Category: Georgia Politics


Alabama to join ‘SEC primary’ in 2016 presidential race |

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama lawmakers have voted to join the “SEC primary” as southern states band together to try to get more attention from 2016 presidential hopefuls.

Alabama legislators on Thursday gave final approval to a bill that would move the state’s 2016 primary elections to March 1, 2016. Some Southern states are trying to build a regional super primary. The SEC primary nickname is a reference to the Southeastern Conference in college athletics.

Sen. Quinton Ross, D-Montgomery, said it has been difficult for small Southern states to garner much attention from presidential candidates.

“We’ll be on the map,” Ross said.

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill says he is excited about what the super primary could mean for the state.

“The primary thing is to improve traffic flow of candidates through our state,” Merrill said.

via Alabama to join ‘SEC primary’ in 2016 presidential race |


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 22, 2015

On May 22, 1856, Congressman Preston Brooks of South Carolina beat Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner with his cane. Brooks used the cane as the result of injury sustained in a previous duel, and found Sumner at his desk in the Senate Chamber. In the course of a two-day Senate speech on the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which would have nullified the Missouri Compromise on the expansion of slavery, Sumner had criticized three legislators, including a cousin of Rep. Brooks, Senator Andrew Butler of South Carolina.

On May 22, 1819, the steamship Savannah left the port of Savannah for Liverpool, England. After 29 days, it became the first steamship to cross the Atlantic. On May 22, 1944, the United States Postal Service issued a stamp commemorating the voyage of the Savannah.

Yesterday, a memorial service at Robins Air Base paid tribute to service members who worked there.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Horace Hudgins announced last week that he was resigning as Mayor of Ocilla in  order to run for State House District 155, the seat vacated by former Rep. Jay Roberts.

“With the support and encouragement of family, friends and state leaders, I am confident in my decision to run for Office of State Representative.”

Hat tip to Mr. Joe Sports, who brought this candidate to my attention.

In House District 55, a residency challenge has been raised to the candidacy of Tyrone Brooks, Jr., who is seeking the seat vacated by his father who plead guilty to federal charges. From the AJC Political Insider,

The complaint notes that the younger Brooks was a registered voter outside House District 55, located in Atlanta, last November.

The special election is June 16. The final decision on the matter will be made by [Georgia Secretary of State Brian] Kemp, though a spokesman said he wasn’t sure when that would happen. Scroll through the complaint below:

Brooks, Jr. responded that he has lived in the district more than the require year.

Advance voting in State House District 55 and District 24 begins Tuesday, March 24.

In District 24, voters may cast ballots at the following times and places:
County Administration Building
110 E. Main Street; Cumming, GA 30040
Voting Hours:
Tuesday, May 26, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Wednesday, May 27 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Thursday, May 28, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Friday, May 29, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Monday, June 1, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Tuesday, June 2, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Wednesday, June 3, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Thursday, June 4, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Friday, June 5, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Cumming City Hall
100 Main Street; Cumming, GA 30040
Voting Hours:
Tuesday, May 26, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Wednesday, May 27 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Thursday, May 28, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Friday, May 29, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Monday, June 1, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Tuesday, June 2, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Wednesday, June 3, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Thursday, June 4, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Friday, June 5, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Beginning Saturday, June 6, a third Advance Voting location will be available. In addition to the Forsyth County Administration Building and Cumming City Hall, a third location at the Midway Park Community Building located at 5100 Post Road will be open for voting during Advance Voting for the June 16 Special Election.

In State House District 55, the advance voting places and time follow:

Monday through Friday, May 26 – June 12, 2015, 8:30 AM to 5 PM 

Fulton County Government Center
130 Peachtree Street SW
Atlanta, GA 30303

Monday through Friday, June 10 – June 12, 2015, 8:30 AM to 5 PM 

Buckhead Library
269 Buckhead Ave, NE
Atlanta, GA 30305

SouthWest Arts Center
915 New Hope Rd, SW
Atlanta, GA 30331

Note: *****Weekend Voting on Saturday, June 6th, at the Fulton County Government Center from 9 AM to 4 PM.

Please note there is no voting of any kind the Monday prior to any election.

The Ocilla Star ran an extended interview with former Rep. Roberts discussing the Transportation Finance Act and Roberts’s new job as GDOT transportation planner.

Q: What do you feel like your biggest accomplishments have been?

