Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 16, 2014

The Mayflower left Plymouth, England, for the New World on September 16, 1620. Thirty-five of 102 passengers were members of the English Separatist Church seeking religious freedom from the Church of England. Originally aiming to reach Virginia, Mayflower eventually landed at Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

A single pistol shot on September 16, 1920 opened former Cherokee land in Oklahoma to white settlers in a “land run” to claim property.

The original stimulus act was announced to bring $70 million in federal money to Georgia to build roads and public buildings on September 16, 1933.

On September 16, 1940, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Selective Service and Training Act requiring males 26-35 years of age to register for the draft.

R.E.M. and Gregg Allman were among the inductees into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame on September 16, 2006.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

President Barack Obama is scheduled to arrive in Atlanta at 1:55 PM today. Here’s his schedule: (more…)

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 11, 2014

911 memorial 2

I was in my car that morning, on the way to my job when I heard on the radio of the first plane hitting. The announcers thought at first that it must be a small plane and likely an accident. Seventeen minutes later all doubt vanished as the second hit. Over the next hour, a third plane hit the Pentagon and a fourth went down in a field in Pennsylvania. We watched on television as the towers burned, then collapsed.

Shortly afterwards, the Family Room opened in a nearby tower to provide a place for loved ones to grieve out of the public eye.

The Family Room opened in April 2002 in space donated by Brookfield Office Properties, the owners of 1 Liberty Plaza, across Church Street from the trade center site. By presenting what was known as a medical examiner’s family identification card, victims’ relatives were admitted during regular workdays and at night, on weekends and on holidays.

On the 20th floor, behind a door marked “The Family Room,” relatives could settle into ample leather couches or stand at windows 15 and 20 feet wide. The room was intended for “quiet contemplation,” said a 2002 notice from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, which created and maintained the space, just a few doors down from its own headquarters and those of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center Foundation.

When the Family Room at 1 Liberty Plaza was replaced this summer by a new private gathering space in the National September 11 Memorial Museum pavilion, the [New York] State Museum and the memorial museum painstakingly documented the older room, and the State Museum acquired what contents family members themselves did not choose to reclaim.

There are materials in the Family Room collection related to about 1,000 victims, Mr. Schaming said, or roughly one-third of all casualties that day. “It is the most singular collection of the faces of people who were killed on 9/11,” he said.

One day after Perry’s victory in the Battle of Lake Erie, American Master Commandant Thomas Macdonough led American forces in the Battle of Plattsburg at Lake Champlain, New York on September 11, 1813.

The Union Army began evacuating civilians from Atlanta via Lovejoy’s Station on September 11, 1864.

Georgia-born Ty Cobb took his last at-bat on September 11, 1928.

After a week-long Presidential campaign swing through ten states, former Governor Jimmy Carter returned to Plains on September 11, 1976. At the time Republicans said he was too liberal; today they say that about his grandson, Democrat Jason Carter.

On September 11, 1985, Pete Rose broke Ty Cobb’s career hit record, notching number 4,192 against the San Diego Padres.

A New Show on GPB

GPB Political Rewind 09102014 600px

Last night, I was honored to appear in the inaugural episode of Georgia Public Broadcasting’s new TV show called Political Rewind with BIll Nigut, Jim Galloway of the AJC and Georgia State House Democratic Leader Stacey Abrams.

We’ll post a link to video if they get it online soon, but you can put it on your weekly schedule for 7 PM Wednesday evenings on your local GPB station.

New Poll from 11Alive Deceptive

Yesterday, 11Alive released a new poll in a story that is sloppy at best, deceptive at worst.

ATLANTA — A new exclusive scientific poll shows the race for Georgia’s governor is statistically tied. The poll was commissioned by 11Alive and conducted by Survey USA.

Over the past three weeks, since an identical poll was conducted by SurveyUSA on behalf of 11Alive, incumbent Republican Nathan Deal has watched a 9-point lead evaporate.

