The blog.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 25, 2016

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.

The Battle of New Hope Church was fought near Dallas, Georgia May 25-26, 1864 between Confederates under General Joseph E. Johnston and Federal troops under General William T. Sherman.

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

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.

Star Wars opened on May 25, 1977.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Yesterday could be called, “The Empire Strikes Back,” after the vast majority of incumbents were reelected.

Last week on “Political Rewind,” I predicted a very strong finish for Senator Johnny Isakson, saying, “Isakson’s challenge is to get a percentage of the vote that equals or exceeds his age.” Unofficial returns show Sen. Isakson receiving 77.45% of Republican Primary votes, and his long form birth certificate indicates his age at 71.

Also victorious against GOP challengers were Austin Scott (8th District, 77.75%) Doug Collins (9th District, 61.27%), Barry Loudermilk (11th District, 60.28%), Rick Allen (12th District, 78.96%), and Tom Graves (14th District, 75.64%).

The North Georgia incumbent State Senators who were challenged all beat back their GOP opponents: Bill Cowsert (46th District, 76.24%), Frank Ginn (47th District, 80.58%), John Wilkinson (50th District, 69.63%), Steve Gooch (51st District, 73.12%), Jeff Mullis (53d District, 66.55%), and Charlie Bethel (54th District, 75.33%). Senator Jesse Stone in the 23d District took 76.83% to win. Senator Fran Millar stomped his opponent, taking 79.95% to retain his seat.

Blake Tillery, a first-time legislative candidate beat former State Rep. Delvis Dutton with 57.62%, more than double the second-place candidate’s total, in a three-way race to take the District 19 seat vacated by Sen. Tommie Williams. Matt Brass took nearly 82% of the votes in Senate District 28 to claim the seat being vacated by Mike Crane.

In Senate District 21, Brandon Beach, whom I thought the most vulnerable Senate incumbent, beat back Aaron Barlow’s challenge with 58.33% of the vote, and winning both the Cherokee and Fulton county portions of the district.

We’ll have several State Senate runoffs to look forward to.

In Senate District 23 around Augusta, former State Rep. Lee Anderson (36.19%) heads to a runoff on July 26 with Greg Grzybowaki (18.75%).

On the Democratic side, Senate District 43 will see a runoff between former State Rep. Tonya Anderson (46.05%) and current State Rep. Dee Dawkins Haigler (34.45%) to take on Republican JaNice VanNess in November.

I’m going to cover most of the House races tomorrow, but two deserve special mention today. In Brookhaven’s House District 80, Meagan Hanson and Alan Cole advance to a July 26 runoff.

In House District 91, controversial former State House member and former DeKalb CEO Vernon Jones heads to a runoff with just under 49% of the vote, barely below the threshold for an outright win.

Finally, in House District 68, where the election campaign lasted twelve days from when the Georgia GOP re-opened qualifying after Rep. Dustin Hightower resigned to take a judgeship, former Villa Rica Mayor J. Collins beat former State Rep. Tim Bearden by piling up a large margin in Carroll County, while losing in the much smaller Douglas County portion of the district.

Tim Echols wins PSC nomination

Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols, one of five elected statewide, and the only one on this year’s ballot, won the Republican nomination with 68.93% against two opponents. This race is where I think we can see the best measure of the much-ballyhooed “anti-incumbent” sentiment this year.

In taking nearly 70% of the statewide vote against two challengers, Echols also won every single county in Georgia. Compare that to the 2012 Republican Primary elections for Public Service Commissioner.

That year, incumbent Chuck Eaton took just under 60% of the vote against a Republican challenger who had previously donated to Barack Obama, and incumbent Stan Wise took 56.5% against his challenger. In that contest, Wise lost thirteen counties, including Gwinnett, Hall, and ironically, Echols County.

The PSC is as good a measure of the effects of incumbency as I can think of. Incumbency is probably the strongest influencer on reelection to the PSC from an historical perspective, and individual voters are much less likely to have a personal relationship with a member of the PSC than their State Representative or State Senator.

Fraternity Members also win

The other winner of the 2016 Republican Primary elections was fraternity members. The Public Service Commission candidate who railed against fraternity alumni came in dead last, as did a State House candidate who made an insulting comment about “frat boys.”


Adoptable Georgia Dogs for May 24, 2016

Jaco (top, male), Jabez (middle, male), and Jacey (bottom, female) are three of five Labrador Retriever puppies from the same litter who are available for adoption from the City of Macon Animal Control Department in Macon, GA.





Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 24, 2016

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

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.

Happy 75th Birthday to Bob Dylan, who was born on this day in 1941.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Today is election day from 7 AM to 7 PM. Take a photo ID when you go to vote. The AJC reports a dramatic increase in early voting in this year’s primary over 2014.

More than 329,000 Georgia voters cast early ballots ahead of Tuesday’s primary, a significant increase over the last big state elections season two years ago.

Early voting wrapped up Friday, with state and local election officials now prepping for Election Day. In 2014, more than 239,000 early voters cast their ballots ahead of the state primary.

The LaGrange Daily News has more on the pace of early voting against previous elections,

Secretary of State Brian Kemp predicts solid turnout Tuesday based on early voting numbers.