A: There is no doubt the biggest piece of legislation that I’ve ever carried was the Transportation Funding Bill. You know, I can look back and look over the years, and I served as the governor’s floor leader, I was vice chairman of our caucus, chairman of our caucus, and then became transportation chairman 6 years ago. During the time I was the governor’s floor leader and since, I’ve been involved in a lot of legislation that served to simplify the tax code in the state of Georgia. Early I had some big accomplishments, working with legislation to put a conservation and use program here in the state. And this year, not only did we do transportation, but we did fireworks. We allowed fireworks in our state of Georgia, and that was my bill as well.

Q: With this transportation bill, did that play any part to this? On one hand, it’s almost like you’re going out on a high. But on another hand, there’s been a lot of pushback from the more conservative parts of the state about the bill. Did it play any part in your decision?

A: I mean, contrary to a lot of the reports, you know, this is not a quid pro quo. I didn’t talk to the governor. I had not had a conversation with the governor or his staff about this position until about a week after session when he called me and asked me to come meet with him. You know, I realized there was going to be some pushback from this, but it was the right thing to do. I didn’t let it worry me as to what the political ramifications might be. I knew that something had to be done, and we’re elected to go up there and do what’s right, do what’s best for the people of the state. The biggest problem with the transportation bill is people still aren’t educated and don’t understand it. You know, they just really don’t understand the bill. And you know, I’ll say this, you know the funny thing about even Facebook or whatever:?Social media is great, but social media is also not good. It’s great now ‘cause more people are informed, they know what’s going on and they’re paying closer attention, and that’s great. But, on the other hand, there’s people that get on social media and they claim to be experts but they really don’t know what they’re talking about, yet everybody believes it, you know, because it’s on the internet, so it must be true. I talk about when I first went to Atlanta, I had a pager, and now I have an iPhone which everything’s right there in the palm of your hands, and that’s good. I?mean it really is, that people are more informed and really know what’s going on, and I think that is a good thing. But like I say, on the flip side of that you have people that claim to be experts, and I’ve read about all about stuff, “Well, this was a trade-off,” you know, “He agreed to do this in order to get this,” and that’s absolutely 100 percent false and not true. And if they go back and look at it, we started this process last summer going around the state of Georgia.

Q: The transportation bill

A: Yeah, and at the time, the governor was running for re-election. And then we didn’t know if he was going to be re-elected or not be re-elected. So this was something that was started way back then. But, well, I’ll just let people draw the conclusions that they want to draw. That’s left to them.

Q: You considered not even running this time?

A: Yeah, I had. I considered not running last time and I considered not running this next time, you know. I’m one of these who believes there’s a point in time in your career when you need to sometimes step aside and allow somebody else to come in. I’ve watched people stay in Atlanta, in the House and all, too long. It’s down to where they probably should retire and run on home, and my children have long been now graduated from high school. Sarah and I are empty nesters. We’re getting to the point where we kind of wanted to enjoy things a little more. We wanted to be able to go out and do without the issues of being in the legislature, as far as all the meetings I had to attend and those kind of things. Where we were having to set our schedule around the legislature, now, you know, we can set our schedules around ourselves.

State Rep. Earl Ehrhart (R-Powder Springs) is looking into how reports of campus rapes are investigated.

State Rep. Earl Ehrhart (R-Powder Springs) is the chairman of the subcommittee that oversees appropriations for public universities. Ehrhart said he read a report in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that described a “secret process for judging sexual misconduct allegations,” which troubled him because it outlined what he considers a violation of the right to due process as its laid out by the Fifth Amendment.

“If somebody commits a crime, that’s the purview of trained professional jurists, district attorneys (and) law enforcement. The universities absolutely don’t need to be in that business, so I want to make sure that they’re not,” Ehrhart said. “They don’t need a secondary system of justice on university campuses. That’s the issue.”

“It might be convenient to lock up everybody accused of murder really quickly without any due process, but can you imagine the screams and cries if we did?” Ehrhart said. “We have a system of juris prudence in this country for a reason, and universities don’t need to be involved in star chamber proceedings without due process on a criminal offense.”

Ehrhart said he wants to go to universities across the state — such as Kennesaw State University or the University of Georgia — and find out how those cases are handled.“What they need to be doing is supporting the individual students, not determining criminal guilt or innocence,” he said. “I want to find out if they are.”

Hillary Clinton will be in Atlanta May 28, according to the AJC Political Insider.

Two Democratic insiders say hosts are being lined up for the May 28 visit, which is likely to be a breakfast event. A Clinton aide later confirmed the report.