Forty-five percent of registered likely voters plan to vote for Jason Carter, 44% for Nathan Deal. The margin of error is +/- 4.2%, so they are statistically tied.

The part I want to discuss is where 11Alive says the polls were “identical.” That simply isn’t true. I’ve discussed at length the importance of weighting, and specifically the assumption about what percentage of voters will be African-American. (more…)

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 27, 2014

Advertising in the rights of way of state roads and placing signs on private property without the owner’s approval were prohibited in the first Georgia law regulating outdoor advertising, which was signed by Governor Richard Russell on August 27, 1931. Over the years, both practices would become enshrined in Peach State political strategy.

Former Georgia Governor Lester Maddox was nominated for President on the American Independent Party ticket on August 27, 1976, making the race probably the only one to ever feature two former Georgia governors. During the campaign, Maddox described Jimmy Carter as “the most dishonest man I ever met.”

On August 27, 1982, Oakland Athletics outfielder Rickey Henderson broke the record for stolen bases in a season, nabbing number 119 against the Milwaukee Brewers.

Georgia Governor Zell Miller addressed the Democratic National Convention on August 27, 1966. In 2004, Miller would address the Republican National Convention, likely becoming the first Georgian to address both major parties’ national conventions. Congressman John Lewis and Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney also addressed the ’96 DNC.

On August 27, 2008, Barack Obama became the Presidential nominee of the Democratic Party, the first African-American nominee of a major United States political party.

Elaine Boyer indicted

A day after she resigned from the DeKalb County Commission, federal wire fraud and conspiracy to commit mail fraud charges were filed against Elaine Boyer.

The information charges Boyer with participating since at least September 2009 in a scheme to defraud the county by submitting false invoices for consulting services that were supposedly performed by an unnamed adviser whom Boyer had hired to assist her with her public duties.

According to the information, for at least two years invoices were submitted to Boyer’s office for the adviser’s consulting services, but no such services were performed. Boyer used the invoices to authorize payments—and mail 35 checks totaling more than $78,000—to the adviser who, the information said, funneled about 75 percent of the funds, an estimated $58,000, into Boyer’s personal bank account.

Boyer then used the money to pay personal expenses, including purchases at hotels and high-end department stores, the information said.

The criminal information also charges Boyer with using a county-issued Visa purchasing card, which was intended for county-related purchases, to make more than 50 personal purchases totaling more than $15,000 that included airline tickets and hotel rooms for personal travel for herself and her family.

United States Attorney Sally Q. Yates said she intends to ask for prison time.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the consultant in questions is likely Marion Rooks Boynton.

[A]n Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigation that began months ago found that only one consultant received those kinds of payments from Boyer.

It’s Marion Rooks Boynton, a 72-year-old evangelist who ran unsuccessfully for DeKalb County offices 30 years ago. In recent weeks, the AJC had been asking Boyer for proof of the work Boynton had performed.

She could produce none.

Tuesday afternoon, Boyer told a federal magistrate judge she will plead guilty to a mail fraud charge in connection with that scheme. Boynton has not been charged.

Boyer also plans to plead guilty to another scheme first revealed in the AJC in March: using her county purchasing card to pay for personal expenses.

It is my personal hope that Nancy Jester will run for DeKalb County Commission to fill the seat vacated when Boyer resigned. During her service on the DeKalb County Board of Education, Nancy Jester uncovered millions of dollars in fraud, and sacrificed her political career on the School Board to bring the fraud to light. DeKalb County deserves an honest, principled public servant, not another political hack with ties to Elaine Boyer.

More on Polling

Yesterday, I wrote about a difference between the recent poll released by Landmark Communications, and those by other polling firms.

The Landmark poll projects a 29% ‘black vote.’  Frankly, anywhere from 28% to 30% would be reasonable, but we believe 26% is too low and has caused other polls to incorrectly display higher support for Republican candidates at this stage of the election.

