The blog.

1
Apr

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 1, 2016

In perhaps the most fitting historical tidbit ever, the United States House of Representatives first met on April 1, 1789 in New York City. Frederick Augustus Conrad Muhlenberg of Pennsylvania was elected the first Speaker of the House. Georgia’s first Members of Congress were James Jackson, Abraham Baldwin, and George Mathews.

On April 1, 1870, Robert E. Lee, President of Washington College in Lexington, Virginia, arrived in Savannah, Georgia. Lee’s career in the United States Army began with his first assignment at Cockspur Island near Savannah. While in Savannah for the 1870 trip, Lee was photographed with former General Joseph E. Johnston, who was in the insurance business there.

Happy Birthday to Phil Niekro, who turns 76 today. Niekro pitched for the Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves for twenty years, earning five trips to the All-Star Game, five gold gloves, led the league in wins twice, and came in second in balloting for the Cy Young award in 1969. In 1997, he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The next election in Georgia will be a Special Runoff Election in House District 162, held on April 26, 2016.

The Chatham County Board of Elections announced this week a runoff has been scheduled for April 26. Any voters in House District 162’s 19 precincts can cast ballots in the runoff, as long as they were registered to vote by March 7.

Professor Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia writes that a Donald Trump nomination could jeopardize Georgia’s standing as a red state in November’s Presidential election. Here’s the sum total of what he wrote about the Peach State in his most recent column,

[H]ere is our extra-early, ridiculously premature projection of the Electoral College map in a possible Hillary Clinton-Donald Trump matchup.

In fact, four normally Republican states (Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, and Missouri) would be somewhat less secure for the GOP than usual.

The polling averages for a Clinton-Trump face-off show roughly a 10 percentage point lead for the Democrat. RealClearPolitics has Clinton up about 11 points and HuffPost Pollster gives Clinton a lead of about nine points. Again, this suggests that one or more states currently rated Likely Republican (Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, and Missouri) might slip into the Democratic column.

Cruz could firm up the GOP’s chances in Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, and Missouri, and he could turn some of our Leans Democratic states back into Toss-ups.

Sabato’s suggestion that Georgia could go blue in 2018 assumes, of course, that Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee, which I think is less certain today than it was two weeks ago.

But fret not for Johnny Isakson’s reelection. So far, the Democratic party’s favorite hope, Jim Barksdale, has only the bare minimum of a website, and we aren’t aware of his having spoken to the media or voters yet, and Isakson has historically attracted broader support than any other statewide candidate I’m aware of.

More surprising to me was that the Democratic Party of Georgia failed to even field a candidate for the Public Service Commission, the only other statewide office on the ballot this year.

A group called Everytown for Gun Safety is running ads in Atlanta asking Governor Deal to veto campus carry legislation passed by the General Assembly.

Everytown for Gun Safety, a group backed by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, says it will spend $25,000 on ads running Thursday through Monday in metro Atlanta.

The ad highlights opposition by campus law enforcement officials and says guns, alcohol and students “don’t mix.”

State Senator Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta) was disappointed by the veto of HB 757, the Religious Freedom compromise bill.

Beach said Friday that similar legislation has been passed in a number of other states over the years and many of them have won bids to host tournaments and championship games since.

“I also don’t think the movie industry is going to leave,” he said. “They like to make money and save money and it is a lot less expensive to film a movie here than it is in California.”

It appears highly unlikely that an override session of the legislature will be called, according to the AJC.

House Speaker David Ralston and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle said Thursday that they would not push to overturn Gov. Nathan Deal’s veto of a “religious liberty” measure this year, but both vowed to unite behind a new version of the controversial legislation next year.

In an exclusive joint interview, the leaders of the two legislative chambers told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that they are ready for a fresh start on the debate over the measure, which would extend legal protections to opponents of same-sex marriage, and are heeding the calls of religious conservatives clamoring for more safeguards for faith-based organizations.

Some conservative legislators have called for a “veto session” to summon lawmakers back to Atlanta, a move that would require three-fifths support in each chamber. Overturning his veto would face a higher bar — two-thirds support in each chamber — a threshold the vote failed to reach in March.

Both said they would oppose a veto session, with Ralston saying it “has the potential to be counterproductive.” Cagle didn’t close the door on an attempt to override the veto next year, though Ralston said he would rather devote his energy to trying to reach a consensus among lawmakers than reversing the governor’s decision.

“I don’t know that the votes would be there to override the veto,” Ralston said. “My preference would be to come together and focus on the substance of the bill rather than the rhetoric that’s out there — and reach a resolution.”

McClatchyDC takes a look at the dynamics of a GOP challenge to incumbent Congressman Austin Scott (R-Tifton).

A truck-driving Macon businesswoman and a former sheriff’s deputy with a history of crossing party lines are trying to oust Republican Austin Scott from his three-term seat in Congress as Georgia’s 8th district U.S. representative.

It’s the second time that Republican Angela Hicks, owner of Stuff It Mobile Storage, has crossed paths with Scott in the sprawling district that runs south from central Georgia to the Florida border.

And for Scott, the strong favorite to retain his seat, he’ll have to show he can withstand a growing anti-incumbent sentiment and the possible downstream electoral drag of a Donald Trump or Ted Cruz GOP presidential nomination.

“If the people give me the privilege to serve again,” Scott said, “I’m going to continue to do my job, with regard to constituent services locally, as the only Republican (from Georgia) on the Armed Services Committee in the House or the Senate, and I’m going to do my job to support agriculture and our farmers and our agricultural economy.”

[Angela] Hicks doesn’t consider herself part of the Republican Party’s tea-party faction: “I really hate to lump me to them or them to me,” she said.

With a self-funded campaign, Hicks has put up several dozen billboards throughout the district attacking Scott’s conservative bona fides and casting him as an establishment Republican who votes the party line – even when it goes against conservative principles.

Yesterday in Gwinnett County, a rag-tag ad hoc group of state legislators heard about business investment opportunities and issues.

“That idea of an incubator and direct support for the entrepreneur is something that’s going on all across the state,” said Atlanta Technology Angels board members Dan King, who also worked to start a Gwinnett Angels group. “There’s aggressive support by the chamber here and the communities around here, themselves, have started their own investment incubators.”

“I spend a lot of time going out to various organizations, to meetings all over the region, and the thing I hear consistently … is that in the metro Atlanta area and in Georgia, capital is the thing that consistently it’s said there’s not enough of,” Partnership Gwinnett Director of Entrepreneurship Mark Farmer said.

