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

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

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

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

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

Gov. Deal signs legislation

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

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

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

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

The bill has received coverage nationally. CNN wrote,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Time magazine called it “radical.”

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

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

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

Predictably, FoxNews took a different tone.

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

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

Associated Press had the money quote:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nunn 2014 a roadmap for Hilary 2016?

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

ElectoralCollege2012

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

ElectoralCollege2008

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

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

Campaigns and Elections

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From the press release:

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

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

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

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

Tractor Pull in 12th Congressional District?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Georgia Politics, Campaign, and Elections for April 18, 2014

On April 18, 1775, Paul Revere and William Dawes mounted up on horseback to warn of British troops on their way to confiscate American arms and to warn patriots Samuel Adams and John Hancock, who the British sought to capture.

By 1775, tensions between the American colonies and the British government had approached the breaking point, especially in Massachusetts, where Patriot leaders formed a shadow revolutionary government and trained militias to prepare for armed conflict with the British troops occupying Boston. In the spring of 1775, General Thomas Gage, the British governor of Massachusetts, received instructions from Great Britain to seize all stores of weapons and gunpowder accessible to the American insurgents. On April 18, he ordered British troops to march against Concord and Lexington.

The Boston Patriots had been preparing for such a British military action for some time, and, upon learning of the British plan, Revere and Dawes set off across the Massachusetts countryside. They took separate routes in case one of them was captured….

About 5 a.m. on April 19, 700 British troops under Major John Pitcairn arrived at the town to find a 77-man-strong colonial militia under Captain John Parker waiting for them on Lexington’s common green. Pitcairn ordered the outnumbered Patriots to disperse, and after a moment’s hesitation, the Americans began to drift off the green. Suddenly, the “shot heard around the world” was fired from an undetermined gun, and a cloud of musket smoke soon covered the green. When the brief Battle of Lexington ended, eight Americans lay dead and 10 others were wounded; only one British soldier was injured. The American Revolution had begun.

President William H. Taft learned on April 18, 1912 of the death of his military aide, Major Archibald Butts of Augusta, Georgia on RMS Titanic.

The honeybee was recognized as the official state insect of Georgia on April 18, 1975.

On April 18, 2006, Governor Sonny Perdue signed legislation establishing February 6 of each year as “Ronald Reagan Day” in Georgia and celebrating the date of President Reagan’s birth.

Georgia Politics

Yesterday, InsiderAdvantage released a poll for Fox 5 Atlanta and Morris News on the United States Senate race and the Gubernatorial contest. As a disclaimer, I work for InsiderAdvantage, writing for the InsiderAdvantage.com website, but am not involved in their polling.

The race for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate shows political newcomer David Perdue leading 3 congressmen and a former Georgia Secretary of State.

David Perdue: 19%
Jack Kingston: 15%
Karen Handel: 13%
Paul Broun: 11%
Phil Gingrey: 9%
Other: 1%
Undecided: 32%

In the race for the GOP nomination for Governor of Georgia, incumbent Nathan Deal has an overwhelming lead over his two opponents. The results are:

Nathan Deal: 61%
David Pennington: 7%
John Barge: 4%
Undecided: 28%

Matt Towery of InsiderAdvantage was quoted:

“Handel shows the most momentum at the moment,” he said. “Kingston has solidified second place with his more recent ‘Obamacare’ ad featuring images of Barack Obama engaged in leaving a faux voicemail for Kingston. But his first round of ads featuring an old station wagon clearly hurt him with female voters who tend to dominate the metro-Atlanta electorate.”

Handel’s campaign manager, Corry Bliss, stressed that she has spent little on advertising while Perdue and Kingston have each invested more than $1 million on television.

“We feel confident that as we spread Karen’s message of achieving conservative results, we will continue to grow our momentum,” he said.

Within an hour of the poll’s release, the Handel campaign sent an email to supporters stating, “a new poll released this afternoon has Karen Handel surging,” and soliciting contributions to help “keep the momentum going.”

Yesterday afternoon, I spoke to Eric Tanenblatt and Tharon Johnson, both from the McKenna Long law firm here in Atlanta. In 1992, Eric Tanenblatt was Political Director for Paul Coverdell’s Senate campaign, and I interned there. Since then, Eric has become a nationally-recognized Republican political strategist and served as a political advisor and National Finance Co-Chair for Governor Mitt Romney’s 2012 Presidential campaign as well as Georgia’s State Chairman for President George W. Bush’s campaign in 2000. Tharon Johnson managed Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s first winning campaign in 2009 and National Southern Regional Director for the 2012 Obama For America campaign, leading the presidential re-election campaign efforts for 11 southern states, including two key battleground states, Florida and North Carolina.

Here’s the take on yesterday’s poll and what it means for the Republican nomination for United States Senate from two of the top political operatives in the country.

It was an honor to talk to these gentlemen and be allowed to pick their brains on polling and politics nationally and in Georgia. I learned more in an hour there than in anything else I’ve done in recent years.

Hopefully, we’ll be talking more in the future.

As it happens, I had met Tharon the night before on the set of Georgia Public Broadcasting’s “On the Story.” It was a pleasure to be with hosts Bill Nigut and Bobbie Battista, as well as fellow panelists Jim Galloway of the AJC, Jackie Cushman, and of course, Tharon. Here’s a clip.

Handel also announced earlier this week that Arizona Governor Jan Brewer is endorsing her campaign for Senate.

Yesterday, Congressman Jack Kingston received the endorsement of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in his bid for United States Senate. Here is Jim Galloway’s analysis of what it means:

solidifying [Kingston's] position as the choice of the business establishment and representing a blow to businessman David Perdue, who is fighting in the same space of the Republican primary electorate.

The Chamber can back up its endorsement with independent spending, though political director Rob Engstrom would not reveal any plans for a buy. The group has already spent $500,000 each backing Sens. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Thad Cochran, R-Miss., in their primaries against tea party insurgents.

Word is Perdue had a testy interview with the Chamber, but Kingston also mostly votes with the Chamber’s wishes: He got 75 percent on the group’s scorecard last year, compared with 67 percent for Rep. Phil Gingrey and 46 percent for Rep. Paul Broun.

I think that it also hurts Kingston in some quarters, Tea Party-type conservative activists who are suspicious of anyone who appears too close to the Chamber of Commerce may distance themselves from his campaign at this point. But to the extent that Kingston wishes to discuss economic development, and fostering both the Port of Savannah and agriculture, Georgia’s largest industry, it enhances his ability to discuss business development and job growth.

Speaking of job growth, yesterday saw the announcement that Georgia’s unemployment rate dipped again, for the ninth consecutive month. This marks the lowest unemployment rate since September 2008, and the lowest since Governor Nathan Deal took office. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Deal campaign is talking to their media strategists about adding that point to the currently-running TV ad.

We’ll wrap up this morning’s news with a look at John McCallum’s newest commercial featuring his wife Heather, who just happened to have been the first deaf person selected as Miss America, winning in 1995. Heather has an impeccable Republican pedigree herself, having spoken at the 1996 and 2000 Republican National Conventions.

 

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

After two days of exchanging letters with his Union counterpart, Lt. General Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee agreed to meet and make arrangements for the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia. At 2 PM, Lee and Grant met in a private home owned by Wilmer McLean at Appomattox Court House, Virginia and Lee agreed to the surrender of his army.

Lee was resplendent in his dress uniform and a fine sword at his side. Grant arrived wearing a simple soldier’s coat that was muddy from his long ride. The great generals spoke of their service in the Mexican War, and then set about the business at hand. Grant offered generous terms. Officers could keep their side arms, and all men would be immediately released to return home. Any officers and enlisted men who owned horses could take them home, Grant said, to help put crops in the field and carry their families through the next winter. These terms, said Lee, would have “the best possible effect upon the men,” and “will do much toward conciliating our people.” The papers were signed and Lee prepared to return to his men.