The Republican National Committee apparently wrote to a member of the RNC from Georgia:

Having said that the poll you site does have African American turnout #’s at 29%. That is about 4 pts higher than the historic average but I don’t know that it is impossible.

So, there seems to be a difference in opinion on the historic figures for African-American turnout as a percentage of all voters. The difference between the RNC’s 2010 figure or 25% and Landmark’s 2010 figure of 28.5% is very significant in this setting.

It might be correct that an historic average of the percentage of Georgia voters in a General Election who are African-American is 25%, but that’s the wrong number to use as a predictor for 2012 turnout. The clear trend among the Georgia electorate is rising African-American turnout. Additionally, as Mark Rountree of Landmark Communications pointed out,

Since 2010, there have been 925,000 newly registered voters (net) in Georgia. Based on voting behavior by all demographic groups, this registration has added approximately 200,000 net new behaviorally Democratic voters to Georgia’s voting rolls. This means approximately 50,000 net registered voters added each year to the voting rolls in Georgia since the 2010 election.

The most relevant actual numbers are from the 2010 General Election, in which at least 28.29% of voters were African-American, and the 2012 General Eleciton, in which at least 29.89% of voters were African-American. On that basis, I’d say that if your pollster is using 25% as the percentage of the 2014 General Election that is likely to be African-American voters, they’re clearly wrong, essentially more than doubling the margin of error.

Here are three fundamental facts to understand when you’re looking at polling:

1.) the nature of polling is such that you can be wrong in the weighting and still have numbers that accurately represent the state of the electorate

2.) you can have everything absolutely correct methodologically and still be dead wrong on the numbers that count – the margin of error you read about whenever you see a poll is calculated at the 95% confidence interval, meaning that one in 20 polls will be outside the margin of error. Another word for “outside the margin of error” is “dead wrong.” Read that again – 1 in 20 polls is wrong.

3.) a single poll, even if absolutely correct, is a reflection of a point in time, and not a predictor of the future.

Governor Deal in Braselton

Governor Deal Braselton

Yesterday, Governor Nathan Deal spoke to a lunch held by the Jackson County Republican Party in Braselton, Georgia. Lunch was catered by Higher Grounds Coffee House, a very nice shop that I’ll visit again when in Braselton. Second from the right, next to Gov. Deal is Jackson County Sheriff Janis Mangum.

I’ll listen to the recording later today and see if I can pull out a couple segments to transcribe, but here’s what I took away from what Governor Deal said:

Voter turnout is absolutely critical, Republican voters must go to the polls….I’m afraid [changes in the primary schedule] may have desensitized people in this election cycle to the point where they just stay home, and we can’t afford to have that happen. Our base needs to turn out…. I would urge you to try and make sure that your family, and anybody you have any kind of contact or influence with, please stress to them the importance of this election.

Now this is a precursor to [2016], where we have a Presidential election. So, if Georgia shows any signs of vulnerability, then we are going to be deluged as a state that can no longer be counted on in the Republican column, and that has rather devastating effects for us, so we need to make sure that we do get the [voter] turnout this time.

Sam Olens notches a win for open government

Yesterday, Attorney General Sam Olens announced that his office prevailed in a lawsuit under the Open Records Act against the City of Cumming and Mayor Ford Gravitt.

Judge Adamson ordered the defendants to pay $12,000 in penalties, the highest amount possible under the law. Defendants have also been ordered to pay attorney’s fees in an amount to be determined at a later hearing.

“This ruling is a major victory for government transparency,” said Olens. “Georgians deserve a government that operates openly and honestly. The essence of our democracy is that elected officials are held accountable to the citizens and that citizens are allowed to exercise their rights granted by the First Amendment.”

At a Cumming City Council meeting on April 17, 2012, Mayor Gravitt demanded that citizen Nydia Tisdale cease filming the meeting and subsequently ordered her to leave the meeting. Ms. Tisdale returned to the meeting with another hand held camera and was again told to stop recording the meeting. Georgia’s Open Meetings Act expressly provides that visual and sound recording during open meetings shall be permitted.