Republican National Committee spokeswoman Ali Pardo responded to news of the Clinton visit by attacking her for hobnobbing with donors instead of commoners:

“Hillary Clinton’s campaign has been full of hypocrisy, flip-flops, and scandals, so it’s no surprise she would prefer to avoid interacting with real voters. The truth is that Clinton is more comfortable schmoozing with millionaire donors than pretending to relate to average Americans.”

Hillary Clinton is likely to be flying commercial into Hartsfield-Jackson, but it won’t be like you and I fly commercial, according to NBC News,

Hillary Clinton has traded private jets for seats on commercial airlines as she embarks on her second, humbler presidential run.

Clinton does not fly the commercial the way you fly commercial. Thanks to strict security concerns, Clinton is insulated from the public from the moment she arrives at one airport to the time she leaves the second one. And even when trapped in a metal tube in the sky with fellow passengers, there are few opportunities for public interaction.

On Tuesday afternoon in Dubuque, Iowa, a few dozen passengers waited for their routine American Airlines flight to Chicago, one of only three flights scheduled from the tiny airport that day. Suddenly, a small motorcade pulled up, just outside the floor-to-ceiling windows that separate the airport’s only gate from the tarmac.

Secret Service agents piled out, followed by aides. And then Hillary Clinton emerged from a red minivan. On the tarmac, she shook hands and chatted with a woman in a red jacket and her campaign’s state director.

[S]he was lead onboard and took a window seat in the first row. The small commuter plane had only one class.

She did not pass through TSA screening, though some of her campaign aides did.

The seats around were filled by Secret Service agents, and then campaign staff further back. No one approached her during the short flight.

Upon arrival, Clinton and her entourage were quickly whisked off the plane.

Clinton had only to travel about 50 feet across the terminal and into a secure area, where she disappeared from view before the other passengers on her flight had even collected their gate-checked luggage.

There were no opportunities for a reporter who happened to be on her flight to speak with her. Earlier in the day, she had taken questions from the press for the first time in 28 days.

Bizarrely, Atlanta’s Waka Flocka Flame, who endorsed Republican David Perdue for Senate last year, has endorsed Hillary Clinton for President.

On Tuesday, Doug Sorrells took office as a member of the Cumming City Council, the first new member in 20 years, according to the Forsyth News.

Doug Sorrells became the first new member on the Cumming City Council in more than 20 years when he was sworn in Tuesday night.

It was the first of what likely will be just two meetings for Sorrells, who is serving as an interim appointee until the June 16 election to fill the remaining 18 months on the Post 1 term of longtime Councilman Rupert Sexton.

Sexton stepped down last month to enjoy retirement after 44 years in office. Four candidates are vying for the post, but they do not include Sorrells.


The Georgia State Board of Education will revise the Georgia Performance Standards for Math and Science, according to the Gainesville Times.

Earlier this year, the board revised English language arts and mathematics standards. Now, it is updating standards for science and social studies.

The state board is asking for teacher input into the new revisions, and a survey was posted April 16 asking for teacher evaluations. It closes June 15, at which point input will be considered and the revision process will begin.

“The survey data will be analyzed and hopefully, by early 2016, we will be able to ask the board to post revised standards for 60 days of public comment,” said Matt Cardoza, director of communications for the Georgia Department of Education. “ … Teacher training and resource development will be provided prior to implementation.”

The revisions will be determined by a working committee representing Georgia public school teachers, post-secondary staff, parents and instructional leaders.

Diane Acker, biology, environmental science and forensic science teacher at North Hall High School, said she does not think the current standards are adequate.

“They do not address all of the content that needs to be taught to provide an adequate coverage of the subject, especially in biology,” Acker said. “They do not allow for the way an intentional teacher teaches her class. I find myself struggling to provide content in a way that addresses the standards so that my students will do well on standardized tests and providing rich, meaningful lessons that capture my students’ imaginations.”

Dr. Jeremy Peacock, who heads the Georgia Science Teachers Association and was Georgia High School Science Teacher of the Year for 2010-11 penned an editorial in the AJC on the new standards.

Georgia is sitting on a gold mine of opportunity for its young people but if we are asleep at the switch, that opportunity will be better realized elsewhere.  You have heard the term before… STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.  It’s not a new concept but today its potential is greater than ever.

Just a few years ago, Georgia’s students could do OK with just a high school education.  Not so now.  Times have changed and so has our economy, which relies more heavily on careers in science and technical fields. Yet, our schools are not preparing enough graduates to pursue STEM college and career opportunities.  The result is that Georgia’s STEM companies must hire many of their workers from out of state.  We must take action now to stop that.