Kemp’s office reported about 329,000 people cast or mailed in ballots by Friday, the last day for early voting before Tuesday’s primary.

That’s a 38 percent increase from early voting totals in the 2012 primary. But it’s still far behind the more than 417,000 who set an early voting record in Georgia before the March presidential primaries.

Pay special attention if you’re in the City of Sandy Springs, as the Special Election for City Council, you have to vote in a separate election from the primary elections for state and county offices. For the state and county elections, go to your normal polling place, and to vote for City Council, go to the Hammond Park Round Program Building at 6005 Glenridge Drive.

Special Election for Sandy Springs City Council Seat – District 3

PUBLIC NOTICE is hereby given that, in accordance with O.C.G.A. §21-2-540, a non-partisan special election will be held in the City of Sandy Springs, Georgia, to elect a member of the City Council, District 3, to fill an unexpired term. The special election will be held on the 24th day of May, 2016.

Only registered voters who live within District 3 in Sandy Springs can cast a ballot for this election, with the only polling location on Election Day, the Hammond Park Round Program Building located at 6005 Glenridge Drive.

Candidates Seeking the Sandy Springs City Council Seat for District 3 include:

  • Chris Burnett
  • Brian Eufinger
  • Joe Houseman
  • Suzi Voyles
  • Larry Young


Click here for more voting information for Sandy Springs.

Peachtree Corners voters have a similar situation in the Special Election for City Council Post 2 – ballots may be cast today only at Peachtree Corners City Hall, 147 Technology Parkway, Peachtree Corners, GA 30092.

House District 68 will see the only day of voting after qualifying was reopened twelve days ago. I suspect it’ll be between former State Rep. Tim Bearden and former Villa Rica Mayor J. Collins.

Some of the races I’m watching today:

Georgia Public Service Commission – I’m voting for Tim Echols, a client and friend, and a great conservative. Fresh on the heels of the second recent reduction in electric rates, Tim Echols is likely headed for the winner’s circle without a runoff.

Cobb County Commission Chair, where I suspect incumbent Tim Lee will end up in a runoff with Mike Boyce.

Cobb County Commission District 2, where incumbent Bob Ott faces Jonathan Page, who is a client of mine.

DeKalb County CEO, where I’d bet Michael Thurmond will win, possibly without a runoff.

DeKalb County District Attorney, where incumbent Robert James is challenged by Sherry Boston.

DeKalb County Commission District 4, where voters can choose the thoroughly corrupt incumbent Sharon Barnes Sutton or Steve Bradshaw, a fine upstanding man. Here’s a mailpiece extolling the virtues of Commissioner Sutton.

Sharon Barnes Sutton Comparison Mailer

DeKalb County Commission Super District 7, where Warren Mosby, a political consultant and sometimes-boyfriend to Sharon Barnes Sutton is challenging incumbent Commissioner Kathie Gannon. Here’s a direct mail piece from that race.

Mosby Gannon Mailpiece

DeKalb County has two races I’d call “Anybody but” elections. In the race for Tax Commissioner, I hope my fellow voters do not choose Stan Watson, whose tenure on the County Commission has been disgraceful. In House District 91, some folks are calling for “ABV” – “Anyone but Vernon” Jones, but I’d be surprised if the former DeKalb County CEO doesn’t at least advance to a runoff.

In House District 105 (Gwinnett), Republican incumbent Joyce Chandler should handily win the nomination, though she’s opposed in the General Election as well. She has been the recipient of more than $36,000 in donations from colleagues recently.

In House District 21 (Cherokee), incumbent Scot Turner has been on the receiving end of incoming fire from business groups, but should win his reelection race.

In House District 80 (DeKalb), three Republicans meet today and two will likely advance to a runoff. Later this morning, I’ll walk over to my precinct and cast my ballot for Meagan Hanson, by far the best candidate in the race. The trick is to emerge from the runoff without being wounded in a way that makes the General Election against freshman Taylor Bennett more difficult than it already is.

In House District 81, a similar dynamic, with three Republicans running for the chance to take on Democratic incumbent Scott Holcomb in November.

Senate District 21, where Republican incumbent Brandon Beach seeks to defend his seat against aggressive challenger Aaron Barlow is a toss-up in my mind. Easily the nastiest race of the year so far and I have no idea who will win today’s GOP Primary.

I’ll be shocked if any of North Georgia’s GOP incumbent State Senators – Steve Gooch, John Wilkinson, Charlie Bethel, and Jeff Mullis – gets beaten.

In Columbus, I’ll be watching the City Council District 8 race, where Walker Garrett, who was a classmate of mine in Republican Leadership for Georgia, appears poised to win two elections today – one for the remainder of the current term, and one for a full term beginning in January.

Glynn County may see runoff elections for local offices, Clerk of Superior Court and Coroner, with each race featuring five candidates. Long County also has potential for a runoff for Coroner, with three candidates. Speaking of Coroners, Forsyth County will see Lauren McDonald, III attempt a return to the post he held from 2000 to 2012, facing off against current Deputy Coroner Stan Rutledge.

In Gwinnett County, I’d expect the incumbent judges – Ronnie Batchelor on Superior Court; Carla Brown and Shawn Bratton on State Court — to be reelected today.

