GO FIGURE: Ga. GOP primary nearly $30 per vote | www.ajc.com

The first round of Republican Senate primary voting in Georgia cost seven campaigns and outside groups at least $29.17 per vote. The two candidates who led in spending — businessman David Perdue and Rep. Jack Kingston — still have two months of campaigning before a July 22 runoff.

By comparison, the candidate who won the Democratic primary, Michelle Nunn, got a bargain. She spent just $11.87 per vote.

The cost-per-vote is based on an Associated Press analysis of spending disclosures by the campaigns and independent groups that poured millions into a nationally watched contest that will help determine which party controls the Senate in the final years of President Barack Obama’s administration.

For perspective, total presidential campaign spending in 2012 added up to around $17 per vote based on general election turnout. Presidential turnout is typically the highest of any election, while primaries in midterm election years are the lowest. The Georgia figures highlight the large sums being spent and the low voter participation that money has yielded.

Total spending in the Georgia Republican primary topped $17.5 million — at least $13.2 million by the candidates’ campaigns and the rest by outside groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and various super PACs trying to elect or defeat particular candidates. Those totals do not include what the candidates may have spent in the final weeks of the campaign but haven’t yet disclosed through the Federal Elections Commission.

Almost 604,000 of about 5 million active voters — those who are registered and have cast ballots in recent elections — cast ballots in Georgia’s Republican Senate primary.

via GO FIGURE: Ga. GOP primary nearly $30 per vote | www.ajc.com.

Adoptable Georgia Dogs for May 27, 2014

Paulding13-12-4563“Baby Girl,” ID #13-12-4563, is a low-rider Black Lab mix female. She’s described as a fantastic and loving dog who is looking for a home and maybe a canine friend to go with her human family. Baby Girl is available for adoption from the Paulding County Animal Control, in Dallas, Ga.

Paulding14-05-1250ID #14-05-1250 is a young Shelpherd mix, with a black snout and markings over a beautiful cream coat. He is medium-size and available for adoption from Paulding County Animal Control in Dallas, Ga.

Paulding14-04-1198ID #14-04-1198 is what I would call a “bird dog,” probably a spaniel or pointer mix, male and medium-sized. He is available for adoption from Paulding County Animal Control in Dallas, Ga.

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

On May 27, 1813, Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to John Adams to let Adams know of the death of a mutual friend.

On May 27, 1863, Chief Justice Roger Taney, sitting as a federal district court judge, issued a decision in Ex parte Merryman, which challenged President Abraham Lincoln’s suspension of the right of habeas corpus. Lincoln ignored the ruling.

Today is the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Pickett’s Mill in Paulding County, Georgia, where Sherman’s forces attacked Johnston’s Confederates on May 27, 1864. Among the combatants on the Union side was Ambrose Bierce, who would later write The Crime at Pickett’s Mill. On Saturday, May 31, 2014, the battle will be reenacted at Pickett’s Mill Historic Battlefield Site.

On May 27, 1864, the Federal Army, having been stopped in its advance on Atlanta two days earlier by the Battle of New Hope Church, attempted to outflank the Confederate position. Some 14,000 Federal troops were selected for the task, and General Howard was given command. After a five-hour march, Howard’s force reached the vicinity of Pickett’s Mill and prepared to attack. Waiting were 10,000 Confederate troops under the command of General Cleburne.

The Federal assault began at 5 p.m. and continued into the night. Daybreak found the Confederates still in possession of the field. The Federals had lost 1,600 men compared to the Confederate loss of 500. The Confederate victory resulted in a one-week delay of the Federal advance on Atlanta.

Here are some photos of the battlefield and links to additional material.

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

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

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

On May 27, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt said the United States was in an unlimited national emergency and laid out conditions under which Germany’s expansionism would constitute an attack on the United States. There are those who believe that Roosevelt suspended the right of habeas corpus with Executive Order 9066, which led to the internment of Japanese-Americans in concentration camps.

