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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 12, 2016

On January 12, 1775, St. Andrews Parish on the Georgia coast passed a series of resolutions that included approving the actions of patriots in Massachusetts, three resolutions critical of British government actions, and a renunciation of slavery. The resolutions also appointed delegates to a provincial legislature at Savannah and urging that Georgia send two delegates to the Continental Congress to be held in Philadelphia the next year.

On January 12, 1906, the American Intercollegiate Football Rules Committee legalized the forward pass. Some credit Georgia Tech coach John Heisman as having popularized the idea of making the forward pass legal after seeing it in a game between Georgia and North Carolina.

On January 6, 1921, Kenesaw Mountain Landis was elected the first Commissioner of Baseball on January 12, 1921. Judge Landis was named after the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, where his father was wounded fighting for the Union.

Jimmy Carter was inaugurated as Governor of Georgia on January 12, 1971.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

House Committee Meetings Today


Senate Committee Meeting Today

1:00 PM Joint Economic Development and Tourism, 606 CLOB

Here’s the Session Calendar for the first three weeks.

Tuesday, January 12, Legislative Day 2
Wednesday, January 13, Legislative Day 3
Thursday, January 14, Legislative Day 4
Friday, January 15, Legislative Day 5

Wednesday, January 20, Legislative Day 6
Thursday, January 21, Legislative Day 7
Friday, January 22, Legislative Day 8

Monday, January 25, Legislative Day 9
Tuesday, January 26, Legislative Day 10
Wednesday, January 27, Legislative Day 11
Thursday, January 28, Legislative Day 12

Monday, February 1, Legislative Day 13

The Gainesville Times notes that’s an aggressive schedule.

House and Senate leaders hope to adjourn for the year by March 24, letting members return to their districts early and focus on re-election campaigns. Georgia’s campaign finance law prevents lawmakers from raising or accepting campaign donations during the session, motivation to wrap up the year quickly.

House and Senate members approved a schedule Monday for the General Assembly’s first 13 working days.

Lawmakers meet for 40 working days each year, starting on the second Monday in January. Days that the House and Senate don’t meet don’t count toward that total, but budget and other committee hearings can be held on those days.

Georgia’s General Assembly operates on a biennial schedule, meaning all bills approved by one chamber but not voted on by the other before the 2015 session ended remain alive. Lawmakers also can introduce new proposals.

Jim Galloway of the AJC Political Insider teases a re-write to the state’s legacy three-tier system for alcohol sales that should be introduced today, and yesterday noted that State Rep. Allen Peake has at least 90 signatures for his medical marijuana expansion bill, pretty well assuring its passage in the House.

Georgia Public Broadcasting has coverage of House Speaker David Ralston’s press conference last week.

On the questions surrounding legalizing casino gambling in the state:

“There’s a couple of questions that are involved in that discussion. One is the policy question of do we want to change what we allow in terms of our constitutional prohibition on gambling to allow casinos and/or horse racing. That’s not an easy question, but it’s a simple question, because it’s the black and white question. Then the really complex question becomes: ‘How do you implement a decision to expand?’ Then you have questions of: ‘How many licences do you issue?’ ‘What would the tax rate be?’ ‘What would the regulatory scheme be?’ So, there’s some really detailed things involved there that are going to have to be sorted out.”

On whether he supports Rep. Allen Peake’s bill that would allow for medical marijuana cultivation in Georgia:

“At least my expectation–I think that of most people around here–was when we passed HB 1 last year that there would have to be a next step, and so I think this bill is that next step. I’m not a doctor, and I’m not a medical professional, so I don’t know all the conditions that should be listed on there. I probably have had a half dozen suggested to me since we left here last year from people in my district, friends, people as I traveled around the state. Some of them are unbelievable in terms of the suggested conditions we should add. My view is that at some point we’re going to need to let those decisions be made by medical professionals, and I’m fine doing that. I’m fine putting in a provision in a cultivation bill that will allow the conditions to be determined not by the General Assembly but by medical professionals who have the expertise to do that.”