“Entrepreneurs all need the same things. They need customers, they need a place to work, they need mentoring, assistance, education and knowledge, but they also need money to make money.”

A study of rattlesnakes in South Georgia shows the state’s population holding steady.

DNR commissioned the survey because Eastern diamondbacks are being considered for protected status under the Endangered Species Act. Findings will help inform U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decisions on whether to list this native, the largest venomous snake in the region.

While Eastern diamondbacks have experienced significant decline in Georgia from habitat loss and from people killing them, Stevenson said the current population is solid. Study authors looked at 15 years of DNR and Orianne Society records and supplemented that information with reported sightings from a DNR Biotics web site as well as museum collections. In all they compiled close to 400 occurrence records.

Georgia Public Broadcasting looks at the issue of part-time legislators under the Gold Dome.

The old way the General Assembly was supposed to work back when they came up with this scheme is that they met during the winter quarter when the state university system was on quarters and it was when the crops … the fields were dead. And so you came after the harvest and you left right before planting time and that’s how it was supposed to work originally and that’s no longer where we live in the state.

Is that antiquated? Is that outmoded at this point? Do they need to be full time?

Well there’s there’s a case that could be made for full time legislators a number of states have the New York, California, Illinois … all have full time legislators. This is their career this is their job this is what they invest in. I think one of the big problems for us is that, yeah, it works for folks that are still are in farming career.

But today so few of our population work in agriculture, and are on the agricultural cycle there’s a lot of citizens that get left out of the chance to serve as a citizen legislator and there’s []ways you could do that we could still have part time legislators that stretch the season such legislative session around the year to do different things but this session the way it’s structured is pretty difficult to recruit ambitious politicians to want to invest in a lifetime in it.

1
Apr

Adoptable Georgia Cats for April 1, 2016

Jagger

Jagger is a big old snuggly Maine Coon Cat who is available for adoption from Georgia Homeless Pets in Atlanta, GA. He likes other cats and will be happiest in a home with at least one other kitty.

Pixie

Pixie (above) and Skittles (below) are twin sister Maine Coon Cat/Tabby mix girls who are available for adoption from Georgia Homeless Pets in Atlanta, GA. The sisters would prefer to go to the same home and both get along well with other cats and are well-behaved inside, though they’re somewhat scared of people.

Skittles

31
Mar

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 31, 2016

On March 30, 1870, the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was formally adopted after sufficient number of the states ratified it.

With the adoption of the 15th Amendment in 1870, a politically mobilized African-American community joined with white allies in the Southern states to elect the Republican Party to power, which brought about radical changes across the South. By late 1870, all the former Confederate states had been readmitted to the Union, and most were controlled by the Republican Party, thanks to the support of African-American voters.

In the same year, Hiram Rhoades Revels, a Republican from Natchez, Mississippi, became the first African American ever to sit in Congress. Although African-American Republicans never obtained political office in proportion to their overwhelming electoral majority, Revels and a dozen other African-American men served in Congress during Reconstruction, more than 600 served in state legislatures, and many more held local offices. However, in the late 1870s, the Southern Republican Party vanished with the end of Reconstruction, and Southern state governments effectively nullified the 14th and 15th Amendments, stripping Southern African Americans of the right to vote. It would be nearly a century before the nation would again attempt to establish equal rights for African Americans in the South.

On March 31, 1870, Thomas Mundy Peterson became the first African-American to vote after the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

The iconic vote was cast in a local election in Perth Amboy, New Jersey for the town’s charter.  Gary Sullivan of the News Tribune stated, “Exercising his right to vote in a local election on March 31, 1870.  Peterson became the first black man in the United States to cast a ballot.  The amendment had been ratified on February 3, 1870, and within just two months the Fifteenth Amendment was put to use.

An interview with Peterson showed who encouraged him to vote, “I was working for Mr. T. L. Kearny on the morning of the day of election, and did not think of voting until he came out to the stable where I was attending to the horses and advised me to go to the polls and exercise a citizen’s privilege.”  Peterson also revealed his vote in this election, “As I advanced to the polls one man offered me a ticket bearing the words “revised charter” and another one marked, “no charter.” I thought I would not vote to give up our charter after holding it so long: so I chose a revised charter ballot.”

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Goofy Voter

In order to fill a District 3 City Council vacancy, the City of Sandy Springs has adopted the goofiest voting scheme I can remember.

At a special meeting Tuesday at City Hall, the council approved, by a 5-0 vote, an ordinance to hold a special election May 24 for District 3 to fill McDonald’s seat until the term expires Dec. 31, 2017.

Residents wishing to become candidates must file a notice of candidacy and affidavit during the qualifying period that will start April 13 at 8:30 a.m. and end April 15 at 12:30 p.m.

For the election there will only be one polling place located in Hammond Park at 6005 Glenridge Drive in Sandy Springs.

The city does not have the ability to efficiently hold elections in several polling places that day, said City Manager John McDonough, adding it is a special election because it falls outside the 90-day-advance-notice period required by state code.

For the voting process the city will be using paper ballots for residents to vote with. There will also be several ways for residents to execute absentee voting.

“Residents will be able to download a form from our website, fill it up and either mail it, email it or fax it, etc.” said city spokeswoman Sharon Kraun, adding the city is working on all the ways it can help neighbors and also the advertisement procedure the city is bound to follow before election time.

The last option will be advanced voting which will be held at the Fulton County North Service Center, located at 7741 Roswell Road in Sandy Springs.

The Sandy Springs Patch notes,

Residents should note that voting for the state’s May 24 general primary will be held in the polling locations designated on the voting registration cards issued by Fulton County. That primary election includes the selection of State Court judges, Fulton County School Board representatives, county commissioners and tax commissioner.

So, if you live in Sandy Springs and want to vote in the General Primary election for United States Senator, Public Service Commission, and other state offices, you will do so at your normal voting precinct. If  you also want to cast a ballot for Sandy Springs Commission District 3, you will have to drive to Hammond Park at 6005 Glenridge Drive to cast your ballot for that office only.

But it gets even goofier.Continue Reading..

31
Mar

Adoptable Georgia Dogs for March 31, 2016

Martha

Martha is an adult female Coonhound or Foxhound who is available for adoption from the Dawson County Humane Society in Dawsonville, GA.

