Low turnout feared for crucial DeKalb school board election | www.myajc.com

Down near the bottom of the ballot, just above a manufactured goods tax exemption in the tiny city of Clarkston, is an election with serious consequences for the parents of 100,000 students — not to mention anyone who pays taxes in DeKalb County.

All seven seats on the board that governs Georgia’s third largest school district are up for grabs.

Despite the importance for a county school system that nearly lost accreditation and has yet to fully regain it, two candidate forums hosted by Leadership DeKalb last month drew smaller than expected crowds. The civic advocacy group raised $25,000 to publicly vet the 22 candidates, yet only about 60 people turned up to watch each event.

Yvette Pitts-Ayo, a parent and school volunteer, felt anxious as she exited the second one at a south DeKalb community center. The lack of interest does not bode well for the May 20 election, she said.

“I’m ill at ease, because I don’t think enough people are going to come out,” said Pitts-Ayo, whose son is in seventh grade. “It’s not time to relax and think things are okay. We are still in a crisis.”

Low turnout would give outsize influence to special interests in the non-partisan races. Since there is no school board primary in DeKalb, this will be the final vote except for any runoffs.

This is an election for the history books for several reasons.

First, in reaction to perceived dysfunction, the Georgia General Assembly cut two seats from the nine-member board and adjusted the terms of the remaining seven so that all are up for election this year. Second, in reaction to the same perceived dysfunction, Gov. Nathan Deal replaced six elected board members last year, but only four of his appointees are running and they all face opposition.

The intersection of these two events produced this odd outcome: One of the governor’s appointees, Karen Carter, was shifted into the district of Jim McMahan, one of the three elected members Deal left on the board, so that race features two incumbents. Also, Jesse “Jay” Cunningham, one of the members tossed out by Deal, wants back on the board; Don McChesney, who lost his seat to Marshall Orson in the election two years ago, is running against Orson again; and Stan Jester, whose wife was removed from the board by Deal, is running unopposed.

The winners will make decisions that will determine whether the district regains full accreditation. Selection of the next superintendent will be chief among them.

via Low turnout feared for crucial DeKalb school board election | www.myajc.com.

Black Republicans seek Fulton offices | www.myajc.com

Cory Ruth got his first taste of politics in middle school, when his civics teacher summarized Democratic and Republican Party platforms on the chalk board.

Ruth said he was drawn to the self-determinism and Christian conservatism he saw in the Republicans. Only later did Ruth, who is black, realize many African Americans didn’t share his fondness for the GOP. Still Ruth has stayed true to his beliefs – now as a candidate for the Fulton County Board of Commissioners. And he isn’t the only black candidate who shares those views.

Ruth is one of three African-American Republicans running for the commission in the May 20 primary.

Their candidacies may be long shots. The county is a Democratic stronghold; 64 percent of voters favored Barack Obama in the last presidential election. Ruth faces some well-financed Republican opponents in the race for north Fulton District 3. The other two black Republicans – Earl Cooper, who is running for chairman, and Abraham Watson, running in south Fulton District 6 – have no Republican opposition, but will make their first runs for office against established Democratic politicians.

Democrats don’t seem worried that Republicans will make significant inroads among African Americans, who cast 40 percent of Fulton County ballots in the 2012 general election. A 2012 NAACP poll of black voters in four battleground states found only 14 percent would consider voting for Republicans if they were committed to civil rights.

via Black Republicans seek Fulton offices | www.myajc.com.

Poll shows Georgia ethics agency’s problems pose a danger for… | www.myajc.com

Gov. Nathan Deal’s opponents see the ethics questions swirling around his campaign as one of his biggest vulnerabilities — and voters are paying attention.

A statewide poll commissioned by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution found that a majority of Georgia voters are aware that former state ethics commission director Stacey Kalberman won a $700,000 judgment on her claim she was forced from her job for too vigorously investigating complaints against Deal.

Some 58 percent signaled they agreed with that jury verdict, and 71 percent believe Deal was involved. That may hint at why Deal is trying to turn questions about the state ethics commission into an opening to call for one of the broadest overhauls of the watchdog agency in Georgia history.