On funding rural hospitals in Georgia:

“It’s a challenge. I have a hospital in my district that’s barely hanging on, and unfortunately that’s a fairly common situation in rural Georgia. We’re looking at different things that hopefully we can use. One of the reasons I hope a member of my party is elected president in November is I hope we can look at some block granting some of the Medicaid money through the waiver process to help in that area. I know the Georgia Chamber of Commerce has commissioned a study over the next few months to look at some specific solutions. I mean, it’s a real problem, a very real problem that I see everyday and one that troubles me very much. We’ve got to find a way to deal with that.”

Meanwhile WABE spoke to Democratic Leader Stacey Abrams.

Gov. Nathan Deal and the General Assembly paused yesterday to honor the memories of five Georgia Southern nursing students.

State Rep. Bruce Williamson’s office will assist veterans with obtaining state benefits through the Georgia Department of Veterans Services.

“The process for obtaining benefits has become a burden to so many veterans,” said Rep. Williamson. “I hope that by offering this assistance, we can not only ease the process for our veterans, but also expedite things so that they may fully enjoy the benefits they have so rightfully earned.”

The Conyers Veteran Services office, located at 983 Taylor Street, provides services to Newton, Rockdale and Walton counties and serves more than 23,000 veterans in the area. In 2014, the Conyers office paid more than $91,000,000 on direct VA monetary payments with approximately $30,000,000 paid to the more than 6500 veterans in Walton County.

For more information on receiving veteran’s assistance through the Conyers Veteran Services Office, please contact Rep. Williamson’s office at 404-656-5024.

Upcoming Elections

Today at 6:30, Orchard Senior Living Center will host a Meet-and-Greet for Frank Auman, who is running for Mayor of Tucker in the March 1, 2016 election at 2060 Idlewood Rd in Tucker.

One week from today, on January 19, 2016, voters will go to the polls in the first election of 2016, a Special Election in House District 58 for part of Fulton County. Three Democrats are running, Park Cannon, Ralph Long, and Kwame Thompson.

Sarah Fay Campbell of the (Newnan) Times-Herald takes a look at why Lynn Westmoreland’s decision against running for reelection will have a dramatic impact on Georgia politics.

“Something like this comes along only once in a generation or once in half a generation,” said Dr. Charles Bullock, professor of political science at the University of Georgia.

“I would anticipate some state legislators, maybe some county officials, and perhaps some well-to-do private individuals who will say ‘this is my shot,’” Bullock said.

“Once an incumbent is in office, they’re awfully hard to dislodge,” said Bullock. Typically, more than 90 percent of the time, incumbents are reelected. “Whoever wins may be there for 25 years.”

Often when there is an open seat, many holding current political office will give up their incumbency in state politics to head to Washington D.C. – even though only one candidate can win.

“I think a number of legislators, after a few years, come to think – this has been fun but I have to either do it full time or I have to get out.” And there aren’t many opportunities in state politics to go full time, Bullock said. Instead, you have to go to Washington.

Chuck Williams of the (Columbus) Ledger-Enquirer takes a look at the case for Sen. Josh McKoon running for Westmoreland’s seat.

As the Georgia General Assembly session started Monday, McKoon is one of the most high-profile members. He vows to continue his three-year fight for the state to adopt controversial religious liberty legislation that is favored by many in the right wing of the state Republican party. He is leading a group that has taken a stand against legislation that would allow for sales tax breaks to attract the NFL’s Super Bowl to Atlanta’s new domed stadium. As he has since he got to the General Assembly, he is pushing ethics reform, this time aimed at lawmakers who help pass legislation then resign and take positions within state government.

Another reason he is considering it is he would likely have a fighting chance to win. The smart money would bet that the person who replaces Westmoreland will come out of the Georgia General Assembly. That is where Westmoreland came from 10 years ago and where McKoon has been the last five years. There are 12 state representatives and six state senators who represent a piece of the Georgia Third. The most formidable of those would likely be Sen. Mike Crane, a Newnan Republican. Crane comes from the same part of the district that launched Westmoreland.