As far as Congressional elections, I expect all the incumbents to win their primaries. In the Third District race to succeed retiring Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, I think there are two tickets to the runoff and three candidate – State Sen. Mike Crane, former LaGrange Mayor Drew Ferguson, and Peachtree City Businessman Jim Pace – are equally likely to claim a ticket to the dance.

Now it’s time for me to feed and walk the dogs, walk over to my polling place to vote, and then get to what it is that political consultants really do on election day. Laundry.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 23, 1016

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.

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.

On May 23, 1990, the NFL announced that Atlanta would host the 1994 Super Bowl.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Early voting is closed today, your last chance to vote in the 2016 Primary and Nonpartisan elections is tomorrow from 7 AM to 7 PM.

In Cherokee County, voters will see precinct changes in four precincts and those affected should have received postcards about the changes.

For Republican primary voters, three candidates are vying for the nomination for Public Service Commissioner. From the AJC:

In a recent editorial in the Atlanta Business Chronicle, Echols extolled the progress he and fellow commissioners made in rate reductions.

“Our rates are about 14 percent below the national average,”he wrote. “Not bad considering we don’t drill for gas or oil, and have no mines of coal or uranium.”

Tim Echols hit the road talking about the rate decreases and three-year rate freeze the PSC negotiated with the electric utility.

Commissioner Tim Echols made a stop at the Flint RiverQuarium Friday as part of his statewide energy tour.

Echols and students from schools all over the U.S. are traveling in a propane fueled van, visiting seven cities in Georgia.

He announced Georgia Power customers will see a nearly $5 decrease each month in their bills.

“This is in addition to a $5 drop last December, making an almost $10 drop over the last six months,” said Echols.

In the Third Congressional District, the Club for Growth has released a 30-second ad supporting former State Senator Mike Crane.

In the aftermath of a divisive legislative session, a group called the Georgia Coalition for Job Creation is supporting some incumbent legislators.

Lawmakers are getting help from the big business lobby for supporting its agenda the past two years, especially its top priority of the 2015 session, the $900 million-a-year tax hike to pay for transportation projects.

The business giants are also funding mailings against one suburban Atlanta Republican who voted against the tax increase.

The Georgia Chamber and the Georgia Coalition for Job Creation, whose donors tend to overlap, have combined to spend about $300,000 in recent weeks, more than half for mailings by Quick Response Communications, a company incorporated in 2014 shortly before the GOP primaries.

The Georgia Chamber reported paying Quick Response about $20,000 from May 10 to 13 for mailings in support of House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge; House Majority Leader Jon Burns, R-Newington; Senate Economic Development Chairman Brandon Beach, R-Alpharetta; and Senate Majority Whip Steve Gooch, R-Dahlonega.

Each faces Republican opponents in Tuesday’s primary, with Beach probably having the toughest challenge, from self-funding candidate Aaron Barlow, a Milton investor.

The Georgia Coalition for Job Creation listed spending on mailings for Beach; House Regulated Industries Chairman Howard Maxwell, R-Dallas;House Banking Chairman Greg Morris, R-Vidalia; Rep. Tom Dickson, R-Cohutta, chairman of the budget subcommittee on education; Rep. David Wilkerson, D-Powder Springs; and candidates for several open seats.

The coalition has sent out mailings for Canton business owner Kevin Moore, who’s running against Rep. Scot Turner, R-Holly Springs, who voted against the transportation tax hike in 2015.

“I was surprised by it,” Turner said. “They have never come to me on anything other than the tax increase vote. I have a pro-business record.”

Turner said he may have been a target because he was “louder than most” in his opposition to the tax hike. “I live in a very Republican district that opposes tax increases,” he said. “I was voting with my constituents.”

On the other side, American for Prosperity has targeted two incumbent state Senators for defeat.

The Georgia chapter of Americans for Prosperity has targeted Steve Gooch of Dahlonega and Brandon Beach of Alpharetta for their support of HB 951, which offers sales tax breaks on tickets sold to the Super Bowl and other one-of-a-kind sporting events.

Both senators have opposition in Tuesday’s GOP primary. Gooch faces John Williamson of Ellijay. Aaron Barlow, running against Beach for the Senate District 21 seat, has primarily focused on issues related to MARTA and transportation.

The AFP flyers aren’t technically campaign material, given that they don’t mention opposition candidates. But the timing surely indicates they are intended to wound both incumbents.

In her campaign for reelection to the Gwinnett County State Court, Judge Carla Brown received “Qualified,” “Well-qualified,” or “Best-qualified” ratings from more than 95% of respondents.

DeKalb County will elect a new CEO after interim CEO Lee May decided not to run for a full term.

Three Democrats are seeking to replace Lee May, who has been interim DeKalb County CEO since June 2013. They are former state senator Connie Stokes, former school superintendent Mike Thurmond and automotive services business owner Joe Bembry.

Retired businessman Jack Lovelace is the only Republican in the race.

State Senator Fran Millar (R-Dunwoody) is opposing the E-SPLOST sales tax for DeKalb schools on tomorrow’s ballot.

State Sen. Fran Millar, R-Dunwoody, is opposing DeKalb’s E-SPLOST vote this year because the district decided not to publish a detailed project list.

