House passes defense bill with new Robins spending | Military |

The House overwhelmingly passed a defense spending bill Thursday that is favorable to Robins Air Force Base.

Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ashburn, said he expects the provisions related to Robins will get approved by the Senate and signed by the president.

“All in all, I think this piece of legislation is good for Robins Air Force Base, and I think it’s good for the region,” he said.

The bill rejects the Pentagon’s attempts to retire the A-10 attack plane until it comes up with an alternative. The Boeing plant in Macon builds replacement wings for the A-10, and Moody Air Force Base is home to two A-10 squadrons.

The bill includes $73 million to begin a $2.4 billion program to replace the jets of the Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System unit at Robins.

The bill also includes $27 million for a new headquarters building for Air Force Reserve Command at Robins. Earlier this year a special committee recommended dissolving the command and putting Reserve troops under the regular Air Force, but that suggestion was widely criticized. Putting the money for the headquarters in the budget is a further sign Congress has no interest in abolishing the command.

via House passes defense bill with new Robins spending | Military |

Jody Hice, Mike Collins headed to runoff for District 10 | Gwinnett Daily Post

Conservative radio talk show host Jody Hice and Mike Collins, the oldest son of former U.S. Rep. Mac Collins, appeared to be headed toward a runoff election following Tuesday’s primary election.

#At press time, Hice, a Walton County resident, had 33.51 percent of votes, or 17,146 votes, to Collins’ 33.14 percent, or 16,959 votes, in the contest to represent the Republican party in the race for Congressional District 10.

#The winner of the July 22 runoff will face Democrat Ken Dious in the November general election.

via Jody Hice, Mike Collins headed to runoff for District 10 | Gwinnett Daily Post.

Most of the ‘We the people’ didn’t show up, again | Editorials |

It’s hard to get happy about an election when only 19.53 percent of the state’s registered voters participated, but proving that everything is relative, it’s hard to complain about the turnout in Bibb County that was 26.66 percent — 7.13 percent over state turnout statistics. Only 16.18 percent of Houston County voters cast ballots, less than Crawford County’s 17.02 percent, Peach County’s 16.42 percent and Baldwin County’s 21.85 percent. All dismal, for sure, but everything is relative.

Atkinson County, in south Georgia, had the highest turnout in the state. Almost half of its 3,869 registered voters cast ballots to hit 48.03 percent. On the other hand, only 153 of Baker County’s (Southwest of Albany) 2,079 voters bothered to go to the polls.

When you compare large urban areas, Bibb stacks up well, relatively speaking. Muscogee County (Columbus) had a turnout of 26.29 percent and Richmond County (Augusta) 29.96 percent. Chatham County (Savannah) came in with 23.15 percent turnout.

For all the ad money spent in the Atlanta market, candidates who could afford it, didn’t get their money’s worth if turnout is the criteria. Fulton County only had 16.39 percent of its 536,586 registered voters go to the polls. Henry County, 14.9 percent; Gwinnett, 13.94 percent; DeKalb, 20.15 percent; and Cobb, 17.45 percent. How will all this play out in the runoff between David Perdue and Rep. Jack Kingston? Who knows?

via Most of the ‘We the people’ didn’t show up, again | Editorials |

John Heard bests Alfie Meek, keeps District 4 BOC spot | Gwinnett Daily Post

LAWRENCEVILLE — There are more than a few ways for a candidate to kill time while waiting for slow election results to pour in. If you’re John Heard, you pick up a guitar and play.

Heard, the incumbent Gwinnett County commissioner waiting to learn his fate in Tuesday’s District 4 Republican primary, welcomed friends, family and fellow politicians to the Cuernavaca Mexican Restaurant. As 9 p.m. passed and nothing had been posted on the county elections website, he grabbed a performer’s well-worn guitar and strummed a few chords.

He sound found himself at the microphone belting out “Sweet Home Alabama.”

By the end of the night, he was — at least metaphorically — singing “Hallelujah.”

“The simple fact that the last leg of the campaign never got delivered from the post office, I think we’re lucky to get here,” Heard said.