Martha is a sweet and reserved hound dog. She loves being petted and walks great on a leash. Her face is irresistible, and those eyes draw you in and make you want to give her a hug…or three!

Shi

Shi is a one-year old male Basset Hound and larger Hound or Retriever mix who is available for adoption from the Dawson County Humane Society in Dawsonville, GA.

Shi is probably the most unique looking dog at the shelter. His short legs and disposition will make you smile no matter how old you are. He’s good with kids and friendly with other dogs. He loves to play and is definitely a lover not a fighter.

Mepps

Mepps is a four-year old, 40-pound male Beagle mix who is available for adoption from the Dawson County Humane Society in Dawsonville, GA.

Mepps is an outgoing and playful little guy who loves to loved. He enjoys going on walks as he sniffs everything on the way. Mepps is great with kids as well as other dogs

Rapala

Rapala is a four-year old, 40-pound female Beagle mix who is available for adoption from the Dawson County Humane Society in Dawsonville, GA.

I’m going to hazard a guess that Mepps and Rapala might be brother-and-sister.

Peanut Butter2

Peanut is an adult male Boxer mix and Butter is his Pomeranian BFF. This sweet bonded pair loves each other very much and lost their home when their elderly owner died. Help make his last wish come true by providing them a forever home together, or at least a foster home until their can find permanent arrangements.

Both dogs have been neutered. The best way to help them is to visit their page on Facebook and let them know if you have a temporary or permanent home for them. If you can’t help directly, please share them with your friends and family to see if we can help them find a happily ever after.

Peanut Butter

30
Mar

Adoptable Georgia Dogs for March 30, 2016

Barrow County Animal Shelter is overcrowded and will have to euthanize some dogs for space unless they are adopted immediately. Some are available for no adoption fee.

Rascle

Rascle is a 4-year old, Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption with no fee from the Barrow County Animal Shelter in Winder, GA.

Hi, my name is Rascal and I am begging for you to help me!! See I had a family, they loved me and my sister so much, but do to health issues they were no longer able to take care of us! This made us all very sad.

We were brought to the shelter and really thought we would have a forever home in no time. I am so friendly and I get along with everyone and I just love dogs. Sometimes other dogs don’t really like all the kisses I give, but I just can’t help myself, I am so full of love!

I really hoped that I would find a home with my sister, but that didn’t happen! I am going to miss her, but I am happy she found a wonderful family. I don’t know why no one wants me? Am I getting to old? Is it because my left paw has an old injury? Well it does not bother me and I get along very well!! I love to run and play, I am great on a leash, and will curl up beside you and keep you company all day!!

I really hate to be pushy, but could you please share my story with everyone you know!! The shelter is beyond full!! I need your help NOW!! Please don’t let me die here!! I am praying that I will find a family who will love me for the rest of my life. I am so scared in here, please help me find my forever home. Please, Please share this far and wide!! Time is of the essence as the shelter has no more room!! Thank you!

Liz

Liz is a friendly 2-year old Pibble mix female who is available for adoption from the Barrow County Animal Shelter in Winder, GA.

Barrow Beagle

ID # 2016-03-138 is a friendly young, 1-2 year old, 20-pound Beagle mix boy who is available for adoption from the Barrow County Animal Shelter in Winder, GA.

30
Mar

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 30, 2016

On March 31, 1776, future First Lady Abigail Adams wrote her husband, John Adams, suggesting that a greater role for women be considered in the fight for Independence and establishment of the United States.

“I long to hear that you have declared an independency. And, by the way, in the new code of laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make, I desire you would remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands. Remember, all men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.”

On March 31, 1889, Gustave Eiffel led a group of government officials and press to the top of the Eiffel Tower by foot. It would open to the public nine days later.

On March 31, 1976, the Georgia General Assembly adopted a joint resolution proposing a new Constitution of Georgia, which would be placed on the ballot for voter referendum on November 2, 1976.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

United States Senator David Perdue has released his second video in a series on the federal budget.

“The primary responsibility of Congress is to fund the federal government. In fact, Article 1, Section 8, of the Constitution charges us to do just that.

After going through the full budget process for the first time last year, I can tell you it is more broken than expected.

Dysfunction and gridlock has enabled the President to overreach his Constitutional powers and led to runaway spending by both parties.

Washington has lost sight of the very principles the American people follow in their day-to-day lives to ensure fiscal discipline.

The result is what we see today: $19 trillion in debt, $100 trillion in future unfunded liabilities, and a budget that is no longer a governing document but simply a political document.

This can be changed. In fact, it must be changed right now. We are out of time for idle debate and partisan bickering. The crisis is upon us.

As we begin the budget cycle once again, there are a few guiding principles Washington should consider going forward.

The first step to solving our exploding debt crisis is to fix the budget process right now. We can no longer afford the gridlock—and this should not be a partisan effort.

The result is what we’ve seen play out year after year—funding patches, continuing resolutions, and omnibus bills, which have not been effective in controlling spending.

It’s time for Washington to be honest with the American people about the realities of our current financial catastrophe.

Completing a timely budget that funds our priorities as a country is the primary responsibility of Congress.

Folks, it’s time to finally come to the realization that until we fix the way Washington funds the federal government, more often than not, we will have to say ‘we cannot afford it.’”

You can watch the first of Sen. Perdue’s video series on principles for federal budgeting here.

If you still honestly wonder what many people find so objectionable about Congress, the state legislature, and politics in general, here’s an illustrative story, from the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer.

Columbus State University and the National Infantry Museum lost funding in the most recent state budget because of the divisive actions of Republican Sen. Josh McKoon, according to a senior member of the local General Assembly delegation.

“You can only stick a stick in somebody’s eye so long before enough is enough,” Rep. Richard Smith said late Monday afternoon. “They are going to give it to somebody who has been supportive.”

McKoon just finished his sixth year in the General Assembly. He has been at odds this session with Republican Speaker of House David Ralston and Gov. Nathan Deal. At one point, McKoon introduced legislation to limit the term of the speaker but pulled it when the Senate leadership asked.

For the last three sessions, McKoon has been pushing religious liberty legislation. A compromised version of that effort passed the House and the Senate in the session that ended last week. Deal vetoed that bill Monday.“If Richard couldn’t get the House to sustain the position, whose fault is that? It’s not my fault,” McKoon said of the budget. “My job is to advocate for the budget position in the Senate. That’s the way it works. … This just sounds to me like Richard feels like he got thrown under the bus last week and now he thinks it’s my turn.”