An excellent account of the laying down of their arms on April 12, 1865, by the Army of Northern Virginia was written by Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain.

On April 9, 1968, Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta held the funeral for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. More than 100,000 mourners reportedly showed up for the funeral, which could accomodate only 800; 200,000 mourners followed the mule-drawn hearse to Morehouse College.

Campaigns & Elections

It’s not really a campaign, but Governor Deal makes a cameo in the new “Chop Arm Strong” video.

State Senator Buddy Carter has a second ad out in his Congressional bid, again touting his credentials as a pharmacist.

Since at least 2009, Gallup polling has shown pharmacists to be one of the most-trusted pharmacists by survey respondents, and Gallup’s December 2013 ratings showed pharmacists ranked second for honesty and ethical standards. Also unsurprising, Gallup found the two lowest ranked professions are car salesmen and Members of Congress.

Phil Gingrey’s television debut this cycle hasn’t exactly gone as planned.

(Hat tip to Georgia Tipsheet for capturing the video above)

What was expected to be a soft opener for more than $700k in media time bought by the Gingrey campaign turned into a SuperPAC slap and the resulting recriminations. From Daniel Malloy of the AJC:

Ending Spending PAC has been on the air in Georgia hitting Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Michelle Nunn, but the group does not limit its antipathy to Democrats: It’s now attacking Rep. Phil Gingrey.

The group, funded by Ameritrade founder and Chicago Cubs owner Joe Ricketts, has bought $1.3 million in ad time between now and the May 20 primary. We assumed this was all to bash Nunn, but that is not the case.

The Ending Spending ad comes as Gingrey — sitting on more $2 million at the beginning of the year — announces he’s back up on the air with his ad pledging to repeal Obamacare or go home after one term. He’s bought time through primary day.

Gingrey’s campaign responded swiftly, issuing a statement from Campaign Manager Patrick Sebastian:

“This attack on Rep. Gingrey is a clear indication his establishment opponents see he’s on-the-move, and is the most viable conservative in the race.

“The attacks on conservative Republicans like Phil Gingrey from this special interest group are straight out of Barack Obama’s liberal playbook. Georgians will not let these Chicago-style tactics on leaders who have proven records in cutting spending, protecting our military and veterans, and fighting Obamacare stop them from supporting conservative Republicans like Phil Gingrey.”

Later yesterday an email to supporters sounded this note:

Their motivation is a clear indication that his establishment opponents see he’s moving up in the polls, and is the most viable Constitutional conservative in the race for U.S. Senate.

Twice named most conservative member of Congress, the establishment will stop at nothing to elect a moderate to the U.S. Senate.

They know Phil has fought to reduce the debt, cut the deficit, cap spending, balance the budget, and — throughout his time in D.C. — has returned more than $1.4 million of his personal office’s funds to the U.S. Treasury.

Most importantly, they know Phil will never waver on our conservative values.

Here’s the ad that Gingrey put at least part of his $725k ad buy behind.

New Polling Index for Governor’s Race

Yesterday, we got our hands on a new poll in the Governor’s race between Republican incumbent Nathan Deal and Democratic challenger Jason Carter, this one by Public Policy Polling (PPP) and sponsored by ultra-lefties MoveOn.org. Hat tip to Greg Bluestein for bringing it to our attention and providing the documents.

If the election for Governor were held today, would you vote for Jason Carter or Nathan Deal?

Jason Carter …………………………………………… 43%
Nathan Deal ……………………………………………. 42%
Not sure …………………………………………………. 15%

If you are a Democrat, press 1. If a Republican, press 2. If you are an independent or identify with another party, press 3.

Democrat ……………………………………………….. 35%
Republican ……………………………………………… 36%
Independent / Other …………………………………. 29%

We have re-calculated the Polling Index for this race. Below is a chart of the three-poll index and tables that also include a four-poll version.

3-poll index Governor 04082014

Deal v Carter
 
 
 
 
 
 
JanuaryFebruaryMarchApril 1April 8
Nathan Deal4745384342
Jason Carter3842413943
NetDeal +9Deal +3Carter +3Deal +4Carter +1

Here’s the weighted average for the last three polls:

3-Poll Index
April 1, 2014
April 8, 2014
Change
 
 
 
Deal42.642.5-.1
Carter38.739.7+1

And the weighted average for the last four polls:

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

The weighted average or index looks backwards at the most recent 3 or 4 polls and computes an average that account for the sample size. An 800 sample survey will have more effect on the final number than a 400 sample survey.

This naturally reduces the appearance of volatility and, we think, accounts for differences in pollsters’ methods.

Will Keystone XL open a rift on the left?

Michelle Nunn, the presumed Democratic nominee for United States Senate has endorsed the Keystone XL pipeline. WIll this open a rift within the Democratic Party?

“I have a lot of friends who have different perspectives on Keystone,” Nunn said, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We need to continue to focus on green energy and finding sustainable sources of energy, but I do believe we should move forward with Keystone.”
Keystone XL remains a contentious issue on Capitol Hill as Republicans crank up pressure on President Obama to sign it. Nunn would be among the ranks of other oil and gas-friendly Democrats, like Sens. Mary Landrieu (La.) and Mark Begich (Alaska), who support the pipeline.

New poll on Georgia Governor’s race

It’s by Public Policy Polling (PPP) and sponsored by MoveOn.org.

If the election for Governor were held today, would you vote for Jason Carter or Nathan Deal?

Jason Carter …………………………………………… 43%
Nathan Deal ……………………………………………. 42%
Not sure …………………………………………………. 15%

If you are a Democrat, press 1. If a Republican, press 2. If you are an independent or identify with another party, press 3.

Democrat ……………………………………………….. 35%
Republican ……………………………………………… 36%
Independent / Other …………………………………. 29%

We’ll recalculate the GaPundit Polling Index and post it later today or in tomorrow’s morning email

Poll officials needed for 2014 elections | Gwinnett Daily Post

The Voter Registrations and Elections Division is looking for dedicated citizens to serve as paid poll officials for the 2014 elections.

#Successful poll officials demonstrate patience, enjoy working with people, take direction well and are detail oriented. Applicants must be a U.S. citizen and resident of Gwinnett, at least 16 years old and able to read, write and speak English. Those who were convicted of a felony involving moral turpitude or judicially determined to be mentally incompetent are not eligible to serve as a poll official.

#Poll officials must have transportation to and from the polling location and have access to a computer to complete online training; some officials may require additional training. All officials must report to their polls by 6:30 a.m. on election day and work the entire 14 hour day.

via Poll officials needed for 2014 elections | Gwinnett Daily Post.

Poll: blame spread for snow snarls – Rome News-Tribune: Local

ATLANTA — Georgians spread the blame widely among state and local officials and agencies for the traffic problems developing during Tuesday’s snow storm, according to a survey released Thursday.

When the InsiderAdvantage/Morris News Poll asked who to blame, the biggest group, 28 percent, cited their “mayor or county officials.”

Next came the Georgia Department of Transportation with 20 percent, followed by Gov. Nathan Deal at 15 percent. Because the online poll was conducted statewide by OpinionSavvy, individual mayors weren’t listed by name.

Just 12 percent said weather forecasters had fallen down on the job.