The Georgia Science Teachers Association believes the time has come for our science teachers, business leaders, and community members to revisit our science standards in a process designed to move toward a vision for science education that best serves our students and our state.  Under the current Georgia Performance Standards – adopted between 2004 – 2006 – teachers still struggle to engage students in doing and thinking about science while they focus on learning about science.

The state Department of Education has begun a process to review and revise the science standards. Superintendent Richard Woods has a solid plan in place.  The survey, open now to science teachers, will lead into a revision process that will include classroom teachers, higher education faculty, business partners, and community members.  GSTA strongly supports these efforts and the objective to ensure Georgians have a voice.

DeKalb Ethics

The DeKalb County Ethics Board voted to move forward with a case against County Commissioner Stan Watson that also implicates Vaughn Irons, who is running for Commission District 5.

The DeKalb County Board of Ethics moved forward Thursday with a case accusing DeKalb Commissioner Stan Watson of acting unethically when he voted to award a $1.5 million contract to a company he was working for.

The board voted 3-1 to advance the complaint to a full hearing to determine whether Watson broke the county’s code of ethics. The board has the power to reprimand, suspend or remove public officials.

Board of Ethics Chairman John Ernst said Watson’s alleged breach was clear to him.

“He was paid as an APD Solutions employee, and he voted to approve money to APD Solutions,” Ernst said. “He has admitted that it was a direct conflict of interest, and that he’s sorry that he did it.”

Watson didn’t disclose his relationship with APD Solutions before the county commission voted 7-0 on April 10, 2012, to give the company a $1 million contract to buy, rehab and sell homes in a neighborhood hit hard by the economic recession. He also voted nine months later to award the company an additional $500,000 to rehab homes in a different neighborhood.

“He did not stand up and say, ‘I have to step back.’ He went ahead and voted,” Browning told the board. “He said that he missed it … he dismissed it that it was APD Solutions being considered.”

APD Solutions is run by Vaughn Irons, the company’s CEO and founder who is running in a special election next month to represent the southeastern part of the county on the DeKalb Commission.

Irons faces an ethics complaint of his own alleging that he had a conflict of interest when he accepted county business while also serving as a board member for the DeKalb Development Authority. The Board of Ethics voted 4-0 Thursday to decide that it had jurisdiction in that case, which will now be investigated further. Irons has said he didn’t do anything wrong.

The DeKalb County Commission is considering replacing all members of the economic development board, including the chairman, Vaughn Irons, according to the AJC.

Interim CEO Lee May announced he would nominate new board members of the DeKalb Development Authority in March, days after The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action News reported on a suspicious document that allowed Irons’ company, APD Solutions, to bid on a housing rehab contract.

The six nominees are:

  • Don Bolia, a member of the Brookhaven Zoning Board of Appeals and a partner with a lobbying firm
  • Kevin Gooch, an attorney who handles loan documentation
  • Miranda McKenzie, an executive with Atlanta Technical College who previously worked as a director for community affairs for Anheuser-Busch Inc.
  • Tyrone Rachal, the president of a finance firm who serves as a board member for several civic associations
  • Keisha Taylor, senior director of entertainment marketing for Turner Broadcasting
  • Baoky Vu, an investment strategy executive who serves on the board for the Technical College System of Georgia

No one has been nominated yet for the seventh seat on the board.



Local business owner announces candidacy for Gainesville City Council

Gainesville resident Zack Thompson announced Wednesday that he will run against incumbent Bob Hamrick for the Ward 2 seat on the Gainesville City Council this fall.

Thompson, co-owner of Professional Touch Landscapes and Tap It Gainesville Growlers on Thompson Bridge Road, said his customers were a big motivation for him to enter local politics.

“That’s what kind of gave me the push,” he told The Times. “I think it’s time we push toward younger, more progressive leadership with fresh ideas and a new perspective.”

via Local business owner announces candidacy for Gainesville City Council.


Georgia science, social studies standards up for revision

To be literate in science and social studies, students need the most accurate, updated education possible.

Thus the State Board of Education is once again beginning a process of revising the Georgia Performance Standards.

Earlier this year, the board revised English language arts and mathematics standards. Now, it is updating standards for science and social studies.

The state board is asking for teacher input into the new revisions, and a survey was posted April 16 asking for teacher evaluations. It closes June 15, at which point input will be considered and the revision process will begin.

“The survey data will be analyzed and hopefully, by early 2016, we will be able to ask the board to post revised standards for 60 days of public comment,” said Matt Cardoza, director of communications for the Georgia Department of Education. “ … Teacher training and resource development will be provided prior to implementation.”

