job is about service and doing what is right for the taxpayers of Bryan County. While I’m happy that my financial contribution will help students from Bryan County achieve goals and dreams, I believe it’s more important that the voters elect a chairman that is anchored to transparency, fiscally conservative, and uses a common sense approaches when putting new policies into place,” Gaylor said.

The DeKalb County NAACP has come out in opposition to the County schools’ plans for an E-SPLOST election without a list of specific projects to be funded by the tax proceeds.

The next Macon-Bibb County SPLOST, which will appear on November ballots, could raise as much as $240 million.

“The voters are the ones who will be approving this, so there has got to be something for everybody,” Commissioner Larry Schlesinger said. “We shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that we’re not the decision makers.”

The County Commission outlined nine types of projects Tuesday they consider “must do” for a future SPLOST. They include money for blight, debt, public safety, economic development, roads, landfill closure and courthouse improvements.

Also on the list was the completion of various recreation projects and upgrades to the stormwater system. The previous SPLOST had about $39 million dedicated to recreation facilities, and county officials had pledged to complete the second phases of various projects with the next SPLOST.

County officials have yet to decide how much money will be dedicated to each project, although a preliminary list of the “priority” projects had an estimated cost of $348 million.

The Macon-Bibb County Planning & Zoning Commission approved a zoning to allow Starbucks to serve alcohol at an existing store at 4640 Forsyth Road in Macon.

“This is part of Starbucks’ evening program where at a certain time of the day they will convert to an evening menu and have some small plate dinner options, and if approved, start serving craft beers and wine,” said Macon attorney George Greer, representing Coffee House Holdings Inc., a subsidiary of Seattle-based Starbucks Corp. “The general time for converting to the evening menu is at 2 p.m.”

Fighting Human Trafficking

Sam Olens Stop Trafficking

Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens yesterday held a press conference to announce a PSA campaign aimed at raising awareness of human trafficking in Georgia. From the Gainesville Times,

With Atlanta as one of the largest centers of sex trafficking in the country, Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens announced Tuesday a campaign to target the buyers.

“When I was first elected, one could be convicted of trafficking and serve a year,” Olens said, adding it has since been increased to a minimum 10-year sentence.

The statewide campaign is called “Unmasked,” an effort to prosecute buyers in the sex trafficking market and “show that they are not anonymous,” according to the attorney general’s office.

Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vernon Keenan said the metro Atlanta area has been identified as one of the top five areas for human trafficking by the U.S. Department of Justice.

When the nonprofit Street Grace began in 2009, President and CEO Cheryl DeLuca-Johnson said the group “knew at some point the conversation would have to go to demand.”

Addressing the issue of domestic minor sex trafficking takes an entire community being aware of the issue and taking action, DeLuca-Johnson said.

“It still breaks my heart to think about what brought this team together. 12-year-old, sweet young girls, these children in our community, being sold for sex probably just miles from here. It’s shocking and horrifying, and it’s what compelled us to take action,” said Tami Oliva, group account director at advertising agency BBDO Atlanta.

Here’s the PSA:


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

On August 26, 1864, having withdrawn from trenches and fortifications outside Atlanta the previous day, U.S. General Sherman sent most of his forces westward around Atlanta and toward the south of the city.

On August 26, 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was adopted. Ratification took place on August 18, 1920, as the Tennessee House of Representatives adopted it, but adoption became official on August 26, when United States Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby certified the Amendment. It reads:

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

On August 26, 1939, the first televised major league baseball game aired, as the Brooklyn Dodgers and Cincinnati Reds split a doubleheader in Ebbets Field.

On August 26, 1961, the 718th Engineer Light Equipment Company of Fort Valley and the 210th Signal Base Depot Company of Augusta were called up to take part in the American response to the crisis in Berlin.

President Lyndon B. Johnson was nominated for President by the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey on August 26, 1964.

On August 26, 1965, Sonny & Cher were at No.1 on the UK singles chart with ‘I Got You Babe’, the duo’s only UK No.1. Sonny Bono was inspired to write the song to capitalize on the popularity of the term “babe,” as heard in Bob Dylan’s ‘It Ain’t Me Babe’. Bono would later be elected to Congress as a Republican in 1994 and served from 1995 until his death in 1998.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Alfredo’s Italian restaurant is closed. Long live Alfredo’s.

Today is the voter registration deadline for the May 24, 2016 Primary Election. Check your registration to ensure it is correct and current by logging in to the Secretary of State’s MVP webpage.

If you have a driver’s license or ID issued by the Georgia Department of Driver Services, you can register online to vote.

In Savannah today, voters will choose between Carl Gilliard and Alicia Blakely to serve out the remainder of the term of the late State Representative Bob Bryant. The two candidates will also meet on May 24 in the Democratic Primary, along with Josey Sheppard, Jr. for the term beginning in January.

Governor Nathan Deal has signed House Bill 951, providing an exemption from sales tax for “the National Football League championship game; any semifinal game or championship game of a national collegiate tournament; a Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer, or National Basketball Association all-star game; or any other nonrecurring major sporting event determined by the commissioner of economic development and the state revenue commissioner to be a major sporting event,” with the threshold for “major” set at “expected to generate over $50 million in the host locality.”