Two weeks ago, Ralston’s Chief of Staff Spiro Amburn came to Smith’s legislative office and told him the Columbus State funding was coming out of the budget, Smith said. The reason given was McKoon’s actions in the General Assembly, Smith said.

“He said the remaining $6 million was going to be taken out,” Smith said. “The governor’s staff told him if the money was left in, the governor was going to do a line-item veto.”

Asked if he told McKoon about either of the meetings, Smith said he did not.

The Speaker of the House would not mention McKoon by name during an interview late Monday, but it was clear from his remarks he was talking about the Columbus senator.

“There is a political component here — and I am not talking about party,” Ralston said. “The budget process involves the House, the Senate, the governor’s office, and in this case the Board of Regents. Showing a cooperative spirit is part of that political component. If you are constantly tearing things apart, it can have repercussions in these areas.”

The Speaker of the House would not mention McKoon by name during an interview late Monday, but it was clear from his remarks he was talking about the Columbus senator.

“There is a political component here — and I am not talking about party,” Ralston said. “The budget process involves the House, the Senate, the governor’s office, and in this case the Board of Regents. Showing a cooperative spirit is part of that political component. If you are constantly tearing things apart, it can have repercussions in these areas.”

So, let’s review McKoon’s major sins against the Atlanta governing cartel.

First, he spent several years pursuing ethics reform that was approved by more than 87% of Republican Primary voters and 72% of Democratic Primary voters in the 2012 General Primary Election.

Then, he spent two years pursuing passage of religious freedom legislation that was endorsed by Republican Party Conventions in 11 of 14 Congressional Districts, and passed in every district in which a supporting resolution was introduced.

In short, the story is that residents of the Columbus area are being punished by the withholding of their tax dollars because McKoon championed legislation that legislative leadership disapproved of.

Molest some children, go to jail, and collect your city pension sure sounds wrong, but it’s happening in Kennesaw, according to the Marietta Daily Journal.

Kennesaw city officials say their hands are tied over former Mayor and City Councilman Leonard Church’s pension, which he continues to collect from prison where he is serving 18 years for child molestation and related crimes. Church’s pension amounts to $501.94 a month, according to a city spokesperson.

“There’s a state law … that allows for a reduction or elimination of a pension only for certain offenses and child molestation, unfortunately, is not one of those,” said Amy Henderson, a spokesperson for the Georgia Municipal Association, which administrates Kennesaw’s pension program.

Had Church been convicted of murder, voluntary manslaughter, certain drug-related offenses or a crime related to the office he held, such as corruption, he could have had his pension stripped.

The Cobb County Republican Party passed some resolutions in last weekend’s County Convention, again from the MDJ.

Of the four resolutions adopted by the Cobb GOP at its recent county convention, one that received unanimous approval urged civility in political discourse.

The resolution called for engaging “in civil debate and diplomatic discussion” and committed during the presidential primary to “avoid speech and behavior at all levels that is unbecoming of the Grand Old Party, and we will strive to set a good example for our children and the nations of the world, many of whom have modeled their political systems after our own.”

Cobb GOP Chair Rose Wing said the resolution was in the spirit of Ronald Reagan’s comment “that person who agrees with you 80 percent of the time is a friend and an ally; not a 20 percent traitor.”

Wing said it’s OK to agree to disagree.

“That’s what makes us Republicans because we do believe in that form of individual responsibility and individuality, and we are able to agree to disagree, but when it comes back around, we’re all still Republicans and we unify behind our candidate.”

Gwinnett County’s Drug Court held graduation ceremonies for twelve particpants this week, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Several of those participants who graduated from the program Monday night noted in exit surveys that they felt their lives were resuming. Yes, they had paperwork wipe drug arrests from their records. But the program also took away the drugs that got them in trouble with the law in the first place and put them on paths toward sobriety.

“This program gave me my life back. I don’t wake up hating myself,” one participant, identified only as Wakif, wrote in his survey.

One graduate after another praised the program, which is run by Gwinnett County Superior Court Judges Kathy Schrader and Tom Davis, for forcing them to give up drugs.

“Tonight is a special night,” Schrader said. “Tonight, we honor some of our graduates as they come out of our cocoon and take steps back into the real world. It’s graduation from drug court, but it’s not the end of the growth, of the transformation.”

“I don’t care why come in or when you come in. But if you’ll just let us work with you, if you’ll just let these people up here do their hard magic, you’ll be here for the right reason at some point or another,” Davis said.

After Governor Deal said he would veto House Bill 757, conservatives held a press conference at the Capitol to discuss plans to rally their supporters and come back next year.

Conservative groups accused Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal of turning his back on people of faith by vetoing a “religious freedom” bill and vowed Tuesday to keep up the fight for years to come.

“This is only the beginning,” said Virginia Galloway, who represents the Faith and Freedom Coalition in Georgia.

“There was an economic threat that was put on Georgia by Disney, the NFL and any other person in Hollywood,” said Garland Hunt, a pastor at The Father’s House in Norcross. “Because of economics, he faltered.”

John Wilcher will take office as the new Sheriff in Chatham County, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Wilcher, a 40-year-veteran of the sheriff’s department who retired in 2014, got 61 percent of the vote, while his opponent, incumbent Roy Harris, received 39 percent.

“I think the public has spoken that they want change,” Wilcher said from his victory party at Fiddlers’ Seafood Southside.

After conceding to Wilcher with a speech to supporters at the Holiday Inn Express on East Bay Street, Harris said he thought low voter turnout sank his campaign. Only about 15 percent of Chatham County’s 131,855 voters participated in the runoff.

Wilcher, 71, a former colonel and jail administrator at the department, had been campaigning on promises of boosting employee morale and fixing in-house issues before stretching resources to help outside agencies.

Both men will be on the ballot again, as Republicans, in a May 24 primary. And two of their rivals edged out in a special election March 1, Democrats McArthur Holmes and Kim Middleton, will be on the ballot then, too.

Chatham County’s next four-year sheriff won’t be elected until November, when voters decide between the two primary winners.

Harris said he plans to push forward and expects to fare better in the primary than he did Tuesday.

And Wilcher says he’s gearing up for the primary, too, “hitting the ground running” this morning.