Cardoza added a date of implementation of the new standards has not yet been set.

via Georgia science, social studies standards up for revision.


Lawmakers recap legislative session |

The state’s new transportation funding mechanism was among the key topics last week when Dawson County’s state delegation met to recap the 2015 legislative session.

Speaking to members of the local chamber of commerce on May 14, House Speaker David Ralston, Rep. Kevin Tanner and Sen. Steve Gooch agreed that attempting to solve the state’s transportation funding issues was among the most challenging tasks for lawmakers this year.

“We were operating on an outdated funding model. We really had let the discussion get past the point of improvements and enhancements into maintenance and repair,” Ralston said. “We’ve got hundreds and hundreds of bridges in this state that are in very defective condition.”

The General Assembly passed a bill in April that allocates an additional $1 billion annually to the state’s transportation needs.

Tanner said while many of his colleagues struggled with the bill, the vote was not difficult for him.

“We’re not able to maintain our road system, our rail system, and we’re not going to be able to continue to attract Mercedes or Caterpillar and all these major companies that the speaker and governor have worked so hard to bring to Georgia,” he said. “It’s a return on your investment and that’s the way I look at it. I believe it was the right thing to do for Georgia and moving us forward.”

via Lawmakers recap legislative session.


Betty Price To Run For State House Seat | Roswell, GA Patch

A Roswell City Council member wants to serve her constituents on a higher level.

Dr. Betty Price has announced plans to run in the special election to fill the Georgia House District 48 seat, which was vacated due to the passing of Rep. Harry Geisinger.

“For over ten years Rep. Geisinger ably served our area,” Price said. “The 48th District consists of individuals and families concerned about the future of our great state. Having served more than five years on the Roswell City Council, I’ve worked energetically to further responsible growth, serving constituents and advocating for their needs. I’m passionate about trying to effect transparent, common sense decisions in the legislature.”

Dr. Price was first elected in 2009 to fill an unexpired term on the Roswell City Council. She was re-elected to a full term in 2011.

Price received her M.D. from McGill University and has been married for 32 years to U.S. Congressman Dr. Tom Price. They have one adult son.

via Betty Price To Run For State House Seat | Roswell, GA Patch.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 21, 2015

Georgia Colonists signed the Treaty of Savannah with the Lower Creeks on May 21, 1733.

George Washington left Georgia on May 21, 1791, crossing a bridge over the Savannah River at Augusta.

American Charles Lindbergh landed at Paris on May 21, 1927 in The Spirit of St. Louis, completing both the first nonstop transatlantic flight and the first nonstop flight from New York to Paris.

On May 21, 1942, German authorities removed 4300 Polish Jews from Chelm to an extermination camp at Sobibor and killed them by poison gas. The Sobibor camp’s five gas chambers would kill 250,000 Jews during 1942 and 1943.

On May 21, 2011, Herman Cain announced his candidacy for President of the United States at Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park, and I photographed it.

During the next eighteen months, when someone talks about whomever is leading the latest polls, remember that six months after announcing his Presidential campaign, Herman Cain was leading the polls. Less than one month later, Cain was out of the race.

Happy Birthday to longtime Atlanta Braves Coach Bobby Cox. Last July, Cox was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

As long as we’re discussing the 2012 Presidential election for this Throwback Thursday, we note that Newt Gingrich, who won the South Carolina and Georgia Presidential Primaries in 2012 has another new gig at Dentons, the mega-law firm that is merging with McKenna Long. Gingrich joins his longtime colleague and Georgia’s Republican National Committeeman Randy Evans, Eric Tanenblatt, Tharon Johnson, former Congressman Buddy Darden, Gordon Giffin, and more politicos nationally than you can shake a stick at.

Qualifying and Qualified

Ten candidates qualified for the June 16, 2015 Special Election for DeKalb County Commission District Five.

Gregory Adams
Harmel Deanne Codi
Melvin Jerome Edmondson
Gwendolyn R. “Gwen” Green
Vaughn Irons
Mereda Davis Johnson
Gina Mangham
Kathryn T. Rice
Kenneth Saunders, III
George Turner, Jr.

The AJC reviews the backgrounds of some of the candidates,

“We have been without representation for two years, so the first thing that I want to do is listen,” said Mereda Davis Johnson, an attorney who is married to U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., who held the District 5 county commission seat before he was elected to Congress in 2006.

Vaughn Irons, the CEO of APD Solutions, said DeKalb needs to improve so it can become a destination for businesses and residents.

“This race is important because District 5 has been left behind on so many occasions,” Irons said. “We need to be able to catch up from an economic development standpoint and from a job creation standpoint.”