On May 27, 1976, former Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter blasted the “Stop Carter” movement in a speech in Cincinnati.

Actor Christopher Reeves was thrown from his horse in an equestrian competition in Culpepper, Virginia on May 27, 1995, becoming quadraplegic.

Competing Poll Numbers

The latest Rasmussen poll shows Michelle Nunn leading both Republican Senate candidates in head-to-head matchups.

A new statewide telephone survey of Likely Georgia Voters finds Nunn leading Congressman Jack Kingston 47% to 41%. Three percent (3%) prefer some other candidate, while nine percent (9%) are undecided.

In a matchup with businessman David Perdue, Nunn earns 45% support to her GOP rival’s 42%. Seven percent (7%) favor another candidate in this contest, and six percent (6%) are undecided.

The survey of 750 Likely Voters in Georgia was conducted on May 21-22, 2014 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 4 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.

Rasmussen also shows Jason Carter with a significant lead over incumbent Republican Governor Nathan Deal.

A new statewide telephone survey of Likely Georgia Voters finds Carter with 48% support to Deal’s 41%. Three percent (3%) like another candidate in the race, while seven percent (7%) are undecided.

The survey of 750 Likely Voters in Georgia was conducted on May 21-22, 2014 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 4 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.

Two quibbles I have with the Rasmussen poll concern the wording of the Gubernatorial ballot question:

If the 2014 election for governor of Georgia were held today, would you vote for Republican Nathan Deal or Democrat Jason Carter?

I believe that the ballot question, where practicable, should be as close as possible to what voters will see on the actual ballot. The Rasmussen question departs from the ballot in two major ways: first, it does not note that Nathan Deal is the incumbent; second, it does not name the Libertarian candidate, Dr. Andew Hunt. Those are both subtle differences, but I think highly important to an accurate poll.

Public Policy Polling (PPP) has released their survey of the Republican Primary runoff:

The poll by left-leaning Public Policy Polling gives Kingston 46 percent over Perdue’s 34 percent. Some 20 percent of voters are still undecided in the contest, which could help decide control of the U.S. Senate.

The poll, which was conducted for lefty guerilla group Better Georgia, shows Democrat Michelle Nunn neck-and-neck with both potential GOP opponents. Nunn and Kingston were locked at 45 percent apiece, and Nunn led Perdue 48 percent to 46 percent.

It also showed a tight race for governor, with Gov. Nathan Deal in a 43-43 tie with Democrat Jason Carter. Libertarian Andrew Hunt was polling at 7 percent. The governor’s approval rating was at 38 percent while his disapproval rating was at 46 percent. That’s less than the 44 percent approval rating Deal logged in a recent AJC poll.

More Numbers

The Associated Press ran the numbers of the cost per vote in the United States Senate Primary and came up with this:

Cost per vote, Republican Primary $29.17

Cost per vote, Democratic Primary $11.87

 

Total spending in the Georgia Republican primary topped $17.5 million — at least $13.2 million by the candidates’ campaigns and the rest by outside groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and various super PACs trying to elect or defeat particular candidates. Those totals do not include what the candidates may have spent in the final weeks of the campaign but haven’t yet disclosed through the Federal Elections Commission.

Almost 604,000 of about 5 million active voters — those who are registered and have cast ballots in recent elections — cast ballots in Georgia’s Republican Senate primary.

Perdue’s campaign spent $3.9 million through the end of April, about $2.4 million of that coming from his personal fortune. He led the field with 30 percent, at a cost of $20.97 per vote for his campaign — $13.18 per vote out of his own pocket. Another half-million in super PAC spending pushes the total to $23.75.

Kingston outspent Perdue and got 26 percent. His $4.3 million effort cost $27.79 per vote, and almost $1 million in advertising from the national chamber pushed the total to $34.19.