The Wednesday survey also asked the 434 Georgians chosen randomly to assess their approval of the governor’s handling of state response, just 34 percent approved while 41 percent disapproved. That left 12 percent with no opinion and a 4.6 percent margin of error.

via Poll: blame spread for snow snarls – Rome News-Tribune: Local.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns and Elections for January 30, 2014

Today’s historical moments below combine to show some of the major influences on Georgia politics and governance since her founding, and how the same conflicts have played out across the world, from Northern Ireland to India, to stages of rock and roll shows.

On January 30, 1788, the Georgia legislature passed a resolution calling for a state Constitutional Convention in Augusta to adopt a state Constitution that conformed to the new Constitution of the United States.

On January 30, 1862, the United States launced its first ironclad warship, USS Monitor.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was born on January 30, 1882 in Hyde Park, New York. In 1942, Roosevelt ordered Japanese-Americans on the west coast of the United States into concentration camps, leaving German and Italian Americans free.

On January 30, 1935, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. protested segregated elevators at the Fulton County Courthouse. If you’re stuck at home, maybe you’d like to take a moment to read one of the best essays I’ve ever seen on the true impact that Rev. King had.

On January 30, 1948, Mohandas K. Gandhi was assassinated.

1920 Georgia Flag

On January 30, 1956, six members of the Georgia State House of Representatives introduced House Bill 98 to replace the red and white stripes on Georgia’s flag (above) with a Confederate battle flag (below). That same day, a bomb was thrown at the Birmingham, AL home of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

1956 Georgia Flag

January 30, 1972 is remembered as Bloody Sunday in commemoration of the shooting of 26 civilians by British troops in Northern Ireland.

On January 30, 2001, the Georgia State Senate passed a house bill changing the state flag from the 1956 version to one that aggregated the State Seal and five former state flags, pictured below.

2001GeorgiaFlag

#AtlantaSnow aka #Clusterflake

Twitter Snow Jam2

That is the best graphic depiction of what happened in Atlanta on Tuesday. If I knew who originally posted the graphic, I would credit them.

Two points I’d like to make from this. First, this shows how a graphic can convey information better than words in some cases; if Facebook and other social media are part of your business, political campaign, or activism, understand the power of graphics and do more of them and fewer words. Second, this indicates to me that the problem was not that we didn’t have enough equipment, salt, sand, etc., but that the fast-pace dumping of hundreds of thousands of commuters onto the Atlanta roads.

From the whole mess and the blamestorming that are following, here are two truths about Atlanta that I have been reminded of.

1. Our weakness is our reliance on government. This is true across the United States, but demonstrated nowhere more memorably than Atlanta’s road beginning Tuesday afternoon.

2. Our strength is our community and the willingness of our friends, family, neighbors, churches, business owners, and ourselves to lend a hand to someone in need without having to be told, asked or paid to do so.

Going forward in Georgia government, let us pray that these lessons don’t get forgotten yet again.

Governor Deal writes “Six things you need to know” about recovery efforts.

1. Please stay off the roads. We are still in a State of Emergency and we need to keep the roads as clear as possible. This is for your safety and the safety of others.

2. School children across the Metro-Atlanta area are safe and in good hands. Georgia State Patrol Troopers have been assigned to assist schools where children needed to spend the night. I’d like to thank teachers, parents, school faculty, and all those involved for their hard work and dedication to our children’s safety.

3. Yesterday, I instructed the National Guard to send military Humvees to our interstates to assist school buses and get food and water to stranded residents. All school buses and children have been responded to and are safe. Stranded citizens have access to emergency services throughout the Metro-Atlanta area. We are still in the process of clearing roads and assisting those in need. Again, please stay off the roads so we can continue this process.

Speaker Ralston and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle issued a joint statement and suspended legislative business today.

Availability of propane is becoming an issue for poultry farmers in this weather. From GrowingGeorgia.com, your best resource for learning about Georgia’s largest industry.

“We have been monitoring the situation for the past two weeks,” said Mike Giles, the president of the Georgia Poultry Federation. So far, members have been able to find the propane they need, but they have felt the pinch of the shortage, he said.

Facing a shortage of fuel across much of the country, the National Propane Gas Association successfully lobbied the U.S. Department of Transportation to allow more free transport of fuel for the Southern, Midwestern and Eastern regions. The rare order applies to eight Southern states including Georgia, 10 Midwest states and 14 Eastern states. A total of 30 states so far have individually issued Hours of Service relief.

The National Propane Gas Association also is working with officials within the pipeline, rail, and truck transport industries and asking for propane shipments to be prioritized within their industry.

Farming groups and state governments have done what they can to support the propane industry in its efforts to get fuel to the producers who need it.

“The National Chicken Council (NCC) which represents companies that produce, process, and market over 95 percent of the chicken in the United States is working with the appropriate federal agencies, organizations, and stakeholders to help alleviate the spot shortages being experienced with the very tight supply of propane in at least 31 states, many of which have important production of chicken,” said Mike Brown, the president of the National Chicken Council.

On Monday, Governor Deal issued an executive order to prohibit price-gouging in propane sales.

With inclement weather headed toward Georgia, Gov. Nathan Deal today in coordination with Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black signed an executive order prohibiting price gouging for propane. Georgia’s continued period of cold weather has increased the demand for propane, causing a substantial prices increase in recent days.

“Our families, farmers and small business are worried about getting the heat they need during times of frigid weather,” Deal said. “They shouldn’t have to worry about price gouging, and we aim to prevent that.”

“Due to the much colder than normal weather this winter, we have seen a higher demand for propane gas resulting in shortages and escalating prices in Georgia and across the nation,” said Black. “Livestock and poultry farmers, along with food processors, depend on propane to continue business. We are doing everything possible to work with the propane suppliers and agribusinesses to meet the challenges we are currently facing.”

InsiderAdvantage last night warned of the spectre of fuel shortages in Metro Atlanta following #AtlantaSnow.

Already many gasoline outlets are dry after a rush on fuel Tuesday afternoon, and gridlocked roads are preventing tanker trucks from replenishing them.

Worse, the demand is likely to pick up in a big way over the next two or three days, as motorists reclaim their cars on the sides of roads and try again to drive them home.

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U.S. House passes Farm Bill, sends to Senate

The United States House of Representatives passed the Farm Bill and sent it to the Senate. From the New York Times:

The House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a bill authorizing nearly $1 trillion in spending on farm subsidies and nutrition programs, setting the stage for final passage of a new five-year farm bill that has been stalled for more than two years.

Negotiators from the House and Senate spent several weeks working out their differences on issues in the legislation, including cuts to food stamps, income caps on farm subsidies and a price support program for dairy farmers. The bill is expected to save about $16.6 billion over the next 10 years.

The bill passed the House by a vote of 251 to 166. The Senate is expected to take up the bill later this week.

Compared with earlier, more contentious votes on the farm bill, Wednesday’s vote was largely bipartisan. Many Democrats who had opposed it because of cuts to the food stamp program supported it on Wednesday. A number of Republicans, including many who wanted deeper cuts to the food stamps, also voted for passage.

The House speaker, John A. Boehner of Ohio, and the majority leader, Eric Cantor, Republican of Virginia, had endorsed the bill and urged Republicans to support it, even though they said they would have liked to see more changes.

Congressman Austin Scott (R-GA) praised the Farm Bill’s passage.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Og7lUMDUw1Q

Campaigns & Elections

Public Policy Polling continues to release curious polling results. The biggest issue I have with their polling is in how they weight the responses to arrive at a sample that reflects what they think Georgia’s electorate will look like in 2014.

The biggest red flag to me is that they consistently show party identification as being evenly split between Democrats and Republicans. Except when they don’t. Now they’ve released two polls within the past week that directly contradict each other on the partisan makeup of Georgia’s electorate.