Deal’s embrace of a plan to bolster the beleaguered commission is seen as an attempt to neutralize questions about his office’s role in the agency’s struggles ahead of a competitive May 20 primary and a potential November matchup against Democrat Jason Carter. His opponents see it as a callous election-year change of heart.

via Poll shows Georgia ethics agency’s problems pose a danger for… | www.myajc.com.

Georgia’s Republican Party Senate primary: Karen Handel, Jack Kingston, and David Perdue race to the far right.

KENNESAW, Georgia—The last great public battle between the Tea Party and the Republican establishment happened a few hours away from here, right over the Georgia–Florida border. One month ago, the moderate Republican Main Street Partnership decamped to Amelia Island for its annual retreat. Tea Party activists, furious at the presence of Republican leaders like Rep. Eric Cantor, followed them down. Gadsden-flag-wavers from northeast Florida and southeast Georgia gathered outside the meeting to shame them.

“We surrounded the place,” remembers William Temple. “Over the whole weekend they had to look out of their windows at rattlesnake flags!” Continue reading

Georgia Senate Race Becoming Less of a Long Shot for Democrats – NYTimes.com

New polling from NBC/Marist and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution mixed things up in our Senate model, with our forecasts in Arkansas and Georgia moving in a Democratic direction. The national outcome remains a coin flip, although the new data tipped our forecast from a 54 percent chance that the Republicans will take the Senate this fall to a slightly better than even chance (52 percent) that the Democrats will stay in power.

Ever since our model, called Leo, debuted, we’ve considered Georgia to be the best opportunity for the Democrats to pick up a Republican seat, and over the past several weeks, it has been looking like less of a long shot. Our Senate model now classifies the race as a tossup, giving the Democratic candidate, Michelle Nunn, a 43 percent chance of capturing the seat in November. But this is highly contingent on which Republican emerges from the primary next Tuesday.

Our primary forecast — which is highly speculative and ought to be considered a rough estimate at best — considers it to be largely a two-way contest between David Perdue, a wealthy businessman, and Representative Jack Kingston.

But we also think there is about one chance in four that a candidate other than these two emerges to face Ms. Nunn in the general election. If that happens, the balance will tip in Ms. Nunn’s favor. As things stand, we’d give Nunn only a 26 percent chance to defeat Mr. Perdue and a 48 percent chance of beating Mr. Kingston. We’d consider her a 73 percent favorite against another candidate, Representative Phil Gingrey.

Chances are that we won’t know the final outcome of the Republican nomination fight for several months. Though the Georgia primary will be held Tuesday, it looks increasingly likely that no candidate will be able to clear the 50 percent threshold required to avoid a runoff election, which wouldn’t be held until July 22. Until then, and probably beyond, the outlook in November will remain very much in flux.

via Georgia Senate Race Becoming Less of a Long Shot for Democrats – NYTimes.com.

Easy On The Ears: GOP Ads Adapt To Reach Women Voters : NPR

It’s only April, but it looks and sounds like October. More than $80 million has been spent on political advertising in only about a dozen Senate battleground states.

About half that amount is targeted at women.

Many ads aimed at women take the most obvious approach: Republicans putting their female candidates front and center; Democrats attacking Republicans for waging a war on women. Continue reading

UPDATED: Another 2 indicators of voter disinterest and disengagement?

This morning I downloaded the latest Secretary of State’s Absentee Voter File and through the end of the early and absentee voting period, 236,001 votes were cast.

Compare this to the July 31, 2012 Primary election, when 413,361 early votes were cast, and we have had 43% fewer votes this year than in the 2012 Primary.

Below is a chart of Google Search volume for “Georgia Governor Election”.

David Perdue Fights Tax Blooper as Karen Handel Seizes New Momentum in Georgia Senate Race

Businessman David Perdue continues to lead the polls for the Georgia Senate race, but a recent blooper on taxes may shake up the race as the candidates prepare for Tuesday’s election.

Perdue gave his opponents a golden opportunity after he agreed to not only cut spending, but raise revenues in an editorial board meeting with the Macon Telegraph.

In audio released by the Telegraph, Perdue chuckled after one of the members of the editorial board slyly noted that raising revenue was a “euphemism for some kind of tax increase.”