Third-place finisher Karen Handel was the most efficient spender of the major Republican candidates, drawing 22 percent of the vote at a cost of $5.29 per vote and $6.13 if adding independent group spending on her behalf.

Wither the Tea Party?

Nate Silver, the prodigous prognosticator has written an obituary for the Tea Party, though not based as most of his writings are in quantitative analysis. Along the way, he makes several good points, but I’d suggest his political analysis is best when it’s based on numbers.

According to a series of mainstream media accounts, McConnell “crushed” the tea party in “the latest big beat” for the movement, which is “losing steam” as the economy improves. There are a couple of problems with this story. The most important is that the tea party is hard to define.

Furthermore, as Slate’s Dave Weigel pointed out earlier this week, the term “tea party” is applied very loosely by the political media. Was Missouri Rep. Todd Akin a member of the tea party, for instance? Weigel says no: Most groups associated with the tea party endorsed either Sarah Steelman or John Brunner in the 2012 Republican primary in Missouri. I think the case is considerably more ambiguous: Akin was listed as a member of the Tea Party Caucus on Michele Bachmann’s website in 2012. But these ambiguities arise all the time. Marco Rubio was once strongly associated with the tea party but is now somewhat estranged from it. Sometimes the term seems to serve as a euphemism for “crazy Republican” rather than anything substantive.

What is the tea party, exactly? That’s not so clear. There are a constellation of groups, like Tea Party Patriots, FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity, who sometimes associate themselves with the movement or are associated with it. But their agendas can range from libertarian to populist and do not always align. As in Missouri, they often do not endorse the same candidate. Nor do they always endorse the candidate who self-identifies as member of the tea party.

Is the tea party opposed to the Republican establishment or has it been co-opted by it? That’s also hard to say. The Tea Party Caucus no longer exists in a substantive way in the House. A group that called itself the Senate Tea Party Caucus did hold a meeting at some point last summer. The attendees included McConnell and McCain — those establishment stalwarts — who are therefore now listed as former members of the Tea Party Caucus at Wikipedia.

Perhaps it’s time to discourage the use of “tea party.” Or, at the very least, not to capitalize it as The New York Times and some other media organizations do. “Tea Party” looks better aesthetically than “tea party,” but triggers associations with a proper noun and risks misinforming the reader by implying that the tea party has a much more formal organizational infrastructure than it really does.

Silver’s obituary isn’t so much concerned with the demise of the Tea Party movement, but with the usefulness of the phrase “Tea Party.” If the organizations that style themselves Tea Parties in Georgia are to retain more than local relevance, they will have to grapple with the question of whether the distributed leadership model still works for them, and if not, how to replace it with a unified tea party without becoming yet another establishment group.

Judicial Runoff Elections

Last week, we mentioned that the Tallapoosa Circuit Superior Court race is headed into a runoff, but neglected to mention that Haralson County voters as well as Polk County voters are eligible to choose between the candidates, Haralson County lawyer Meng Lim and Polk County Juvenile Court judge Chuck Morris.

In Cobb County, Ann Harris and Juanita Stedman face one another in a runoff election after Harris took 41% in the Primary to Stedman’s 32 percent.

The Cobb Superior Court runoff race will determine the person replacing Judge Jim Bodiford, who will retire at year end rather than seek what would have been his sixth term on the Cobb bench.

Harris, 50, lives in Smyrna and is a senior assistant district attorney who has practiced law in the Cobb Superior Court for nine years.

Harris’ devotion to work is one of the reasons District Attorney Vic Reynolds publicly endorsed her in the Cobb Superior Court race.
“She is very fair. She knows the law,” Reynolds said. “She works extremely hard. She is committed to serving justice.”
With nearly 20 years litigating in Cobb’s Superior Court, Harris said she has worked with victims, fellow attorneys and witnesses.

Stedman, a former member of the Marietta School Board and special education teacher at Marietta High School, was endorsed by Cobb Sheriff Neil Warren and retired Sheriff Bill Hutson.