From WJCL,

The NFL says the exemption is required. Opposing legislators criticized the change as a giveaway to the league

The state is expected to forgo $10 million in sales taxes on game tickets. The law gives the same exemption on tickets to other sporting events expected to generate at least $50 million in other revenue.

And from WSB Radio,

House Bill 951 also gives Georgia back-to-school shoppers a sales tax break for a late July weekend and restores an incentive to buy energy efficient products. But the provision that helped splashy sporting events and their team owners sparked the most debate.

Gov. Deal also signed Senate Bill 208, which put incorporation of the new City of Stonecrest in DeKalb County on the May 24 ballot.

From the DeKalb Neighbor,

 Senator JaNice VanNess, R- Conyers, carried SB 208, which allows for a voter referendum that would incorporate and constitute a charter for the city of Stonecrest in DeKalb County if the measure is approved by voters during elections May 24.

“SB 208 is important to the local community and citizens of District 43,” said VanNess. “Since this is a referendum and gives citizens the authority to make a local decision and direct the future of their community, I encourage everyone to come out and vote and ensure your voice is heard.”

The initial mayor and city council members will be elected during the November 2016 general election.

Gov. Deal signed House Bill 767, which adds utility service vehicles to those which motorists must change lanes when passing if it is safe to do so. From the AJC,

Drivers must move over one lane or slow down and be ready to stop when passing electric power line crews and other utility workers working beside the road, according to a bill Gov. Nathan Deal signed into law last week.

State law already extends the same sort of safety margin to other vehicles and workers stopped by the roadside, including police, ambulances, wreckers and garbage trucks.

Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens will hold a press conference today unveiling a new Public Service Announcement campaign against sex trafficking.

Sex trafficking is considered modern day slavery in which children are bought and sold for sex. It happens throughout Georgia, from the streets of Atlanta to the back roads of small towns, and is often perpetrated in plain sight.

The “Unmasked” campaign targets the customers and in a gritty way shows that they are not anonymous – we see who they are and they are being unmasked every day.

The Polk County Republican Party has opened an office at 126 Piedmont Ave. in Rockmart that will open from daily 10:30 AM to 2 PM.

Volunteers are welcome to help, if interested, contact Mike Davenport at 804-564-6370.

Candidates may drop off materials for the public, and if they wish, make themselves available to talk with visitors. Since there are no local Democrats running for office, the upcoming primary on May 24th will determine all local elections.

Delegates to the Third Congressional District Convention of the Georgia Republican Party approved a resolution calling for expansion of the conditions eligible for medical marijuana and in-state cultivation and processing, according to the Times-Herald.

The resolution passed on a voice vote. Dale Jackson, Third District chairman for the Georgia Republican Party and a lobbyist for medical cannabis, said there were approximately 200 delegates and he only saw about three ‘no’ votes.

“It was extremely overwhelming,” said Jackson, whose son has autism.

Jackson wasn’t surprised to see the resolution pass so strongly. Polls show more than 70 percent of Georgians are in favor of expanding access to medical cannabis, Jackson said.

He feels support is particularly strong in the Third District, where many of those active in Republican Party politics “know me, know my story. I feel like they have given me the benefit of the doubt,” Jackson said.

“The Republican Party is supposed to stand up for and believe in states rights and in the Tenth Amendment,” Jackson said.

Congressman Doug Collins (R-9) gave an interview to WDUN covering a wide swath of issues for his district.

U.S. Rep. Doug Collins has again defended his controversial vote in December for a $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill, a vote that has become the rallying cry for his opponents in the upcoming primary.

Collins said he believes the vote was the right decision for the people of the 9th Congressional district, which he represents, and he reiterated previous statements that none of the money Planned Parenthood got from programs funded by the bill paid for abortions.

In a wide-ranging, exclusive interview with AccessWDUN on Saturday, Collins also discussed his votes for former Speaker of the House John Boehner, immigration, guns, religious liberty bills, the tristate water wars, North Korea and Donald Trump.

Collins, a two-term Republican representative from Gainesville, is facing four Republicans – former U.S. Rep. Paul Broun, Roger Fitzpatrick, Bernie Fontaine and Mike Scupin – in the May 24 primary. A runoff, if necessary, will be July 26. The winner faces no Democratic opposition in November.

State Senator Mike Dugan (R-Carrollton) and Rep. Dusty Hightower (R-Carrollton) spoke at a Legislative Update Town Hall sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Carrollton-Carroll County and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People of Carroll County.

State Sen. Mike Dugan feels that people who have committed non-violent crimes or are proven to suffer from mental illness can pay their debt to society without going to jail. He agrees with state Rep. Dusty Hightower that Georgia does not have enough in the budget for long-term health care for residents.

Dugan touched on legislative reform, saying there are some crimes that do not fit the harsh sentences imposed and there are alternatives to consider instead of filling up the jails.

“There are other ways that you can pay your debt to society without being in a jail,” he said. “If you are someone who is violent and anti-social and if we can’t trust you to be a member of society without you harming others then you ought to be locked up. But for those that are non-violent offenders, they ought not be in prison. For those that are suffering from mental illness, they ought not be in prison. Instead, they ought to be in a facility where they can get the mental health care that they need.”