But the voting power in the district rests in Coweta, Fayette and Carroll counties. And McKoon’s district and his residence are on the southern fringe of the district.

Whoever seeks the office is going to have to make a decision quickly. Qualifying is March 7-11, when the General Assembly will likely still be in session. The Republican primary is May 24.

The (Carrollton) Times-Georgian notes that we wrote earlier that Sen. Mike Crane is likely to jump in, and also speculates that Matt Brass, who serves as Chief of Staff to Westmoreland is a potential candidate. Brass previously ran in the 2011 Senate Special Election that Crane won in a runoff, and might also take a look at that race.

In my opinion, the number one thing holding back incumbent legislators from announcing for Westmoreland’s seat is the specter of “some millionaire out there we haven’t heard of.” Call it the David Perdue effect, or the Trump effect.

With the cold weather suggesting that hell has frozen over, the Coweta County Democratic Party thinks they may have a chance to take the Republican-safe Third Congressional District seat themselves.

Cynthia Bennett, Coweta County Democratic Party chair, said this is an opportunity for a Democrat to take the chair.

“Historically, incumbency in the U.S. has assured re-election,” said Bennett. “The influence of incumbency is powerful. The Coweta County Democrats welcome the opportunity to meet candidates who might not have sought office. This opens the door for other service-minded citizens to take office.”

“This is an opportunity for Democrats to take advantage of having a seat in Congress,” said Commissioner Alphonso Smith. “In reality, we have enough people to do it, we’re just not active. We need voter activity clinics to help people understand how important their vote is at the local level. Politics is local and you can control it. I fully support my party.”

Ernest Thomas Jr will run for Richmond County Clerk of Courts, as incumbent Elaine John­son is retiring.

Read more here:
Read more here:

The Greatest Threat to Georgia?

This isn’t being discussed as part of the legislative session yet, but Senator Bruce Thompson (R-Cartersville) says that Georgia is in the midst of a heroin epidemic.

Heroin is one of the cheapest and most dangerous drugs on the street and kills hundreds of Georgians every year.

It’s so bad,  a state senator is calling it an epidemic.

Last year, 85 people overdosed on heroin in Cherokee County alone. State Senator Bruce Thompson represents that area and said it’s an epidemic statewide.

“The problem is when you get to heroin, that’s the end, and so legislatively I think we have a responsibility to take a good look at this from a mental health standpoint and say what is it we can do for society to help with this,” said Thompson.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, heroin use more than doubled among young adults ages 18-25 in the past decade.

“One of the big dangers is that a person can think that they can tolerate a certain amount of heroin and what they buy is too much and it kills them,” Former state medical examiner Dr. Kris Sperry said.

Forty-five percent of people who used heroin were also addicted to prescription opioid painkillers – like oxycodone.

Cherokee County is holding a town hall meeting on the issue on January 12 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

That Town Hall meeting tonight is at Canton First United Methodist Church, 930 Lower Scott Mill Road, Canton, GA 30115.

Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge Kathy Schrader noted on Facebook that in the last 5 years, Gwinnett County has seen a 1200% rise in heroin deaths.

On February 25, 2016, CrossPointe Church in Duluth is holding a Pastors’ Event to spread awareness of the heroin problem, and resources available to church leaders and congregations.


Adoptable Georgia Dogs for January 11, 2016


Nathan is an adult male German Shepherd Dog who is available for adoption from the City of Lyons Animal Shelter in Lyons, GA.

Nathan and his sisters, Cyclone and Brooklyn were finally rescued and brought to the shelter after a life of living on their own in a cemetery. They foraged for food and were able to survive. After weeks of failed attempts, luck was with them when animal control was successful in picking them up and bringing them to the shelter . Nathan is the more outgoing of the 3. He is a handsome gentle boy who quickly responded to human kindness.