“What bothered me here is they’re [putting E-SPLOST on the ballot] in the May primary,” Millar said. “They could do it in November. They could probably do it next spring and put together a list of projects.”

In the past, the district has come up with such a list. This time around, the ballot names general projects, like facility and technology improvements. Millar said that violates the state constitution. He worries the district could face a legal challenge, which could deprive the schools of E-SPLOST funding for a number of years.

Millar wrote a letter to DeKalb Superintendent Stephen Green, asking him to delay the E-SPLOST vote until the list is ready. Green refused. Millar, who has supported past E-SPLOSTs, opposes this one.

“For me, this is a principle vote,’” Millar said. “I won’t enjoy hitting ‘no.’”

If voters reject the tax, it could put the district in a bind.

“Without the SPLOST money coming in, I’m not sure how they would fund a lot of the renovations that are needed and a lot of the major capital items, like roof replacements,” said Richard Boyd, DeKalb County School District’s director of design and construction.

I live in House District 80, which is hosting a spirited Republican Primary election for the chance to take on freshman Democratic Rep. Taylor Bennett. From the Dunwoody Crier,

Meagan Hanson, an attorney, has come under attack from Alan Cole who falsely charged her with suing the Republican Party and being part of a law firm that contributed to Democratic Gov. Roy Barnes.

Hansen did not sue the party and was not a member of the firm when it contributed to Barnes.

In turn, she points out that Cole voted in five Democratic primaries from 2000 through 2008. She also points out that the third candidate, Catherine Bernard, voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and against Mitt Romney in 2012. Bernard, also a lawyer, came into politics as a Ron Paul supporter. She recently responded to ethics charges against her by saying she would amend several years of campaign reports, without specifying the amendments.

As an illustration of how vigorously contested the HD 80 race is, I received five mail pieces on Saturday from two candidates in that race: three from Meagan Hanson and two from Alan Cole.

Former DeKalb County Commissioner Elaine Boyer was released from federal prison after pleading guilty to corruption charges.

In Muscogee County, not just one, but two previously disqualified candidates for Sheriff have been ruled eligible for the ballot and their votes will count.

Superior Court Judge Gary McCorvey has ruled that the Muscogee County elections board wrongly disqualified Republican candidate Mark LaJoye and Democratic candidate Donna Tompkins.

LaJoye and Tompkins, along with two other candidates, Pam Brown and Robert Keith Smith, both Democrats, were disqualified for what the elections board said were failures to meet deadlines.

But the circumstances were different, in that Brown and Smith failed to comply with a state law that requires fingerprinting for a criminal background check before a pre-primary deadline. In the case of LaJoye and Tompkins, the board ruled that they had failed to meet the same March 16 deadline for filing certified birth certificate copies and affidavits attesting that they are high school graduates.

Yet Tompkins, in a May 5 deposition challenging the disqualification, cited a March 11 email from the elections board saying she had qualified, and also asserting that on March 15, the day before the deadline, she was told by two board officials that her qualifying affidavit was “completed and fine.”

LaJoye’s attorney, Mark Shelnutt, recounted a similar experience on his client’s part, saying that on March 11, five days before the deadline, election workers had told both LaJoye and Muscogee County Republican Chairman Rick Allen that the candidate had satisfied all the requirements for eligibility to appear on the ballot.

Then the board later challenged, and disqualified, both candidates, leaving incumbent Sheriff John Darr, who will run as an independent in the November general election, effectively unopposed.

A $10k shopping spree on the taxpayers’ credit card landed a retired Hall County resource officer in hot water, according to the Gainesville Times.

Eight weapons, including two rifles and a shotgun, worth roughly $4,000 were purchased with school system money though none of the officers ever received the firearms and the superintendent said the purchases were not approved.

All of the purchases were made between November 2013 and October 2015 on a Hall County Board of Education credit card and were registered under the name of Lt. Earl Roach, who retired Feb. 29, according to a Sheriff’s Office internal affairs report obtained by The Times.

“It appears that he just took it upon himself to kind of put together this mobile command station that none of us knew anything about,” Hall County Schools Superintendent Will Schofield said last week.

Roach’s purchases totalling $10,164.64, including video equipment, a drone and firearms, led to an internal affairs investigation at the Hall County Sheriff’s Office and now an independent inquiry by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

All of the purchased items have been returned to Hall County, with the weapons secured at the Sheriff’s Office.

“Anytime you use taxpayer money, there needs to be a definite system of checks and balances in place,” Hall County Sheriff Gerald Couch said. “I did not see that with these purchases that he made, and it caused me great concern as I looked through that list of items because we would have never approved any of those purchases.”



Adoptable Georgia Dogs for May 23, 2016


Jay is a 3-month old male Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Lumpkin County Animal Shelter in Dahlonega, GA.

Jay is a wonderful little 3 month old boy. This lovebug is just as happy as he can be when he is cuddled up on your lap. Jay will make a great addition to your family.


Dragunov is an 8-month old male Coonhound mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Lumpkin County Animal Shelter in Dahlonega, GA.

This 8 month old boy is a typical Coonhound. Dragunov is really sweet, playful and active.