“I want to caution you not to look at everything through the lens of Carroll County or the Atlanta area,” said Dugan. “If you go down to Baker County and Mitchell County, and some of those counties in southwest Georgia, they don’t have the assets at their disposal that we have here. Their population is low, the medium income level is low and their education level needs improvement. And we have put a lot of effort into increasing the (Internet) bandwith in the schools so that if they can’t find a teacher in a particular subject, they can have access to virtual instructors while someone on faculty is physically there to facilitate.“

Hightower answered several health care-related questions from those who expressed concern with age, and even with how the Religious Freedom Act might affect trips to the pharmacy for people who might want something as simple as birth control, or people who might end up encountering doctors who do not want to perform certain procedures due to their personal faith. Hightower cited several variations of the legislation and explained what stages it has gone through over time.

Savannah City Council will consider issuing bonds to fund a $33 million parking garage.

After the disqualification of two candidates for Muscogee County Sheriff, a challenge has been filed against the sole remaining candidate.

Disqualified candidate Pam Brown’s campaign is challenging retired Sheriff Capt. Donna Tompkins’ qualifications, alleging Tompkins missed the deadline for filing an affidavit that swears she meets all the standards to run for sheriff.

The complaint from Patricia Kiley, Brown’s campaign manager, claims Tompkins’ “Declaration of Candidacy and Affidavit” should have been filed by the close of qualifying at noon, March 11. An image of Tompkins’ affidavit posted to the elections office website shows the affidavit is dated March 15.

But that is within the deadline, said Nancy Boren, executive director of the Muscogee Board of Elections & Registrations. The law that once set the affidavit deadline at the close of qualifying later was amended to give candidates three business days after qualifying ended, Boren said.

Brown’s attorney, J. Mark Shelnutt, said the law requires a candidate to file the affidavit when he or she qualifies for office:

“Each person offering his or her candidacy for the office of sheriff shall at the time such person qualifies, swear or affirm before the officer before whom such person has qualified to seek the office of sheriff that he or she meets all of the qualifications required by this subsection….”


Marine scientists wrote an open letter to President Obama saying that oil exploration off the coast from Delaware to Florida could endanger Right Whales, the official marine mammal of the State of Georgia.

An international group of 28 leading right whale researchers wrote an open letter to President Obama last week stating that seismic oil and gas surveys planned in the waters between Delaware and Florida would significantly impact right whales, an endangered species numbering about 500 animals, and “would jeopardize its survival.”

They cite other increasing dangers to this species, whose coast-hugging habits earned it the nickname of the “urban whale.” The whales already face entanglement in fishing gear and injuries from boat strikes. Recent studies suggest its population is no longer increasing and may be declining.

Georgia designated the critically endangered right whale as its official state marine mammal in 1985, according to the New Georgia Encyclopedia.

Georgia’s coastal waters are a calving area for the right whale, and it’s the only great whale native to Georgia waters. A below average count of fourteen baby right whales were spotted in the most recent calving season, which ended at the beginning of April.

The Obama administration recently excluded the Atlantic from oil and gas leasing over the next five years, but that decision didn’t extend to the ongoing permitting process for seismic exploration. Eight permits are awaiting approval from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

Nesting season for sea turtles officially begins May 1st.

“Last year we had 18 nests on Tybee … When I first started 15 years ago, he had three nests and now we average about 10 nests each season. She said during the season, the organization encourages “the darkest beach as possible.”

“Any light source can cause a deterrent to female turtles and to the hatchlings,” Smith says. “We ask people to pick up trash to keep beach and waterways clear … and to fill in any holes on the beach and knock down sand castles before you leave. These obstacles can cause problems for babies after they are born because they can get stuck in those holes or blocked by trash.”

Is that a primate in your pocket, or are you just glad to see her? A man in Oregon paid a prostitute with money stolen from a pet store and a girl scout cookie donation jar and then tipped her with a Galago, a small nocturnal primate also called a bush baby.

Let’s hope no Emory students were terrified by threatening chalk markings sidewalk art in Savannah.


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

James Oglethorpe won reelection to the British Parliament while in America on April 25, 1734.

The United States declared war on Spain on April 25, 1898.

On April 25, 1996, Georgia Governor Zell Miller signed Senate Bill 519 designating English the official language of Georgia.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

If you’re going to Cleveland for the Republican National Convention, make sure you take the time to check out the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame while you’re there. Admission will be free the week of July 17-21 from 10 AM to 3 PM.

If you’re a delegate to the Georgia Republican Party State Convention in Augusta, you should either have received your packet in the mail, or be receiving it shortly.

Speaker David Ralston visited Albany, according to WTVM,

The House Speaker says rural healthcare and economic development are areas he views as increasingly important to the region.

“We’re going to have to make that a priority issue in Georgia. We have failing hospitals all across the state. We’ve got to address that problem sooner rather than later,” said David Ralston.

State Representative Ed Rydners also spoke at the event. Ralston speaks of Rydners as a political ally.

Terry Lewis of the Albany Herald also covered the Speaker’s trip,

When asked if he thought Deal would veto the [Campus Carry] bill, Ralston said, “I hope not. The bill was thoroughly vetted in both the House and Senate and I am very proud of what we’ve done to protect Second Amendment rights.” He noted there have been three armed robberies near the Georgia State campus since December.

“I think the bill is needed, but I’m not going to make any predictions on what the governor will do because he had shown he will use his veto pen,” Ralston said.