David is an adult male Dachshund mix who is available for adoption from Atlanta Pet Rescue & Adoption Inc. in Smyrna, GA.


KC’s Amy is an adult female Grehound who is available for adoption from Second Chance Greyhounds in Douglasville ,GA.

Finster Portrait2

Please welcome Finster, the newest member of the GaPundit pack family. He was adopted from Ruffus Rescue at one of their adoption days at PET SUPPLIES “PLUS”, 2329 Cheshire Bridge Rd., Atlanta, GA 30329.

After approving our application, Ruffus Rescue sent him home with us for a one-week trial period, which is a great idea for dog rescues to consider. He quickly made himself at home and is becoming Dolly’s BFF.

If you’re considering adoption, we highly recommend Ruffus Rescue, and if you’d like to donate to them, you can donate online or mail a check to:

P.O. Box 29962
Atlanta, GA 30359-0962

You can also volunteer to foster with Ruffus Rescue.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 11, 2016

Marvin Griffin of Bainbridge was inaugurated as Governor of Georgia on January 11, 1955.

Marvin Griffin Monument

After Republican Bo Callaway won the popular vote but fell short of a majority, the General Assembly elected Lester Maddox, the second-place candidate, as Governor on January 10, 1967 and he was inaugurated that day.

The first inauguration of Governor Joe Frank Harris was held on January 11, 1983.

During a snowstorm, Governor Nathan Deal was inaugurated in the State Capitol for his first term in office on January 10, 2011.

The Hixson Museum of Flight in Rome, GA is working to prepare for a reopening on March 26th.

The museum, once named the Hixson Flight Museum, shares its hangar with TigerFlight, a local organization that educates local students about aviation and often take school groups on tour of the museum’s exhibits.

The collection includes a T-28 Trojan, used during the Vietnam War, a military jeep, a military truck, a military mule, a Beechcraft T-34 Mentor, several different types of uniforms and photos and a BTD-1 Destroyer that is currently being refurbished.

“It’s the last one on the planet,” O’Hare said. “We recovered it from a field in New York and have been working on it for several years now.”

The plane is now ready to be painted. The recovery and restoration can be seen on the flight museum’s YouTube Channel.

“This was the first one on the assembly line in the 1940s when it was built and it was the last, because it was used as a model,” explained O”Hare. “We plan to put it in front of the hangar on Jan. 23 at 1:30 p.m. with some models dressed as Rosie the Riveter, since the assembly line for the plane was manned by women in the ’40s.”

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Note: there’s  a brief bit of adult language in that clip from the film 48 Hours, but it should be skipped past if the link is working.

If you are a legislator or statewide elected officials, please disable the Donation feature on your website. During the General Assembly, legislators and elected statewide executives are prohibited from accepting campaign contributions. Don’t be part of the AJC article about legislators who forgot to turn off their Donate button.

The General Assembly gavels in at 10 AM today for another exciting year of mischief legislating. Governor Deal is scheduled to deliver the State of the State address on Wednesday, January 13, 2016 at 11 AM.

It appears that the House has scheduled legislative days every day this week, marking a fast start to a major election year.

On Saturday, at the Gwinnett County Republican Party breakfast, Senator Renee Unterman said, “we’re scheduled to get out [of Session] by March 24. It’s gonna be ‘turn and burn.’”

Renee Unterman Gwinnett GOP 01092016

Part of the backdrop of the General Assembly will be early jockeying for the Third Congressional District seat, to which Lynn Westmoreland said he will not seek reelection.

Mike Crane WellContinue Reading..


State Senator Mike Crane to run for CD3?

Here’s what I was told:

“Mike Crane is giving serious consideration to running for the Third Congressional District and will go to Washington, DC on Monday to meet with national conservative groups that have expressed an interest in supporting him.”

I consider the source well-placed, in a position to know, and highly-credible.


Adoptable Georgia Dogs for January 8, 2015

The following two dogs were featured as Adoptable dogs one year ago today, and they’re still looking for their forever home(s).