Roxy is a small female adult Terrier and Chihuahua mix who is available for adoption from Dahlonega-Lumpkin County Humane Society, dba TLC Humane Society Dahlonega, GA. She kind of looks to me like a Miniature Pinscher mix.

My name is Roxy! Im a super duper cuddle bug and I especially love to be held and carried. Im a dapper, lovable, girl with a slick coat and a sweet disposition. I love all my new TLC friends and would be happy in a home with cats, kids or other doggies.


Reagan is a female American Bulldog & Labrador Retriever Mix puppy who is available for adoption from Dahlonega-Lumpkin County Humane Society, dba TLC Humane Society Dahlonega, GA.


Adoptable Georgia Dogs for May 20, 2016


Juno is an adult female Bull Terrier mix who is available for adoption from Augusta Animal Services in Augusta, GA.


Fernando is a small, young male Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from Augusta Animal Services in Augusta, GA.


Bagel is a small, young male Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from Augusta Animal Services in Augusta, GA.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 20, 2016

On May 20, 1791, George Washington spent his third day in Augusta, where he visited Richmond Academy.

Blue jeans with copper rivets were patented by Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis on May 20, 1873.

On May 20, 1916, more than 20,000 visited Stone Mountain for the dedication ceremony to mark the beginning of a Confederate memorial on the north face.

On May 20, 1995, the section of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House was closed to automotive traffic.

The 400th episode of The Simpsons aired on May 20, 2007.

Two years ago today, Georgia voters went to the polls in the earliest Primary elections in modern history. In the Republican Primary, 605,355 ballots were cast in the Senate contest, while the Democratic Primary for Senate saw 328,710 ballots.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Today is the last day of early voting before the Tuesday primary elections.

Earlier this week, more than 10,000 ballots had been cast in DeKalb, where the CEO position is contested in the Democratic Primary.

Early voting is available from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Brookhaven City Hall, the Chamblee Civic Center, the Clark Harrison Building in Decatur, the Dunwoody Library, Berean Christian Church Community Center, the Stonecrest Library, South DeKalb Mall, the Tucker Recreation Center and the DeKalb Elections Office on Memorial Drive.

In Hall County, nearly 2500 early ballots had been cast.

Hall County Elections Director Charlotte Sosebee says 2,455 voters had voted early through Thursday and is projecting an overall turnout of 35 percent.

Statewide voter turnout has been strong, according to Secretary of State Brian Kemp.

In Hall and other North Georgia counties, voters can select among five GOP candidates for the 9th District House seat, plus candidates for the state legislature, Board of Commissioners and school board. Each party also has nonbinding ballot questions on various issues.

Early voting is available in Hall from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Hall County Government Center, 2875 Browns Bridge Road, Gainesville, and other local election offices. Check your county registrar for specific sites.

Athens-Clarke County election officials said early voting turnout was “kind of slow.”

As of Tuesday, just 529 people had cast early ballots. Early voting opened on May 2.

In part, Wright attributed the low turnout to the fact that none of the Athens-Clarke County commissioners up for re-election this year drew any opposition.

There are, in fact, just two contested local races on Athens-Clarke ballots. In a countywide race, local attorney Dave Hudgins and Toni Meadow, the county’s deputy tax commissioner, are vying as Democrats for the tax commissioner’s post. Incumbent tax commissioner Mitch Schrader is not seeking re-election.

Meanwhile, voters in the eastern part of the county are deciding whether Athens attorney A. Kamau Hull or University of Georgia professor John A. Knox will occupy the District 8 seat on the Clarke County Board of Education, where incumbent David Huff decided not to seek re-election to the nonpartisan board seat.

Polk County may see more than 2000 early and advance ballots, according to Northwest Georgia News.

According to the Board of Elections at the close of business of Wedneday, May 18, the vote tally was up to 1,997 ballots cast early in person or by mail.

Cedartown and Rockmart’s early voting precincts at the Board of Elections office in the County Administration building in Cedartown or at the Nathan Dean Center in Rockmart will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday for the final day of the early voting period.

Early voting in Columbus appears to be correlated to contested local elections for Columbus City Council and Board of Education, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Most precincts topping the rankings for early votes cast so far are in districts where candidates either are vying for vacant seats or challenging incumbents, and most are either in midtown or on the south side of town.

Also driving the vote in Columbus, this time literally, a teenager named David Smith.

“During the last two primaries going on I’ve been taking a lot of friends and family to come vote, well over a hundred,” said David Smith who has taken on the challenge of packing the polls.

This includes friends and family who need a ride to cast their ballot, or who need a nudge to vote at all.

“It’s a combination of different people, it is people who need a ride to the polls, my friends who don’t have that ride. It’s also people who need a little nudge. Young people have a bad tendency not to go out and vote, not to care about local elections but I try to instill in them, I say hey this is an important race whoever you vote for.”

In Columbus, Georgia, Mark LaJoye was restored to the ballot in his campaign for Sheriff of Muscogee County after an earlier decision to disqualify him.

A Superior Court judge has reversed the Muscogee County elections board’s decision to disqualify Republican sheriff’s candidate Mark LaJoye.

LaJoye’s attorney, Mark Shelnutt, confirmed the decision Thursday night.