Ralston says he would not be surprised if during the next session the General Assembly the House will take on at least some of the recommendations of the Governor’s Education Reform Committee which came out last year.

“I’m not sure what plans the governor has for that,” Ralston said. “I have raised some concerns about merit pay (for teachers). I’m not convinced there is a metric that is fair and reasonable to measure performance in the classroom. There are so many variables. So, I think until someone shows me a fair and reasonable way of measuring, I will continue to have the same concerns I had before this past session started.

“I used the analogy before session that Georgia State’s football team went 6-6 this past year and got a bowl bid. The University of Georgia went 10-3 and the coach got fired. How do you measure a teacher’s performance when they have to work with what comes into the classroom?”

“I’ve seen a lot of frustrated Georgians with a Washington that doesn’t seem to be working.,” he said. “They are frustrated with a Washington that can’t balance the federal budget. They are frustrated that people can’t set aside their differences and come together on at least a few things and get them done. I think they have an appreciation that we do things different in state government. We are moving forward on job creation, transportation infrastructure, some educational initiatives, and criminal justice reform.”

“But I think they really are frustrated with the federal government who seems to not want to hear from them, and just doesn’t seem to care about their lives. I also talk to a lot of people who are concerned that America’s place in the world seems to be in retreat. I believe that America is at its best when we are leading. If I worked in D.C., I’d probably be angry all of the time.”

Sometimes when your campaign signs go missing, the culprit is the Department of Transportation, according to the Eatonton Messenger,

As is the case every campaign season, the newspaper is receiving phone calls from folk complaining their political campaign signs are being vandalized or stolen.

It could be a loyal fan of the opposing candidate taking the signs, but it also could be a member of a state or local road maintenance crew.

A maintenance foreman with the Georgia Department of Transportation said “he has seen a good bit of signs on the rights of way in Putnam County,” according to GDOT Communications Officer Kyle Collins.

“Yes, GDOT maintenance staff do often pick up campaign or other signs that are in the right of way,” Collins confirmed via email. “They do this during maintenance work activities on certain routes and also just when cruising around checking on things.”

Cherokee County Public Schools has released a proposed list of projects to be funded by the E-SPLOST on the November ballot.

Campaign funds collected by incumbents often end up fueling the campaigns of their allies, according to the AJC,

[I]n legislative races where many incumbents have name identification and a built-in system to be able to outspend challengers 10-1, 20-1 or more, winning is a mountain that few contenders can successfully climb.

“It’s David versus Goliath,” said former Trion Mayor Lanny Thomas, a retired teacher taking on Senate Rules Chairman Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga, in the primary. “I am out here with a few pebbles and he’s all suited up.”

Thomas, who still teaches part time, reported raising $400 as of March 31. Mullis reported having $103,000 in his campaign account.

While about two-dozen lawmakers started April with more than $100,000 in their campaign accounts, there are a few races most years where challengers are financially competitive.

For example, state Sen. Brandon Beach, R-Alpharetta, is facing a stiff challenge from Milton investor Aaron Barlow, who had reported loaning his campaign about $150,000 as of last week.

Beach has kept pace, in large part by raising money from special-interest groups, businesses with interest in state contracts, and fellow lawmakers.

Since the session ended a month ago, he has received about $15,000 from state senators, House members and the Senate Republican political committee.

Such money isn’t that hard to come by for lawmakers in need because so many incumbents with big war chests face no opposition. One Beach donor, Senate President Pro Tem David Shafer, R-Duluth, ended March with $1.2 million in his campaign account and has no opposition for re-election. Another donor, Miller, reported $355,000 in his account.

In Cherokee County, predictably, incumbent judges are outpacing their challengers in fundraising, according to the Cherokee Tribune & Ledger News.

United States Senator Johnny Isakson and State Senator P.K. Martin will headline a lunch with the Gwinnett County Republican Party on Saturday April 30 from 12:30 to 2:30 PM at Lilburn Alliance Church, 5915 Lawrenceville Highway. Tickets are $15.

State Rep. Mike Dudgeon, who is not seeking reelection, will serve on the Board of the Fulton Academy of Science and Technology charter school.

State Rep. Earl Ehrhart (R-Cobb) filed suit against the US Department of Education and the USDOE Office for Civil Rights. From the Marietta Daily Journal,

The lawsuit says a 2011 letter sent by the department’s civil rights arm has effectively imposed binding regulations without going through the necessary administrative procedures.

The lawsuit also says the letter has forced schools to make sweeping changes or risk losing federal funding, which has come at great cost to the schools and has jeopardized the due process rights of students accused of sexual violence.

The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer took a look at this year’s municipal elections.

Next month’s city elections will see at least one new face put on Columbus Council and could be judgment day, for better or for worse, for three elected officials who have filed lawsuits against the city of Columbus and its leaders.

Half of the council’s 10 seats are on the ballot, but two, Post 2 Councilor Glenn Davis and Post 6 Councilor Gary Allen have no opposition. At-large Post 10 Councilor Skip Henderson faces newcomer Teddy Reese.

Post 4 Councilor and Mayor Pro Tem Evelyn Turner Pugh also faces a newcomer, Marquese Averett.

The election to see who takes over the Post 8 seat will be unusual. The seat was vacated when veteran Councilor Red McDaniel died in November 2014. Former state Rep. Tom Buck has been serving as interim since, but he is not seeking the seat permanently. Squaring off for the seat are Jonathan Paul Davis and Walker Garrett.