As of 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, Heard had accumulated nearly 56 percent of the 6,930 votes cast in the district that stretches from Lawrenceville to Rest Haven and includes parts of the Dacula, Braselton and Buford areas. Challenger Alfie Meek claimed the other 44 percent of the unofficial totals.

via John Heard bests Alfie Meek, keeps District 4 BOC spot | Gwinnett Daily Post.

Balfour ousted; Beaudreau, Martin headed to runoff for state Senate nomination | Gwinnett Daily Post

A jury found him not guilty, sending him back to the General Assembly last year, but voters ended the tenure of Gwinnett’s longest-serving senator Tuesday.

Don Balfour, the Snellville man who has represented Gwinnett in the Georgia Senate for 22 years, came in last in a three-man primary, which sent challengers Mike Beaudreau and P.K. Martin into a July runoff for the Republican nomination.

“It’s an issue of how long folks serve in government that leads to complacency,” Beaudreau said of the expense report mistakes that brought Balfour legal troubles last year.

While Balfour was cleared of criminal wrongdoing, the ethical question came up among voters, he said.

“We need turnover. We don’t need people to serve decades and decades in office,” said Beaudreau, a former county commissioner who garnered the highest vote total Tuesday.

But he added that he is keeping Balfour in his prayers, just hours after news broke that the senator’s son had fallen critically ill while on deployment to Afghanistan.

“My thoughts today aren’t on an election,” Balfour said not long after polls closed. “My wife is beside herself. She knows all the worst possibilities. I can tell her that’s a one in a million chance, but that’s her only child; that’s her baby.”

via Balfour ousted; Beaudreau, Martin headed to runoff for state Senate nomination | Gwinnett Daily Post.

Adoptable Georgia Dogs for May 23, 2014

Today we have three sweet Labrador Retriever mix puppies who are in the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter and available for adoption. A local rescue is interested in saving them, but needs volunteers to step up and foster them, either singly or as a group, for a couple weeks. Email me directly if you’re interested in fostering one of these beauties. Or if you want to adopt, head over the the Shelter today or tomorrow.

BabyLab3 BabyLab2 Baby Lab1

This Saint Bernard puppy looks rough, but I’d guess it’s probably demodex mange, which is easy and relatively inexpensive to fix. You can see that he’s a beautiful dog, he just needs a little TLC in a home environment.
Baby Saint Bernard

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 23, 2014

John Hancock was elected President of the Second Continental Congress on May 24, 1775.

The Constitutional Convention of 1787 convened at Independence Hall in Philadelphia on May 25, 1787.

With George Washington presiding, the Constitutional Convention formally convenes on this day in 1787. The convention faced a daunting task: the peaceful overthrow of the new American government as it had been defined by the Article of Confederation.

The process began with the proposal of James Madison’s Virginia Plan. Madison had dedicated the winter of 1787 to the study of confederacies throughout history and arrived in Philadelphia with a wealth of knowledge and an idea for a new American government. It featured a bicameral legislature, with representation in both houses apportioned to states based upon population; this was seen immediately as giving more power to large states, like Virginia. The two houses would in turn elect the executive and the judiciary and would possess veto power over the state legislatures.

William Patterson soon countered with a plan more attractive to the new nation’s smaller states. It too bore the imprint of America’s British experience. Under the New Jersey Plan, as it became known, each state would have a single vote in Congress as it had been under the Articles of Confederation, to even out power between large and small states.

Alexander Hamilton then put forward to the delegates a third plan, a perfect copy of the British Constitution including an upper house and legislature that would serve on good behavior.

Confronted by three counter-revolutionary options, the representatives of Connecticut finally came up with a workable compromise: a government with an upper house made up of equal numbers of delegates from each state and a lower house with proportional representation based upon population. This idea formed the basis of the new U.S. Constitution, which became the law of the land in 1789.

On May 25, 1907, an equine statue of John B. Gordon was unveiled on the grounds of the Georgia State Capitol.

On May 23, 1954, the NAACP petitioned the Fulton County Board of Education to desegregate after the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education.

The United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia held on May 25, 1962 that the Georgia General Assembly was malapportioned and ordered the reapportionment of the State House and Senate.

Former Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter won the Virginia Caucus on May 23, 1976, gaining 24 delegates. On May 25, 1976, Carter won the Arkansas, Tennessee, and Kentucky Primary Elections for President.