Handel said that by failing to clarify his position on taxes, he failed a key test.

“Most of the Republicans that I know, even the suggestion of raising taxes is no laughing matter,” she said in an interview with Breitbart News.

“That is David Perdue not being clear about who he is and what he believes in,” she added.

But Perdue, who signed the Americans For Tax Reform pledge a week earlier, claims he has no intention of raising taxes.

Purdue quickly clarified his position on Herman Cain’s radio show who agreed that the attacks and media stories were “misleading.”

“I’ve never supported tax increases to solve the debt crisis,” Perdue insisted.

But Handel believed that it was one more sign of a candidate that has struggled in the past to clarify his political positions.

“What do you think Michelle Nunn’s going to do with that?” she asked, pointing out that their Democratic opponent was already running ads vowing to cut taxes.

Perdue’s campaign decried tax attacks from his Republican opponents as “deceitful” and “outrageous.”

“David believes that tax increases hinder economic growth and destroy jobs. They are not an option.” campaign spokesman Derrick Dickey said in an email to Breitbart News.

via David Perdue Fights Tax Blooper as Karen Handel Seizes New Momentum in Georgia Senate Race.

Adoptable Georgia Dogs for May 16, 2014

39139

39139 is a young Yellow Lab mix who is friendly and is located in Pen 165 at the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter, where she is available for adoption.

39138

39138 is a female Pit Bull mix who is very friendly and located in Pen 118 at the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter.

39193

39193 is a friendly Yellow Lab mix male who was found stray and is now located in Pen 118 at the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter. He could really use a loving home with plenty of kibble.

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

Georgia’s trustees asked Britain to repeal the law against importing slaves to the colonies on May 17, 1749.

George Washington introduced resolutions in the Virginia House of Burgesses, drafted by George Mason, criticizing Britain’s “taxation without representation” policies toward the colonies.

Button Gwinnett and Lachlan McIntosh met outside Savannah on May 16, 1777 and fought a duel; Gwinnett was mortally wounded.

Gwinnett returned to Georgia immediately after signing the [Declaration of Independence] to find city Whig Lachlan McIntosh commanding Georgia’s nascent military efforts. Determined to take control of Georgia politics, Gwinnett became speaker of the legislature, guided the Georgia Constitution of 1777 into existence and took over as governor when Archibald Bulloch died suddenly in office.

Gwinnett then wanted to lead an expedition to secure Georgia’s border with Florida. A dispute between McIntosh and Gwinnett over who would command the effort ultimately led to their duel and Gwinnett’s death.

A Constitutional Convention met on May 16, 1795 in the capital of Louisville to amend the Georgia Constitution of 1789.

George Washington continued his tour of Georgia on May 17, 1791, staying overnight in Waynesboro; on May 18 he arrived in Augusta.

General Winfield Scott issued an order on the removal of Cherokee people from Georgia on May 17, 1838.

Abraham Lincoln was nominated for President by the Republican National Convention on May 18, 1860.

On May 17, 1864, Sherman and Johnston engaged in the Battle of Adairsville, Georgia.

The United States Senate voted to acquit President Andrew Johnson of 11 Articles of Impeachment passed by the House of Representatives on May 16, 1868.

The United States Supreme Court handed down its decision in Plessy v. Ferguson on May 18, 1896.

The U.S. Supreme Court rule[d] seven to one that a Louisiana law providing for “equal but separate accommodations for the white and colored races” on its railroad cars is constitutional. The high court held that as long as equal accommodations were provided, segregation was not discrimination and thus did not deprive African Americans of equal protection under the law as guaranteed by the 14th Amendment.

The North Georgia Electric Company was incorporated on May 16, 1901 to build a hydroelectric dam on the Chattahoochee River near Gainesville; in 1916, it would be bought by the company that today is known as Georgia Power.

The United States Supreme Court released its unanimous decision in Brown v. Board of Education on May 17, 1954, overturning Plessy v. Ferguson.

The historic decision, which brought an end to federal tolerance of racial segregation, specifically dealt with Linda Brown, a young African American girl who had been denied admission to her local elementary school in Topeka, Kansas, because of the color of her skin.