What makes the election unusual is that there will actually be two elections for the Post 8 seat: One for filling out the rest of the year and another to see who serves the next four years in the midtown district.

“Tom was appointed to fill the term until the next regular election for council or mayor, which is May 24,” said Elections and Registration Director Nancy Boren. “The regular election for that seat is a four-year term. The special election is to complete the term of Councilor Red McDaniel.”

Superior Court Clerk Linda Pierce, Marshal Greg Countryman and Municipal Court Clerk Vivian Creighton Bishop face opposition in the Democratic Primary, but because no Republicans qualified for the races, the primary is tantamount to the election.

Pierce faces Ann Hardman, Countryman faces Bernard Spicer and Bishop faces Sylvia Hudson.

Additionally, a contested election for Superior Court will be held in the Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit, comprising Chattahoochee Harris, Marion, Muscogee, Talbot, and Taylor Counties.

Three candidates for Coweta County Board of Education met in a debate Thursday night. Tuesday night, Matt Brass and Hayden Marlow, both candidates for the State Senate District 28 seat being vacated by Mike Crane will debate at 7 PM at the Central Educational Center studio on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and on Wednesday, April 27, the candidates for Third Congressional District will debate at 7 PM at the Wadsworth Auditorium on Jefferson Street in downtown Newnan.

Douglas County and the City of Villa Rica will hold a town hall meeting on May 5 to discuss a SPLOST proposed for the November ballot.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 22, 2016

On April 22, 1891, Asa Candler bought the recipe for Coca-Cola for $2300 and eventually turned its marketing from a “brain tonic” into a plain old tasty beverage.

Adolf Hitler admitted defeat in World War II on April 22, 1945.

The Atlanta Braves won their first home game in Atlanta Stadium on April 22, 1966. The Braves beat the New York Mets 8-4. It’s interesting to look back at how the Braves landed in Atlanta.

During his 1961 campaign for mayor of Atlanta, Ivan Allen, Jr. promised to build a sports facility to attract a Major League Baseball team. After winning office, Allen chose a 47-acre plot in the Washington–Rawson neighborhood for the building site, citing its proximity to the Georgia State Capitol, downtown businesses and major highways. Allen, along with Atlanta Journal sports editor Furman Bisher, attempted to persuade Charlie Finley, owner of the Kansas City Athletics, to move his team to Atlanta. Finley was receptive and began discussing stadium design plans with Allen. The deal, however, ended in July 1963 when the American League did not approve the move.

In 1964, Mayor Allen announced that an unidentified team had given him a verbal commitment to move to Atlanta, provided a stadium was in place by 1966. Soon afterward, the prospective team was revealed to be the Milwaukee Braves, who announced in October that they intended to move to Atlanta for the 1965 season. However, court battles kept the Braves in Milwaukee for one last season.

A verbal commitment by an unnamed team brought the Braves here.

The Blues Brothers made their worldwide debut on Saturday Night Live on April 22, 1978. Two prominent Georgia musicians, Ray Charles (born Albany) and James Brown (died Atlanta) would co-star in The Blues Brothers movie.

Former President Richard Nixon died on April 22, 1994.

Passover begins at sunset today. Chag Sameach!

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Yesterday, I attended part of the Republican National Committee Spring Meeting in Hollywood, Florida.

Todd RNC Backdrop

The national media descended like a plague of locusts, expecting juicy news from the Rules Committee, but they got none.

From the Los Angeles Times,

For members of a Republican Party establishment that finds itself under attack from Donald Trump for running a “rigged” nominating system, the unsaid theme of their Florida confab this week is the old truism: No news is good news.

That was the result of Thursday’s RNC rules committee meeting, an arcane affair that usually attracts scant public attention. In this fraught primary campaign, though, the meeting took on outsized significance as a test of whether the party could serve as an impartial referee in the nomination battle.

The 56-member committee rebuffed all the proposed rule changes before it, including one dealing with the parliamentary guidelines governing the convention. Many members said they were afraid that taking any action at all would hurt their credibility.

“We’re basically in the seventh inning of the ballgame and I don’t think it’s right to change the rules in the middle of the game,” said Randy Evans, an RNC committee member from Georgia.

Evans cautioned that, in light of the charged political environment, “any change that we make will be viewed with a large degree of cynicism.”

Both Ted Cruz and John Kasich made appearances, and both predicted a contested convention in Cleveland. From the Cleveland Plain-Dealer.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who was mathematically eliminated on Tuesday from clinching the nomination during the GOP primary season after Donald Trump won his home state of New York, now says there’s only one possible outcome for the Republican National Convention.

“What is clear today is we are headed to a contested convention — nobody is able to reach 1,237,” Cruz said Wednesday, referring to the number of delegates needed to win the nomination.

Both Cruz and Kasich traveled to South Florida to appeal directly to the 168 members of the RNC, all of whom are voting delegates in the convention, scheduled for July 18-21. And both argued that they alone — and certainly not Trump — could beat Hillary Clinton, the Democratic frontrunner, in a general election.

Kasich said RNC members were receptive to his candidacy, and none have encouraged him to drop out of the race. Cruz has tried to argue that by staying in the race, Kasich is serving as a spoiler who makes a Trump nomination inevitable.