Star Wars opened on May 25, 1977.

Then-Lt. Governor Marvin Griffin announced his candidacy for Governor on May 24, 1954.

John Smoltz tied the record for most strikeouts by a Braves pitcher, throwing 15 Ks against Montreal Expos on May 24, 1992.

Runoffs and Local Election Results

Senate District 9 will see a spirited runoff between former Gwinnett County Commissioner Mike Beaudreau and former Lawrenceville City Council Member P.K. Martin IV. With much of the Primary focused on Sen. Don Balfour’s ethical baggage, it begs the question of how these campaigns will function without Balfour to be against.

“We need turnover. We don’t need people to serve decades and decades in office,” said Beaudreau, a former county commissioner who garnered the highest vote total Tuesday.

“It’s still the same message. It’s still about earning the trust of the people,” Martin said. “There is a true distinction in the race, and the records will speak for themselves.”

As of press time, Beaudreau’s vote tally was about 39 percent, while Martin brought in more than 32 percent of the central Gwinnett district. Balfour fell about 500 votes behind with 28 percent.

As far as we know, Senator Balfour’s son, a soldier with the Georgia National Guard is still in the hospital.

Trey Balfour, a member of the 48th Brigade of the Georgia National Guard, is currently hospitalized in intensive care in Germany, the senator said. While he has not yet been diagnosed, Balfour said he has been able to speak to his son.

“He wants to be back in Afghanistan,” Balfour said of Trey, 27. “The heart of a soldier is hard to understand. … He’s alive and well and ticked off that he’s not in Afghanistan.”

Please join us in adding Trey Balfour, his friends, parents, and fellow soldiers and other overseas-deployed personnel to your personal prayer list.

Gwinnett County Commissioner John Heard retains his seat on the Commission after a bruising Republican primary against challenger Alfie Meeks.

“The simple fact that the last leg of the campaign never got delivered from the post office, I think we’re lucky to get here,” Heard said.

As of 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, Heard had accumulated nearly 56 percent of the 6,930 votes cast in the district that stretches from Lawrenceville to Rest Haven and includes parts of the Dacula, Braselton and Buford areas. Challenger Alfie Meek claimed the other 44 percent of the unofficial totals.

Heard said the victory came even after 18,000 last-minute mailers didn’t go out to potential voters — and because Meek was “running a campaign based on four-year-old data.”

We’ll award Commissioner Heard +1 for singing and playing “Sweet Home Alabama” on the guitar at his victory party, but he could have earned +3. Free Bird!

Without a doubt, the most amusing, tragic, important runoff election for many of us in DeKalb County is the nonpartisan election between two self-labeled Democrats, incumbent Sheriff Jeff Mann, who took office in March when Tom Brown qualified for Congress, and former DeKalb County CEO Vernon Jones.

From the AJC:

DeKalb County voters will decide in July whether the unelected incumbent sheriff or the county’s former CEO will be their new sheriff.Incumbent Jeff Mann, appointed in March, took an early lead over former CEO Vernon Jones but never managed to capture the 50 percent plus-one needed to avoid a runoff in the eight-candidate race, according to preliminary results releasted late Tuesday.

“This was always a race between Jones and an incumbent who was not elected,” said Steve Anthony, the former head of the Democratic Party of Georgia who now teaches politics at Georgia State University. “The real race will be the runoff.”

Jones was the most well-known candidate in the crowded sheriff field and also reported the most flush campaign account. His campaign disclosures filed with the DeKalb Elections Office showed he collected $96,620, including $25,000 he lent to his campaign. Mann reported the second-largest collections, of $72,358.

Local blog Decaturish sums it up:

[Vernon] Jones, who donned a cowboy hat and boots for a picture on his campaign website, proved on May 20 that whatever opinions people might have about him, he’s still a relevant force in local politics.

WABE provides the up-side of the opportunity presented to DeKalb voters:

Clark Atlanta University political science professor William Boone says Vernon Jones is crafting a campaign that overshadows an inexperienced law enforcement career

“Because if he loses this campaign, I think it’s probably pretty much over for him. Now he’s tried to address the question of lack of law enforcement experience by simply saying the sheriff is really an administrator and I’ve been an administrator.”