I’ve written about this at length, but here’s the big question. Why did a different PPP Poll last week show Republican with a 43-38 lead over Democrats in party identification, while this poll shows an even split at 38-38?

I think there’s a 3-8 point lead in the electorate for self-identified Republicans over Democrats, and last week PPP agreed: this week they think it’s evenly split. From Jim Galloway’s Political Insider blog at the AJC.

WASHINGTON — Democrat Michelle Nunn is neck-and-neck with four top-tier Republican U.S. Senate candidates in hypothetical matchups by Public Policy Polling.

The full results of the poll commissioned by liberal group Americans United for Change are here and put Nunn in the lead, but around the 3.9 percent margin for error. She leads Rep. Paul Broun, 42-41, Rep. Phil Gingrey, 45-41, former Secretary of State Karen Handel, 44-40, and Rep. Jack Kingston, 44-42.

The results are a small bump for Nunn from what PPP found in August, when Nunn was either tied or slightly ahead of the GOP field. The automated poll of 640 Georgians recorded an even split of Republicans and Democrats at 38 percent each, with 24 percent classifying themselves as Independent or other. Notably, the sample was 53 percent female.

Partisan Democrats respond that PPP was shown to be one of the most accurate pollsters in 2012. I note that those rankings were based on the last polls before the 2012 General Election, when pollsters knew they would be judged against the final results.

Others note that the predictive ability of polling six months or more out from a general election is suspect at best. So why bother? I would say that these early polls are by-and-large designed to demonstrate that the Democratic candidates have a shot at winning in November and are commissioned solely to produce polling results that can be used in fundraising for those Democratic candidates and allied organizations.

Damningly, polling super-analyst Nate Silver has called out PPP for making decisions that appear to reflect their partisanship over the results they got.

VERY bad and unscientific practice for @ppppolls to suppress a polling result they didn’t believe/didn’t like.

 

I’m especially skeptical when a pollster puts its finger on the scale in a way that matches its partisan views.

We’ll be discussing this some more after we aggregate some polling data.

Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

How do you know Vernon Jones is serious about running for Sheriff? Cowboy boots and hat. And this pull-quote from his new website.

“To all law breakers and potential law breakers, you have until sundown on May 20, 2014 to get out of DeKalb County!”

-Vernon Jones

State Representative Mike Jacobs (R-Brookhaven) responded:

Jacobs Twitter Vernon

Republican Rick Allen, running for Congress against incumbent Democrat John Barrow, has received the endorsement of the family of late Congressman Charlie Norwood.

The family of Congressman Charlie Norwood today endorsed Rick Allen to follow in the late Congressman’s footsteps in the race for Georgia’s 12th-District seat. The endorsement includes Rep. Norwood’s widow, Gloria, and his sons, Charles III and Carlton.

“One of a Congressman’s most-important responsibilities is to help folks in his district to navigate the confounding maze of government agencies. In many important cases, our Congressman is the last source of help for citizens in crisis. As government regulation continues to grow, it is critical that we elect a Congressman who will fight for his constituents in the daily affairs of the district. (Military benefits, Social Security matters, relations with the Department of Agriculture, etc.)”

“Rick will fight for what is right when his constituent is meeting difficulty with our government. His decades of business success prove that he has the heart and determination to do what ‘needs doin’. If the Norwood family were at odds with a governmental agency, we’d want Rick beside us in the foxhole. And, we know he would be.”

In Augusta, we have a campaign announcement and a pre-announcement. Former Solicitor General Harold V. Jones will run for the State Senate District 22 seat that Senator Hardie Davis is vacating in order to run for Mayor of Augusta.

Jones became Augusta’s first black solicitor general when he was elected in November 2004 with more than 59 percent of the votes. He ran unopposed in 2008, but resigned the next year to compete with Davis for the Senate seat, left open at the resignation of Ed Tarver, now a U.S. attorney.

Two other attempts – an unsuccessful House run in 2002 and a 2012 loss to Marion Williams to represent Super District 9 on the Augusta Commission – left the Augusta lawyer undaunted.

Besides Johnson, Augusta real estate agent Elmyria Chivers is running for the Senate seat.

With no announced Republican candidates, the election likely will be decided in the general primary May 20, when Augusta also will pick a mayor and vote on the latest sales tax referendum.

And recently-ousted Augusta City Administrator Fred Russell is said to be preparing a bid for Mayor.

Former Augusta City Ad­min­istrator Fred Russell is running for mayor, his campaign chairman, Duncan Johnson, said Tuesday.

“He is running,” Johnson said. “His announcement will be coming shortly.”

A former Richmond, Va., po­lice chief, Russell joined Augusta’s government in 2002 as a deputy city administrator. He was promoted to administrator in 2004 and held the job for nearly 10 years.

On Dec. 9, the Augusta Com­mission, citing a need to move in “a different direction,” voted 9-0 to fire him and begin a nationwide search for his replacement.

Also seeking the mayor’s post are Augusta Commission member Alvin Mason; state Sen. Hardie Davis, D-Augusta; entrepreneur Helen Blocker-Adams; and businessman Charles Cum­mings.

#SOTU part two

Congressman Phil Gingrey responds specifically to President Obama’s stated willingness to use Executive Orders to bypass Congress.

Congressman Jack Kingston

“While the President attempts to shift from the core issues that cripple our economy and threaten our security, we must bring attention to the solutions for these problems passed by the House but awaiting action in the Senate,” said Kingston. “With millions of Americans working only part time or out of the work force entirely, we cannot afford to wait.  There are a number of projects we can begin now that will create jobs and strengthen our economy, namely the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project and the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.”

“We need the kind of growth that comes from stopping overregulation and supporting opportunities in the private sector.  Instead of increasing the cost of health care, we need to encourage companies to hire full time employees instead of more part-time workers,”

Congressman Lynn Westmoreland

It might not seem like it but Groundhog Day is actually next week. This week, President Barack Obama delivered his fifth State of the Union address to Congress.  Unfortunately, it was just a lot more of the same old, same old.

At a time when more than 60 percent of Americans think the nation is headed in the wrong direction and 70 percent are dissatisfied with the economy, President Obama took this opportunity to continue to promote his same “no jobs” economy: more federal spending, more federal bureaucracy, and higher taxes.  As it’s been for the first five years of his presidency, this is nothing more than a recipe for economic disaster.

This president has shown time and again that he has little respect for the American people and no respect for the US Constitution.  Tonight’s speech was just one more example of his disdain.

Americans for Prosperity Georgia

President Obama’s 2014 State of the Union Address resembled a man speaking to himself more than anyone else in the room, a desperate effort to convince himself of his own relevance at a time when his approval ratings are in the toilet. 51% disapprove of the job Obama is doing as president while 43% approve. 63% of Americans have some/no confidence in Obama to make the right decisions for the country’s future and 49% say Obama is not honest or trustworthy. Despite President Obama’s soaring rhetoric, this is his fifth State of the Union Address; Americans have heard these promises before. It is time for the President to take ownership of his record and be held accountable for the results.

The President said he is leading by example on raising the minimum wage for all future federal contractors through executive privilege and called on private sector businesses to do the same. This ignores the reality that businesses forced to artificially raise their minimum wage must factor in the rising business costs and often must lay off low level workers. These are the very workers that, in theory, would benefit from the living wage increase.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns and Elections for January 22, 2014

Medical Marijuana moving up

Medicinal use of marijuana is finding some supporters I would at one time (last week) have considered highly unlikely. From WSB-TV,

Channel 2 Action News has learned state lawmakers supporting medical marijuana could have a bill ready to go as early as this week that would make medical marijuana legal in Georgia.