George Turner, the president of the District 5 Community Council, said residents need a commissioner who will look out for them.

“We need to improve the perception of the quality of life in DeKalb County,” Turner said. “We’ve got to clean it up in terms of code enforcement” with blighted homes.

Some of the candidates have run for office in DeKalb before, including Kathryn Rice, who is leading an effort to create a city of Greenhaven in South DeKalb; Gina Mangham, an attorney and mediator; Jerome Edmondson, who owns several call centers; and Gregory Adams, a police officer and pastor.

Edmondson [] ran against [indicted CEO Burrell] Ellis for DeKalb CEO in 2012…. Harmel Deanne Codi [was] a senior financial officer for DeKalb who resigned after she felt allegations of bid-rigging were ignored, said she could use her knowledge of the county’s inner workings to bring about change.

Vaughn Irons has a good point that DeKalb needs to improve to attract new jobs. This echoes comments made by Georgia Department of Economic Development Commissioner Chris Carr, who said,

“It doesn’t make sense that DeKalb County wouldn’t be a part of this burgeoning economy. But the reality of the situation is, there is only so much the state can do. The county is going to have to take care of its business,” Carr said. “You can’t have indictments, and you can’t have school boards getting removed, because companies can go any number of places.”

This was Carr’s bottom line: “The fact is, outside of Perimeter Center, of the projects that the state has been a part, there are very, very, very few where folks are looking at DeKalb.”

Unfortunately, Vaughn Irons, who I would think is favored to make an inevitable runoff in this election, is precisely the candidate who does the least to improve DeKalb County’s reputation for government corruption. In fact, if Irons is elected, it may mean that government kleptocracy has become so prevalent that they stop even pretending.

In the Special Election for State House District 24, qualifying closed at noon yesterday with no suprises. The candidates are:

Sheri Gilligan (R)           website     Facebook     Twitter

Will Kremer (R)              website     Facebook     Twitter

Ethan Underwood (R)   website     Facebook     Twitter

David Van Sant (R)        website     Facebook     Twitter

For the State House Special Elections to be held July 14, 2015, (HDs 48, 80, 146, 155), qualifying will be held Monday and Tuesday, June 1 & 2 from 9 AM to 5 PM and Wednesday, June 3, from 9 AM to 12 Noon at the Secretary of State’s office in Atlanta.

Debating the Debates

With a developing clown car GOP Presidential Primary, party leaders and journalists are fretting about how many candidates should be allowed to participate in the televised debates and how they should be chosen. With a current eighteen announced or likely candidates, Fox News has decided to limit the debate they sponsor to ten candidates.

In a news release announcing the Aug. 6 debate, to be co-hosted by Facebook and the Ohio Republican Party, Fox News officials said that to be allowed on stage, candidates “must place in the top 10 of an average of the five most recent national polls, as recognized by Fox News.” It said that “such polling must be conducted by major, nationally recognized organizations that use standard methodological techniques.”

The release did not say which polling organizations would be considered credible. That Fox News had set criteria for the debate was first reported by The Washington Post.

At the moment, Jeb Bush and Senator Marco Rubio are at the top of most national surveys, with the majority of the other announced and unannounced candidates bunched up in single digits. But by setting a threshold based on national polling, Fox News may prompt some of the candidates on the brink of exclusion to air national cable advertisements in an effort to lift their standing.

Fox News officials said that those who did not make the cut for the debate would be given equal airtime down the road. But given the potential for breakout moments in debates — such as those that occurred with Michele Bachmann in a June debate in 2011, or Newt Gingrich in South Carolina in early 2012 — that may be cold comfort.

The debate will be moderated by Bret Baier, Megyn Kelly and Chris Wallace, all of Fox News.

Newt Gingrich told the AJC that debate participation shouldn’t be limited.

“I don’t know how you do it early on but I’m very much concerned that we don’t have either the news media or the party institutions kill people before they even get a chance to see the voters. The American people should decide which candidates are real, not some formula designed by people to see the best known.

“You wouldn’t have picked Bill Clinton in the fall of 1991 necessarily to be the Democratic nominee. You certainly, when John McCain ran out of money you would not have expected McCain to come back and sweep as rapidly and decisively as he did.

“I’d like them to see some way to accommodate everyone early on. You’re certainly not going to block Carly Fiorina or Ben Carson from having a chance to debate. And if you don’t exclude them, you really can’t exclude anybody.”