For more: an interesting story at NPR about a 1940s decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals desegregating schools in California

News Feed

The Minnesota legislature passed a bill legalizing medicinal use of cannabis and Governor Mark Dayton will sign it.

 says, “Under the agreement, the state will authorize two medical cannabis manufacturers to set up operations in Minnesota and distribute the product in pill or liquid form to qualified patients at up to eight distribution centers by July 1, 2015.”

However, smoking marijuana would still not be legal. Instead, patients would be allowed to vaporize “whole plant extracts,” but not dried leaves, MPR says.

The Associated Press says the deal is “a major victory to severely ill children and adults whose emotional appeals for help propelled a major policy change that once appeared dead for the session.”

The AP says: “Some patients lamented that the agreement doesn’t allow them to use actual plant material – they instead can use the drug in oil, pill and vapor form – but others were overjoyed.”

Craziest Political Debate Ever

From NPR:

[T]he sober-suited Gov. Butch Otter, running for a third term, and his Tea Party challenger, state Sen. Russ Fulcher, were largely relegated to serving as bemused bystanders as the proceedings were happily hijacked by two highly entertaining, long-shot candidates.

There was Walt Bayes, a full-bearded Santa Claus look-alike and abortion opponent, who’s the father of 16, and Harley Brown, a leather-clad biker with a pocketful of cigars, a history of being slapped with restraining orders and, according to him, a direct line to God.

Second Place?

Campaigns and Elections

If you want to know how to win an election, as a 17-year old. Not any 17-year old, but Saira Blair, who defeated a two-term incumbent in the West Virginia Republican Primary for State House of Representatives.

Blair had a small social media presence for the primary. She ran the old-fashioned way, knocking on doors, running print ads and sending out hundreds of handwritten notes.

“She mobilized her people; she was effective. She just did a better job of campaigning,” says Kump, gracious in defeat.

Blair said the issues she heard about the most as she talked to voters were jobs, gasoline prices and the Second Amendment.

She contends that her party, which has struggled to appeal to young voters in recent years, should have no trouble in the future.

Republicans, after all, are widely expected to win control of the West Virginia House for the first time since 1928.

“It’s wonderful that my generation is learning they don’t have to be 40, 50 or 60 to realize these conservative values benefit them,” she says.

It probably didn’t hurt that her father is a member of the State Senate who also served eight years in the House.

A lesson on what not to do as a young person in politics comes from Ashley Bell, who is running for the Republican nomination for State School Superintendent. In 2004, as President of the College Democrats, Ashley Bell may have pulled out the race card against then-candidate for Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, an Indian-American Republican. Bell wrote in an e-mail:

“On Saturday – we nominated Kathleen Blanco the Lt. Governor to be our nominee to take on Bush’s personal ‘Do Boy’ Bobby Jindal,” Bell wrote. “Jindal is Arab American and the Republicans [sic] token attempt to mend bridges long burnt with the Arab American community.”

The fact that Bell called Jindal an Arab-American caused alarm, but Indian-Americans told CNSNews.com it was shameful for the College Democrats to label him as a token candidate because of his ethnicity.

“Playing the race card is just despicable,” said Harin Contractor, an Indian-American student at the University of Georgia. “If that happened to the Jewish-American community or the African-American community … there would be a huge backlash. But [Bell] doesn’t care because we’re Indian-American and we don’t matter.”

To compound the situation, Bell responded shortly after sending the original e-mail with an apology that Contractor said was even more ignorant.

“In a recent email describing the Republican Nominee in Louisiana Bobby Jindal, I used what local news has termed Arab American – But in Fact Indian American is the politically correct terminology,” Bell wrote. “So thank you to the curteous [sic] college dems – who let us know of the terminology mix up.”

No, in fact, the problem was not one of politically correct terminology, but of factually incorrect geography. Also, I will assess -2 points for grammar and spelling.

I also didn’t know what a “do boy” is, so I consulted the internet. Here’s what UrbanDictionary.com told me:

1. The phrase “do boy” has been used in the early 90′s [] to classify a certain type of guy.

A “do boy” is a guy that likes or loves a girl that is not really interested in him, but the girl will keep this guy around to do things for her.