Channel 2′s Lori Geary began reporting the issue weeks ago and talked to an unlikely co-sponsor of the bill, state Rep. Micah Gravley, a Republican from Paulding County.

He says when he was first asked about the issue he flat out refused, telling supporters of the issue he’s a conservative, Christian Republican.

Then he says the parents of 10-year-old Caden Clark reached out to him, “I have had a 180-degree change because I’ve seen how it can impact these kids and how it can impact these families who are now separated because one’s here in Georgia, the other one’s in Colorado.”

Tuesday, Gov. Nathan Deal said he’s not taking a stance on the issue but said, “I think there’s a strong case being presented by some of the families in some serious situations involving their children.”

till, the Christian Coalition remains firmly against any state law on medical marijuana.

The president of the group, Jerry [Luquire], told Geary that marijuana, in any form, is considered a Class 1 substance by the federal government, one of the most dangerous drugs. He says federal law trumps state law. He accuses the lawmakers supporting the bill of a conspiracy to break federal law.

Winston Jones at the (Carrollton) Times-Georgian spoke to their local legislators.

Sen. Mike Dugan, R-Carrollton, said Monday that he’s not in favor of legalizing marijuana for recreational use, as in Colorado, and he also is against a sweeping medical marijuana law. However, he did indicate he is open to looking at derivatives that might be medically useful.

“From what I understand, with the oil, the intoxicants have been removed,” Dugan said. “I’m willing to listen to that. I want some medical professionals to come forward and tell me what benefits it would have, and I’ll make a determination from that.”

He said states that have passed medical marijuana bills have suffered widespread abuse, and he feels Georgia doesn’t need that.

Sen. Mike Crane, R-Newnan, said so far, he’s seen only anecdotal evidence from personal stories, and he’s looking forward to hearing medical presentations.

“If the stories prove true, and we see remarkable results with certain candidates, this sounds like one more tool in the doctor’s cache of things that could relieve untold suffering for many,” Crane said. “There’s more discussions to be had, and I think we’re going to see that. It’s something I’m very concerned about, but very cautious. As we move forward, I’m going to take extreme caution on this issue.”

Rep. Randy Nix, R-LaGrange, said he wonders if there’s any other drugs that can do the same thing as the medical marijuana.

“If the answer is ‘no,’ then I’m willing to listen to the debate,” Nix said. “I would want it to be something in a pill or oil form, and legislation that would have a narrow scope of what was allowed. I won’t support legislation if it looks like people want to use it to get their foot in the door to support recreational marijuana. That’s my concern.”

Nix said if the drug works for children with seizures, maybe that’s the only thing for which it should be prescribed.

“I’m not heartless,” he said. “If that’s the only thing that will help these children, let’s figure out a way to do it, but let’s not use it as that door opener to fully legalize marijuana.”

Peachtree NORML and Georgia NORML, both pro-marijuana legalization groups, released a poll by Public Policy Polling (PPP) on several ways of loosening Georgia’s marijuana laws. Here are some quotes from the release:

A new statewide poll shows that 62% of Georgia voters endorse eliminating criminal penalties for possession by adults of less than one ounce of pot, and replace it with a $100 civil fine, without the possibility of jail time. Further, more than half of all Georgia voters now support regulating the legal consumption and retail sale of marijuana for those age 21 and over.

In 2010, some 32,500 Georgians were arrested for violating marijuana laws, according to the FBI. That is the sixth highest total of any state in America.

Fifty -seven percent of voters supported legalizing the use of marijuana for medical purposes. State
lawmakers have indicated interest in studying this legal option.

Here’s a question that will specifically interest some politicians.

Q5 If a candidate supported marijuana law reform, would that make you more or less likely to vote for that candidate in the next election, or would it not make a difference?

More likely……………29%
Less likely……………34%
Wouldn’t make a difference……………29%
Not sure…………….8%

A couple of things to note. First, if that question on reelecting a candidate who supports changing marijuana laws is accurate, it doesn’t tell the story most incumbents are likely interested in – the effect of a vote on their party’s primary voters. There are likely differences between Republicans and Democrats, and geographic differences between, say, a Metro Atlanta suburban or in-town district, and a strongly conservative rural district.

The second point I’d like to make, and one that has implications for polling beyond the issue of marijuana is that in this poll, Public Policy Polling found the partisan self-identification as follows:

Q8 If you are a Democrat, press 1. If a Republican, press 2. If you are an independent or identify with another party, press 3.
Democrat……………37%
Republican………….43%
Independent/Other……20%

I think that a 6-point lead for self-identified Republicans over Democrats is about correct. But that’s at odds with an Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll that showed Democrats with a slight lead in party identification. A poll by InsiderAdvantage, where I have a part-time job sweeping floors and editing their website, put the differential at Republican +3 points.

A poll by PPP conducted in August showed Republicans +1, which I raised as an issue that caused me to question their head-to-head ballot questions that showed Michelle Nunn ahead of or tied with all of the major GOP candidates for United States Senate.

An October poll by PPP that showed Jason Carter at 40% versus Governor Deal at 44% also reflected an electorate evenly split between self-identified Democrats and Republicans - a scenario I refer to as “dreamland for Democrats.”

Part of what a pollster does, and what a discerning consumer of polling should do is to not place all your faith in any given poll, but to add the results of each poll into the mix as part of the context. And then compare that with your experiences in Georgia politics.

In 2010, competitive statewide race results ranged from Republican +9.3 to Republican +12.8, with Governor Deal beating Democratic former Governor Roy Barnes by 10 points. [In this instance I am discounting the 2010 races for U.S. Senate, SOS, Commissioner of Agriculture and Labor Commissioner, which were GOP blowouts.]

In 2012, Mitt Romney outpolled President Obama by nearly eight points and Public Service Commissioner Chuck Eaton beat Democrat Steve Oppenheimer by just under nine points.

So I feel safe in the following prediction: in 2014, the Republican electoral advantage in closely-contested statewide election will be in the range of Republican +6 to Republican +10. That’s after campaigning, but for now, any poll I see that doesn’t show a lead in GOP self-identification in the +3 to +6 range warrants a look at the crosstabs to see what’s going on.

Gold Dome Today

Today will be Georgia Right to Life’s “March for Life” at the Georgia State Capitol from 11:15 AM to 2 PM. Speakers will include Governor Nathan Deal, keynote speaker Pam Stenzel, and special guest speaker Dr. Robert White! Note that GRTL has directions for parking on their website too. Georgia Right to Life PAC has endorsed Meagan Biello in the runoff election for State Representative in House District 22, making her the only endorsed candidate in that race.


Legislative Calendar

Senate Rules – TBA, 450 CAP

10:00 AM Floor Session

1:00 pm
Senate Regulated Industries & Utilities Committee
Wed, January 22, 1pm – 2pm, 307 CLOB
Senate State & Local Governmental Operations Committee
Wed, January 22, 1pm – 2pm, 310 CLOB
House Appropriations
Wed, January 22, 1pm – 2pm or upon adjournment, 341 CAP
House Rules Committee
Wed, January 22, 2pm-3pm, 341 CAP

2:00 pm

Senate Health & Human Services Committee

Wed, January 22, 2pm – 3pm, 450 CAP

Senate Transportation Committee
Wed, January 22, 2pm – 3pm, MEZZ

3:00 pm

Senate Judiciary Non-Civil Committee
Wed, January 22, 3pm – 4pm, 307 CLOB

Kingston Collection

Since we mentioned the Limited Edition “Cotton Boll” logo t-shirt we saw from one of Jack Kingston’s past Congressional campaigns, we have been sent photos of some other Limited Edition Kingston swag. Here is the “Children of the Corn” logo.