In Athens-Clarke County, Rachel Watkins and Melissa Link meet in a runoff for District 3 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.

Polk County voters will decide the nonpartisan race for Tallapoosa Superior Court Judge in a runoff between Meng Lim and 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.

In Augusta, Mayor Pro Tem Corey Johnson and Harold Jones II will campaign for the runoff election in state Senate District 22, which Hardie Davis vacated in his successful run for Mayor of Augusta..

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.

Moderation Key in Georgia Democrat Nunn’s Battle for U.S. Senate Seat –

ATLANTA—Michelle Nunn handily won the Democratic nomination Tuesday for a key U.S. Senate seat. Now she faces the task of convincing voters that her message of bipartisan cooperation is enough to overcome the Republican Party’s domination of Georgia for more than a decade.

Ms. Nunn, the 47-year-old daughter of former Georgia Sen. Sam Nunn, will face off in the fall against either businessman David Perdue, who won about 31% of Republican primary votes, or U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, who won 26%, according to results from the Georgia secretary of state. A runoff between the Republicans will take place in July.

A fall win by Ms. Nunn, who has never held elected office, would signal at least a partial revival of the state’s Democratic Party, which has been in decline here for more than a decade. The outcome could help decide which party controls the U.S. Senate.

Ms. Nunn’s supporters believe demographics and GOP infighting all work in her favor. The percentage of minorities, who generally favor Democrats, has risen in the state in recent years.

The Nunn team hopes to attract independents and some Republican voters disillusioned by GOP infighting between tea-party activists and mainstream elements.

Her strategists also plan to try to win over female voters in battleground areas like Atlanta’s suburbs by stressing that Ms. Nunn is the only woman in the race. If she were to win, she would be the first woman elected to the Senate from Georgia.

via Moderation Key in Georgia Democrat Nunn’s Battle for U.S. Senate Seat –

Narrow Path to Senate for Michelle Nunn in Georgia –

The Georgia Republican primary is over, and so are Democratic wishes for their dream outcome.

Democrats had hoped they might face Paul Broun or Phil Gingrey, two Tea Party-backed conservatives with a record of outlandish statements. The possibility that one of those two might win the Republican nomination was a big part of why some thought Michelle Nunn, now officially the Democratic nominee, would have a good chance of winning this November.

But on Tuesday, Mr. Broun and Mr. Gingrey failed to advance to the runoff. Instead, Ms. Nunn will face David Perdue or Jack Kingston, who will battle to win the Republican nomination in July’s runoff primary. Mr. Perdue and Mr. Kingston are not especially strong candidates, but they haven’t yet said that evolution and the Big Bang theory are “lies straight from the pit of hell,” as Mr. Broun did. As a result, Ms. Nunn’s chance for victory is now weaker, even if the mediocre competition and her family name — she’s the daughter of the former senator Sam Nunn — make an upset possible.

In the racially polarized South, where white voters have been trending Republican for more than a generation, the Democratic route to 50 percent is mainly a matter of racial demographics. Democrats must wait for more nonwhite voters to overcome their disadvantage with white voters.

That wait might end soon in Georgia, but not in this November’s election. In the midterm balloting, the share of whites will be around 64 percent of registered voters, down from 72 percent in 2002, when the Democratic senator Max Cleland lost re-election by 7 points. Ms. Nunn will need nearly 30 percent of white voters to prevail. If Mr. Cleland were running today, his 30 or 31 percent of white voters would probably be enough to squeak out a win.

via Narrow Path to Senate for Michelle Nunn in Georgia –

Georgia Senate runoff: Nasty, brutish — and long – Manu Raju –

Republicans in Washington got the result they wanted in Georgia: Two candidates viewed as the strongest contenders to keep a Senate seat central to the fight for the majority.

But the runoff between Rep. Jack Kingston and businessman David Perdue will be nasty, brutish – and long. As in the lengthiest in the state’s political history — a nine-week intra-party slugfest at a critical moment in the battle for control of the Senate.

The “good part” of a longer contest is that it allows campaigns to restock their respective war chests for the runoff, said Georgia Sen. Johnny Isakson, a Republican who lost a three-week runoff in 1996 for the Senate GOP nomination. Continue reading