“My message to the delegates is that I can win. It’s reflected in every poll, and an uplifting message is one that provides energy to the party,” Kasich said. “And it becomes very attractive to people by addressing how we can fix these problems.”

But Cruz had his own assessment: “John Kasich has no path whatsoever…. His plan apparently rests on losing 49 states, going to the convention and having the delegates say, the guy who lost every state in the union besides his home state, that guy should be our nominee.”

Yesterday, I spoke to Ken Cuccinelli, a top Cruz advisor, surrogate speaker, and delegate wrangler, who previously served as Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Florida Governor Rick Scott spoke to the RNC at lunch.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott passed up a chance to urge Republican National Committee members to support his preferred presidential candidate, Donald Trump.

But he warned them: no “monkey-business.”

“We’ve got to be transparent,” Scott told a packed room of RNC officials Thursday at their spring meeting in Hollywood, Fla., implicitly telling them not to cut back-room deals that would undercut the frontrunner or, in Trump’s terms, “rig” the process.

“We can’t take a chance that we’re accused of any monkey-business. Tricks. Stunts. Anything,” Scott said in his brief remarks during which he received polite applause.

Though he’s the highest-profile endorser of Trump in the nation’s biggest swing state, Scott pointedly avoided using the platform at the RNC speech to make the case for Trump. Scott said he wanted to plug Florida and the need to talk about the economy.

At 5 PM in a medium-sized reception room in the hotel, the Trump campaign hosted a presentation with top Trump aides Paul Manafort, Rick Wiley, and Dr. Ben Carson. It was a private event, closed-door with security outside admitting only RNC Members and those with Guest badges while the media cooled their heels outside. Of course a recording came out of the meeting.

“When he’s sitting in a room, he’s talking business, he’s talking politics in a private room, it’s a different persona,” top Trump aide Paul Manafort said during the meeting, a recording of which was obtained by NBC News. “When he’s out on the stage, when he’s talking about the kinds of things he’s talking about on the stump, he’s projecting an image that’s for that purpose.”

In the meeting, Manafort cast Trump as playing a part aimed at winning over his core supporters.

“He [Trump] gets it,” Manafort said, and “the part that he’s been playing is evolving into the part that now you’ve been expecting, but he wasn’t ready for because he had to first feed the first phase.”

Manafort insisted that Trump’s deep unpopularity nationwide, fueled by months of unapologetic bluster on the campaign trail, would be easily remedied when the candidate shifts gears. In contrast, Hillary Clinton’s negatives are character driven and baked-in, Manafort argued.

He also reassured RNC members that Trump will raise money for the party — something he’s so far avoided doing, Manafort said, because it would violate a campaign promise not to take donations.

“He’s actually living his word, and that’s what the base that we are attracting to the Trump campaign is looking for. They’re looking for honesty, and they’re looking for consistency, and they’re looking for someone who does exactly what they say,” Manafort said.

Manafort did assure the RNC that Trump has told him and another top aide, Rick Wiley, that the billionaire will spend what it takes to lock up the nomination before Cleveland.

“He’s told Rick and I that he’s willing to spend what’s necessary to finish this out. That’s a big statement from him,” Manafort said. “It allows us to put a plan together so that we can make sure that we finish this thing early enough so that you can feel comfortable that he’s going to be the nominee.”

The most interesting part of it to me was the appearance by his national political director Rick Wiley, who managed Scott Walker’s presidential campaign and previously served as Political Director for the RNC.

In 2014, when Republicans took control of the Senate, Wiley was a consultant for the National Republican Senatorial Committee. He worked with Joni Ernst’s Iowa campaign in Iowa, among others, on strategy and get-out-the-vote operations.

That year Wiley also advised the Republican Governors Association — which was then chaired by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, now a Trump surrogate and adviser — and oversaw the committee’s spending in states including Wisconsin, where Walker won a tough reelection fight.

Walker was not Wiley’s first presidential campaign. He served as deputy national political director for Rudy Giuliani’s 2008 presidential bid; he former New York mayor is now backing Trump. Wiley also ran the RNC’s operations in the swing state of Wisconsin for then-President George W. Bush’s 2004 reelection.

Wiley took the stage as someone who was comfortable with the RNC, and knows many of the members and guests. He was able to speak about his days there with Chairman Reince Priebus and namecheck a number of folks in the room, something that Trump himself wouldn’t be able to do.

Wiley gave a presentation about the election, starting with the 2012 Presidential election and going into individual states that he says Trump can put back on the map for Republicans.

PBS Newshour writes that both Wiley and Manafort said Trump will win on the first ballot.

From the New York Times,

Mr. Wiley walked them through a slide show that predicted victory for Mr. Trump not just in swing states with large Hispanic populations like Nevada, Colorado and Florida, but in states that Republicans have not captured since the 1980s: Pennsylvania, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Connecticut.

And in other solidly Democratic states, like Illinois and New Jersey, he said Mr. Trump could force Mrs. Clinton to spend money defending herself. “Can we win Illinois?” Mr. Manafort asked. “I don’t know. But what we can do is make Hillary Clinton go to Illinois, make her spend money there, make her spend money in the Northeast.”