Kingston Corn logo

And Ball One:

Kingston Baseball logoSm


Open Judicial seats in Gwinnett, Cobb

Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge Michael Clark has announced that he will retire February 28, 2014 to join a law firm. As his term is not expiring, Governor Nathan Deal will appoint a successor. If history is any pattern, the leading candidates to be named are either incumbent state legislators, or lower court judges, which open up an additional seat for appointment or election.

Cobb County Superior Court Judge James Bodiford also announced he will retire at the end of his term this year. The election to replace him is likely to be held May 20, 2014.


Probation Lifted for DeKalb Public Schools

The accreditation for DeKalb County Public Schools, previously placed on probation by SACS, has been upgraded to a status of “accredited warned.”

“The threat of the loss of accreditation is no longer imminent,” said Mark Elgart, whose agency, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, precipitated a crisis in December 2012 that led to the governor’s intervention. SACS placed DeKalb on probation and threatened to strip accreditation altogether if the school board and superintendent failed to address management concerns.

Gov. Nathan Deal replaced six of the nine school board members, just after the old board replaced the superintendent. DeKalb’s new leadership has made remarkable progress addressing the issues, Elgart said, but he said the work is far from done and that the elections May 20 for the nonpartisan school board are a major concern.

“The election is critical,” said Elgart, who is the president and chief executive officer of SACS’ parent company AdvancED. The agency’s opinions about accreditation influence a school district’s reputation, and by extension its graduates’ chances for college admissions and scholarships. That, in turn, affects the local economy, since public education is a key factor businesses consider when choosing where to locate.

“This community needs to pay close attention to whom they elect,” Elgart said. “Politics is one of the reasons the system got itself to this point.”

The school board fiasco has already become a launching pad for one deposed member, Nancy Jester, who is now seeking the state superintendent’s job. And the upcoming school board elections, which could feature comeback bids by one or more of the ousted board members, may inject another dose of politics.

 

Nancy Jester, Republican candidate for Georgia State School Superintendent, released a statement:

I am pleased to hear the DeKalb school system’s accreditation status has been upgraded from “probation” to “warned”.

I worked diligently to shine light on the poor fiscal management of DeKalb.  Some of my work was even cited in the SACS report from 2012.

Clearly DeKalb still has a long way to go.

Academic achievement and growth in many schools is unacceptable.  DeKalb’s graduation rate, at 58.9%, is far too low.

Of the 25 high schools in DeKalb, 8 have graduation rates below 50%, while only 4 have rates above 75%.  All four of these schools are specialty or magnet schools.

I appreciate that SACS finally recognized that DeKalb needed some sort of intervention.

The entire episode exposes the structural weaknesses in our state’s accountability model.  While SACS can provide a useful and supplemental service via their third party accreditation products, Georgia must not continue to abdicate it’s role in holding districts accountable for their results and financial management.

Jester also released in the last several days a map that shows per-pupil spending and graduation rates in Georgia and neighboring states. It’s worth taking a moment to look at.

JesterGradRatesPerPupilSpendingMap copy

Georgia Politics, Campaigns and Elections for January 16, 2014

On January 15, 1751, a Provincial Assembly convened in Savannah, after the Georgia Trustees called for a popular election. Among the issues discussed was whether Georgia should be annexed into South Carolina. This marked the first elected representative government in Georgia.

On January 15, 1796, Jared Irwin was inaugurated Governor of Georgia for his first term. Irwin repealed the Yazoo Act. Irwin County, the city of Irwinville, and the town of Irwinton are named after Governor Irwin. He previously served in the State House and the convention that ratified the United States Constitution in 1787. After his first term in office, Irwin served as President of the State Senate and became Governor again in 1806 when Gov. John Milledge resigned. After completing that term, he was elected to another full term as Governor.

January 15, 1870 saw the first appearance of the donkey as the symbol for the Democratic party in a Harper’s Weekly illustration by Thomas Nast.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia. I had the pleasure of working at the State Capitol several years ago with a lady who had known King as a youngster, as a fellow member of “Daddy” King’s church and schoolmate. Dr. King’s march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama helped the passage of the Voting Rights Act.

On January 15, 1963, Carl Sanders was inaugurated as Governor of Georgia. In 1970. Sanders ran again for Governor, losing to Jimmy Carter.

On January 16, 1919, the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, prohibiting alcoholic beverages.

On January 16, 1997, a bomb exploded in a Sandy Springs abortion clinic, later determined to be the work of Eric Rudolph, who also bombed Centennial Olympic Park in 1996, a lesbian bar in Atlanta in February 1997, and a Birmingham abortion clinic in 1998.

Last night on Facebook, a friend asked why the Georgia legislature is addressing the scheduling of party primary elections. Here’s what he said:

Question. Why is the state supervising and funding party primaries?
Parties are private organizations. Let ‘em run (and pay for) their own primaries.

That’s a legitimate question. Here’s why.

After Reconstruction, whites in some Southern states attempted to retain exclusive power and deny black citizens the right to vote. One of the tools they used was “white primary” elections. After Supreme Court decisions striking down state-administered white primaries, some states then tried privatizing the primary elections as a way of continuing to disenfranchise black voters. An initial Supreme Court allowed this, reasoning that private parties were free to determine eligibility of voters.

In 1944, the Supreme Court struck down a Texas statute allowing “private” party primaries on the basis that it amounted to state-sanctioned discrimination, as the state had delegated the responsibility of administering elections to the Democratic Party.

On July 4, 1944, Primus King, a registered voter, tried to cast a ballot at the Muscogee County Courthouse in the Democratic Primary and was turned away. A federal district court found for King in his lawsuit, ruling that denying him the right to vote was unconstitutional.

The United States Court of Appeals in New Orleans upheld the district court decision in an opinion written by Judge Samuel Hale Sibley, a Georgia native and alumnus of UGA and the UGA School of Law. Thurgood Marshall, later an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, was one of the lawyers representing Primus King.

So, that’s why the state administers party primary elections in Georgia.

Pro-tip for legislators

Take down the donation button or page on your website for the duration of the Session. From Fox 5 Atlanta:

[O]n the second day of this year’s session, FOX 5 found a number of lawmakers potentially soliciting donations.

FOX 5′s Chris Shaw found both Democrats and Republicans in both the state House and Senate accepting donations when law says they cannot. Most said it was simply an oversight, some took measures to pull donation pages from their websites while FOX 5 cameras rolled.

Here’s what to do if you inadvertently left your donation button or page active. The news account quoted above is not entirely correct about accepting contributions during session. Section 21-5-35 of the Act formerly known as the Ethics in Government Act states:

§21-5-35. Acceptance of contributions or pledges during legislative sessions

(a) No member of the General Assembly or that member’s campaign committee or public officer elected state wide or campaign committee of such public officer shall seek or accept a contribution or a pledge of a contribution to the member, the member’s campaign committee, or public officer elected state wide, or campaign committee of such public officer during a legislative session.

(b)Subsection (a) of this Code section shall not apply to:

(1) The receipt of a contribution which is returned with reasonable promptness to the donor or the donor’s agent;
(2) The receipt and acceptance during a legislative session of a contribution consisting of proceeds from a dinner, luncheon, rally, or similar fundraising event held prior to the legislative session;
(3) The receipt of a contribution by a political party consisting of the proceeds from a dinner,luncheon, rally, or similar fundraising event in which a member of the General Assembly or a public officer elected state wide participates; or<
(4) A judicial officer elected state wide, a candidate for a judicial office elected state wide, or a campaign committee of such judicial officer or candidate

That said, if you receive a contribution during the session, your best bet is to return it immediately, and document the check you sent.