And because we seemingly can’t get enough of Newt Gingrich this morning, we note that Ohio Governor John Kasich, who speaks next week at a Fulton GOP lunch and then headlines the Walton County GOP Barbecue, has tapped long-time Gingrich ally Bob Walker to chair his Presidential vehicle.

Kasich announced that he was bringing on Bob Walker, a congressman-turned-lobbyist, as a volunteer adviser to his New Day for America political action committee, which is functioning like the governor’s campaign-in-waiting. Walker was a major player in Gingrich’s failed 2012 presidential run, and he and the former House speaker—and Kasich—go way back.

Walker and Gingrich have been close friends since the late 1970s, when they were first elected to the House of Representatives—Walker from Pennsylvania and Gingrich from Georgia. Kasich arrived in 1983 from Ohio and they bonded through the Clinton years when the Republicans went from minority to majority in Congress, with Gingrich as their leader. Walker served 10 terms before he retired in 1997 to start a DC-based lobbying shop, whose clients have included Comcast, American Airlines, and the natural gas industry.

During the last presidential election, Walker chaired Gingrich’s doomed presidential bid. He served as his confidant-in-chief and Gingrich’s most visible surrogate in the media. As the former speaker became the most serious conservative opponent to Mitt Romney, Walker told Politico, “There are candidates that see [Gingrich] with the potential to coalesce the conservatives behind him. They are panicked. They are desperate.”

Perhaps the folks organizing the GOP debates could consult with Georgia, where we saw huge debate fields in last year’s elections for United States Senate and State School Superintendent.

It’s not so much a debate as a candidate forum, but Georgia College and State University will host a forum for candidates running for Mayor of Milledgeville on June 11, 2015, followed immediately by a meet-and-greet.

Math and Numbers

One of the first major applause lines at the GAGOP Convention this past weekend was when State School Superintendent Richard Woods said, ““We have no obligation from the state of Georgia that they’ll have to teach funny math. If our teachers choose to use a standard algorithm, they’ll be able to do so. We look forward to making that announcement next week.”

Woods spoke to Lori Geary of WSB-TV yesterday to discuss Common Core and math.

Georgia’s state superintendent says he’s heard the concerns of teachers and parents about Common Core.

He told Channel 2′s Lori Geary Wednesday he wants everyone to know that Common Core math is not mandated in the state of Georgia.

State Superintendent Richard Woods says by complicating elementary school math, some parents can’t even figure out how to help their children with homework.

“Last year, second grade a double-sided math sheet came home to me explaining how to do the homework with my son,” said parent Stacey Gyorgyi. Gyorgyi, who lives in Gwinnett County, says that’s when her frustration with Common Core math boiled over.

Woods says the new method makes solving a simple problem like 29+17 a 10 or 20 step process. He told Geary it’s time to go back to the way math used to be taught in schools.

“Right now, we’re just having to say, ‘Let’s just stop. Put some common sense back into education,’” Woods said. “It’s ok to do math the way we’ve done it.”

Woods said students are no longer getting the basics when it comes to math, and many are struggling.

“We have too many kids taking remedial math and English in a post-secondary experience. To me, that’s going back to a weaker foundation,” Woods said.

This morning, the Georgia Department of Labor released new unemployment numbers, which show our April state jobless rate holding steady at 6.3%, which is unchanged from March 2015, and down a full point from April 2014.

“While our unemployment rate for April held steady for the third straight month, our employers continue to create new jobs and lay off fewer workers,” said State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler. “The stable rate continues the 54-month trend in which we’ve seen our rate either remain unchanged or go down.”

“We did very well over the year, as we saw the largest April-to-April job growth we’ve seen in 16 years,” said Butler. “And, our rate of growth at 3.0 percent is significantly higher than the national growth rate of 2.2 percent.”


The threat to Georgia’s ports and poultry arrived in a tin of fried catfish | Political Insider blog

Qualifying for special July 14 elections to fill four vacant House seats will be held June 1-3, according to a spokesman for Secretary of State Brian Kemp. The seats at issue: District 48, held by the late Harry Geisinger of Roswell; District 146, vacated by Larry O’Neal, R-Bonaire; District 155, vacated by Jay Roberts, R-Ocilla; and District 80, vacated by Mike Jacobs, R-Brookhaven.

via The threat to Georgia’s ports and poultry arrived in a tin of fried catfish | Political Insider blog.


Local Attorney David Van Sant Announces Campaign for State House – Friends of David Van Sant

CUMMING, Ga. – Today, local attorney David Van Sant announced his intention to seek election to Georgia House District 24. Mark Hamilton recently vacated the seat.