County attorneys have said Wilcher can take office within a matter of days, and the sheriff-elect says he wants to get a transition with Harris shored up first.

In House District 162, a Special Election will go to a runoff between Carl Gilliard, who took 46.35% of the vote, and Alicia Blakely, who earned 28.87% of votes. From the SMN,

According to unofficial results, a little more than 12 percent — 2,830 — of the district’s 22,835 voters cast ballots in the special election.

After the results were announced, Gilliard thanked the voters who supported him and said he’s ready to get started speaking with them more about the issues that face the district — among them job creation and expansion of the Port of Savannah.

“I am ultimately prepared to move forward, to move the issues that we have on our plate,” Gilliard said. “We’re set for this race.”

Blakely did not return calls for comment.

In Tucker’s runoff elections for City Council, Matt Robbins won the election to District 2, Post 1 and Noelle Monfredini was elected to District 2, Post 2.

Sandy Springs will hold a special election to fill a vacant City Council seat for District 3 on May 24, 2016.

That is the same date as the state primary election. However, all city special election voting on Election Day will be done at a single, separate voting place: the so-called Round Building in Hammond Park, 6005 Glenridge Drive. That means people wanting to vote in both the city election and the state primary will have to visit two different polling places that day.

The city has also set early voting to run May 2-20 at the county’s North Fulton Annex, 7741 Roswell Road. The city may expand the early voting dates after City Council member Andy Bauman requested a review of the feasibility. Absentee balloting is also available.

For candidates, the qualifying period is April 13-15.

Longtime Sandy Springs resident Suzi Voyles will run for the District 3 Sandy Springs City Council seat.

Suzi Voyles, a longtime resident of Sandy Springs, has declared her intention to run for the District 3 Sandy Springs City Council seat, which Graham McDonald vacated March 11 to run for the District 52 Georgia House post. She is the second person to publicly announce her candidacy for the council seat, joining Joe Houseman, who declared his candidacy March 17. A special election is set for a date to be determined.

For the last 30 years Voyles and her husband, Jim, have lived in Sandy Springs and raised their three daughters in the community. For years, she has been on the front lines advocating for the city and working to make it a better place to live.

“My family and I prayerfully considered the possibilities of my running for the open seat combining my love for the city with my enthusiasm and experience to champion the policies that are necessary to make this a vibrant community for everyone,” she said in a news release.

29
Mar

Adoptable Georgia Dogs for March 29, 2016

Cocoa

You could be forgiven for thinking that’s the Easter Bunny, but Cocoa is a senior male Dachshund and Chihuahua mix who is available for adoption from Glynn County Animal Services in Brunswick, GA.

Buster Brown

Buster Brown is a small and young male Miniature Pinscher mix who is available for adoption from The Humane Society of South Coastal Georgia in Brunswick, GA.

Buster Brown is a beautiful little Min Pin mix with a friendly and expressive face. Even though he is new to us, he has made friends quickly. His owner was very sad to let him go, but could not care for him due to personal health issues. Buster is anxious to find another home so he doesn’t have to stay in a shelter for very long.

Shane

Shane is a young male Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from The Humane Society of South Coastal Georgia in Brunswick, GA.

29
Mar

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 29, 2016

Charles Wesley, hymnist, and brother of Methodist founder John Wesley, died on March 29, 1788 in London, England. Charles Wesley served as Secretary to James Oglethorpe and as a Chaplain at Fort Frederica on St Simons Island. This past Sunday, his hymns were played in churches across the globe, including Christ the Lord Is Risen Today and Rejoice, the Lord Is King.

On March 29, 1865, Federal troops under General Ulysses S. Grant began the Appomattox campaign.

On March 29, 1937, Georgia Governor Eugene Talmadge signed legislation imposing the first state tax on distilled spirits in Georgia.

If made in another state and imported into Georgia, distilled spirits were taxed at 80 cents per gallon and alcohol at $1.60 per gallon – or at fractional amounts for smaller containers. If made in Georgia, distilled spirits were taxed at 40 cents per gallon and alcohol at 80 cents per gallon.

On March 29, 1973, the last American troops left Vietnam, ending United States engagement in the war.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

My friend and occasional GaPundit contributor Ron Daniels is running for Treasurer of the Georgia State Bar Young Lawyers Division. If you’re eligible, voting is easy and takes only a minute. Visit the State Bar website and login with your username and password. Once logged in you can click on a graphic that says “vote here” in the middle of the page. That launches the election portal, where you cast your vote.

Yesterday, at a 10 AM Press Conference, Governor Nathan Deal announced he would veto House Bill 757, commonly referred to as the religious liberty bill.

“HB 757 appeared in several forms during the 2016 legislative session,” said Deal. “I had no objection to the ‘Pastor Protection Act’ that was passed by the House of Representatives. The other versions of the bill, however, contained language that could give rise to state-sanctioned discrimination. I did have problems with that and made my concerns known as did many other individuals and organizations, including some within the faith-based community.”

“I appreciate the efforts of the General Assembly to address these concerns and my actions today in no way disparage the motivations of those who support this bill. Their efforts to purge this bill of any possibility that it will allow or encourage discrimination illustrates how difficult it is to legislate on something that is best left to the broad protections of the First Amendment of the United State Constitution. If indeed our religious liberty is conferred by God and not by man-made government, we should heed the ‘hands-off’ admonition of the First Amendment to our Constitution. When legislative bodies attempt to do otherwise, the inclusions and omissions in their statues can lead to discrimination, even though it may be unintentional. That is too great a risk to take.”

“Some of those in the religious community who support this bill have resorted to insults that question my moral convictions and my character. Some within the business community who oppose this bill have resorted to threats of withdrawing jobs from our state. I do not respond well to insults or threats. The people of Georgia deserve a leader who will made sound judgements based on solid reasons that are not inflamed by emotion. That is what I intend to do.”

“As I’ve said before, I do not think we have to discriminate against anyone to protect the faith-based community in Georgia, of which my family and I have been a part of for all of our lives. My decision regarding HB 757 is not just about protecting the faith-based community or providing a business friendly climate for job growth in Georgia. This is about the character of our state and the character of its people. Georgia is a welcoming state filled with warm, friendly and loving people. Our cities and countryside are populated with people who worship God in a myriad of ways and in very diverse settings. Our people work side-by-side without regard to the color of our skin, or the religion to which we adhere. We are working to make life better for our families and our communities. That is the character of Georgia. I intend to do my part to keep it that way.”