John Henry1

John Henry (above) and his sister Essie (below) are four-year old Shepherd/Basset Hound mixes who are deeply bonded and are looking for a home they can share with a forever family. This playful pair can be reserved when they first meet you but are friendly and loving. John Henry and Essie are available for adoption from Heart of Georgia Humane Society in Macon, GA.


Joplin, below, was a featured adoptable dog on June 16, 2015, and is still looking for her forever family.


Joplin is an adult female American Staffordshire Terrier mix who was abandoned outside the admin building at the Gwinnett Humane Society in Lawrenceville, where she is available for adoption.

Joplin’s wagging, wiggling, serenading, and welcoming the volunteers one evening, showed she was completely oblivious to the fact that she had been dumped. And so began the process of turning this powerful bundle of sweetness, joy and energy into a fun-loving yet calmer dog. Her progress has been remarkable and she has become our Welcoming Mascot at our adoption events. She loves everyone and everyone loves her. We just hope one day soon to find her perfect family. Her ideal family is one to provide her stability, exercise, time and patience, and of course Love!


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 8, 2015

Lyman Hall, one of three Georgians who signed the Declaration of Independence, was elected Governor on January 8, 1783.

Segregated seating on Atlanta buses was held unconstitutional by a federal court on January 9, 1959.

Hamilton Holmes and Charlayne Hunter arrived in Athens to register at the University of Georgia on January 9, 1961.

After Julian Bond’s election to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1965, the chamber voted against seating him ostensibly because he had publicly state his opposition to the war in Vietnam. On January 10, 1967, after the United States Supreme Court held the legislature had denied Bond his right to free speech, he was seated as a member of the State House.

On January 8, 2007, R.E.M. was announced as an inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Here’s REM at their induction into the Rock Hall.

If you go to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland this year, I highly recommend visiting the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. You’ll recognize the guitars played by some of your favorites, see Janis Joplin’s psychedelic Porsche, and read the hand-written lyrics to some of the best-known songs. Incidentally, Janis Joplin’s Porsche was sold at auction last month for $1.76 million.

On January 8, 2014, Atlanta Braves pitchers Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux were announced as incoming members of the Baseball Hall of Fame, along with Columbus, Georgia native Frank Thomas, a long-time Chicago White Sox outfielder.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Apropos of the note above regarding the Georgia House of Representatives voting against seating Julian Bond, we also note the passage of former State Rep. and State Senator Mike Egan. AJC Political Insider Jim Galloway notes Egan played a small role in that issue,

Sen. Mike Egan has taken so many stand-on-principle votes — he calls them “votes in opposition to the majority” — over the course of two disconnected decades in the Legislature that as he leaves, they “all sort of merge together in a blob,” and the one he thinks to mention was his very first.

That was in 1967, when as a young Republican House member he voted to allow Julian Bond to be seated in that body, despite the Atlanta Democrat’s opposition to the Vietnam War.


A memorial mass will be celebrated on Thursday, the 14th of January at ten o’clock in the morning at The Cathedral of Christ the King, 2699 Peachtree Road, NE, Atlanta, Georgia 30305. The family will greet friends following the mass at the church. A private burial will follow later in the day at Arlington Memorial Park. Arrangements by H. M. Patterson & Son Arlington Chapel.

Mike Egan was a giant for Georgia Republicans, and his party, state, and community join his family and friends in mourning his passing.

Yesterday, Congressman Lynn Westmoreland announced he will not run for reelection to Congress.

“After a busy fall in Congress, I finally had the opportunity for quiet reflection over the Christmas break,” he said in the statement issued by his office. “I spent time in prayer and with my family, and with their blessing, have decided I will no longer seek reelection for Georgia’s Third Congressional District. It has been an honor to serve Georgia’s Third District for the last twelve years, and I believe it is time to pass the torch to our next conservative voice. Washington, D.C. is a much different environment in 2016 than when I was elected in 2004. I know all too well the challenges the new representative will face, and pledge to offer my support and guidance to the next candidate.”