Officials had yet to hear results of Democrat Donna Tompkins’ appeal, which was based on the same issues as LaJoye’s.

In his decision, Judge Gary McCorvey wrote that the law setting standards for sheriff’s candidates had the stated intent of ensuring such candidates were qualified, and the local elections board did not contend LaJoye was not qualified, only that he failed to meet specific deadlines for filing paperwork.

The board decided to disqualify LaJoye and Tompkins for failing to comply with another section of the state law setting qualifications for sheriff candidates. The board ruled they neglected to provide certified copies of their birth certificates and file an affidavit swearing they graduated high school by the same March 16 deadline Brown and Smith faced to submit fingerprints.

Frank Austin has dropped his appeal of a decision removing him from the ballot in House District 142.

[L]ess than an hour before his scheduled appearance in Fulton County Superior Court to challenge the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office, Austin announced via written message that he was withdrawing his petition for appeal.

“It was highly unlikely that the judge would have overturned the state’s decision,” Austin wrote.

Candidates must live in a district for a full year ahead of a state House general election. The investigation of Austin was triggered when another candidate, Gerald Harvey, filed a complaint with the Secretary of State’s office.

Last month, an administrative law judge ruled that Austin has lived in the district only since this past March. He needed to have lived there since November 8, 2015, to qualify to run.

That administrative law judge found that Austin had not changed the address on his driver’s license or his voter registration to the Bethesda Avenue address in the district until this year. The house also was without water service for much of the past year. Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp formally accepted that ruling last month and announced that votes for Austin would not count.

Yet another Georgia mayor in hot water with the law, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

A spokesperson for the Office of Georgia Governor Nathan Deal confirmed that the indictment for City of Meigs Mayor Linda Harris has been received and a commission will be formed to determine if Harris should be suspended from office. Any action by the commission will not take place until well after Tuesday’s recall election for the controversial mayor.

Harris was indicted by a Thomas County Superior Court grand jury on May 5 for theft by taking and violation of oath of office for an incident in October 2015 in which she allegedly stole $80 from the Meigs City Hall. According to Southern Judicial Circuit District Attorney David Miller, per Georgia code, his office mailed a certified copy of the indictment to the governor’s office on May 6, the day after it was handed down.

Republican State Senator Charlie Bethel faces an intraparty challenge on Tuesday.

Bethel, 40, is the chair of the Insurance and Labor Committee, vice chair of the Reapportionment and Redistricting Committee, and holds seats on Appropriations and both Judiciary committees. Bethel said being a veteran member of the Senate has given him more opportunities to work on legislative projects and a greater role in helping to shape the future of the state.

“Success comes along the way and what you measure as success changes the longer you are there,” Bethel said. “Your first year, you learn the system and you just try not to make a mistake. As you are there longer, you have more understanding of the dynamics and more relationships are built, and you want to work more strategically and with a little more focus.”

“Obviously education and a quality workforce have been a big part of my agenda, and those are quality pieces,” Bethel said when asked about his biggest accomplishments.

Bethel was an original sponsor of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Language from that bill was included in the bill that Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed earlier this year. Bethel said both that bill and a bill vetoed by Deal that would have allowed registered gun owners to carry guns in some parts of college campuses will be in the spotlight again next session.

“Neither one of them are going away,” Bethel said. “What they will look like and in what form they will be in when they get there remains to be seen.”

More and more, the middle class in Georgia is losing its voice in state politics, according to Conda Lowery Goodson.

Goodson, 42, says she wants to be that voice of the middle class in the Georgia Senate and is running against incumbent Charlie Bethel in Tuesday’s Republican primary for District 54. No Democrat qualified. District 54 includes all of Whitfield and Murray counties and parts of Gordon and Pickens counties.

“So many people have problems or expenses due to a lot of the laws and regulations passed and there is no one for them to go to with their problems and the people’s voices are not being heard,” Goodson said. “They are passing a lot of laws that are hurting the people and not benefiting the people. With a lot of research, I decided someone needed to step up for the people and truly be their voice.”

I’d love to hear the 911 call and police radio chatter on this one. A man was arrested in full Stormtrooper turnout in Newborn, Georgia.

A Newton County man had to spend a night in jail and is now facing charges after his Star Wars hobby may have taken him to the dark side.

Justin Marling’s Stormtrooper fandom created concern on Sunday in the small town of Newborn, which is about 20 miles north of Monticello.

Marling was walking down Pitts Chapel Road in full armor and a plastic gun.

He says he did it was to raise awareness for a charitable cause: Star Wars Force for Change.

The Jasper County Sheriff’s Office stopped him.

“According to the incident report, when deputies pulled up, Marling had two hands on what they thought was a real weapon. They told him to put the weapon down, but Marling turned away and continued walking. Deputies gave a second command, and it was at that point Marling put the gun down and took a step back.

“I was scared, because their guns are real. Mine isn’t.”

He was arrested for reckless conduct and wearing a mask. Georgia Law says that’s not allowed unless it’s for a holiday or a function.

Marling was released from jail Tuesday on a $2,000 bond.

It turns out that the anti-masking statute has been upheld by the Georgia Supreme Court.