 

2. Errand boy for a drug king.

 

3. One who does everthing for his associate under demand and receive no praises for his accomplishments.

At least this time Bell’s misspelling wasn’t of the very office he is seeking.

The campaign website of Ashley Bell, who announced on Wednesday a bid for the Republican nomination for state school superintendent, says the former Hall County commissioner wants to be Georgian’s next “superintendant.” With an “a.”

Bell’s website was amended as of Thursday morning, but not before Peach Pundit captured an image of the error.

“Seplling is hard,” as the blog notes.

I supported Nancy Jester for the Republican nomination for Georgia State School Superintendent long before she decided to run and for reasons more important than her understanding of math, spelling, grammar, and geography.

I first decided to support Nancy Jester after she put the needs of the students and taxpayers of DeKalb County ahead of her own interests. She uncovered fraud by the DeKalb County administration and reported it to SACS. Her letter and the evidence she uncovered led SACS to put DeKalb’s accreditation on probation.

After that, Governor Nathan Deal had the choice to remove all or none of the members who were on the BOE at the time of the probation, and he rightly chose to remove them all. Nancy Jester’s action of reporting fraud led to the investigation, without which DeKalb taxpayers would still be getting fleeced by the administration.

One member of the State Board of Education who voted for the removal of all members expressed his wish that Nancy could be reappointed but recognized the political reality.

Here’s what Nancy Jester wrote at the time:

For clarity, I wanted to resign from the board in advance of the hearing in February, but refrained from doing so because of the pending court case. If the ruling had gone the other way, the remaining board members would have remained on the board and they would select my successor. I wanted to prevent that. I am more comfortable with the Governor and his team selecting my replacement.

Additionally, it is a matter of public record that I voted “no” on February 1st, to the hiring of the attorney to pursue the board’s legal challenges in the first place. I did not support in any way, the filing of legal action and I expressed my opposition in board meetings. Because the court has vacated their previous stay, the board members subject to the Governor’s executive order are now, no longer on the board. Once the Governor appoints new members, the board will have a quorum and be able to meet. At that point, the board will be able to make decisions regarding the use of district resources.

 

So, for those of you who are hearing smears about Nancy Jester’s service on the DeKalb County Board of Education, here are the relevant facts:

  1. Nancy Jester uncovered and reported fraudulent accounting practices by DeKalb County schools and reported them to SACS, the accrediting agency.
  2. Jester’s letter to SACS reporting the fraudulent accountant practices that cost DeKalb homeowners millions of dollars in taxes was the basis for the investigation by SACS and probationary ruling.
  3. Jester was the only BOE member who did not seek reinstatement to the Board.
  4. During the accreditation process, while still on the Board, Nancy Jester and Don McChesney advocated against closed-door discussions and in favor of openness and transparency.
  5. Senator Josh McKoon, the foremost champion of open and transparent government and higher ethical standards for elected officials is supporting Nancy Jester, saying,

“During her service as a member of the DeKalb County Board of Education, Nancy asked the tough questions that revealed the gross mismanagement which even now is resulting in positive change for children in DeKalb County. As an actuarial consultant Nancy has the experience and knowledge to drill down into our state education bureaucracy and make it work for our kids. As a mom she has a passion that in my view is unrivaled to see that we achieve the goal of access to quality education so every child in Georgia can realize their potential.”

Not only is the Georgia Senate race a marker on the roadmap to the 2016 Hillary Clinton White House, it’s also a test for whether the Tea Party retains influence or whether corporate establishmentarians have reasserted control. From NPR “Meet the Frontrunners”:

Seven Republicans are competing for the nomination to Georgia’s open Senate seat. All are conservative, but the primary on May 20 will be a test of how well the Tea Party is doing. At least three of the candidates carry the Tea Party mantle. Some party leaders worry that if one of the more extreme conservatives gets the nomination, it could clear the way for a win by a moderate Democrat in the general election.

The Washington Times Upshot blog sees Georgia trending favorably for Democrats based on two media polls released recently.

New polling from NBC/Marist and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution mixed things up in our Senate model, with our forecasts in Arkansas and Georgia moving in a Democratic direction. The national outcome remains a coin flip, although the new data tipped our forecast from a 54 percent chance that the Republicans will take the Senate this fall to a slightly better than even chance (52 percent) that the Democrats will stay in power.