Governor Deal’s State of the State

The Senate Press Office brings you a nearly-three minute “Senate in a Minute,” featuring Governor Deal’s State of the State.

Click here for the full text of the State of the State address.

Here are some of the best quotes from the State of the State 2014:

1.My basic focus has been on creating private-sector jobs for Georgians. With your help and the involvement of our business community, we have done some great things. We have implemented real tax reform, such as eliminating sales tax on energy for manufacturing; we have essentially removed the marriage tax penalty on working Georgia couples; and we have abolished the annual birthday tax on vehicles. And each of these are part of a mosaic that led Site Selection Magazine to declare Georgia to be the number one state in the nation in which to do business.

2. the Affordable Care Act is anything but affordable and is costing our state $327 million dollars this year. You should be aware that, even without expanding, currently Medicaid and PeachCare cost every Georgian through federal and state taxes nearly $1,000 each year. Expansion would add 620,000 people to our taxpayer funded health plan, costing us even more. Now, the executive branch in Washington is trying to do what the courts deemed unconstitutional for Congress to do, but we will not allow ourselves to be coerced into expansion. Be assured, I am prepared to fight any intrusion into our rights as a state.

3. According to the federal department of labor, in the three years since I became governor, there have been approximately 217,000 new jobs added in our state, and major job announcements are almost a weekly occurrence. As a result, our state unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been in 5 years!

4. I have included $35M for the deepening of the Port of Savannah. If approved, we will have $266M, which will represent Georgia’s share of this important project.

5. For students who pursued those areas, we have paid 100 percent of their tuition through the HOPE Grant. This year I am asking you to expand that to an additional 4 areas of training—welding, health care technology, diesel mechanics and information technology.

In order to fill the needs of a growing economy, we need more of our citizens to acquire education and skills beyond high school. To encourage this, I am asking you to create a new Zell Miller HOPE Grant for students in our technical college system. This grant will cover 100 percent of tuition for those who maintain a 3.5 grade point average.

6.[D]uring my administration, funding for education has increased by over $930M. That does not include capital spending for education, which represents 76% of our entire state bond package. $239M of this year’s capital investments went to the Department of Education for use on K-12 programs. Since FY 2012, nearly 50 cents of every dollar of new revenues has been dedicated to education. In the budget I am sending you for FY 2015 almost 82 percent of new revenue receipts are dedicated to education, with 68 percent of those new revenues going to k-12 alone.

As these numbers indicate, we will spend almost $8 billion in next year’s budget on k-12 education. My proposal represents the largest single year increase in k-12 funding in 7 years. That’s an addition of $547M….

7. I have included $44.8M in the budgets to better connect every classroom in Georgia, including those in rural areas, to the internet and digital resources students need to thrive. It is my goal that every child in any classroom in our state will have access to the best instruction possible, and this can be done by expanding the availability of our on-line learning.

8. This year, we intend to roll out our third leg of our criminal justice reforms, the one that will sustain our previous efforts.  If an offender has been equipped to enter the workforce upon release, that person will stand a greater chance of avoiding relapse.  If our reentry and reform efforts reduce our recidivism rate by 25 percent, we would see around 1,400 fewer crimes each year, with at least 1,100 fewer victims!  This is a goal we should be able to achieve or exceed.

These Criminal Justice reforms will allow non-violent offenders to break their addictions, reclaim their lives and keep taxpayers from spending $18,000 per inmate for each year they are in prison. These reforms will also increase the safety of our society.

9. [T]oday, more Georgians have jobs than at any other time since October 2008. We are getting people in our state back to work at a faster rate than the national average. For those 217,000 or so Georgians who now have jobs, they know what the sting of the frozen economy feels like. They lived through it. But for them, the freeze has ended.

This is what we’ve done in three years … imagine what we will do in the next five.

And since Georgia has now been recognized as the No. 1 state in the nation in which to do business, we can rightfully expect many more jobs to come our way.

Here’s an audio clip that we’ve converted to a YouTube clip, so that it can be viewed on an iPhone or other mobile devices when you receive our morning email. It’s a bit of work to do it, but we’re interested in whether you think it’s useful.

Senator David Shafer released a statement:

“I applaud Governor Deal on his third State of the State Address. Georgia has a come long way in the last three years, with 217,000 new jobs and millions of dollars in new private system. The Governor’s low tax policies are exactly what we need to keep attracting new business. I look forward to hearing from the Governor again next year and three years to follow.”

Today under the Gold Dome

Capitol Dome inside

8:00 AM – 9:30 AM    Appropriations Higher Education    606 CLOB

8:00 AM – 10:00 AM    Joint Appropriations Education    341 CAP

8:00 AM – 10:00 AM    Joint Appropriations Public Safety    506 CLOB

10:00 AM – 12:00 PM (Projected) Floor Session

12:30 PM – 5:30 PM    Joint Appropriations Economic Development and General Government    307 CLOB

12:30 PM – 4:00 PM    Joint Appropriations Health and Human Services    341 CAP

12:30 PM – 3:00 PM    Joint Appropriations Public Safety    506 CLOB

Catherine Bernard announces for House District 80

Catherine Bernard, who has recently changed her residence and, after the lesson from Keith Gross a couple years ago, her car tags, to DeKalb County, where she will challenge incumbent Republican State Representative Mike Jacobs.

CatherineBernard AnnouncesHer website can be found at VoteCatherine.com. It’s worth noting that yesterday was apparently her birthday. She can thank Rep. Jacobs for his vote to repeal the Birthday Tax, which meant that she didn’t have to pay ad valorem tax to renew her car tag yesterday.

Kelly Marlow seeks reversal

Cherokee County School Board member Kelly Marlow appealed a $3600 fine levied by the Board of which she is a member for raising concerns with the agency that accredits public schools in Georgia.

“What Ms. Marlow did is send a letter to AdvancEd in which she made several, pretty serious allegations against the board chair and the board, and never did she address those concerns to the Board of Education,” Roach said.
Marlow said she was sanctioned for the “act of sending a letter,” and if the sanction is upheld, “the effect would be chilling.”
“It will send a message that the voice of the minority does not matter,” she said. “It’s not OK for a member, who is in the minority, to speak up when they see something wrong. To not be able to say, ‘I smell smoke, I think there may be a fire.’”
Roach said the “matter of free speech in this context is quite complicated.”

Here’s a general rule regarding free speech: if someone says the issue of free speech is “complicated,” they’re almost always trying to use government to stop it.

The First Amendment statement that Congress [later extended to most levels of government] “shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances” is no more complicated than the Second Amendment’s statement that “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Rep. Allen West to speak in Cobb County

Former Congressman (and retired Lt. Colonel) Allen West will deliver the keynote address at the Cobb County Republican Party’s President’s Day Dinner on February 17, 2014 at the Renaissance Waverly. Save the date if you’re interested in going, and be sure to purchase your tickets as soon as they’re available, as the event is likely to sell out.

This is the third announcement on what appears to be an Allen West tour of Georgia. Does he have a book out or about to be released? Why, yes, he does. In April, Allen West’s book Guardian of the Republic: An American Ronin’s Journey to Faith, Family and Freedom will be released.

The Lee County Republican Party is holding a Lincoln Day Dinner on February 27, 2014, with proceeds benefiting the Bridging the Gap Foundation. The featured speaker will be LTC Allen West, who served in Congress from Florida.

Bridging The Gap of Georgia is a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable organization created to assist veterans with their transition home.  Many of the veterans we serve suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Combat Stress and are homeless. We utilize a mentorship program to enable veterans to function as productive members of our society by addressing their housing, job placement, and health needs.