Stedman, who has been a judge for 13 years in the Juvenile Court of Cobb County and serves as an Assisting Superior Court Judge, campaigned with a vision statement promoting her “on-the-job training” and reputation as “conservative and “tough on crime.”

In the Atlanta Circuit (Fulton County), Jane Barwick led in balloting for an open Superior Court seat with 49.7% of the vote and meets Shelitha Robertson (31.6%) in a runoff.

Incumbent Conasauga Circuit (Murray and Whitfield Counties) Superior Court Judge David Blevins (35.5%) was forced into second-place and a runoff election against Jim Wilbanks (46.4%).

In Roswell, Brian A. Hansford and Melanie Ellwanger face off in a runoff for municipal court judge.

Hansford leads the pack with 40 percent, or 3,249 votes, followed by Ellwanger at 32 percent, or 2,576 votes. Both candidates John Monroe and Leslie Donaho did not received enough votes to break into the runoff.

Deal could try Perdue’s path, but the road now has more curves | www.myajc.com

Much like his predecessor eight years ago, Gov. Nathan Deal heads into his re-election summer and fall bolstered by an improving economy, extra money to spend on schools, campaign checks flowing in from big statehouse interests and an unquestioned dominance of state government and Republican politics.

But unlike his predecessor, Sonny Perdue, Deal goes into the final five months of the campaign battling ethics questions that have persisted for years, politically active teachers and retirees angered by costly changes to their health care, and a fresh-faced Democratic opponent with a famous name who can raise money from Georgia millionaires, D.C. lobbyists and Hollywood big shots.

While Perdue held a substantial lead going into his final campaign against the Democratic nominee he eventually routed on Election Day — Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor — polls suggest Deal faces a tighter race against state Sen. Jason Carter, a grandson of former President Jimmy Carter.

June to November can be a geological era in politics, so Carter may yet meet the same fate as Taylor, particularly in a Republican-leaning state. Or maybe not.

“This has the potential — the potential — to be a tight race,” said Steve Anthony, a Georgia State University political science lecturer and former aide to legendary Democratic House Speaker Tom Murphy.

After last Tuesday’s primaries, both campaigns confront challenges on their road to the November election. Carter must win over minorities and other newcomers who are slowly changing the state’s electorate while enticing enough conservative-leaning independents to abandon Deal.

via Deal could try Perdue’s path, but the road now has more curves | www.myajc.com.

Atlanta, DeKalb fail to blow the whistle on dubious spending | www.myajc.com

Atlanta City Councilwoman Cleta Winslow faced a tough re-election bid last year, after being caught driving drunk in her district. But she bolstered her image in ways her opponent couldn’t match.

In the three days before her campaign kickoff, she used city money to pay workers she recruited from homeless shelters and off the streets to pick up trash and had them wear T-shirts emblazoned with her name. The same workers passed out her campaign fliers.

Yet no one at city hall raised a peep.

That’s because Atlanta imposes little oversight on how public officials spend discretionary funds — taxpayer-funded accounts they can control with impunity. That can allow officials to turn office budgets into slush funds to reward political cronies, circumvent bid laws and make personal purchases, an Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigation found.

Among records reviewed by the AJC, the starkest cases of egregious spending were in Atlanta and DeKalb County, where top officials have wide leeway to purchase supplies and services. There are no public votes when elected officials want to steer thousands of dollars to a pet cause, and they don’t have supervisors poring over transactions and demanding receipts.

As long as elected officials don’t overspend their annual budgets, their governments are often loath to blow the whistle on even flagrant abuses, the AJC found.

via Atlanta, DeKalb fail to blow the whistle on dubious spending | www.myajc.com.

Harold Jones II, Corey Johnson in runoff for Georgia Senate District 22 seat | The Augusta Chronicle

There were two favorites in the State Senate District 22 race Tuesday, but neither candidate pulled enough votes to win outright, sending Augusta Mayor Pro Tem Corey Johnson and attorney Harold Jones II to a July runoff.