Ever since our model, called Leo, debuted, we’ve considered Georgia to be the best opportunity for the Democrats to pick up a Republican seat, and over the past several weeks, it has been looking like less of a long shot. Our Senate model now classifies the race as a tossup, giving the Democratic candidate, Michelle Nunn, a 43 percent chance of capturing the seat in November. But this is highly contingent on which Republican emerges from the primary next Tuesday.

Our primary forecast — which is highly speculative and ought to be considered a rough estimate at best — considers it to be largely a two-way contest between David Perdue, a wealthy businessman, and Representative Jack Kingston.

But we also think there is about one chance in four that a candidate other than these two emerges to face Ms. Nunn in the general election. If that happens, the balance will tip in Ms. Nunn’s favor. As things stand, we’d give Nunn only a 26 percent chance to defeat Mr. Perdue and a 48 percent chance of beating Mr. Kingston. We’d consider her a 73 percent favorite against another candidate, Representative Phil Gingrey.

The thing about “professional politicians” is that they tend to be good at ….wait for it…..politics. Senate candidate David Perdue has shown the downside of taking the field for the first time at the most competitive level.

Earlier this week, a recording once again surfaced of Perdue making statements that aren’t outrageous on their face, but suggest some openness to enhancing government revenue.

Perdue, in Macon as part of a statewide tour, sat down with the Telegraph’s editorial board for more than an hour. Their wide-ranging discussion included this snippet on the nation’s deficit, which you can find near the 49-minute mark.

A Telegraph editorial board member asked Perdue whether it would be better to get out of the economic “ditch” by curbing the growth of spending or increasing revenue.

“Both,” Perdue quickly answered.

The questioner then declared, “And that’s a euphemism for some kind of tax increase, of course.”

Perdue responded with a chuckle, and then answered thusly:

“Well here’s the reality: If you go into a business, and I keep coming back to my background, it’s how I know how to relate is to refer back to it — I was never able to turn around a company just by cutting spending. You had to figure out a way to get revenue growing. And what I just said, there are five people in the U.S. Senate who understand what I just said. You know revenue is not something they think about.”

A veteran Democratic strategist assessed Perdue’s statement:

Ed Kilgore speculates that this is a sign of Perdue’s inexperience and wonders if his rivals will pounce.

But here’s where it really gets ugly: notorious ultra-liberal Daily Kos calls Perdue’s remarks “a stunning outbreak of sanity.”

But with less than a week to go before Election Day, it seems that Perdue just experienced a massive outbreak of sanity—the kind of sanity that, among Republican voters, could easily cost a candidate running in a GOP primary. Indeed, in a recent meeting with the editorial board of the Macon Telegraph, flagged by ThinkProgress, Perdue appeared to go stark raving sane.

It’s also worth comparing Perdue’s statement, which might indicate nothing more than a willingness to hear proposals that would increase government revenues, to the statements by current Senator Saxby Chambliss, whose seat Perdue is seeking.

Mr. Chambliss has been increasingly outspoken in arguing that additional revenues must be part of a debt-reduction plan, given the scale of the problem.

“I’m taking arrows from some on the far right,” he told the Rotary Club of Atlanta in an appearance with Mr. Warner on Monday. “Are some people going to pay more in taxes? You bet.”

Statements like that began a grassroots revolt against Chambliss that some consider to be part of the reason Chambliss decided not to seek reelection.

Chambliss, 69, rejected suggestions he couldn’t have survived a likely GOP primary fight with the tea party, insisting he has a proud conservative record and noting he received more votes than any other statewide official in Georgia history in 2008.

Chambliss, 69, has been a GOP loyalist for much of his House and Senate career, but he earned the wrath of some in his party for participating in a bipartisan Senate “Gang of Six” intent on finding a way to reduce the deficit. The group advocated a mix of tax increases, anathema to many in the GOP, and spending cuts. The group failed to reach agreement and produce a bargain.

Although no major Republican candidate had announced a challenge to Chambliss, he was facing the distinct possibility of a tough race. His decision was certain to set off a GOP scramble for the seat.

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