The most remarkable thing to me was that Wiley spoke with the confidence of someone who is on the campaign of the presumptive nominee, laying out the general election strategy and how the RNC’s ground game, developed and sharpened in 2016 will compliment Trump. If the Trump campaign had been dealing with Republican leaders in states and at the RNC with this level of professionalism over the last year, I think it would have made a major difference in the campaign, and he’d be on his way to nomination at the Convention in Cleveland.

In addition to his appearance at the RNC on Wednesday, John Kasich’s campaign held a strategy session in Atlanta yesterday for Georgia supporters of the Ohio Governor.
Kasich Strategy




Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 21, 2016

Georgia and American History Today

According to tradition, on April 21, 753 B.C., Rome was founded. The one in Italy, not the one in Floyd County.

On April 21, 1732, King George II signed the royal charter creating the colony of Georgia. The King’s signature did not make the charter effective as several additional steps were required.

On April 21, 1789, John Adams was sworn in as the first Vice President of the United States.

On April 21, 1904, Ty Cobb made his debut in professional baseball for the Augusta (Georgia) Tourists in the South Atlantic League in center field; Cobb hit an inside-the-field home run and a double.

Manfred von Richthofen, known as “The Red Baron,” was killed in action on April 21, 1918, shot by either an Australian gunner or a Canadian. At the time of his death, Richthofen has shot down 80 aircraft in aerial combat.

Former President Jimmy Carter was appointed Distinguished Professor at Emory University on April 21, 1982. Carter holds an annual Town Hall in which he takes questions from students.

On April 21, 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed a Memorandum of Agreement with Israel. From the press statement released that day,

The MOA reiterates for the public record our long-standing relationship of strategic cooperation with Israel. Strategic cooperation can only succeed when there are shared interests, including the commitment to building peace and stability in the region. It reflects the enduring U.S. commitment to Israel’s security. That commitment will never flag. The U.S. commitment to peace will also not flag. The President knows that a strong Israel is necessary if peace is to be possible. He also knows that Israel can never be truly secure without peace.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Sorry for the change in programming, but I’m at the Republican National Committee Spring Meeting in Hollywood, Florida today. My flight this morning cut into the time I usually spend on this email. For now, here are a couple photos, and I hope to be back on our usual schedule tomorrow with some juicy tidbits from the RNC meeting.

RNC Spring banner

RNC PRess Reg

RNC badges

RNC Spring Reince Priebus


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

Today, the Republican National Committee Spring Meeting gavels to order in Hollywood, Florida, with sessions for State Chairs, the Committee on Arrangements, Debates Committee,  Resolutions Committee, and Budget Committee. Tomorrow will see meetings of the Contests Committee and Standing Committee on Rules. No major surprises are expected from the Rules Committee.

Yesterday, RNC Co-Chair Reince Priebus met with Congressional Republicans to discuss the upcoming RNC meeting and the Rules Committee.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus met with GOP House members Tuesday on Capitol Hill to assuage concerns sparked by presidential front-runner Donald Trump’s accusations the nominating process is “rigged.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan, who will also serve as the chairman of the Republican convention in Cleveland in July, said that Priebus was “received favorably.”

Ryan said questions about the RNC rules continue to come up, including in his own telephone town hall with his Wisconsin constituents on Monday night.

[Priebus] explained that the rules cannot be changed without the support of a majority of the 2,472 delegates — the same amount needed to win the nomination — and promised the public would know more well before the convention, said Rep. Greg Walden, an Oregon Republican.

Talk of potential changes before the convention has sparked concerns among conservatives, including Cruz supporters.

But Rep. Trent Franks, an Arizona Republican who has endorsed Cruz, said he walked out of the meeting confident there wouldn’t be any changes before Cleveland.

After the delegates are together, rules changes are fair game, he said.

“If 1,237 (delegates) do it under the rules, then no one should complain about that. But I’m talking about any sort of behind-the-scenes, committee rules changes that would dissuade or distort the nomination process,” Franks said.

Georgia Republican National Committeeman Randy Evans at the Seventh District dinner on Friday night posed a brain-teaser that’s been occupying many in Washington and in state capitols across the nation:

I’m going to leave you with one brain teaser that’s really occupying the leadership at the RNC and the Congress and the Senate and the campaigns.

And this is the brain teaser, as you know typically with a presumptive nominee, what do they do about two weeks before the convention?

They vet a VP.

Now I participated in that, I participated when Senator McCain was considering Sarah Palin versus Joe Lieberman, I participated all the way through these things.

Now if you don’t even know if you’re going to win or not, because you don’t have twelve thirty seven, how do you go about vetting a VP?

And so you can see one of the not yet written on in the media, oh well, until tomorrow, challenges that we face, really is how we go about vetting with adequate opportunity a viable vice presidential candidate when we don’t even know who the nominee will be.

And I don’t know the answer, so if any of you have an answer to that question, I’d be happy for you to share it with me. I will give you the appropriate attribution, but you can see that the level of detail that we’re now getting into as we approach the convention where we don’t have a presumptive nominee in place.

It’s worth noting that Mitt Romney became the presumptive nominee on May 29, 2012 but on this date he had been leading every single national poll for more than seven weeks.

McClatchey discusses how the Republican National Convention Rules Committee will be selected and what they’re expected to decide later this year.

What matters first are 112 people who have a big say in whom the party nominates as the next president of the United States.