With a 29.84 percent primary election turnout, Johnson, in his second term on the Augusta Commission, brought in 7,394 votes – or 45 percent. Jones, Augusta’s former solicitor general and now one of three attorneys representing Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, was second with 7,073 votes, 43 percent.

via Harold Jones II, Corey Johnson in runoff for Georgia Senate District 22 seat | The Augusta Chronicle.

Bob Barr Heads to GOP Runoff to Win House Seat – Washington Wire – WSJ

Former Rep. Bob Barr, who led the charge to impeach President Bill Clinton and then ran for president as a Libertarian, is headed to a July run-off election with former state Sen. Barry Loudermilk as he tries to complete his political comeback.

Mr. Barr placed second in his six-way House primary for a district in the suburbs and exurbs northwest of Atlanta with 26% of the vote, according to the Associated Press. Mr. Loudermilk, who was backed by the Senate Conservatives Fund, placed first in the primary with 37%. Georgia law requires a July 22 runoff election when no primary candidate receives 50% of the vote. Democrats didn’t field a candidate in the district.

The winner of the run-off will replace Rep. Phil Gingrey, who unsuccessfully sought the state’s GOP Senate nomination.

Mr. Barr has a colorful history in the Republican Party. He was the first member of Congress to call for Mr. Clinton to resign during the Monica Lewinsky scandal and went on to lead the president’s impeachment trial. Upon leaving Congress in 2003 Mr. Barr became a harsh critic of Iraq war-era Republicans – arguing against the drug war, the Patriot Act and drone use. In 2008 Mr. Barr ran for president as a Libertarian.

via Bob Barr Heads to GOP Runoff to Win House Seat – Washington Wire – WSJ.

Runoff election to be held July 22, early voting to start on June 30 – : Local

A runoff election is being held on July 22 to determine two races in Polk County, and early voting for the next round will start on June 30.

Director of Elections Karen Garmon said the election is required to determine the winners in the United States Senate Republican primary between U.S. Representative Jack Kingston and David Perdue, and locally in the nonpartisan Tallapoosa Circuit Superior Court Judge race, with Haralson County attorney Meng Lim and Polk County Juvenile Court judge Chuck Morris.

Lim, who held a wide majority over Morris, Vickey Atkins and Andrew Roper in Haralson County, failed to get the votes he needed in Polk County to win the race outright with a majority. Meng carried a final tally of 35.9 percent of the overall vote, with Morris garnering 28 percent of the vote. Atkins took 21 percent of the vote and Roper 14 percent.

via Runoff election to be held July 22, early voting to start on June 30 – : Local.

Watkins, Link getting ready for Athens-Clarke commission runoff election | Online Athens

Rachel Watkins expects to be knocking on a lot of doors between now and July 22, and says many of those doors will be in minority neighborhoods.

July 22 is the date set for the runoffs resulting from Tuesday’s nonpartisan balloting and partisan primaries in Athens-Clarke County, from which Watkins emerged as a contender in the race for the District 3 seat on the Athens-Clarke County Commission.

Watkins, a marketing professional who works with the Athens Convention & Visitors Bureau and Prince Avenue’s Avid Bookshop, will face off against Melissa Link, managing editor of an environmental ethics journal and longtime local activist, to decide the District 3 race. Watkins and Link emerged from a four-way race in Tuesday’s primary in which businessman Herb Gilmore and attorney Dustin Kirby fell short.

Link led the vote totals Tuesday with 508 of the 1,360 ballots cast, or 37.4 percent of the vote. Watkins earned 452 ballots, or 33.2 percent of votes in the contest. Gilmore polled 282 votes, while Kirby trailed the field with 118 ballots.

via Watkins, Link getting ready for Athens-Clarke commission runoff election | Online Athens.