Today at 10:30 AM, a group including American Principles Project, Citizen Impact, Concerned Women for American, Faith and Freedom Coalition, Fellowship of International Churches, Georgia Baptist Mission Board, Georgia Conservatives in Action, Georgia Right to Life, Ten Commandments Georgia will hold a press conference to respond to Gov. Deal’s veto.

Evangelist Franklin Graham wrote on Facebook,

Republican Governor Nathan Deal has sold out the state of Georgia. By vetoing the Free Exercise Protection Act this morning, he warmly welcomed the LGBT community and in effect told people of faith that they take second place. House Bill 757 would have protected pastors from having to perform same-sex marriages and would have protected churches from being forced to use their facilities for ceremonies against their religious beliefs.

This conservative governor has caved in to pressure from the NFL and major corporations and is now a part of backing the LGBT agenda. This is a dark hour in Nathan Deal’s long political career.

Texas Senator and Presidential candidate Ted Cruz addressed Gov. Deal’s veto.

“I thought that was very disappointing to see Governor Deal in Georgia side with leftist activists.”

The Associated Press quotes Lt. Governor Casey Cagle and Speaker David Ralston on the legislation,

Georgia’s Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle is standing by a bill protecting people acting on their religion, including opponents of same-sex marriage.

Cagle, a Republican, says in a statement that the bill struck the “right balance.” He says the state should take an active role in protecting religious belief and said that has been lost in “hyperbole and criticism.”

Cagle’s spokesman Adam Sweat says he’s not aware of any discussion about a special session.

Ralston, a Republican from Blue Ridge, said in a statement that he shares the same concerns mentioned by Deal.

However, Ralston also said it is regrettable that the merits of the bill have been ignored by critics who had not taken the time to read the bill or understand the legal issues involved.

Elections Today

In addition to the elections we mentioned yesterday in Chatham County, House District 162, and the City of Tucker, today will also see a runoff election for Ward 2 on the Carrollton City Council between Wes Phillips and Rory Wojcik.

28
Mar

Adoptable Georgia Dogs for March 28, 2016

43698v2

Number 43698 is a young, friendly male Golden Retriever mix who is available for adoption from Gwinnett County Animal Shelter in Lawrenceville, GA.

49602 03 04

Numbers 49602, 49603, and 49604 are three young Beagle/Terrier mix puppies who are available for adoption from Gwinnett County Animal Shelter in Lawrenceville, GA.

49597

Number 49597 is a friendly adult male Coonhound who is available for adoption from Gwinnett County Animal Shelter in Lawrenceville, GA.

In Savannah, Tom Barton of the Savannah Morning News opines about legislation naming the adoptable dog as the official state dog of Georgia.

Many dog owners know about the joys of owning a rescue dog or a dog who came from the pound. For one thing, they’re deeply appreciative and seem to know that their owner blessed them with a new happy life.

Owning one of these dogs is one of the joys of life. The same goes for any dog, for the simple reason that they’re always glad to see you, they never give you the third degree when you come home at midnight and they never nag, unless they’ve got to get outside to take care of business, which means that you deserve to be nagged or your dog will commit an indiscretion on your living room rug.

For that reason, Georgia legislators did one thing right in this year’s session, which ended last Thursday night: They approved legislation in the 11th hour naming the “adoptable dog” as the official state dog of Georgia.

One of the signs of a righteous man, the Bible says, is that he takes care of his animals (Proverbs 12:10). Even the animal of an enemy was to be treated kindly: “If you come across your enemy’s ox or donkey wandering off, be sure to take it back to him” (Exodus 23:4).

28
Mar

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 28, 2016

The British Parliament enacted The Coercive Acts on March 28, 1774.

The Coercive Acts were a series of four acts established by the British government. The aim of the legislation was to restore order in Massachusetts and punish Bostonians for their Tea Party, in which members of the revolutionary-minded Sons of Liberty boarded three British tea ships in Boston Harbor and dumped 342 crates of tea—nearly $1 million worth in today’s money—into the water to protest the Tea Act.

Passed in response to the Americans’ disobedience, the Coercive Acts included:

The Boston Port Act, which closed the port of Boston until damages from the Boston Tea Party were paid.

The Massachusetts Government Act, which restricted Massachusetts; democratic town meetings and turned the governor’s council into an appointed body.

The Administration of Justice Act, which made British officials immune to criminal prosecution in Massachusetts.

The Quartering Act, which required colonists to house and quarter British troops on demand, including in their private homes as a last resort.

Thomas Jefferson was elected as a Virginia delegate to the Second Continental Congress on March 27, 1775.

On January 27, 1785, a charter was approved by the Georgia legislature for the first publicly-supported state university in America.

Colonel James Fannin, a Georgia native and Colonel in the Texas Regular Army and more than 300 other members of the Georgia battalion were executed on March 27, 1836 after surrendering to Santa Anna’s Mexican Army. Fannin County, Georgia is named after Col Fannin.

On January 26, 1846, the Supreme Court of Georgia held its first meeting.

On March 27, 1912, the first Japanese cherry trees were planted on the northern bank of the Potomac River near the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, DC. Next weekend, Brookhaven will hold the second annual Brookhaven Cherry Blossom Festival.

On January 26, 1914, John Sammons Bell was born in Macon, Georgia. Bell served as State Democratic Chairman, elected in 1954 for a four-year term, during which he designed the 1956 Georgia flag that incorporated a version of the Confederate Battle Flag. In 1960, Bell joined the Georgia Court of Appeals, serving until 1979. For those of you who remember the late State Rep. Bobby Franklin, in his office in the Legislative Office Building hung a framed 1956 flag signed by John Sammons Bell and photo of Bell and Franklin. On January 26, 2001, a committee of the Georgia Senate approved a new flag designed by Atlanta architect Cecil Alexander. A comprehensive history of the Georgia state flag prepared by the Senate Research office can be found here.

On March 27, 1941, Governor Eugene Talmadge signed legislation outlawing the handling of venomous snakes in such a way as to endanger another person or to encourage another person to handle a snake in such a way as to endanger them. The legislation resulted from a six-year old handling a venomous snake during a church service in Adel, Georgia, during which she was bitten and died. Under that act you could still handle snakes yourself as long as you didn’t endanger someone else.