We’re still awaiting details on the location of the Muscogee County Republican Party event on February 28, 2014.

Your Events Calendar


Cobb YR: Happy Hour

January 16, 2014 7:00 PM @ 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Old Vinings Inn,

3011 Paces Mill Road Atlanta , GA 30339 United States

+ Google Map

Old Vinings Inn was built in the 1880s and served as the village post office. Over the years, the building was purchased and renovated, used as an apartment building, a general store, a filling-station with a family residence upstairs. This unique setting is full of warmth and of history. Today’s Old Vinings Inn is inviting and sophisticated while preserving its rich history — the perfect setting for an evening out.

Find out more »


Georgia Tea Party: Meeting with David Wellons on Obamacare

January 16, 2014 from 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Unnamed Venue, 900 Roswell St Marietta , GA 30060

+ Google Map

David Wellons, a 25-year veteran of the health care industry, will speak on “Obamacare and what we can do about it.”

Find out more »


Rep. Rob Woodall: Telephone Town Hall

January 16, 2014 from 7:30 PM – 8:00 PM

Congressman Rob Woodall Telephone Town Hall Please join me for a Telephone Town Hall Meeting on January 16th. Dail-in: 877-229-8493 Password: 17849


DeKalb County GOP: Breakfast – Spotlight DeKalb Judicial System

January 18, 2014 from 8:30 AM – 10:00 AM
The Golden Corral, 2136 Lawrenceville Hwy Decatur, GA 30033

Georgia Politics, Campaigns and Elections for January 15, 2014

James Carville quotes

Mrs. GaPundit and I went to the Atlanta History Center last night to see Mary Matalin and James Carville on the local stop of their book tour. Here are my favorite quotes from the night:

Matalin, discussing being in the White House on 9/11/2001 “Working in the White House may be your dream job, but you’ll never look worse in your life.”

 

Matalin on Zell Miller, “one of my favorite politicians is Zell Miller…he officiated at our wedding and got a standing ovation.”

 

Carville on the New Jersey bridge scandal, “The bridge scandal doesn’t matter, [Chris Christie] wasn’t ever going to be the Presidential candidate anyway. Ain’t nobody in the South voting for a global-warming loving, Obama-hugging Republican. Not happening.”

 

Carville on political candidates, “I like politicians. They do something few people are willing to do. They dare to fail publicly.”

That last bit is part of why I love working in politics. Especially the first-time candidates, or those who are just entering the big leagues from sandlot baseball.

Senate moves state election dates

We’ve been talking for some time about May 20th Primary elections, with the date being set for federal elections like U.S. Senate, by a federal judge. Yesterday, the Georgia Senate passed House Bill 310 by a 38-15 vote, setting the same date for state elections.

  • General Primary Qualifying Period: Begins at 9:00 a.m. on Monday of the 11th week prior to the General Primary and ends at 12:00 Noon on the Friday immediately following (March 3 – 7, 2014)
  • General Primary Election: Held on the 24th week preceding the November General Election (May 20, 2014)
  • General Primary Runoff: Held on the Tuesday of the 9th week following the General Primary (July 22, 2014)
  • General Election: Held on the Tuesday following the first Monday in November (November 4, 2014)
  • General Election Runoff: Held on the Tuesday of the 9th week following the General Election (January 6, 2015)

As of today, we are 125 days from the Primary Election.

That’s the driving reason for a short session – because state legislators and other elected officials can’t raise money during the session, but will be immediately into the campaign season when the session’s over, potentially affecting the traditional incumbent advantage in fundraising.

Will qualifying still be held in the Senate and House chambers as it has been in recent years? It’s unlikely, as the session will be continuing during the March 3-7 qualifying period.

More from the AJC:

HB 310 would also require all candidates to file a campaign finance report on March 31. That date, however, would appear mostly aimed at unelected challengers because incumbent state officials cannot raise money during the 40-day legislative session. With little or no fundraising to report, incumbents would have little to disclose by March 31.

The primary date change came about after U.S. District Judge Steve C. Jones chastised Georgia officials last year for not giving military residents and other Georgians living overseas enough time to return absentee ballots by Election Day.

The primaries had originally been scheduled for July, but the U.S. Department of Justice sued the state over its practice of holding federal runoffs three weeks after an election.

The bill is expected to win quick passage in the House, which means Georgia voters would be casting their ballots before Memorial Day. Officials expect higher turnouts then than if they had held the primary in June — which Jones had originally ordered.

Candidate announcements

One of the challenger candidates who will be testing how it works with a short session and then going right into the election is Stacey Jackson, who is running for State House as a Republican against Democratic incumbent Debbie Buckner.

Successful Columbus criminal defense attorney Stacey Jackson confirmed Tuesday he will seek the Republican nomination for the Georgia House seat currently held by Democrat Debbie Buckner.

Jackson, who was raised in Harris County and still resides there, said the question is not why he should seek the District 137 seat, which covers Talbot County and parts of Harris, Meriwether, and Muscogee counties.

“The question is almost why not?” Jackson said Tuesday morning. “I grew up in Harris County. My father was an educator in Talbot County and the principal at Central-Talbotton in the 1980s before he move to Harris County-Carver Middle School. My mother is assistant principal at Harris County High School. I have relatives in Meriwether County and relatives in Columbus. It makes sense.”

It possibly sets up an interesting November race with Jackson, a black Republican, against Bucker, a white Democrat, in a district that is slightly majority black and heavily rural once you get out of the Midland area of Columbus.

Mary Helen Moses has announced that she will run for Superior Court in the Brunswick Judicial Circuit, which comprises Appling, Camden, Glynn, Jeff Davis and Wayne counties. We’re not sure if this is a challenge to a sitting judge, an open seat, or one that was newly-created. We’ve asked and will pass on that information when we are able.

On polling

InsiderAdvantage, for whom I work part-time, is releasing today new polling on issues in Georgia’s legislature. Several of the items will blow your mind, when they’re released, probably first via InsiderAdvantage email, then by Fox 5 Atlanta and Morris News. Stay tuned for more, but here’s the first piece. In a 2613-respondent sample (margin of error = +/-1.92) self-identified Republicans outnumber Democrats by a five-point margin.

I was on the radio yesterday with Martha Zoller and Tim Bryant, discussing this very question, and I said that I think there’s a 5-to-10 point Republican margin. The exact figures are 35.2% Republican, 34.16% Independent, and 30.42% Democratic.

Why does this matter? Because assumptions about the partisan ratio within the electorate underlie most political polls. And the AJC thinks there are more self-identified Democrats than Republicans. It appears that their poll released earlier this week was weighted in a way that created that Democratic advantage, which didn’t exist in their raw data, and which inflates Jason Carter’s numbers in the poll question about the Governor’s race. Advantage, Deal.

Governor Deal to give State of the State today at noon

state state 1

We’ll be there, live-tweeting the State of the State today, starting at noon. Click here for a Twitter list of Georgia State Reps and Senators – it’ll be a great place to keep track of the State of the State and the rest of the legislative session. And follow @GaPundit and my personal Twitter, @toddmr.

Click here to watch online. Last night, Gov. Deal’s web team dropped this Sneak Peek.

The bullet points in his Sneak Peek:

•  Improve Education
• Increase Public School Funding
• Expand HOPE Scholarship
•  Promote Job Creation
•  Business-Friendly Investments
• Expand the Port of Savannah
• Reform the Criminal Justice System

Senate Press Office “Senate in a Minute”

We love this new video feature from the Senate Press Office. The most-recent features Senator Judson Hill. This is must-watch video for political junkies. Thanks to Senate Press for bringing this to the citizens of Georgia.