Georgia’s highest court ruled the opposite way in a 1990 decision upholding that state’s anti-masking law, In that case, Klan member Shade Miller challenged his conviction for publicly wearing a Klan hood.

The Georgia Supreme Court found that the purposes of the law were the same as those of the Goshen, Ind., ordinance: to protect the public from intimidation and violence and to aid law enforcement officials in apprehending criminals. But, unlike the federal judge in Indiana, the Georgia court found that these purposes far outweighed the Klan’s right to associate anonymously.

Looking at the history of the Klan in general, rather than at the activities of the particular group whose member had filed the case, the court emphasized that masked Klansmen had a long record of “harassment, intimidation and violence against racial and religious minorities.”

Unlike laws struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court, the Georgia court reasoned, the anti-masking laws do not require the Klan to reveal the names and addresses of its members, nor do they stop Klan members from meeting secretly or wearing their hoods on private property.

The anti-masking law “only prevents masked appearance in public under circumstances that give rise to a reasonable apprehension of intimidation, threats or impending violence.” See State v. Miller, 260 Ga. 669 (1990).


Adoptable Georgia Dogs for May 19, 2016

Pen 213

Pen 213 is an adult male Poodle & Yorkshire Terrier Yorkie Mix who is available for adoption from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter.

Pen 141

Pen 141 is an adult female Greyhound and Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter.


Pen 225 is a small, 6-year old male Poodle who is available for adoption from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 19, 2016

Button Gwinnett died on May 19, 1777 of a gunshot wound received in a duel with Lachlan McIntosh.

Georgia ratified the Twelfth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which governs voting for President and Vice President on May 19, 1804.

The Battle of Spotsylvania ended on May 19, 1864. In Georgia, the Affair at Cassville occurred on May 19, 1864.

The Rubik’s Cube is 42 years old today.

When, in the spring of 1974, Ernő Rubik, a Hungarian professor of design, invented his eponymous cube, he had no idea that it would become one of the world’s best-selling toys. Nor did he envision that it would impact fields as diverse as science, art, and design – the subject of “Beyond Rubik’s Cube”, an exhibit at the Liberty Science Center, in Jersey City, New Jersey, that opened 26 April to celebrate the puzzle’s 40th anniversary. And he certainly couldn’t have imagined that, one day, his puzzle would be at the center of a competitive sport in which the top performers can re-solve it in less time than it takes to read this sentence aloud.

The first Rubik’s Cube competitions began in the early 1980s and were largely a promotional affair that vanished with the collapse of the initial fad for the puzzle. But in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the Internet allowed hobbyists around the world to find each other and run competitions of their own. More than 1,700 competitions have taken place in 66 countries since the 2004 founding of the World Cube Association, a governing body modeled after FIFA, the arbiter of international soccer. (Unlike, soccer, however, there is no qualification for any of these tourneys, including the World Championship: anyone can sign up.)

On May 19, 1977, “Smokey and the Bandit” was released.

President Barack Obama delivered the commencement address at Morehouse College on May 19, 2013.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

It seems the urge to incorporate new cities has spread outside the Metro Atlanta area. From the Times-Georgian,

The three Republican candidates in the District 68 House of Representatives race agree that if residents in the gated community of Fairfield want it to become a municipality, they should be allowed to do so.

As it pertains to Fairfield becoming a city of it’s own, Bearden said he is not going to dictate to residents what to do. However, if they want to become their own city, if elected he is going to work to make sure they get what they want and will speak to the property owners association board and residents. He said he is pretty sure the state doesn’t like being dictated to by the federal government and local government doesn’t like being dictated to by the state.

Collins agreed that the most important thing would be to listen to what the concerns of the constituents are. He said that as a former mayor, he knows the importance of working with a city council and with constituents. He said that taxation would have to be discussed. He said that Fairfield does provide some local services through its POA fees.

Lattanzio, a resident of the community, said he supports what the residents want and if they desire to become a city, and meet what the state law requires of them to be considered a city, then they should be allowed to do that. As a resident, he said that there are many benefits within the community and there could be more if the community was incorporated. He pointed at that Villa Rica has a water shortage and there are many reservoirs that could be utilized within Fairfield. He said that he would like to have more discussion about that aspect.

Loganville City Council member Chuck Bagley has died. Our condolences to his family and community.

Bagley was re-elected to the City Council in 2013 to serve a 4-year term. He served on the Loganville City Council for two previous 2-year terms, from 2005 to 2006 and from 2007 to 2008. He also served as the District 2 representative of the Walton County Board of Commissioners from 2008 to 2012.

According to his bio on the City of Loganville website, he and his wife, Fran, moved to Loganville in 1998. Bagley has served in many capacities as a volunteer, including serving as past chairman and member of the Board of Directors for the Communities in Schools of Walton County.  He was an active member of Loganville First United Methodist Church and a Certified Lay Speaker for the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church.  He was a member of the Loganville Legacy Lions Club and Chairman of Communications and Publicity for American Legion Post 233. Bagley was a U.S. Veteran.

Marietta City Council member Anthony Coleman’s days in office are numbered.

A resolution calling for the immediate suspension of Councilman Anthony Coleman was drafted and sent by Mayor Steve Tumlin to Marietta’s six other council members Wednesday for review.