On March 27, 1947, Governor Melvin Thompson signed legislation that made Georgia a “Right to Work State,” meaning that employees cannot generally be forced to join a union or pay dues in order to take a job. On the same day, gambling on sporting events was outlawed by another bill signed by Gov. Thompson.

Governor Ernest Vandiver signed legislation authorizing the construction of monuments to Georgians killed in battle at the Antietam and Gettysburg battlefields on March 28, 1961.

Identical 15 1/2-foot-tall monuments of Georgia blue granite were sculpted by Harry Sellers of Marietta Memorials. At the top of the shaft is the word “GEORGIA” over the state seal. Lower on the shaft is the inscription, “Georgia Confederate Soldiers, We sleep here in obedience; When duty called, we came; When Countdry called, we died.”

Georgia’s first “Sunshine Law” requiring open meetings of most state boards and commissions, was signed by Governor Jimmy Carter on March 28, 1972.

A nuclear reactor at Three Mile Island near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania overheated on March 28, 1979 and within days radiation levels had risen in a four county area. It was the most serious accident in commercial nuclear history in the United States.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

In Chatham County, Tuesday sees a runoff election for Chatham County Sheriff.

The five-way race to determine who fills the unexpired term of the late Sheriff Al St Lawrence, who died on Nov. 24 last year after a long fight with cancer, has been narrowed down to two people: Sheriff Roy Harris, who was appointed to the job after St Lawrence’s death, and John Wilcher, a retired colonel from the department who retired two years ago.

Sheriff Harris and Col. Wilcher were the top two vote-getters in the special nonpartisan election on March 1. Since neither man got at least 50 percent of the countywide vote, county voters must return to the polls Tuesday to finish the job. All voters are eligible to cast ballots, whether they voted on March 1 or not.

Also holding runoff elections tomorrow will be the City of Tucker, filling two seats on City Council.

The races in west Tucker’s district two will be decided in runoffs Mar. 29 due to none of the candidates winning a majority. Katherine Atteberry is running against Matt Robbins for post one while Susan Wood is up against Noelle Monferdini for post two.

Three candidates vie on Tuesday for the remainder of the term of the late State Rep. Bob Bryant, but the real prize is being listed as incumbent on the May 24 ballot for a full term.

[F]or the first time in 12 years, the constituents of state House District 162 were without a representative in the Capitol.

On Tuesday, they’ll vote in a special election to determine who gets to fill the remainder of Bryant’s term.

While the title won Tuesday will be more ceremonial than anything — this year’s legislative session has already wrapped — the same three candidates will be on the ballot in the May 24 primary. And since they’re all Democrats, that’s likely when Bryant’s successor for the next full term will be selected.

In the running are former Savannah City Council candidate Alicia Blakely, Feed the Hungry CEO Carl Gilliard of Garden City and Savannah businessman Josey Sheppard.

Qualifying is open this week for a Post 2 seat on the Peachtree Corners City Council after Jay Lowe resigned to run for State House.

Qualifying will be held from 9 a.m. until noon, and from 1-4 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday, and from 9 a.m. until noon on Wednesday. Candidates should go to the city clerk’s office at City Hall, 147 Technology Parkway, to file their paperwork. The qualifying fee is $240.

The special election to fill Lowe’s seat will be held on May 24. Residents must be registered to vote by April 26 to cast a ballot in the election.

The Georgia Judicial Nominations Commission has issued a shortlist of nominees for Superior Courts for the Appalachian and Western Judicial Circuits, as well as Clayton County State Court.

Gwinnett County State Court Judge Carla Brown was endorsed for reelection by the Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys.

Gwinnett County property taxpayers may elect to receive their property tax bills electronically.

DeKalb County will continue to stagger forward under the leadership of a CEO elected countywide after the State House failed to vote on legislation by Senator Fran Millar to eliminate the position in favor of a more traditional elected County Chair and professional county manager.

Public comments sessions on transportation in Gwinnett County highlight the conundrum of Atlanta.

For some of residents attending that Tuesday’s transportation hearing, it was obvious what needed to be done: extend MARTA — or something like it — all the way to the Mall of Georgia. Others scoffed, citing a common estimate that it would cost $100 million a mile.

“You could buy everybody a new car for what it would cost to do that,” said Mike Waters, a former engineer for the Georgia Department of Transportation.

“But you couldn’t get them all on I-85,” said transit supporter Chuck Gillespie, sitting across the table.

Gwinnett voters have twice rejected MARTA. But once again, county officials are gauging residents’ interest in mass transit as they develop a long-term transportation plan this year.

As part of that effort, the county is hosting a series of hearings to seek public input on everything from roads and transit to bike and pedestrian paths. More than 60 people have attended the hearings so far.

Another 1,600 registered their opinions in an online transportation survey. In addition, the county plans to conduct a scientific telephone poll of residents this spring.

Tea Party Patriots of Jackson County will hold the equivalent of an undercard debate, as non-incumbent candidates for the Ninth Congressional District and United States Senate debate.

The event is set for 7 p.m. at the Nicholson Community Center on Lakeview Drive off Ga. 441 between Commerce and Athens.

Four candidates seeking the 9th District U.S. House seat will take part: Paul Broun, Roger Fitzpatrick, Bernie Fontaine and Mike Scupin. They are opposing current U.S. Rep. Doug Collins in the May 24 Republican primary.

Senate candidates Mary Kay Bacallao and Derrick Grayson also plan to take part. They are running against incumbent Sen. Johnny Isakson.

Both Collins and Isakson had prior commitments.

The forum will include statements from each candidate and questions from each other and audience members.

Religious Liberty Legislation

One of the big questions following the legislative session is whether Governor Deal will sign religious liberty legislation.

The Georgia Department of Economic Development wrote to Gov. Deal that two prospective new companies decided against Georgia because of the legislature’s consideration of the bill.

“We received official notification this morning that Georgia was dropped from contention from two pending economic projects we had been working at gdec prior to any decision being made on the bill,” [Chief of Staff to Gov. Deal Chris] Riley wrote, referring to the Georgia Department of Economic Development. “Both projects cited Hb 757 as why they were removing Georgia from consideration.”

The Gainesville Times looks at the decision before Gov. Deal,

State Sen. Butch Miller, R-Gainesville, a top floor leader for Deal, said the governor has until May 3 to make his decision.

Perception is everything.