As a principled conservative and constitutionalist, Van Sant has a passion for faith, family and freedom. Van Sant’s campaign is focused on fostering private-sector job creation, reducing unnecessary government spending, improving transportation infrastructure, protecting Lake Lanier and ensuring our children have access to a quality education.

“As a husband, father and businessman, I have watched our community evolve into a thriving destination for families and industry,” said Van Sant. “Our county’s continued growth presents both challenges and opportunities that must be met with energetic leadership and determination.

“Growth, prosperity and a high quality of life are not mutually exclusive,” continued Van Sant. “Now, more than ever, we must elect a leader who is committed to questioning the establishment in order to deliver real results for our community,” said Van Sant.

‘With your support, I will work to safeguard our high quality of life, protect local businesses and take Forsyth County to the next level,” stated Van Sant.

Van Sant, an alumni of Leadership Forsyth and former member of the Forsyth County Board of Ethics, has been recognized as one of the “Top 40 Trial Layers Under 40” and a “Georgia Super Lawyer.”

Co-Chaired by Billy Bennett and Force Recon Marine Shane Hazel and , Van Sant’s campaign will focus on harnessing the grassroots energy of voters across the district. Jason Joseph will serve as the campaign’s treasurer.

Van Sant and his wife, Carol, reside in South Forsyth with their three children, Ashley, 13, Davis, 11, and Caroline, 9. The Van Sant’s worship at Mountain Lake Community Church in Cumming, Georgia.

To learn more about Van Sant’s campaign, visit

via Local Attorney David Van Sant Announces Campaign for State House – Friends of David Van Sant.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 20, 2015

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.

One year 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

Yesterday, Brookhaven Mayor J. Max Davis threw his hat in the ring for the Special Election in House District 80.

“Mike Jacobs has provided excellent representation for District 80 and I will build on that tradition. I am excited to have the opportunity to continue my service to the people of Brookhaven and now of Sandy Springs and Chamblee at the state level,” said Davis. “We have, as a community, gotten Brookhaven started right. Police are protecting our streets, which are being paved, so families can go to our improving parks. In just two and a half years, through efficient local control, we have elevated our community.”

The Governor has set the special election for Tuesday, July 14. District 80 covers almost all of Brookhaven, and portions of Sandy Springs and Chamblee.

“I want to take my proven reform agenda and bring it to the state level,” continued Davis. “We have been successful in Brookhaven following those ideas. We cut taxes twice, enhanced services, and have a 4 million dollar reserve. Brookhaven will be left in good hands and on the right path.”

“Our community needs a leader with common sense and a demonstrated track record. I will focus on reforming and improving education. I will also work to get traffic moving through better coordinated actions among all area jurisdictions. Protecting taxpayer dollars and preserving neighborhoods will continue to be my priority.”

Davis previously ran as a Republican for State House District 80 in 2004, losing to Mike Jacobs.

At some point in the coming weeks, the Brookhaven Mayor is likely to either resign his seat or vacate it when he qualifies for State House.

Under the City Charter, since the term of his office has less than twelve months before the regularly scheduled election of Mayor in November 2015, the City Council will appoint a Mayor to serve the remainder of the term. Word on the street is that District One City Council Member Rebecca Chase-Williams will be appointed as Mayor and she will then run for a full term.

If that happens, the vacancy on City Council will be filled by the Mayor appointing a new member to serve through the November 2015 election. The name I’ve heard most frequently for that slot is Linley Jones, who would then presumably run for a full term in the November election.

So, while the entry of Mayor J. Max Davis into the State House Special Election will not cause any additional special elections, it will cause several dominos to fall.

If you’re interested in why this works like it does, it’s because the manner of filling vacancies in office is dictated by the Brookhaven City Charter.

Taylor Bennett, a Democrat and former quarterback at Georgia Tech also entered the Special Election.

“I’m looking forward to the coming campaign and hopefully to my election to the Georgia House,” Bennett said. “I believe Georgia, and particularly my district, have reached a point in time where we need strong, principled, and energetic leadership. I’m running because I believe in building a better Georgia for employers and employees alike, because I believe in a government that supports the rights and liberties of all its citizens, and because I believe that stronger public schools are the foundation of our state’s future,” he added. “I’m very excited about having these discussions with voters over the next several weeks and discussing how we can work together to achieve our collective goals.”

Guide to Special Elections

One of the most frequently asked questions lately has been about the upcoming Special Elections in June and July, so I’ve created a page that has all the information I have on the candidates in those races. Here’s the current slate:Continue Reading..