The council is scheduled to vote on the resolution at a special-called meeting Friday.

The resolution states that, “Based upon Councilman Coleman’s conviction for a felony, and that pursuant to (Georgia law), Councilman Coleman has been immediately and without further action suspended from office by operation of law and the Marietta City Council.”

The local Hardees rolled out the red carpet for a visit by Canton Mayor Gene Hobgood.

A Cherokee County State Court judge is under fire from her opponent over handling of vehicular homicide cases.

Local attorney Bart Glasgow, a challenger in the non-partisan race for State Court judge, has created and posted a video of a man speaking about his brother, who was killed riding his motorcycle. The video, which has been viewed more than 52,000 times as of Wednesday afternoon, shows Duane Ferree speaking about how the person driving the vehicle that struck and killed his brother was charged with vehicular homicide, but only given 28 days in jail by incumbent Judge Michelle Homier.

Glasgow’s campaign maintains that Homier is inconsistent and often too lenient on those who appear before her in court.

Homier expressed frustration with her opponent’s campaign tactics, saying she’s received a number of hateful comments in the weeks leading up to the election.

“He’s run a very negative campaign,” Homier said of her opponent, saying Glasgow has been disingenuous and even deceitful at times. “It’s spurred people to call me heartless, brainless and some have said they hope I burn in hell.”

Homier said she’s been campaigning door-to-door to win votes in the week leading up to the election, saying her campaign has gone to more than 3,800 houses so far.

Glasgow has received the endorsement of several elected officials, including Woodstock Mayor Donnie Henriques and Rep. Wes Cantrell, R-Woodstock. He said he’s also received the endorsement of Holly Springs Police Chief Ken Ball, adding that he was thrilled to have the endorsements of a mayor, a state representative and a law enforcement leader.

Homier, however, has the financial backing of a number of local attorneys and their firms. Homier said receiving financial support from lawyers is typical of an incumbent judge, particularly from attorneys who regularly appear in a judge’s courtroom.

Lula, Georgia’s city council is working toward putting expanded alcohol sales on the November ballot.

Councilmen Marvin Moore, Garnett Smith and Mordecai Wilson said they are in favor of proceeding with ballot issues related to alcohol on the November 2016 ballot.

Councilmen Lamb Griffin and Vince Evans said they are undecided at this time.

Chandler said the city should have “no problem whatsoever meeting deadlines if the council wants to put anything on the [November] ballot.”

After council discussion, Chandler agreed to draft language for possible ballot questions to be considered by the council at an upcoming meeting.

“I assume we’re going to do it,” said Councilman Vince Evans.

Brad Morris has been reappointed Public Defender for Hall and Dawson Counties.

The Gwinnett Daily Post interviewed candidates for Superior and State Courts.

The Muscogee Couny School Board and Columbus consolidated government will join together in the creation of Tax Allocation Districts.

United States Senator David Perdue spoke to the Savannah Morning News about working for upgrades at Hunter Army Airfield.

The Georgia Republican has offered an amendment to the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill, asking the Army to offer a plan to modernize its aging airfield hangars. As a point of reference, Perdue mentioned the Apache hangars at Savannah’s Hunter Army Airfield.

“Modernizing the Apache hangars at Hunter Army Airfield is a clear example of one way we can ensure a safe and responsible working environment for our personnel as they prepare for combat missions abroad.”

The Augusta Chronicle takes a look at the House District 124 challenge against incumbent State Rep. Henry “Wayne” Howard.

As a legislator, Hill said he’ll push for incentives to attract the type of businesses – those with military ties, for instance – that the area needs.

In the General Assembly, Hill said he’ll also make himself available to Richmond County Board of Education, the Augusta Commission and Mayor Hardie Davis, whom he’ll ask, “what do you need from State Representative Hill,” he said.

He disagrees with the November referendum allowing state takeover of failing schools, but said the school system needs to face its issues locally.

For his part, Howard said at a recent forum that he shares Hill’s sentiments about the referendum and on raising the minimum wage.

The chairman for several years of the Augusta legislative delegation said he seeks re-election on his record of service.

That includes five two-year terms in the House seat inherited from his father, the late Rep. Henry Howard, with whom he worked closely for many years.


Adoptable Georgia Dogs for May 18, 2016


Mozart is a male Terrier mix puppy, one of five brothers and sisters, who is available for adoption from Warner Robins Animal Control in Warner Robins, GA.


Number 0757 CC is a white and brown female Retriever / Terrier mix pup about six months old who is available for adoption from Warner Robins Animal Control in Warner Robins, GA. She is fun and energetic. She has pretty white teeth and a winning smile. She spent her time outside chasing a bumblebee.


Champ is a young 8-month old male Labrador Retriever & Saint Bernard St. Bernard Mix who is available for adoption from Warner Robins Animal Control in Warner Robins, GA. Champ is very playful, and two other dogs at WR Animal Control appear to be his brothers.


Annabelle is a friendly, one-year old female Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from Peach County Animal Rescue in Fort Valley, Georgia. For more information or to meet Annabelle, email [email protected].

I am already spayed, housetrained, up to date with shots, good with kids, and good with dogs.