“Joan and I want to thank the people of Georgia’s Third District,” he added in the statement. “We are forever blessed to have received your support and friendship during my time in office. I look forward to this next chapter in my life; returning to my community and spending more time with family and friends.”

Politico notes that the Congressional seat is “safely Republican.”

So that set off a lot of idle speculation, much of it on my part.Continue Reading..


Which counties are most important in the Third Congressional District?

Here are the vote counts for each county in the 3rd CD in the 2014 Republican Primary:

County Total
Carroll 7,205
Coweta 8,480
Fayette 10,138
Harris 2,588
Heard 953
Henry 2,864
Lamar 1,289
Meriwether 1,081
Muscogee 4,477
Pike 2,087
Spalding 4,741
Troup 4,642
Upson 2,855
Total: 53,400

Lynn Westmoreland retiring – here are some folks who might be interested

Various sources are reporting that Congressman Lynn Westmoreland (R-Senoia) will retire from Congress. From Politico,

Six-term Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.), a longstanding and respected conservative in the House Republican Conference, announced his retirement Thursday, saying it “it is time to pass the torch to our next conservative voice.

“Washington, D.C. is a much different environment in 2016 than when I was elected in 2004,” Westmoreland said in a statement.

Westmoreland’s district, which includes the southern suburbs of Atlanta, is safely Republican. But the election to replace the 65-year-old lawmaker may still be hard-fought during the primary. A trio of open GOP primaries in Georgia last election devolved into proxy fights over Republican leadership, with some candidates running on a pledge not to vote for Boehner for speaker of the House.

“I look forward to this next chapter in my life; returning to my community and spending more time with family and friends,” he said in the statement.

So, to begin the speculation, let’s see which Georgia Republican legislators have districts that overlap with the Third Congressional District:Continue Reading..


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 7, 2016

Georgia voted for George Washington for President on January 7, 1789. Technically, they elected Presidential Electors who would later meet in Augusta and cast their ballots for Washington.

On January 7, 1795, Georgia Governor George Matthews signed the Yazoo Act, passed after four land companies bribed members of the General Assembly to vote for legislation selling more than 35 million acres of land for less than 2 cents per acre.

Georgia Congressman Newt Gingrich (R) was re-elected Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives on January 7, 1997. In the election for a second term, nine Republicans voted against the incumbent Speaker.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Two candidates have already announced for Republican National Committeewoman from Georgia, which will be elected at this year’s Georgia Republican State Convention. Ginger Howard will be making a repeat run for the position and Vicki Willard, former Chair of the Georgia Republican Foundation will also contest the election.

An Epic Proposal. More properly, a modest Epi-Proposal. I got this idea from a friend’s posting on Facebook. Under a new law that went into effect January 1, 2016, pharmacists in Texas are now allowed to administer an epinephrine injection, most commonly done with an Epi-Pen, when a person in allergic distress is at their pharmacy.Continue Reading..


Adoptable Georgia Dogs for January 7, 2016


Sissie is an older female Black and Tan Coonhound who is available for adoption from the Washington-Wilkes Humane Animal Shelter in Washington, GA. She is friendly, but a little shy.


Erwin is a 2-year old adult male Coonhound (Treeing Walker by the looks) and Basset Hound mix boy who is available for adoption from the Washington-Wilkes Humane Animal Shelter in Washington, GA. He showed up at someone’s house and stayed on their porch for 2 days. He is very friendly and very energetic.


Carol is a 1-2 year old Black Mouth Cur & Labrador Retriever Mix female who is available for adoption from the Washington-Wilkes Humane Animal Shelter in Washington, GA. She’s described as sweet and energetic, and her photo looks like she’s playful too.


Norman is an adult male Labrador Retriever and Staffordshire Terrier mix who is available for adoption from the Washington-Wilkes Humane Animal Shelter in Washington, GA.

Norman was taken from his previous owner because he had been tied up to a tree outside and left with no food or water. He is a friendly guy who gets along with other dogs.