“My office takes very seriously our responsibility to enforce the Open Meetings and Open Records Acts. The actions by the mayor in this circumstance were egregious, and it is essential that he be held responsible for his actions.”

Nydia Tisdale, who was ordered to stop video recording a public meeting was also at the center of the dispute this past weekend at an event held on private property, where she was arrested and charged with criminal trespass and obstruction.

Here’s the lesson for folks in politics: video recording devices are everywhere, and if you’re holding a public meeting at which candidates or elected officials are speaking, they will be recorded. In fact, the whole incident at Dawson County was recorded, and at least audio and photos are available. See, there’s this thing called an iPhone that combines a video recorder, audio recorder and camera.

If the candidates speaking this week had simply ignored Ms. Tisdale, there would be no issue. Instead, some well-meaning folks handed Gov. Deal’s opponent, Jason Carter, yet another stick with which to scourge our Republican Governor over something he and his campaign had nothing to do with.

The Democratic Party of Georgia, through spokesman Michael Smith, sent us word last night that they, too have seized on the issue. Smith coupled the reporter’s ouster with the GOP’s all-white ticket to try to make the case that Republicans are “rejecting huge swaths of the public.”

Said Smith: “They continue to alienate women, people of color, the LGBT community, and immigrants with hostile rhetoric and policies. Just this year, the Georgia Republican Party overwhelmingly rejected women and people of color on their Primary ballot. And now—in an apparent attempt to conceal what they say behind closed doors—it seems the GA GOP is purging itself of the press as well.”

This is nothing less than a political amateur hour blunder.

Pro-tip: the media can’t hold a circus if you don’t act like a clown.

Here’s a video shot a couple weeks ago by the lady who was forcibly removed from the Dawson County event. It’s well done and embarrasses no one. In fact, if I were one of the candidates in the video, I’d be grateful, and I’d be forwarding it to my friends and supporters to share with their friends and family.

Best of all, nobody embarrassed themselves or their fellow Republicans.

Professionals on-stage do not get flustered or distracted by video recordings, or even hecklers. They continue with their remarks, and for goodness sake, they don’t embarrass their Governor with whom they share a ticket in November.

Computer Programming as a foreign language

Earlier this week, Governor Deal announced that he is asking the State Board of Education to allow computer programming classes to satisfy part of the requirements for a high school diploma.

“Students need to acquire the 21st century skills necessary to thrive in the modern workforce,” Deal said. “Computing is currently one of the fastest growing occupations in the country with average salaries nearly twice the national rate. In fact, more than half of the projected job growth in the STEM fields will be in computing occupations. We must begin training our young people in these areas prior to their post-secondary education so they are prepared to fill these high-wage, in-demand positions.”

“This change will support our STEM efforts — science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” said University System of Georgia Chancellor Hank Huckaby. “It is a recognition of the evolving dynamics of our increasingly technologically dependent world.”

“If Georgia is to maintain a world-class workforce, then we must ensure that our students can understand and apply sophisticated technology,” said Technical College System of Georgia Commissioner Ron Jackson. “I applaud Governor Deal for this change that will improve the education of students and build a better future for Georgia.”

Currently, Georgia allows Advanced Placement Computer Science to satisfy the fourth and final science credit in high school. Only 18 percent of Georgia high schools offer this class and less than one percent of students took the course in 2013. Other coding courses can count only as elective credit and access to these courses is limited.

“I am working to keep Georgia the No. 1 place in the nation for business and we must have a strong education system that responds to the needs of companies across our state in order to do so,” Deal said. “Computer science should no longer be just a high school elective. With the help of strong partners like Georgia Tech, we can develop these valuable courses and better prepare our students for college and the workforce.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

—Justice Black

Pole Position

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

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

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

Poll Position

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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