“The news media has been completely wrong and no one from the governor’s office or anyone in the leadership has stood up to correct them on what it does,” Rep. Emory Dunahoo, R-Gainesville, said.

Dunahoo said the bill is a matter of protecting the religious views of Georgians who oppose same-sex marriage and keeping government from infringing on those beliefs.

Those who support the bill insist that discrimination is not the motivation.

Rep. Lee Hawkins, R-Gainesville, said he would never turn away gays and lesbians from his dental practice.

And the Rev. Tom Smiley, pastor of the Lakewood Baptist Church in Gainesville, said the new Midland Station Coffee Co. near the downtown square, which is backed by the church, would be open to all customers.

Former Governor Roy Barnes weighed in, predicting that Deal will veto the legislation, according to the Marietta Daily Journal,

Former Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes, who lost a re-election bid in 2002 partially over fallout from changes to the state flag, said Friday he feels strongly Gov. Nathan Deal will veto the General Assembly’s new “religious liberty” bill.

Barnes and many others in and out of government say it also would cost Cobb County and the state an enormous amount of money in terms of lost revenue from Hollywood and big businesses, both those located in Georgia now and others contemplating setting up shop in the state.

“I think it would be very harmful to Cobb County,” said Barnes, who lives in Marietta.

“We are more and more dependent on tourism. Travelers come through. Events are drawn to convention centers that have been very successful. It is apparent that the business community and big companies like Disney are very much opposed to this bill,” which Barnes said could cost many jobs.

Many Republicans disagree. State Rep. Earl Ehrhart, R-Powder Springs, said the bill will have “positive impact” and allows for no discrimination.

“I know some on the left claim that Armageddon is coming, but that’s not the case,” Ehrhart said. “That’s why I voted for it.”

But state Rep. Ed Setzler, R-Acworth, said talk of a negative economic impact is “nonsense.”

“The motion picture industry comes to Georgia because it’s a great place to make movies,” Setzler said. “That’s not going to change because the Legislature protects the First Amendment rights of citizens. Just as the First Amendment protects movie-makers, the First Amendment protects people of faith.”

Presidential Politics

Two competing narratives are emerging to predict shape who will become the Republican nominee for President this year. The first is that Senator Ted Cruz may emerge as the nominee because his campaign has been working the delegate selection process to maximize their yield of delegates after state presidential preference primary elections.

The best statement of this thesis I’ve heard is that the Republican National Convention is like a giant closed caucus, and closed caucuses are where Cruz has shown the greatest strength and strategic mastery.

The Washington Post looked at the Cruz campaign’s operation in state conventions,

The first point is that people intimately familiar with the convention process understand that points at which leverage can be applied to affect the outcome. And, second: They’re doing so.

It’s this sort of needle-threading, in part, that prompted the National Review’s Eliana Johnson to write this week that a contested convention favors Ted Cruz. She points to the fact that there’s a built-in advantage for someone with even tenuous ties to the establishment, such as in South Carolina.

Trump won every single one of the 50 delegates up for grabs in the state’s February 20 primary, which was open. But to serve as a delegate from South Carolina, one has to have been a delegate to the 2015 state convention, held before Trump even announced his candidacy. These are establishment people.

The Wall Street Journal looked at the Lousiana delegate selection process after that state’s primary,

Donald Trump beat Sen. Ted Cruz earlier this month in Louisiana’s Republican presidential primary by 3.6 percentage points, but the Texan may wind up with as many as 10 more delegates from the state than the businessman.

Mr. Cruz’s supporters also seized five of Louisiana’s six slots on the three powerful committees that will write the rules and platform at the Republican National Convention and mediate disputes over delegates’ eligibility this summer in Cleveland.

The little-noticed inside maneuvering that led to this outcome in Louisiana is another dramatic illustration of the inside game that could have an outsize influence on the bitter race for the GOP nomination.

The Trump campaign’s first problem is in the overall delegate count from Louisiana. Messrs. Trump and Cruz each won 18 delegates apiece based on the Louisiana results in the primary on March 5. But the five delegates awarded to Florida Sen. Marco Rubio are now free agents because he ended his campaign, and Louisiana Republicans expect them to swing behind Mr. Cruz.

Meanwhile, the state’s five unbound delegates—who are free to back the candidates of their choice—also are more likely to back Mr. Cruz than Mr. Trump, according to GOP officials in the state.

Trump even complained about the Louisiana process on Twitter, saying, “Just to show you how unfair Republican primary politics can be, I won the State of Louisiana and get less delegates than Cruz – Lawsuit coming”.

Cruz is also thought to have an advantage in Virginia, according to the Washington Times,

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz came in a distant third in Virginia’s Republican primary election, receiving less than half the number of votes than billionaire businessman Donald Trump. But if the Republican presidential convention in July goes to more than one round of voting, many political watchers believe Cruz could be poised to win a large majority of Virginia’s 49 delegates.

No group has shown a better mastery of intra-party maneuvering than Cruz’s tea party followers in Virginia. Ahead of the 2013 gubernatorial election, Former Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s supporters took control of the state party and outmuscled potential challengers for the gubernatorial nomination. Cuccinelli, a major Cruz surrogate, still has strong allies within the state party apparatus, including party chairman Whitbeck.

“It’s a Cuccinelli crowd that runs this state,” said Tom Davis, a former congressman who is the Virginia campaign chairman for Kasich.

State Sen. Bill Stanley, the Cruz campaign chairman in Virginia, said the campaign has long put an emphasis on being well organized and prepared for delegate elections and has been actively reminding its supporters of the importance of attending GOP district meetings and the state convention.

The second, competing, narrative is that if Trump enters the convention with a lead, he should be the nominee regardless.

Trump is virtually certain to arrive in Cleveland with millions more votes than Cruz or John Kasich, but he could still fall short of clinching the nomination outright. That would throw the contest to the delegates — and if Cruz packs the arena with supporters, Trump could watch the nomination slip away from him. And he knows it.

“I have a guy going around trying to steal people’s delegates. This is supposed to be America, a free America,” he said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” “You know, welcome to the Republican Party. What’s going on in the Republican Party is a disgrace. I have so many more votes and so many more delegates. And, frankly, whoever at the end, whoever has the most votes and the most delegates should be the nominee.”

Trump’s palpable frustration is a sign of how rapidly the hunt for delegates is overtaking the primary itself as the most critical battle in the 2016 GOP nominating process.