They’re the convention’s rules committee, two members from each state and six other jurisdictions. A week or so before the convention opens, they’ll meet to determine how things will proceed.

They can block someone from being formally considered at the convention. They can make it easier for delegates to ditch their commitments to their candidates.

At this point, “the Cruz campaign doesn’t want to see any rules changed on any subject in the middle of the race,” said Lionel Rainey III, a Louisiana Cruz strategist who had run Marco Rubio’s state campaign. The U.S. senator from Florida suspended his effort last month.

“Technically the rules committee can change anything it wants,” [Marylander Louis] Pope said.

But he also saw little prospect for uprooting the rules at this point. Remember, he said, “The rules committee will be controlled by Trump and Cruz delegates.”

Congressman Tom Graves (R-14) spoke to the Fourteenth District GAGOP Convention on Saturday.

He emphasized the many accomplishments made by the Republican Party, ignored and unreported by the main stream media.

One of the issues he said had gone unreported was the extinction of “Common Core,” and in his words it is “dead and gone.”

He talked about the need for Congress to use the “power of the purse” to curtail many programs pushed by the Obama Administration, at the same time assuring a strong military, a strong defense, and said, speaking of the Isis threat its time “we kill the bad guys.”

The West Georgia Neighbor spoke to the candidates for Douglas County Sheriff about their qualifications and the issues voters are talking about.

The Gwinnett School of Math, Science and Technology was ranked the top high school in Georgia by U.S. News and World Report, as well as #27 in the country and #10 among charter schools.

Gwinnett County Commissioners postponed a decision about a $75 million dollar expansion to the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center.

Lonzy Edwards suspended his campaign for Mayor of Macon-Bibb County, citing health concerns, according to the Macon Telegraph.

Barring a last-minute surprise, the campaign suspension effectively clears the way for [Mayor Robert] Reichert’s fourth term as mayor. Edwards’ decision comes two weeks before early voting begins and just five weeks from Election Day. Edwards took part in a mayoral forum April 12, but several days later a doctor told Edwards he was too sick to undergo a “necessary” medical procedure, he said.

The Telegraph also takes a look at the reelection effort of Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-2).

Bishop, 69, will face the winner of the May 24 Republican primary, either Leesburg optician, Greg Duke, 55, who lost to Bishop in 2014, or Macon registered nurse, Diane Vann, 63.

Another Republican candidate for Bishop’s seat, Columbus attorney Bobby Scott, 40, died last week of diabetic ketoacidosis.

[Cook Political Report Editor David] Wasserman said it’ll be difficult for Vann or Duke to unseat Bishop, a 12-term fixture in the largely rural district dominated by agricultural interests.

“November’s outcome is pretty much pre-ordained,” Wasserman said of Bishop’s chances. “Sorry to burst the bubble.”

But after narrowly defeating Republican Mike Keown by less than 3 three percentage points and less than 5,000 votes in 2010, Bishop takes nothing for granted.

“The job doesn’t belong to me. It belongs to the people,” he said in an interview. “And I believe I have discharged my duties and my responsibilities over the period of my service. I look at it as a public trust.”

State Senator Fran Millar (R-DeKalb) penned a letter suggesting that the current structure of the DeKalb E-SPLOST may be unconstitutional.

Millar said in a letter to the school superintendent that the school system’s plan to seek a five-year renewal of the ESPLOST violated the state constitution.

While no ESPLOST ever has been defeated by Georgia voters, no school system ever has asked for a tax without specifying each proposed capital project and its maximum cost.

Millar sought the advice of legislative council and the former counsel to Gov. Roy Barnes. Each noted that the laws on education taxes for capital construction are anchored in the state constitution.

That document says the resolution calling for the tax and ballot question shall describe “the specific capital outlay projects to be funded” and “the maximum cost of such projects.”

“I’m trying to throw a lifeline to DeKalb,” Millar told The Crier. “It’s in DeKalb’s interest to ask Atlanta and Fulton County to postpone their ESPLOST votes until DeKalb can put together a project list and individual cost estimates.”

In Millar’s opinion, if the vote of the other two jurisdictions stands and DeKalb’s is invalidated, the DeKalb system can’t go before voters for another five years. He said a suit is likely if DeKalb proceeds May 25.

Two candidates for Muscogee County Sheriff will learn soon whether a state judge upholds a decision by the elections board to disqualify them from the May 24 ballot.

The board on March 30 voted three to one to disqualify Democratic Party candidates Pam Brown and Robert Keith Smith because they failed to submit fingerprints for a criminal background check by a March 16 deadline.

Georgia law specifies those fingerprints must be submitted by the close of business three workdays after qualifying ends. Qualifying ended Friday, March 11, so the deadline was 5 p.m. Wednesday, March 16.

“The law is the law,” Judge J. Richard Porter III of Cairo said as Tuesday’s hearing ended, asking attorneys, “Is there any exception to the three-day rule? … The rule, it says ‘shall’ in three days.”

Porter declined to “stay” or delay the board’s decision after attorneys for the board said election workers already mailed ballots overseas with notices the sheriff’s candidates were disqualified but appealing. Were the judge to alter the candidates’ status, election workers would need specific instructions on whether voters were to be sent some additional notice and if so, what it would say.

Candidates for Muscogee County Board of Education discussed the role of the elected Board members.